A hidden gem right in St. Pete’s backyard has been named one of the top up-and-coming spots in the country. Tierra Verde was named the No. 5 most trending destination in the United States in 2023 by Trip Advisor in its latest ranking.
The annual list from Trip Advisor gathers the places expected to soon become hot spots, “from lesser-known cities to new escapes, these places are on the up and up. You heard it here first.” The island community of Tierra Verde checked in at No. 5 this year, one spot behind Sonoma, California and one spot ahead of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Tierra Verde is certainly home to many great restaurants, bars and shops, but its greatest resource is, of course, it’s natural beauty and outdoor adventures. Encompassing Shell Key and Shell Key Preserve (and acting as the gateway to Fort De Soto), Tierra Verde is a hot spot for snorkeling, kayaking, dolphin sighting, or just plain relaxing by (or in) the water.
Trip Advisor credited that natural splendor for its ranking, saying “the island of Tierra Verde is more than just a quiet boating community—it’s also a stepping stone to some of the best nature and wildlife in the area. Bike or take a drive down the Pinellas Bayway to Fort De Soto Park for a day at the beach (pets welcome!), catch a ferry to Egmont or Shell Key for tortoise-spotting and bird-watching, and, if all else fails, fresh seafood, live music, and cold drinks are always within reach.”
Of course, those spots for good eats and drinks are no throwaway perks. Some of the area’s best dining of any variety – not just seafood – can be found in Tierra Verde. Alsace French Bistro is one of the best restaurants in the region, and nearby Tony & Nello’s serves up incredible southern Italian fare. But if it’s seafood you want, neighboring Sea Worthy Fish Bar is a must-visit, while Billy’s Stone Crab provides great waterfront, family-friendly dining. Meanwhile, Smuggler’s Tavern remains one of the few true dive bars left on the beaches, and is more than worth a visit at least for a nightcap.
And if you’re looking for an interactive dining experience, Jolly Roger’s Grub & Pub is eater-tainment at its finest, with tasty food alongside snarky pirates in a fun atmosphere. Just next door, Circo Italian Kitchen is one that remains on our list of restaurants to make a visit to. And right across the road, The Island Grille & Raw Bar is an excellent spot for waterfront fresh catch and American classics.