20 low-key springs and beaches within driving distance of Tampa Bay

Pretty much every Florida beach and spring is busy these days, especially on the weekends. But there are still a few great spots, close to Tampa Bay, where you can lay your towel down in peace. Here are a few of the more low-key beaches and springs that are pretty close by. 
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 Nokomis Beach 
Estimated drive time from Tampa: 1 hours and 30 minutes 
Enjoy a day of swimming, sunbathing or fishing in southern Sarasota at Sarasota’s oldest public beach: Nokomis Beach. Often described as a hidden gem for its relatively low traffic, the beach offers public parking, a boat and canoe ramp, restrooms, picnic facilities and a renovated plaza that was built in the ‘50s.
Photos via scgov.net

Nokomis Beach

Estimated drive time from Tampa: 1 hours and 30 minutes
Enjoy a day of swimming, sunbathing or fishing in southern Sarasota at Sarasota’s oldest public beach: Nokomis Beach. Often described as a hidden gem for its relatively low traffic, the beach offers public parking, a boat and canoe ramp, restrooms, picnic facilities and a renovated plaza that was built in the ‘50s.
Photos via scgov.net
Lithia Springs State Park
Estimated drive time from Tampa: 45 minutes 
With cool and clean water that flows year-round from the Alafia River, Lithia Springs (named for  its natural lithium-enriched water) is a great low-key swimming spot to escape the Florida heat. Stay for the afternoon starting at $2 per vehicle and $2 to swim or make it a trip with a campground that offers 44 sites for tents and RVs, complete with picnic shelters, grills, restrooms, showers, electrical services and other recreational amenities.
Photos via Lithia Springs State Park FL/Facebook

Lithia Springs State Park

Estimated drive time from Tampa: 45 minutes
With cool and clean water that flows year-round from the Alafia River, Lithia Springs (named for its natural lithium-enriched water) is a great low-key swimming spot to escape the Florida heat. Stay for the afternoon starting at $2 per vehicle and $2 to swim or make it a trip with a campground that offers 44 sites for tents and RVs, complete with picnic shelters, grills, restrooms, showers, electrical services and other recreational amenities.
Photos via Lithia Springs State Park FL/Facebook
Apollo Baech Nature Preserve
Estimated drive time from Tampa: 35 minutes 
See some of the best views of Tampa Bay’s sunset at no cost at Apollo Beach Nature Preserve. The 63-acre preserve offers seven acres for nature-based recreation, two acres of beach for sunbathing and picnicking, a 37-foot wheelchair accessible observation tower and spots for shoreline fishing.
Photos via hillsboroughcounty.org

Apollo Baech Nature Preserve

Estimated drive time from Tampa: 35 minutes
See some of the best views of Tampa Bay’s sunset at no cost at Apollo Beach Nature Preserve. The 63-acre preserve offers seven acres for nature-based recreation, two acres of beach for sunbathing and picnicking, a 37-foot wheelchair accessible observation tower and spots for shoreline fishing.
Photos via hillsboroughcounty.org
 Upham Beach Park 
Estimated drive time from Tampa: 40 minutes 
Upham Beach is a considerably less crowded, more family-friendly alternative to its other nearby spots on St. Pete Beach. With plenty of public parking, restaurants, bars, lodging and live music around, Upham Beach is a great spot for your next beach trip. 
Photos via City of St. Pete Beach/Facebook

Upham Beach Park

Estimated drive time from Tampa: 40 minutes
Upham Beach is a considerably less crowded, more family-friendly alternative to its other nearby spots on St. Pete Beach. With plenty of public parking, restaurants, bars, lodging and live music around, Upham Beach is a great spot for your next beach trip.
Photos via City of St. Pete Beach/Facebook
  Don Pedro Island State Park 
Estimated drive time from Tampa: 1 hour and 30 minutes 
Described as a “simple paradise” Don Pedro Island State Park sits along a chain of barrier islands north of Boca Grande. As the park is only accessible by private boat or ferry, crowds are not as plentiful on its mile-long beach. The park also hosts a thriving habitat of mangroves which can be seen on hiking and kayak trails. Parking is $3 per vehicle and the park is open Wednesday-Sunday.  
Photos via floridastateparks.org

Don Pedro Island State Park

Estimated drive time from Tampa: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Described as a “simple paradise” Don Pedro Island State Park sits along a chain of barrier islands north of Boca Grande. As the park is only accessible by private boat or ferry, crowds are not as plentiful on its mile-long beach. The park also hosts a thriving habitat of mangroves which can be seen on hiking and kayak trails. Parking is $3 per vehicle and the park is open Wednesday-Sunday.
Photos via floridastateparks.org

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