The Insiders Guide to The Tampa Bay Area

Tampa Bay area

Are you interested in moving to Florida? The Sunshine State holds so many amazing cities, so it’s difficult to choose where you should move. But new Florida residents shouldn’t look over the Tampa Bay area.

Nicknamed Cigar City, Tampa has an amazing culture, diversity, and rich history. There’s so much to do — you can party in Ybor, live it up in Clearwater, or lay low in Sarasota.

But what exactly is the Tampa Bay Area? While we may think of the city of Tampa, the Tampa Bay area consists of several counties that boast their own unique qualities.

Here’s a resident’s guide to the Tampa area, delivered to you by Tampa-based Floridians!

Hillsborough County

So far this year, Hillsborough holds a population of over 1.5 million people, making it Florida’s fourth-most populous county. Here’s why Hillsborough County is so popular.


The city of Tampa is based in Hillsborough County and is the largest city in the county. But Tampa isn’t the only city in Hillsborough. You have the option to live in any one of these cities:

  • Brandon
  • Apollo Beach
  • Lutz
  • Gibsonton
  • Plant City
  • Mango
  • Ruskin
  • Riverview
  • Sun City Center
  • Seffner
  • Thonotosassa
  • Temple Terrace
  • Wimauma
  • Valrico

Keep in mind, the only official cities in the county are Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City. The rest are unincorporated areas.

Work and Education

If you’re interested in moving to Tampa for work, Hillsborough County should be your choice. Many Florida-based companies choose the busy Tampa as their headquarters, making it an ideal choice for ambitious young people.

Hillsborough County is also a great area if you’re attending college. Students have the choice of great state schools, such as The University of South Florida (USF). Hillsborough Community College (HCC) is also a great option for students who prefer a smaller college.


What if you want to raise a family? Some of the safest Tampa neighborhoods with the best schools include Spanishtown Creek, Harbour Island, Courier City, Carver City, Swann Estates, Bayshore Gardens, and Channel District.

What to Do

What all is there to do in Hillsborough County? You have limitless options! Some family-friendly favorites include the museums (such as the Museum of Science and Industry) and the Florida Aquarium.

If you’re an adventurous person, check out the popular theme parks such as Busch Gardens and Adventure Island.

What if you want to go out with friends and party? Ybor features a variety of different clubs and venues to dance, listen to music, and enjoy some drinks with friends. If you’re into craft beer, make sure to check out Tampa’s most famous breweries such as Cigar City and Coppertail.

Getting Around

How do you get around? Hillsborough County features some of the largest highways and roads in the entire Tampa Bay area. These include I-275, I-4, I-75, Route 92, State Road 60, State Road 618, State Road 589, and Route 41.

Pinellas County

Would you rather live by the beaches? If so, Pinellas County is one of the places you should choose. Beautiful Clearwater Beach is located here as well as various other beaches on the Gulf. Even if you’re not a beachy person, you’ll enjoy vibrant St. Petersburg.


Pinellas County is large and features a variety of cities. These include:

  • St. Petersburg
  • Clearwater
  • Pinellas Park
  • Palm Harbor
  • Largo
  • Seminole
  • Dunedin
  • Oldsmar
  • Tarpon Springs
  • St. Pete Beach
  • Safety Harbor
  • Indian Rocks Beach
  • Madeira Beach
  • Treasure Island
  • Gulfport
  • Redington Beach
  • Belleair
  • Indian Shores
  • Bay Pines

And even more!

Work and Education

Pinellas County is popular among retirees because of the laid-back atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean young professionals can’t find their niche here.

St. Petersburg welcomes many large corporations and businesses. Clearwater is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country, so the job market here is definitely lively.

Pinellas County also welcomes many colleges and USF also has campuses spread throughout the county. But St. Petersburg College (SPC) is a favorite among students.


Pinellas County is one of the best places in the Bay area to raise a family, especially in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Popular neighborhoods include Old Southeast, North Shore, Euclid-St. Paul, Crescent Heights, University Park, and Historic Kenwood.

What to Do

By far the most favorite activity among locals is visiting the beach! From Clearwater to Fort DeSoto Park, there are a variety of beautiful and sunny beaches in the area. You should also visit Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island for a truly luxurious beach experience.

Pinellas also hosts a variety of other activities. The Salvador Dali Museum in Downtown St. Pete attracts art lovers as well as the various bars, breweries, and restaurants in the area.

Getting Around

Pinellas County offers some major roads and interstates, such as U.S. 19. Other main roads include the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the beach causeways, 5th avenue, 4th street, Roosevelt Boulevard, and Ulmerton Road.

Sarasota County

If you go south of Pinellas, you’ll wind up in Sarasota County. Other than the city of Sarasota, other cities include Siesta Key, North Port, Venice, and more.

Sarasota County is also the perfect place for retired individuals, so the county doesn’t offer as much hustle and bustle as Hillsborough and Pinellas. But Sarasota is a great place to raise a family. The Sarasota County cities with the best schools include Osprey, South Sarasota, Fruitville, South Gate Ridge, Bee Ridge, Siesta Key, Southgate, and Rich Wood Heights.

Like Pinellas, soaking up the sun at the beach is what all locals in Sarasota love doing the most. But there are other fun activities, such as The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Some major roads include Desoto Road, East Dearborn Street, Fruitville Road, and Toledo Blade Boulevard.

Manatee County

Manatee County marks the final county in the Tampa Bay Area. Some notable cities in this county include Palmetto, Bradenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Anna Maria, Ellenton, Cortez, Bradenton Beach, and more.

Like Sarasota County, Manatee County is a popular area among retirees. But young families will love the safety and beauty of Manatee County. The best cities for families include Ellenton, Bradenton, Memphis, Whitefield, and Palmetto.

Other than the beautiful beaches, locals love visiting landmarks such as the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature.

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