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Hot Tips: Tampa to St. Petersburg in a rental car

When someone is visiting a beach destination such as Tampa, it’s common for them to stick to very few sites of interest, mostly those that are within walking distance of the hotel. This is fine if you don’t plan to get to know the city you’re visiting, but it means that you’ll be losing out on a ton of amazing places that can completely change your perspective of a city or town.

It all boils down to transportation – the more you can move within your destination, the more sites you can visit. You can even go to neighboring sites that aren’t necessarily in the city, and that’s a factor that many people tend to ignore when planning their trips. 

Sunset in Tampa FL

Now a great way to enhance your transportation capabilities during your travels is to rent a car. It is an easy and elegant way to make sure you won’t lose out on anything, no matter how far it may be from your hotel. Plus, it’s very easy to find car rentals in Tampa and other popular touristic cities.

So, in this post, we’ll be seeing some advice on how to improve a trip to Tampa with a little escapade to the town of St. Petersburg, and St Pete Beach, with a rental car. We’ll also make a little review of some of the many activities you can do during that trip. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go for it!

Tampa colors at night

Using a car rental broker

First things first, we must get a rental car to make this trip. This can seem like a nightmarish task, and if you do it wrong it might as well be, since reaching for a rental car by yourself can be quite difficult. This is due to the unreasonable amount of options that you can find just by searching “rental car” on the internet. There are dozens of companies, and each of them has many different options, and it’s easy to end up overpaying for a vehicle.

Thankfully there are ways to bypass this annoying search process. For example: using a car rental broker such as Miles Car Rental. These are websites that search for the lowest prices and narrow immensely the amount of options you have to sort through, making the process much easier.

female travel

Parking in Tampa and St Petersburg

Now that you have a car, it’s important that to have in mind some of the most important information regarding parking in Tampa and St. Petersburg… I know, I know, it’s not as glamorous as searching for restaurants and museums but don’t worry, we´ll get to that later. Plus, it’ll be useful when you’re searching for a good parking lot during the trip. 


  • The average hourly fee in Tampa is of $1.60, for a 24-hour package the average is 12 dollars.
  • Most of the sites can be found in downtown Tampa, and in East Ybor.
  • On-street parking is free during the weekends in the downtown area.
  • Most major hotels have a very serviceable lots, make sure to know if yours has one before booking.

St. Petersburg:      

  • The average fee in St. Petersburg is much cheaper, at a maximum average of 8 to 9 dollars for 9+ hours.
  • There are some extra fees for spatial events, that raise the price to 10$, so have that in mind every time there’s a concert or a baseball game.
  • In some of these parking lots, there are charging stations for electric cars.

The trip to St Petersburg

Now, the trip from Tampa to St. Petersburg is only about an hour long. There are two ways to get there by car, one is by taking the I-275, so that you can cross the Howard Franking Bridge, and the other is by taking the W. Gandy Boulevard. 

Both of these routes will make you cross some spectacular sea bridges where the only things on sight are the beautiful expanses of tranquil turquoise sea, so bring a camera! 

Things to see, and do in St. Petersburg Florida

And finally, let’s see the many amazing things to do during the trip!

Salvador Dalí Museum

If the parks at Orlando are the happiest place on Earth, then St. Petersburg, Florida has the strangest place on Earth, the Dalí Museum! 

This oddly shaped building houses one of the greatest collections of surrealist art in America, many of the pieces belong to Dalí himself, in fact, here you´ll find 7 of the painter’s masterpieces.  

Dali Museum is a sight to behold

Chihuly Collection

St. Petersburg FL is one of the most artistic towns you can find, so don’t be surprised when I tell you there is yet another art museum worth visiting: Chihuly Collection. This place houses some of the most amazing glass art pieces you can find anywhere. It truly looks as if the artist had fished out some unknown and colorful creatures from the depths of the ocean and put them on exhibit for the world to see. The exhibits feature structures with many tentacles made of glass that sort of look like anemones and bowl-like sculptures that looks like the shells from undiscovered crustaceans. 

Blown glass art in St Petersburg FL

Sunken Gardens 

This is one of St. Pete’s oldest and most endearing natural attractions and one of the best places for unwinding and just forgetting about all your problems as you reconnect with nature. This garden features a unique collection of tropical ecosystems that has been there for 100 years, even as the city has been growing around it. Here you´ll find an amazing variety of places to visit such as waterfalls and meandering paths that get lost among the tropical plants. And there are even some animals that call this garden home, such as tortoises, koi fish, and even some flamingos!

Flamingos at sunken gardens

St. Pete Beach

And finally, no trip to St. Pete would be complete without a visit to St. Pete Beach. This one is great for children; the beach is quite shallow and the waves are calm. On a good day you can even see some dolphins and sea birds going about their day! 

st pete beach at sunset

Hot Tip: The Tradewinds at St Pete Beach is our family’s favorite resort in the area for an amazing family vacation to Florida. We fly into Tampa and take a rental car from the terminal straight to Tradewinds and let the kids hop on the 30 foot tall water slide. No, seriously! You can read our detailed review HERE.

Hotel Review Tradewinds Island Grande St Pete Beach FL
My kids LOVE this resort in St Pete Beach

That’s a Wrap!

And there you have it, next time you visit Tampa consider renting a car and making a little trip to the town of St Petersburg. Trust me, it´s worth it!

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Tampa to St. Petersburg Road Trip in Rental Car

I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

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