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Nonstop Love: Tampa Bay Right Away


Tampa Bay Right Away

Beginning October 13, Dallas Love Field is FREE!  The restrictions of the Wright Amendment will be gone, ushering in nonstop destinations that span from coast to coast.   Southwest has been counting down the years and weeks (literally—we have a billboard at the Love Field entrance and a countdown clock in our Headquarters lobby) until we can say, “Goodbye, Wright Amendment. Hello, America!"  

We are excited to begin this new era by serving five new nonstop destinations on October 13, followed by ten additional new nonstop destinations on November 2.  The addition of these 15 new nonstop destinations will bring Southwest to a total of 31 nonstop destinations from Love Field. In anticipation of this momentous event, each week we will take a look at one of the cities that North Texas Customers will be able to soon visit nonstop on Southwest.  Each post is written by a Southwest Employee who is affiliated with the city and can give an insider’s view of what to see and do while visiting.  Enjoy! Tampa/St. Pete is no doubt one of the best areas in the country to visit.  I’m a big guy, and food is important to me.  For my money, the best steak in the world is from Bern’s.  Some of the best beaches in the country are in Clearwater, and if you are young enough and cool enough (I’m not) to crave nightlife, you can party all night in Ybor city. My first experience with Tampa was as a college senior when I flew there for a job interview to be a reporter in nearby Sarasota.  The boss was smart, he picked me up in a convertible, and we drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  Instantly, I was hooked. I love the area so much that years later, long after I’d left that first gig, I quit a really good job just to buy a convertible and move back there. In terms of daily nonstop departures, Tampa Bay hosts quite a few—62 to be exact! That’s a huge indication of how beautiful Tampa Bay is… Your Tampa to-do list: To Eat:
  • Beach Bistro:  Located on Anna Maria Island (South over the Sunshine Skyway bridge), the Beach Bistro is worth the drive.  Intimate, waterfront, and absolutely delicious.  Everything from the lamb to the Bouillabaisse is first class.  Warning: it can be so hard to make a decision on what to eat here, people have been known to order two entrées (I’ve actually seen this happen).
  • Bern’s Steakhouse:  Bern’s is as old-school steakhouse as you can get—my advice come hungry.  The hardest thing to do is to save room for desert, but desert is a must.  It’s not just food—it’s an experience as your server guides you upstairs to the dimly lit desert room.  Don’t miss the Macadamia nut ice cream.  It is unforgettable.
To Do:
  • The Beach:  Obviously!  St. Pete Beach is fantastic, so is Clearwater.  If you have a little more time, drive south to Siesta Key in Sarasota, where the white sugary sand is beautiful.  Man, oh man, it will stick to you and everything in your rental car.
Siesta Key - Red Stand - 05.10
  • Ybor City:  Again, if you are a party animal and cooler than I am, hit Ybor City.  Ybor is the center of Tampa’s nightlife with streets that close down to vehicle traffic at night and club after club where you can listen to music and dance.  I haven’t been there in years, but younger souls tell me it is still a great place to hang out.
  To Stay:
  • Vinoy or Loews Don CeSar:  I am typically a fan of new things, clean, modern etc, but on this trip go old.  I’ve stayed at both the Vinoy and Don Cesar, and in a word both are perfect.  If you are a beach bum, pick the Don Cesar (known as the Pink Palace to locals).  It sits right on St. Pete Beach which is one of the nicest you’ll find in Florida.  If you want to be closer to the action the Vinoy is right on St. Pete’s downtown waterfront.  You’ll find dozens of local restaurants within walking distance.
VFMLID=59239438 My City Secret:
  • Secret Spot:   While it may not be the most well-kept secret in Florida, just an hour north of Tampa you’ll find the Crystal River.  Like its name implies, the river’s cool, crystal-clear waters make for a FUN getaway when you're not on the beach.  And if you’re an animal lover or seeking out some sea life during your visit, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with some of the Crystal River’s most famous inhabitants: manatees!  Make sure to bring some snorkeling gear so you can spend time swimming alongside these gentle giants.
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