The Best Time to Visit Tourist-Happy Treasure Island, Florida

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Our mission is to steer fellow travelers away from crowded tourist hot-spots, but don’t we all occasionally – and maybe secretly – want to play the tourist? Only without the hordes, traffic, noise, black socks with sandals*, and hour-long waits for a table overlooking the water.

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If we constantly ran in fear from popular tourist areas, we’d miss out on the kind of fun you can find in Treasure Island, Florida, internationally known as a family vacation destination and just across the bridge from the funky and colorful (and yes, touristy) John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk.

Treasure Island was named in the early 20th century when several property owners, trying to create interest and sales of land, buried and then “found” treasure! Back then they were trying to sell land for $1.25 an acre and they needed that scheme to bring in buyers??

Today Treasure Island boasts over 48 hotels and 6 B & B’s, many of which are family owned with an updated old-Florida feel. A busy highway runs through the town, but the broad and well-designated crosswalks – the kind with the flashing lights – make this a perfect walkable Triple B.

Book your stay during non-peak times. If you’d like to have breathing room and the benefit of lower prices, avoid mid-December through mid-April. These dates aren’t written in stone: check websites as many hotels have their own idea of when the peak season begins and ends.

The “shoulder” seasons in Florida are April through May and September through November, when prices may be down and the weather is usually still good.

The best time to visit Florida to avoid the crowds is November.

November is the driest month in Florida, the month we locals go around telling each other “This is why we live here!” Days that are almost hot, but not humid, and the nights cool down for perfect sleeping weather. That “ahhhhh…” feeling you get when the clear sunshine raises goose bumps on your arm and you feel at one with all mankind, even that candidate you didn’t vote for and your neighbor who gets his blower out every single time you settle out back with a glass of wine….

 

THE BEACH

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Public beach access paths abound, and public parks, some with facilities (most of which charge a fee to park) are located at 127th Ave., 126th Ave., 124th Ave., 121st Ave., and 112th Ave, which is known as “THE widest beach in Florida.”  Click here for more details about what each public parking area offers.

We chose to check in at our Bungalow (literally: The Bungalows Motel, read on down for more info) and utilize our very own lovely crosswalk, where we wound our way past Sunshine Lane to our very own (okay, yes, others may use it but at this time of year we could pretend it was our very own) beach pathway walkway, pictured below.

 

  • PARK/WALK:  You may have to pay to park, and the size of the lots vary. Check the website for more details. The walk from the parking lot to a spot near the water may take awhile; plan ahead if a member of your party is elderly or you have tons of beach gear to haul.
  • GO/RINSE:  Most public beach areas have an outdoor shower for rinsing, the larger ones have restrooms. The City of St. Petersburg Municipal Beach at 112th Avenue facilities include a snack bar.
  • CROWD FACTOR:  If you take our advice and travel on off-peak times, there will be no crowd.
  • GUARDS: No. The gulf waters are generally calm and shallow.
  • IMBIBE:  Yes, but not in Sunset Beach which is a part of Treasure Island. Read more about peaceful Sunset Beach, here.
  • BEST FRIEND:  Not here, but check out the off-leash dog beach of Fort De Soto, 13 miles south, click here for more details.
  • WE LOVE:  Sunsets on the Gulf!

 

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THE BAR

Gators Café and Saloon

12754 Kingfish Dr.

Treasure Island, FL 33706

727-367-8951

Hours:  Sun-Thurs 11 am-12 am, food available til 11 pm, Fri Sat 11 am-2 am, food available til midnight

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While the theme is University of Florida Gators (and yes, we are Gators:  my husband completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees there, and I’m a Gator by marriage!) the reason to experience this place is the view, the upbeat atmosphere with plenty of seating, and the fact that you can walk here from the beach or your Bungalow. John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is just over the bridge, which is an easy walk with outstanding views of Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf.

 

  • VIBE:  Part sports bar and part tropical “beach” bar, super casual, with a festive atmosphere.
  • ARRIVE:  By car – there is plenty of parking – by boat, or on foot.
  • SIT:  Outside upstairs or down, or inside.
  • SIP:  Check their website for various drink specials, click their name above.
  • NOSH:  Try their famous Gator Bites or the huge nachos, or choose from fresh or fried appetizers, baskets and bowls, soups and sandwiches, salads and also vegetarian options.
  • LISTEN:  Live music every day, twice on Friday and three times on Saturdays. Click on their name above for the full schedule.
  • WE LOVE:  The views of the water and of John’s Pass.

 

THE BUNGALOW

The Bungalows Motel

12321 Gulf Blvd.

Treasure Island, FL  33706

727-201-4959

 

the-bungalows-motelroom-front

Besides the obvious reason we were drawn to this place (#FellowBungalowLover), their great reviews and their mission statement sealed the deal – “to bring back the endless summer days of family fun beach vacations remembered as children.”

  • VIBE:  Key West bungalow style feel, peaceful and extremely well maintained. Pride of ownership and diligent upkeep is evident throughout the property.
  • WALK:  The walkability of this location was key in our choice. The beach is a lovely 2 block walk away, the bar is just as close a walk, John’s Pass is a short distance over the bridge. The cutest residential neighborhood surrounds The Bungalow Motel which was a pleasure for evening strolls. In addition there is a pretty little public park a block away with a pier overlooking the canal which leads out to the bay. Park your car and you won’t need it your entire visit!
  • DECOR:  Beachy and clean with new bathrooms and modern kitchens.
  • SLEEP:  You’ll find the most comfortable nights’ stay here with cozy mattresses and bedding.
  • EXTRAS:  Full kitchens in each unit with glass cooktops; microwaves and new refrigerators; free Wi-Fi in rooms and common areas; heated pool; barbecue area; hammocks; shuffleboard courts; rentals available of kayaks, SUP boards and beach bikes; guest laundry area with iron and ironing board; off street parking with 24/7 camera surveillance. For more amenities click on their name above to visit their website.
  • WE LOVE:  The beautifully landscaped grounds and pool area, the peace, and the old-Florida feel with modern touches.

 

bungalows-motel-officeThe creative use of touches of orange made us smile

 

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The charming neighborhood surrounding The Bungalows Motel:

 

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its-floridaWe had to include the perfect “This is Florida” photo of the immaculately kept big old car and the kitschy plastic flowers!

 

And John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, with over 100 shops, restaurants and attractions, is a not-to-miss – off season!

 

sculleys-palm-treeSculley’s Waterfront Restaurant on the left and the entrance to The Hut Bar and Grill in the foreground

 

fantasias-shopFantasia’s Boutique

 

the-sand-bar-ice-creamMy Sandbox and The Sandbar

 

wild-style-johnspassTarot Card Readings by Stephanie St. James, and Wild Style Boutique

 

shops-johns-passMeyer’s House of Sweets on the left, Wild Time Caribbean Trading Company on the right

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Now that we’ve shared our insider’s secret on the best month to visit this popular Florida travel destination, we want you to tell us what other towns you may be hesitating to visit due to high volume tourism during the peak season. We want to start a new category and hashtag… #OnlyOffPeak ?  #NotaTouristTrapAfterAll ?  #TravelersNotTourists ?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

*Black socks with sandals is such a cliché it seems made up, but we HAVE SEEN THIS!

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