Each year, the popular travel website TripAdvisor releases a list of "trending destinations" in the United States based on positive user reviews.
Typically, destinations are geographically diverse and popular with travelers. But they are not always highly traveled or well-known, as is the case with a Florida destination in a small island community that recently made the list.
Where is Tierra Verde?: If you've never heard of this small town in Florida with a population of only about 4,000, you'd be forgiven. It can fly under the radar in terms of Florida tourism. Tierra Verde is made up of several small islands south of the Pinellas Bayway. It's not far from St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach.
What is Tierra Verde Known For?: This destination is a nice match for both nature and history lovers. It's a boating community, but it's also home to a very popular and historic state park and keys that offer superb wildlife viewing and canoeing/kayaking. Tierra Verde offers great seafood and eateries, as well as live music and a laid-back vibe.
Exploring Shell Key Preserve via Clear Kayak: TripAdvisor's most popular tour for Tierra Verde is the clear kayak tour in Shell Key Preserve.
Shell Key Preserve covers a whopping 1,800 acres and includes a barrier island that is only accessible by water vessels. The island is a popular spot for migrating birds. Having a clear kayak gives visitors the advantage of seeing the underwater world beneath them.
Fort De Soto Park: Another popular activity in Tierra Verde is taking a quick drive to the very popular Fort De Soto Park.
The beaches in the park are gorgeous and one (North Beach) was once named the number 1 beach in the country, by "Dr. Beach." No trip to the park would be complete without visiting the beaches, which are about three miles long and free of high-rises or other touristy things.
That said, there are other things to do in the park outside of the beach. The park has three hiking trails, a 7-mile paved bike trail that is free from traffic, over 320 species of birds, and a 2-mile kayaking trail.
If all those things aren't enough, there's a historic fort to explore (The Historic Fort of Fort De Soto.)
The park has a campground with 236 sites, some of which are pet friendly. All sites have water and electricity and access to modern bathrooms.
Admission is $5 for a beach parking fee, but there may also be tolls on your way. It is a good idea to check the park's website before you go to make sure that all amenities are open.
Dining: If you enjoy seafood, it's quite good here, although some options require a short drive. Nice choices are the Island Grille and Raw Bar, the Wharf, and MadFish. For casual dining, try The Brass Monkey and the Seahorse Restaurant.
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