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An Oasis of Golf Near The Gulf – Welcome to Innisbrook

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An Oasis of Golf Near The Gulf – Welcome to Innisbrook

Are you interested in a PGA tour-class golf vacation under the Florida sun? How about one that also has abundant nearby attractions including the Gulf of Mexico to delight family members who might not be avid golfers? If that tempts you. then a few days at Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in North Palm Harbor, a suburb of St. Petersburg, Florida should be high on your list.

Our suite’s patio overlooked the Copperhead course. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

On the drive from St. Petersburg, you pass through mile after mile of suburbia, replete with strip malls, fast food joints, national chain stores and restaurants. But the environment changes dramatically as soon as you pass through the gates of the resort, not far off the main highway. Suddenly, you are in a decidedly non-urban setting of 900 acres of rolling hills and lakes and beautiful golf courses surrounded by stands of oak and pine. It looks more like a Carolina plantation than a stereotypical Florida golf course. There are few palm trees and no neo-Spanish architecture. Once you check in to one of the more than 600 guest suites, you can leave the car parked in front of your residence since the entire property is linked by round-the-clock free shuttles that operate on call and usually arrive within five minutes of being summoned.

A spa lunch on the patio behind the Salamander Spa was a nice finish for a morning spa session at Innisbrook. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

For the golfers in the family, there are four championship-caliber course on the property that are highly rated by golf magazines. The Copperhead course is the site of the annual Valspar Championship on the PGA tour in March and is, to say the least, challenging.

For those who like to be pampered, the resort’s Salamander Spa is on a par with the best, offering a full range of spa treatments by appointment for guests. Innisbrook also has four on-site restaurants overlooking the scenic highlights of the property, each offering a different style of cuisine.

But there is more in store for visitors. A lot more! The resort is a few short miles from Gulf of Mexico beaches and picturesque coastal towns like Tarpon Springs, both of which are linked to Innisbrook by the free shuttle.

If you want more food and shopping than are available at the resort, you are within a very short drive to Palm Harbor’s strip malls and chain restaurants and close to Greek food in Tarpon Springs. You are also not very far from Clearwater and St. Pete Beach beaches, restaurants and resorts. If museums, culture or fine dining are what you are after, the Tampa Bay area is an easy day trip where such attractions abound and attract throngs of visitors on their own right. Whether you are seeking St. Petersburg’s huge selection of downtown waterfront restaurants or deep sea fishing, watersports or museums, you are in the right place. You can even take a ferry across the bay between the St. Pete (as it is known to locals) waterfront and downtown Tampa and see the sights from the water.

Downtown St. Peteersburg. Credit: By John O’Neill – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17884820

Before You Go

Getting There
      Innisbrook can be easily reached by highway, air, cruise ship or train.

  • The resort is near two major airports. Tampa International (TPA), 25 miles away, is a large international airport with excellent connections. St.Pete-Clearwater (PIE), 17 miles away, has more limited service.
  • By train, The Tampa Amtrak station is 27 miles away, offering service to New York, Miami and points in between.
  • By car, the resort is just off U.S. 19. I-275 and 1-75 are close by
  • Tampa’s cruise port is about 30 miles away and serves Cuba, Mexico and the Caribbean.

When You Are There Only For A Short Trip

  • Play one or more of Innisbrook’s four courses, especially the Copperhead Course, site of the PGA Valspar Open in March.
  • Eat lunch or dinner at one of excellent Innisbrook’s onsite restaurants


If You Only Have Two or Three Days:

Must-dos for a short stay are:

  • Visiting Tarpon Springs, a Greek-themed seaport with operating sponge docks. Just three miles away and connected by shuttle to Innisbrook.
  • Experiencing the on-site Salamander Spa.
  • Dining at other on-site resort restaurants or in Clearwater or St. Pete Beach


If You Have Several Days, enjoy:

  • Downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront and restaurants.
  • Tampa’s museums, Ybor City or the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
  • Spring training (Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays), regular-season Tampa Bay Rays baseball or the NHL’s Lightning games, depending on the season.
  • Gulfport, a kitschy and picturesque town on the bay.
  • Busch Gardens in Tampa.
  • Sarasota’s cultural attractions (ballet, opera, art, orchestra, etc.) are about 60 miles away.
  • Orlando’s theme parks are about 100 miles away.


Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing The Simply Smart Travel Way For Innisbrook and Tampa Bay. Smart casual is the order of the day. Restaurants at the resort, museums and almost all downtown St. Pete and Tampa restaurants do not require a tie or a dressy outfit. If you’re heading for the beach or golf, pack appropriately. Bring sunscreen year-round.
This Destination At A Glance

Mobility Level: Low, not including serious golf.

When To Go: Year-round, Summers are hot and sticky, late fall, winter and early spring are gorgeous.

Where To Stay: At the Innisbrook Resort. Off site, national hotel chains are in St. Peterburg and Clearwater.

Special Travel Interests: Golf, beaches, spa.


Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are husband and wife travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in nine states and online.

Reach them at jorenstein@Simplysmarttravel.com. They publish travel ideas, articles, photos and blog at www.SimplySmartTravel.com and at www.facebook.com/SimplySmartTravel/.

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