Flying into PIE Gets You Easy Access to the Best Of Florida

looking at palm trees from below
Jun 17, 2022
Discover the sensational Florida destinations within driving distance of St. Pete-Clearwater, and make your visit even more memorable.

When you fly into St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), you’re landing in the heart of Florida. With beaches, dining, entertainment and more, St. Pete-Clearwater has more than enough to fill a getaway. However, you’re also just a whim away from countless discoveries throughout the state. If you’ve booked a rental from the onsite PIE airport Rental Car Center, grab the keys and start exploring.

Welcome to America’s Best Beaches

You’ve found Florida’s best beach vacation. With 35 miles of white, sugar-sand shoreline, Pinellas County and the St. Pete-Clearwater area have three of Tripadvisor's top U.S. beaches — as well as several other award-winning beaches — right here under your feet. Spend a day enjoying brilliant blue waters, pristine sands and those Gulf of Mexico sunsets.

St. Pete-Clearwater is also a year-round paradise for lovers of boating and watersports. You might even spot a dolphin or two on your outing. And for young families, fun, pirate-themed ships invite you to embrace the gulf coast’s buccaneer history.

Back on land, you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Tee off at your choice of over 40 area golf courses, including private, public and resort courses. Hang out at the St. Pete Pier, a beehive of activity that includes green spaces, restaurants, vendors and more. Explore the Sunken Gardens, a 100-year old botanical, Clearwater Marine Aquarium or the Dali Museum, the preeminent collection of Dalí’s work in America and home to over 2,400 works of the legendary surrealist.

Minutes Away from Tampa Bay

You don’t have to travel far from St. Pete-Clearwater to find adventure. It’s in Tampa Bay, only a half-hour north of PIE airport. Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay has a blend of adrenaline-rush rides and roller coasters as well as naturalistic habitats that are home to more than 200 species of animals. Enjoy unique wildlife encounters and know that you’re in a zoo that has earned the Humane Certified™ seal from American Humane.

Home of the reigning NFL champions, Tampa Bay offers the thrill of pro sports all year round, including the MLB Tampa Bay Rays, the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning, plus New York Yankees spring training and semi-pro and collegiate teams.

The Tampa Riverwalk is a fun and scenic destination on more than two miles of the Hillsborough River. While you’re there, take in an array of dining, bars, public art and attractions, including the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Museum of Art, Straz Center for the Performing Arts and Glazer Children’s Museum.

Spend a Day at Orlando’s Theme Parks

Put on a movie in the car, hit the road and you could be at Cocoa Beach before the credits roll. Some of your favorite childhood friends live less than two hours away from the St. Pete-Clearwater area at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. Start your stay with the ease of flying non-stop into PIE airport, enjoy the white-sand beaches of Pasco County, and then plan a day trip to Orlando to make amazing memories. You could even stay for the fireworks and still make it back to the hotel for turndown service.

Make a stop at Disney Springs. It has your lunch and dinner cravings covered with 62 places to eat and drink. This village-y destination also features 100 places to shop and 22 attractions, such as music venues, a dine-in movie theater and Cirque du Soleil®.

See how the other half lives on Florida’s Atlantic Coast — aka the Space Coast — less than three hours east of PIE airport. Visit the home of the first American space launch and the 1969 moon launch at Cape Canaveral. The Kennedy Space Center Complex is open for visitors, so you can take a tour through the past, present and future of the space program. The area is also rich with natural beauty and thrills. Catch a wave at Cocoa Beach, the “East Coast capital of surfing,” or make a friend at Florida’s largest manatee and sea turtle habitats.


Visit St. Pete’s Neighbors to the South

Drive south from St. Pete-Clearwater, and you’ll hit an array of diverse Florida destinations, each with a vibe all its own. About 30 minutes away is Sarasota, also on the Gulf Coast. This laidback, cultured town features unique shops and restaurants, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the 66-acre estate that comprises the Ringling Museum.


It’s easy to reach the museums, beaches and nightlife of Fort Lauderdale from Sarasota. Just take I-75, what the locals call Alligator Alley. I-75 can also take you all the way to Miami-Dade County. Once there, you can connect to world-famous neighborhoods like South Beach, Little Havana, Wynwood and the Design District.

If you take SR-41 — nicknamed Tamiami Trail — from Sarasota, you’ll be treated to a scenic journey as you drive through the great Florida Everglades, including the breathtaking fine art photography at the Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery, gifts and kitsch at the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, plenty of airboat operators to choose and Miccosukee Indian Village.

There aren’t many states that have so many different must-see landmarks, attractions and natural wonders within driving distance. Start planning your trip at