Sure, you’ve probably heard about many of the big Florida Gulf Coast attractions and beach destinations: Clearwater Beach, Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, ZooTampa, Pier 60, and the Dali Museum just to name a few. While those are all amazing places to visit during your Florida Gulf beach vacation, today we’re putting the spotlight on some of the best smaller beaches and lesser known places that are worth checking out. It all starts with booking your Indian Rocks Beach vacation rental or Indian Shores beach condo, and from there you can get out and explore. Here are a few of our favorite Florida Gulf Coast hidden gems. These spots focus more on the natural side of the area, but stay tuned because there will most likely be a continuation of this kind of post which will focus on other categories of hidden gems on the Florida Gulf Coast. Enjoy!
Beaches of Indian Rocks & Indian Shores
These barrier island beach locales are absolutely beautiful to behold, as evidenced by the white sandy shorelines that melt right into the blue-green Gulf of Mexico waters and the placid, pristine Intracoastal waters that lie on the other side. Forget about fighting for parking and dealing with overcrowded beaches. They offer up a serene, safe, and stunningly intimate beach experience you won’t soon forget.
Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve
Located centrally in Indian Rocks Beach, the IRB Nature Preserve offers up a lush haven of mangroves and salt marsh with a boardwalk and lightly trafficked 0.5 mile loop trail that leads you to the Intracoastal Waterway and back. With free parking, bathroom facilities, and a dog park—it’s perfect for families, nature lovers, bird watchers, and those who want to drink in the natural coastal beauty of the area.
Town Square Nature Park in Indian Shores
Town Square Nature Park offers an 800-foot boardwalk that tracks through beautiful Florida landscape to a fishing pier. It has two covered pavilions with benches, clean restrooms, and plenty of parking for a leisurely family visit. Keep a watchful eye out for dolphins and manatees that may be swimming by when you get to the Intracoastal portion of your walk. Enjoy a little slice of nature’s paradise!
Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores
The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds. An average of 2,500 wild birds are admitted into the sanctuary’s hospital each year and it’s home to over 100 permanently disabled wild birds. The Seabird Sanctuary is open seven days a week and admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo
The Florida Botanical Gardens, located at 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo (next to Heritage Village) allows you to immerse yourself into the exquisite natural beauty of the area. Explore a variety of subtropical gardens featuring Florida native and exotic plants from around the world. The gardens are open daily, sunrise to sunset, and admission is free—but donations are appreciated. Leashed pets welcome!
Heritage Village in Largo
Heritage Village, located at 11909 125th Street N., Largo (next to the Florida Botanical Gardens) is set in a gorgeous natural pine and palmetto landscape featuring some of Pinellas County’s most historic buildings. Explore 33 historic structures and attractions, including a variety of historic homes, general store, railroad depot, two schools, church, and more. Enjoy the living history!
McGough Park in Largo
The McGough Nature Park is a 26-acre nature park located on the Intracoastal Waterway, also referred to as “the turtle park” for its abundant aquatic turtle population of over 150 turtles. Come face-to-face with birds of prey as all the avian residents are taken out of their enclosures daily for a stroll around the park. Visitors can take a nature walk of nearly a mile through the woods on the new, cushioned walking trail made of recycled tires. Also onsite is the Narrows Environmental Education Center offering tons of kid-friendly fun!
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