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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tampa chapter.

I love Plant Park as much as any other UT girlie. Hammocking in the palm trees and watching the sunset over the river while a cool breeze brushes against my face is enough to make me feel at peace after a long day of work. However, the hustle and bustle of the neighboring downtown can sometimes be a pain when I want to disconnect. The call of the wild is strong when all you can see in the distance is concrete and city lights. So, here are some of my recommendations for a real escape from the city, not too far from the campus we all know and love.

Cypress Point Park

5620 W Cypress St, Tampa, FL 33607

We all love Davis Island for a quick beach day or picnic with the girlies. But did you know that there is an equally cool beach with walking trails not much further away? Cypress Point Park is located in the Westshore Tampa area close to the International Mall. It features a small beach with cool, shallow water adjoined to a playground/picnic area in the Bay. Public bathrooms and showers are also a plus. While parking is free, you can also take the 30 bus right by Plant Park to Cypress St @ Frontage Rd. 

Eureka Springs State Park

6400 Eureka Springs Rd, Tampa, FL 33610

This is my happy place! Located off of I-4, about 20 minutes east of campus, this park features a boardwalk through wetlands and an attached botanical garden. I could sit for days under the gazebo, listening to the wind blow through the trees. Did I also mention it’s shaded? The only downside is there are no viable public transportation opportunities. While parking is paid (I believe it was $2 when I went last year), it gives you unlimited access to all the other Hillsborough County parks for that same day. I definitely recommend taking a Saturday to go park-hopping in Tampa Bay.

Honeymoon Island State Park

1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698

I’m not going to lie. This one is a bit of a drive, but I promise it is absolutely worth it. Located north of Dunedin, roughly 45 minutes from campus, you’ll first enter through the Dunedin Causeway, where there will be a small fee for entrance into the park. I want to say it was about $8 total for my car full of people. With this pass, you’ll have access to bike trails, walking trails, fishing spots, and the beach. From the biking and hiking spots, you’ll be able to see the reclusive Osprey and appreciate Florida’s protected mangroves. As for the beach, the water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature. Don’t forget the added beach cafe and restrooms! Make a whole day of it by visiting Downtown Dunedin first to grab a brunch at the Sandpiper. You won’t regret it!

McKay Bay Nature Park

134 N 34th St, Tampa, FL 33605

I’ll admit I haven’t checked out this one yet. However, it seems worth a quick trip. Located roughly 10-15 minutes east of campus, this park provides boardwalk access to more of Florida’s mangroves. It seems there are a couple of walking trails good for some bird-watching and dog-walking. The reviews are mixed, though, as the neighboring McKay Bay Landfill has been known to seep into the area, polluting the water and air. While I wouldn’t recommend walking through Ybor City on your own, you and your friends could take the TECO trolley line to the last stop and have a hot girl walk to your destination. Don’t forget to check out my new Ybor obsession with Pete’s Coffee on the way!

St. Pete Pier (North & South Straub Park)

400 Bayshore Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Okay, I know this isn’t much of an oasis escape, but there’s something so alluring about these parks. Located between Fifth and Central Ave next to the St. Pete Pier, this line of parks offers plenty of shade, seating, and ocean views for a solo-day or girls’ trip. Take a quick walk to the edge of the pier to fully immerse yourself in Tampa Bay. (You might also see some dolphins!) At night, fairy lights adorn the trees, and the main Beach Dr becomes a pedestrian hub. I highly recommend checking out the Museum of Fine Arts and grabbing a piccolo of Paciugo Gelato across the street. (And by “recommend” I mean you must!) Parking on Beach Dr is paid, but park a little further away on 3rd Ave NE for two hours for free! You can also just make a loop once the time is up to clear your wheels of the parking attendant’s marking chalk, but shhhh… If you’re feeling adventurous, try taking the Cross Bay Ferry for roughly $12 round-trip straight from Tampa’s Channelside to the St. Pete Pier.

Kyra Pennington is a member of the editing team at Her Campus Tampa. Her writing interests include advocacy, culture, and travel. Outside of Her Campus, she works at a St. Petersburg-based coffee shop where she gains insight of the local population's day-to-day life. Switching to current studies, she is now in her second year at the University of Tampa. Her major is in International Studies with minors in Applied Linguistics, French, Political Science, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She also hopes to graduate from the Honors College which has helped her take part in study abroad experiences both in Costa Rica and France. In between her hectic schedule, she enjoys learning language, exploring museums, and running a crochet side hustle. On a Saturday night, you can catch her snuggling with her roommate's two new rescue kittens and a pint of Talenti raspberry sorbet.