The one thing that Pinellas County has going for it is the Gulf beaches — unequivocally some of the best in Florida. Clearwater, Indian Rocks, Madeira Beach, and Treasure Island, are just a few of the beautiful beaches in the area. Considering the county is bordered on three sides by the water of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it's no wonder the area is so desirable.
Ironically enough one of the largest Pinellas County municipalities is one of the least known, Largo. With an area covering just under 15 square miles and a population of around 80,000, Largo is far from being a small town. But, even though its size doesn't exactly fit the criteria of quaint, if you’re looking for Old Florida charm, you’ll find it here.
How to get there
Largo is located in Pinellas County. Highways 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard and East & West Bay Drive) and 688 (Ulmerton Road) are major thoroughfares that cut through Largo on the way to Belleair and Indian Rocks beaches.
Although the city of Largo is centrally located, there are some very beautiful beaches within close proximity. Indian Rocks Beach is south of central Largo and offers a quiet atmosphere with little commercialism. Just south of there is Indian Shores Beach, which is home to condos, hotels, and time shares so there is always a pretty big crowd playing in the surf.
North Redington, Madeira, and Treasure Island are all further south and each accommodate a different type of traveler. North Redington is good area for those looking for the shopping and dining beach experience. There are tons of cute beach shops and lots of waterfront restaurants. Madeira Beach is great for families. Right off the water you will find bathrooms, showers, picnic areas, and a playground. It’s also home to St. John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, a kitschy outdoor shopping area made to look like an old-time fishing village.
Head to Treasure Island if you’re looking for the slow beach vibes. This town runs on island time so it’s definitely the place to go for rest and relaxation.
Where to stay
Largo is not exactly the most travelled to city in Florida, so even if you’re interested in the city, staying in Largo proper is not exactly necessary. Plus, you will probably find more options closet to St. Petersburg or Clearwater. But nonetheless, if staying in Largo is calling your name try the Hampton Inn & Suites, located in the heart of the city. The hotel offers all of your basic amenities and close to the downtown area. There is also a Holiday Inn Express and an RV park, The Rainbow Village of Largo.
What to do
Largo is close to everything... even nature. All of its wonderful parks provide almost unlimited exposure to the outdoors. Largo is probably not a getaway destination by itself, but if you are visiting any of Pinellas County's fine beaches, Largo's Pinewood Performing Arts Center or Central Park are certainly worth considering for something to do one afternoon.
Another great place to visit is Pinewood Cultural Park. According to its brochure, Pinewood Cultural Park is, "Where Nature, Art and History Come Together." Indeed.
The park encompasses The Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village in almost 200 acres of natural habitat. The Heritage Village, a 21-acre living history museum features 28 beautifully restored historic structures set in native pine and palmetto landscape. As you stroll the mulched or red brick paths, you'll learn about Florida's past through the lives of Pinellas Park's early residents. Among the 28 structures, you'll see the oldest existing structure in Pinellas County, the oldest continuously lived-in home in Pinellas County, a one-room schoolhouse, a bandstand and an early neighborhood store complete with service garage and barbershop.
Some structures are open to the public and some feature guided tours.
Within the Visitor Information Center are two rooms of exhibit displays — one features Florida industries of past and present and the other contains displays of household items from the past with a hands-on living area that children will enjoy. For a generation of children who grew up with electric appliances, who would ever guess that hanging up clothes on a clothesline or washing dishes by hand could be so much fun?
The adjoining 150-acre Florida Botanical Gardens displays a wide array of Florida native and tropical plants in natural habitats, scenic landscapes and formal and themed gardens along paved pathways. It is also home to Pinellas County's Extension Services which pairs with the University of Florida to offer classes and hands-on workshops demonstrating landscaping techniques.
While there are handicapped parking and facilities that are handicap accessible at Pinewood Cultural Park, wheelchair-bound visitors may find the going a little rough in Heritage Village. The red brick pathways are a little uneven and the mulched pathways may be soft after rains. Also, only a handful of the structures are wheelchair accessible.
Largo also boasts 640 acres of parks, with Central Park being the largest. Situated on the site of the former fairgrounds property, located in the center of downtown, the 70-acre area includes the 31-acre Largo Central Park, which opened in 1994 with fabulous rolling open spaces, its landmark clock tower, and fountains. It includes a fabulous children's playground and picnic pavilions for all to enjoy.
At the heart of the area is the Largo Performing Arts Center that features over 150 various live performances throughout the year.
The Pinellas Trail is great for the outdoor lover. Carved from a 34-mile trail created along an abandoned railroad corridor. The Pinellas Trail offers county residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. As one of the top 10 Florida greenways and trails, you will find skaters, joggers, and bicyclists taking advantage of the scenic traffic-free environment.
Kids will love the Highland Family Aquatic Center. This brand-new aquatic center is a great place to spend the day with little kids or just relax poolside. The park is small but has all you need for a low-key fun day — two water slides, a splash zone for young children, snack bar, water basketball and volleyball and plenty of shady areas. Swim lessons and water aerobics classes are offered there as well.