All About West Coast Florida

{Originally posted on Henning Love as part of her Hometown Series!}

I’ve been feeling a little homesick and I knew this might cheer me up…perhaps even encourage me to make a trip back home!

I’m Krystal from Krystal’s Kitsch and I’m a true Florida girl. I’ve never lived anywhere else (barely even visited other states!), and have spent my entire existence on the west Gulf coast of Florida. And, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else!

I was born and raised in the Tampa Bay area. Sometimes besides sports – I wonder what outsiders think of this city. I grew to love it and now I totally miss it. Tampa has everything that one could want.

Sports. From the Tampa Bay Bucs (okay, so MAYBE a winning football team night be nice) to the Tampa Rays (formerly the Devil Rays), we have sports covered. We have hockey (Lightning) and even arena football (Storm). If you’re craving basketball, the Orlando Magic is just a two hour drive east.


My favorite weekend ever (besides my wedding of course!) was when the Super Bowl was in Tampa a few years ago. From stalking celebrities to free concerts, it was a BLAST. I have never seen so many famous people in one weekend!

Theme Parks. There’s Busch Gardens in the city limits and TONS of other area attractions. From museums to aquariums, there is really no reason to ever be bored! The Disney Theme Parks are not a far drive (again, an hour or so east) and Universal Studios is also nearby in Orlando.

Beaches. Yes, the beach! I love Gulf Coast beaches. Clearwater is my favorite, but I’m a little biased. I had way too much fun there growing up. We even got married on this beach!

See pirate ship. Read on to learn why pirates are a big deal in Tampa.

Nightlife. Tampa is known for its adult establishments. I thought that was normal growing up — that every town had a street in the middle of the city that had some…interesting places. That’s definitely not the case! Besides those adult spots, there are tons of fun bars and clubs. We even got a Hard Rock casino. Like I said, there’s really no chance that you could be bored around here. The diversity of nightlife is also apparent–beer bars, fancy wine lounges, crazy dance clubs–you name it, I’m sure Tampa has it.

Small Towns. Tampa is a HUGE city for some people. There’s a lot of traffic, a pretty big population, and naturally, crime. With any big city, crime is a given. However, what is awesome about the Tampa area, are the cute little town that lie on the outskirts. My favorite, Dunedin, is nestled on the water and is a family & dog friendly city. It boasts local breweries (The Dunedin Brewery is one of my favorites — craving an Apricot Wheat Ale now!) and beautiful views. Other small towns include Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, and Oldsmar. Tarpon Springs is best known its Greek population (apparently the largest amount of Greek Americans live there!) and tourist attractions.

Dunedin Brewery’s Oktoberfest beer mugs.

Dunedin, also known as DOGedin, is a great place to hang out with (or without!) your pets!

Pirates. This entire area has a fascination with PIRATES. It’s kind of amazing. Every year Tampa hosts a Gasparilla parade–basically an excuse to dress up like a pirate, indulge in some adult beverages, and watch a crazy parade. And, this isn’t just a small city event. About half a million people head to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa each year to watch the mayhem.


I recently moved two hours south — same vibe, different crowd! I still have a nearby beach with a variety of neat restaurants, but nightlife is a little nonexistent. At least Tampa is a short drive north!


Though, I shouldn’t complain about my new digs. Being a bit more south, we are a LOT more warm!

Christmas Eve on the beach? Done. And… it was HOT out.

Ft Myers Beach Pier — my new beach!

I hope you all started mentally booking your Florida vacation as you read this! If you have any questions be sure to ask! I love where I live and I love to encourage others to come visit. I’ve been quite the beach expert lately so if you’re looking for warm weather and good times, head on down to Florida!

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Cook, craft, and celebrate on a budget! I'm a Florida mom, wife, and blogger who wants to inspire you to celebrate the every day. From easy recipes to fruity cocktails, Krystal's Kitsch is a place to enjoy a sweet escape.
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  1. says

    I have a special fondness for Florida because my dad grew up there. They lived in Tarpon Springs, and my grandpa taught at USF in Tampa, and we spent many vacations on Clearwater Beach. So pretty! I live in California, but I’m so nostalgic for Florida beaches (I grew up in GA so we drove down there a couple times a year).

  2. says

    Clearwater was our favorite beach when we lived down there too. We didn’t care that we had to drive from Orlando, it was worth it.

  3. says

    We are going to Clearwater Beach in July for a wedding! I wish I had known you were from there before we booked our hotel. I had the hardest time finding a hotel. We ended up picking the Hilton in Clearwater. Is that a good one? Would love to hear what else you recommend to do while we are visiting!

  4. says

    Clearwater is definitely not my favorite beach – I’m more of a Honeymoon Island girl but that is what I love about this area – there is something for EVERYONE. I know people who live in the area and hate the beach and they are never at a loss for things to do!

  5. says

    We’ll be there on Saturday, and I can’t wait! This year we’re hitting up Busch Gardens, Ybor City and possibly Tarpon Springs. Make sure the weather’s nice, will you???

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