About the Area
Tampa Bay’s not only known for some of the worlds best tarpon fishing it is also home of many exciting cities, theme parks and sporting venues. So while you are in the area chasing tarpon, you or perhaps some of your family, may like to try something else in the area. Remember that I have located myself perfectly for being as close to the tarpon action as possible and it just so happens that we have a lot of other things to do within a short driving distance. I leave out of Anna Maria Island which is what I consider to be one of the coolest islands on the west coast of Florida, equaled only by Siesta Key, 40 minutes to the south. As far as beaches go there are no better. White sugar sand, some of the clearest water around, great beach front restaurants and few large condos on the beach give it a true island paradise feel that few areas on the west coast still enjoy. If you are staying on the island while on your tarpon trip I see little reason to leave the island, but here are some other places to go while you are in the area.
Sarasota is only 30 minutes away, it’s our closest airport, sometimes a little more expensive than Tampa international but much more convenient. Sarasota is home to Jungle Gardens, Ringling Museum, and spring training for the Reds. Just to its north and connecting Anna Maria are Long Boat Key, where Mote Marine Aquarium is located and where much of our states sport fish, including tarpon, are studied. North of there and the closest city to Anna Maria is Bradenton, home of the Pirates spring training facility.
St. Pete, Treasure island, Fort Desoto, Terra Verdi, Redington Beach, Largo area is to our north across the famous Skyway bridge, where some of our best resident tarpon fishing happens every year around giant pillars. St. Pete also has great beaches but is more commercialized. It is home to our Tampa Bay Lighting and our Tampa Bay Rays. The downtown is also making a great comeback and is a nice place to visit the Salvador Dolly Museum. Also the St. Pete/ Clearwater airport is there to the north of the city. Check the ticket prices when flying in to go tarpon fishing; it’s many times the cheapest and my favorite airport when flying the east coast.
Now past St. Pete and heading north, take 275 over the bay to downtown Tampa and right into our largest airport, Tampa International. It’s about an hour from Anna Maria Island. Tampa is our largest close city with all kinds of things to do. It has a large aquarium, really nice. The Tampa Bay Bucs play there. It’s also the spring training spot for the New York Yankees. Tampa is also home to our state fair, and Oh yes, we can’t forget Busch Gardens. I’m not a big amusement park fan, but I do like it.
From I-275 you keep going east until you pick up I-4 to the Plant City/ Lakeland area. Plant City is famous for the strawberry festival in February. Lakeland is the spring training city for the Tigers.
Past Lakeland and about two hours from Anna Maria Island you hit the Walt Disney/ Orlando area. Home to numerous amusement parks including, The Magic Kingdom, Ebcott, Universal Studios, MGM, & Sea World to name a few. It is also the host area for the Braves.
Now back tracking we can’t leave out the Clearwater area north of the St. Pete, west of Tampa. Clearwater is also known for its beaches, hence the word Clearwater. Clearwater is also the host city to the Phillies spring training. Some of its more popular towns nearby include Indian Rocks Beach, about an hour and fifteen min. from Anna Maria. Tarpon Springs is about one and a half hour from Anna Maria Island.
So as you can see there are lots to do within a short drive. Also if you are down visiting one of these areas it’s just a short drive to do some of the Best Tarpon fishing in the world!