In many cities I’ve been to there’s usually one area where the premiere waterfront neighborhoods are. Growing up in Minnesota, I lived near Lake Minnetonka which was essentially a group of lakes – almost 40 total. These are all connected to form one massive lake that sprawls over multiple cities and counties. Everyone in the Twin Cities area knows that this is the premiere area for high end waterfront homes.
Down in St. Pete it’s a little bit different. There’s a much bigger body of water with a lot more waterfront coastline which gives us a bigger variety in the types of waterfront neighborhoods we have here. We have miles of coastline on both the beach side and on the other side of the county which creates the western border of Tampa Bay. We have beachfront homes, homes with direct Tampa Bay views, homes built in protected bays, homes on the inter-coastal waterway and homes on canals. Here’s another article that may be helpful in your search for a waterfront home – The Top 8 Things To Keep In Mind When Buying A Waterfront Home Near St. Pete, Florida.
Since we have such a wide variety of waterfront neighborhoods in Pinellas County, I decided the best way to approach this is to break it down into multiple articles. I want to be as thorough as possible for those folks who aren’t from the area and those who live here and would like to learn more. Since I love Downtown St. Pete and all the areas around it, my first waterfront article will highlight the best neighborhoods near our beautiful Downtown. With that said, in no particular order here are my picks for The Top 7 Waterfront Neighborhoods Near Downtown St. Pete.
7. Tropical Shores
Some homes have beautiful direct views of Tampa Bay, others are located in protected canals and there’s also a few that face south towards Big Bayou, a body of water located between the mainland and the north west side of Coquina Key. I used to live right on the mainland with views of Big Bayou where I would often see dolphins and all the sailboats that are docked there.
I like Tropical Shores because it’s tucked away, it’s a neighborhood where you will only see your neighbors driving through. If you didn’t know it was there you probably wouldn’t find it. The streets are calm and the yards are well maintained.
Some of these homes on the north end of the neighborhood also have beautiful views of the Downtown St. Pete skyline as well as the 14 acre waterfront Lassing Park located in the Old Southeast Neighborhood. There is also a very small sort of hidden neighborhood called Driftwood right next to Tropical Shores.
Driftwood has roughly a dozen waterfront homes. What’s interesting is that many of these Driftwood waterfront homes don’t have a seawall, but larger yards with a sandy beach instead.
The city recently commissioned a team of professional videographers to highlight different neighborhoods in the area. They haven’t done one for Tropical Shores yet however they have done this one for Old Southeast. Tropical Shores and Driftwood are many times lumped together as a part of the greater Old Southeast Area.
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6. Coquina Key
This island is still on the up and coming side. The majority of the island consists of small homes that don’t necessarily resemble a luxury neighborhood. The highlight of this island in my opinion is the two gated condo communities that are known as Waterside. There is a Waterside North and a Waterside South which are both gated communities consisting of a variety of waterfront condos and townhomes.
As you may have guessed – many of these residences are located right next to the water. The more expensive units are located directly on Tampa Bay or within a canal that provides water access.
If you want to spend a little bit less money, you can buy a unit that overlooks one of the well maintained ponds in the community and still enjoy all the amenities that Waterside has to offer. Some of these units come with deeded boat slips while others do not.
The upside to Coquina Key is the fact that these condos are one of the most affordable ways to buy a waterfront home. You will have less space than a single family waterfront home but you will also have access to amenities such as the community pool, hot tub, tennis courts, volleyball courts and club house.
Waterside routinely hosts community get togethers at the beautiful pool/club house that overlooks Tampa Bay. This community is perfect if you’re looking for a more social place to live and want all the amenities that come with living in an HOA.
Coquina Key as a whole still has a lot of potential. Your money will go further here when buying a waterfront home than it will in many other parts of St. Pete. I personally think it’s an amazing neighborhood however I have had a few clients turn down this area because you may see some less desirable neighborhoods on your short commute to Downtown St. Pete. I used to live on the edge of that area and it doesn’t bother me at all, but some folks are a little more selective than I am.
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5. Venetian Isles
This area is a bit like Tropical Shores in the way that you will almost never see any through traffic, just your neighbors that live here. The layout of this neighborhood provides a safe area for kids to play in the streets and you can enjoy the serenity of the waterfront without hearing cars speed through your neighborhood.
If you’re into boating for relaxation this is a great area to live. It’s less than a 5 minute boat ride to Weedon Island where many folks dock their boats on the sandbar to hangout and have a good time. Can you imagine how great it would be to have a get together with friends on the sandbar then take the boat to your place to grill out and relax in the pool after? The majority of this area is in canals in which there is a designated no wake zone so you won’t have to worry about boats flying by and disturbing your peace either.
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4. Shores Acres
As far as the waterfront factor goes – the majority of this neighborhood is not waterfront however there are still hundreds of beautiful waterfront homes. Technically all Shore Acres homes are waterfront once the rainy season comes through. Shore Acres is very prone to flooding and you’ll see the streets turn into rivers.
It’s smart to find the right home that isn’t flood prone and also have a truck or SUV if you’re going to live in this neighborhood. You can look at the seller’s disclosure before you buy a house but that isn’t fool proof. Also make sure your inspector looks for signs of past water damage and ask a few neighbors their experience with flooding.
Here you can find anything from mega mansions overlooking the bay to quaint waterfront homes on a canal. Even if you disregard the waterfront factor, Shore Acres is a really nice neighborhood. You’ll find a lot of peaceful streets with modest 2-4 bedroom block construction homes, many of which have a nice backyard and pool.
The most lavish homes in Shore Acres are found on Bayshore Blvd. When I first started my real estate career, I would drive around and check out open houses to get familiar with neighborhoods. The first luxury waterfront home I ever visited in person was on Bayfront Blvd and I remember being in awe of the sheer size of the home and the luxurious finishes. I would later sell a condo to a couple who also has a home on this road. When I went to visit their home I realized it was even more massive than the original one I saw.
A couple years later we took a listing on Bayshore and were knocking on doors to let the neighborhood know that we were holding an open house. I walked up to the door of this modern style mansion, one of the biggest houses on the block and met the owner who happened to be the CEO of Charles Rutenberg Realty. He gave me some encouraging words for my real estate career which helped contribute to my fond memories of Bayshore Blvd!
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3. Snell Isle
Snell Isle also has one of the most well known golf courses in the area. Vinoy Golf Club is located at the entrance of this neighborhood and is hard to miss. This building appears to takes styling queues from a middle eastern mosque. It’s a gorgeous and unique structure that sets the tone for this prestigious neighborhood.
The actual waterfront homes are going to run you a bit more than that. Most of these waterfront homes routinely sell for 2-5 million. These homes are the best of the best. Spacious top of the line customized homes, this is as good as it gets when it comes to buying a waterfront home in Florida.
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2. Old Northeast / Coffeepot Bayou
This video below begins with a gentleman going for a jog in Northshore Park which spans the neighborhoods east of Old Northeast and Coffeepot Bayou.
Coffee Pot Park is a small peaceful area where you will find a boat launch and plenty of shaded areas to relax. Coffee Pot Bayou is a sheltered body of water where you’ll see birds, dolphins, manatees and other wildlife.
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Living Downtown you’ll be walking distance to the waterfront and all the beautiful parks that overlook Tampa Bay. You’ll also be able to walk to your favorite bars, restaurants, fitness centers, museums, art galleries and the other eclectic shops that make up the area.
So how do you maximize your waterfront living experience while living Downtown? There are plenty of marinas where you can rent a slip to store your boat or you can even join a boat club which will let you jump on one of their boats anytime you’d like.
I personally don’t live on the water however I am a member of Freedom Boat Club which allows me access to a fleet of boats at 15 locations all around the Tampa Bay area. You simply reserve a boat, jump on, enjoy yourself then take it back when you’re done. You pay for the gas that you use and tip out the boat guys that help you launch, dock and clean your boat. Their fleet consists of pontoons, deck boats, fishing boats and more. One of their locations that I frequently use is just south of Downtown.
There are also charter boats you can take out of the Downtown area. The city of St. Pete as well as Tampa collaborated on a cross bay ferry to provide an alternative to driving between the two cities. This ferry was originally a 6 month pilot program and is now set to turn into a permanent transportation option between Tampa & St. Pete.
With major plans for development between both the Downtown St. Pete waterfront and Downtown Tampa, this cross bay ferry has plenty of potential to take off and become a popular option for transportation.
The new Pier in Downtown St. Pete is currently under construction and is set to become an exciting centerpiece for our Downtown waterfront. This area will have a rooftop bar, waterfront restaurants and cafes as well as plenty of green space for everyone to enjoy. Take a look at this video below for a virtually rendered tour of the future St. Pete Pier.
According to an article from Forbes, “The future 53-acre mixed-use redevelopment will cover 9 million square feet in 18 distinct buildings directly on the bay, including two new hotels, retail, office space, cultural amenities, and contemporary residences. The neighborhood revitalization will emphasize waterside pedestrian walkways.”
Major investors Bill Gates and Jeff Vinik are working together to complete this 3 Billion dollar project which will ultimately change the landscape of Downtown Tampa. Currently Downtown Tampa is a bit of a concrete jungle so they recognized the need to create a welcoming walkable area incorporating green space and pedestrian friendly walkways.
The goal is to make this a premiere destination for Tampa tourists and locals alike. Downtown St. Pete already has a very walkable landscape, it will be great to have this sort of vibe in both cities and a ferry connecting them. Take a look below at the video showing the future of Waterstreet Tampa.
When most people think of living in Florida, they immediately picture waterfront, nightlife and excitement. Living in a waterfront neighborhood near Downtown St. Pete will allow you to experience all of this. The true Florida lifestyle is still attainable by many. We have gorgeous waterfront homes for less than what you would pay for a small condo in Manhattan. We have waterfront condos that are affordable for many as a young professional.
Ocean front property is still more affordable in Florida than in most other states. St. Pete may be one of the final frontiers when it comes to the combination of affordability, quality of life and excitement which in my opinion is what it means to live the ultimate Florida lifestyle. Whether you’re preparing for retirement, moving your family or starting a new life in Florida by yourself, a waterfront home may be just what you need to get your time in Florida started off right!
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