RVing to the Tampa/Clearwater/St Pete Area
We absolutely LOVE the Tampa/Clearwater/St Pete Beach area. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous, the sand is soft and cool to the touch, and there are incredible restaurants on the water (we mean INCREDIBLE).
Many years ago I lived in Tampa for a year so it has a soft spot in my heart and I know the area VERY WELL. It was the first place I moved outside of Minnesota and I wanted to make sure I took advantage of such different place from where I grew up. While I lived there, almost every weekend I would go somewhere new to explore.
Now that we’re traveling and Florida is obviously a hot spot for RVers in the winter, we’ve made a visit to this area quite a few times. Every time we always leave saying how much we loved it and want to come back again!
RVing to Hudson, FL
We left Orlando to head just North of this area in Hudson, FL. We upgraded our Thousand Trails membership to have the trails collection which gave us some additional options that weren’t included in our membership. It was neat to have an Orange tree at our campsite and toss in some more variety in where we camped.
I didn’t know too much of this particular area other than I spent some time in New Port Richey years ago so I knew that it wasn’t known for it’s beaches.
We weren’t here for a lengthy amount of time and I had a big work load so we didn’t get to explore as much as I would have liked to but I did spend some time checking out the water and some local parks like the Hudson Beach Park.
Vacation Village RV Resort
We moved locations to the Vacation Village RV Resort which is directly in between St Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach. It has a great location to head to the beaches or zip over to Tampa, but the spots are pretty tight for our 44ft 5th wheel BUT I was very happy that they take the size of your rig into account when they book your reservation. With quite a bit of time and guidance we were able to thread the needle into our campsite.
The heated pool is beautiful and I was surprised at all the Canadian snowbirds who were down here. Much of the park is dedicated to seasonal campers and snowbirds.
For work, I own a marketing company that does the Social Media for over 50 RV Dealerships across North America. We pride ourselves on having a team of RVers and mostly full timers.
It gives our clients a HUGE competitive advantage by:
1 Authentic content to connect with their audience.
2. We are living the benefits of RVing so we are able to pump out more content than anyone in the industry. This alone gives such a massive advantage to our clients to be able to connect with their audience while consistently adding REAL VALUE.
3. Our entire team logs in remotely (almost all are full time RVers logging in everyday a the campground). We don’t have the traditional office overhead and we pass those savings directly back to our customers. That’s real money they can use for profit or re-invest into more marketing dollars for exponentially better results!
I got super excited when randomly a beautiful travel trailer pulled up to the RV Resort as I was biking around the campground with Ella and they had a Bluenose RV sticker on it! That’s our client from WAY UP in Nova Scotia!!! Of course I had to let them know the owners would be giddy to see one of their clients enjoying the warmth of Florida and snapped a pic of them for their Facebook Page. Seriously what are the odds!?!
Camping near Clearwater Beach
Clearwater is a very built up and commercialized area which is totally fine with us and since we often spend our time in the super scenic and secluded areas of the country we embrace the chaos and business of these types of areas.
The sand here is AMAZING! This type of white sand doesn’t heat up when the Florida Sun beats down onto it and it actually stays refreshingly cool on your feet. It’s a blast to play in with the kids and overall a fantastic beach to spend time at.
There’s a nice boardwalk which allows you to walk out over the gulf of Mexico and you’ll find a lot of great retails stores and vendors. Parking is very difficult right at the pier but if you head a few blocks south you’ll find large parking lots that have room on busy days and even to fit large vehicles like our Chevy 3500 dually.
Danielle over the years has become a master at online research for places to eat. Something we’ve done for many years when we travel is if there are a few great restaurants in one area, instead of just having a meal at one, we’ll split up the meal and visit two. It gives us variety, more experiences and has become a lot of fun. While there are a few absolutely top notch waterfront restaurants here, Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is our favorite. It’s tough to beat this view and while we waited for our food I took Ella and played on the beach.
Meeting Up With Friends
A big perk of RVing is being able to visit your friends and family more often than you normally would in your normal routine. In fact we’ve been able to spend significant quality time with our families, much more than when we lived out in California.
While we were in St Pete I found out my good friend Gareth was visiting his hometown of Clearwater so of course we had to meetup for a bite. They also were throwing a baby shower for his Wife that Danielle attended.
Coincidentally Danielle’s best friend happened to be visiting her family just a little bit inland and she made the drive over to meet us to hang out and have a beach day.
Fort Desoto Beach
Can you say PARADISE!?! For Desoto Beach is one of the top beaches in the country. It feels secluded and away from the busy greater Tampa area. If you’re looking to RV here, the sites are HIGHLY sought after and be ready to book online immediately after they open. I believe when I was there they were booking many months out and booked solid.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, you’re able to watch shark, dolphin, manatee, go boating, go swimming or whatever directly from your campsite. The water color is amazing and the sand is that nice and cool to the skin quartz sand that is very rare to find.
It’s a large park and there are a few highlighted spots to visit in the park. You’ll find a snack shop and an old military fort you can explore. North Beach has the jaw dropping beauty. It’s also a great place to sit down, relax and build a sand castle.
We saw dolphin swim right next to the shore eating fish that were hanging out between Fort Desoto and the little island people were parking their boat onto. Make sure you take a long walk on the shores of these beaches at least once in your life.
Young Kids in the RV
Anytime you have young kids you’re going to go through 8,000 loads of laundry in an week among other challenges. When we started RVing in our Class C Sunseeker we would usually take time each week to go do laundry at the RV Resort. Not a big deal but it’s an inconvenience and a time waster.
By far one of the best decisions we’ve made with the our Heartland Road Warrior was having a Washer/Dryer in it. It’s an all in one unit and surprisingly works really well. There’s only two downsides we’ve noticed, it takes A LOT longer to do a load than one that you would have in your home and the loads are a little bit smaller. Other than that it’s just like being in a sticks n bricks home.
I’m convinced that Danielle purposely rearranges the RV layout every 6 months for something to do lol… When we had Ella, I had to give up my office in the Toy Hauler to give her that room.
With Ava being born we weren’t sure how we were going to work it out because as a new baby we knew she would be loud and needy and the concern was we didn’t want Ella to lose sleep as we constantly were tending to the baby. So for a temporary solution we setup the Pack & Play in the living room area. It worked so well and knowing it was temporary we kept it up and that became where she slept at night.
Back in Ella’s room we bought a specialized crib that was space saving and very well built so it would take any sort of beating that bouncing down the road would deliver to it. It also has the ability to morph into a toddler bed as she gets older. We’re going to get the same crib for Ava when she is ready and she already constantly wants to cuddle with her sister in her bed… Sometimes I just can’t take their cuteness, total cuteness overload!
Madeira Beach and St John’ Pass
Madeira beach is a nice change if you’re looking for less of a crowd than St Pete and Clearwater just to the north. It’s beautiful with awesome water color and really is a relaxing setting, especially when the other areas get packed on busy weekends.
St John’s Pass is a very touristy area packed with shops and AWESOME restaurants. You’re able to book any type of outdoor water adventure such as fishing excursions, sunset cruises, boat/jet ski rentals and or head out on some kayaks. It was difficult to decide where we were going to eat because they had so many cool options and ultimately we went to a few different spots. One of them “The Hut” puts you directly on top of the water and we had Kayakers pull up to order a drink while we were at our table, very cool experience.
Healthcare and Dentist Visits
This is a sore spot for us. We travel full time and if it were just Danielle and I we could have an HMO which would be affordable and make sure we plan our visits when we’re in a specific area for an extended amount of time.
With Danielle wanting to pump out these babies we need to be able to be seen everywhere and a PPO IS INSANELY EXPENSIVE. We pay almost $2,000 per month in health insurance for our small family, NOT COOL!
I suppose it’s a first world problem and the fact that we’re able to travel around and still be able to take care of our health should make us grateful… That’s what I tell myself anyways.
We Got “Jacked” at St Pete Beach
Have you ever been to a place that’s so awesome, that even though your stuff got jacked (stolen) while you were swimming, you didn’t even care!?!
I don’t want to portray that this isn’t a safe area, it is and we feel completely safe here but we had a moment of stupid and ultimately paid for it.
By far our favorite place to go is Jimmy B’s Beach Bar on St Pete Beach. It’s a fantastic beach that has natural beauty and bustling with things going on. The food is great but this place is the PERFECT beach scene.
One time we walked on down from Jimmy B’s and set our stuff right by the path. It was far from where we were at and looking back was a foolish mistake. We will always move our stuff near us in a similar situation and we came back to one of our bags being gone. Lesson learned.
We still love you St Pete Beach. It was a holiday and there was A LOT of people on the beach that day. Luckily I had the sense to take out our important things like keys, phones and cards and put them on me in another bag I had.
Jimmy B’s has live music I believe everyday or close to it. They really get that place rocking and that view is STUNNING from anywhere you sit at the restaurant.
The Tampa Aquarium
One of the days we met up with Leighanna (Danielle’s best friend) and headed with the kids to the Tampa Bay Aquairum. We often visit zoos and aquariums on our travels to give the kids some education and a fun filled day and this was no different.
Tampa is a big city and there’s a lot to do. The aquarium is PACKED with marine creatures both big and small to watch and learn about.
Tampa has a rich Cuban history from the many Cigar factories in town near Ybor city to the food and culture. If you’re looking for authentic Cuban food without having to visit Cuba, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking to experience the Cuban history and culture in this city Ybor City is the place to go.
Ok so the marine life is awesome to see but if you have kids who are full of energy the splash park area is TOP NOTCH! This picture doesn’t do it justice as the kids were able to run around and play for hours and it’s also part of the restaurant area so you can sit back and sip on some pop while you watch your kids enjoy time in the water. There’s also seating that offers a GORGEOUS view of the industrial part of Tampa Bay where you can watch massive ships cruise on by. Very cool experience.
Well it was an incredible time but now we have to head on south to visit the Everglades National Park and then make our way down to the Florida Keys for a tropical RV Vacation! We will be back…
Incredible post, as usual. I pinned you! It has been difficult getting first-hand information about RVing full time. The hubby and I are ready to start this spring/summer. Got to get the house sold in Minneapolis, MN. I’m trying to remember, you have the Road Warrior, Toy Hauler??? And what is the real story with the length? Do sites actually have length restrictions? Thanks for the great information! ~kim
Hey! Thanks for the kind words and we’ll always answer any questions you have! Yes we have the Heartland Road Warrior Toy Hauler 425. It’s 44.5 ft which is about as big as you can get. Yes some campgrounds do restrict, we actually found out years ago the hard way and I had to hit 2 trees to exit a park that we didn’t fit into… It’s actually been the only big physical issue we’ve had with the rig and thank goodness for insurance lol. Now that big rigs are so common, most campgrounds will ask you upfront what rig you have and even will know which sites can handle that exact size. It’s been very rare for us to not be able to find camping for our rig. Mainly it’s State and National Parks that you won’t fit into which initially I thought would be a big deal for us, but what we’ve found is there are INCREDIBLE RV Resorts just outside the National Parks. So you can easily fit into a beautiful amenity filled campground, and then just drive a few miles into the National Park.
Thank you! That was what I was hoping to hear. We have our sites set on a Heartland Fuzion Toy Hauler or a Montana but the hubs is a day trader and I’d like hte garage for an office. WE are not going to have any babies but we have two large dogs… Are you comfortable driving a 44.5′? We’ve really been sweating over IF we can go to a 43 ft? Thanks very much for this invaluable information!!! Your kids are beyond adorable!~kim
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