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Taking The Cross Bay Ferry From St. Pete To Explore Channelside

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It’s no secret that a lot of us St. Pete and Tampa locals don’t love driving over the bridge. While we enjoy what our neighboring cities have to offer, we’re also very comfortable staying in our own bubble, especially when we think about getting stuck in traffic on the Howard Frankland Bridge.

Thankfully, there’s a new way to commute from St. Pete to Tampa and vice versa – cue the Cross Bay Ferry! In less than an hour, you can go from strolling Downtown St. Pete’s beautiful waterfront to discovering all that Channelside has to offer.  

The commute on the ferry lets you sit back and soak up scenic views of Tampa Bay all while not having to endure a moment of our lovely Tampa Bay traffic and did I mention it’s air conditioned? It’s really a win-win all the way around.

The Cross Bay Ferry runs from October 21st through May 1st and is a stress free way to explore more of Tampa Bay. Follow along as I take The Cross Bay Ferry from Downtown St. Pete to Tampa to uncover some of what the Channelside District has to offer.

10:00am: Depart from St. Petersburg

All aboard! The Ferry leaves promptly at 10am on Friday and Saturday, so I definitely recommend arriving 15 minutes early to hop in line. I purchased our passes online ahead of time, which is always what I recommend, as the ferry often sells out. While we opted not to bring bikes today, you are welcome to. Check out the ferry’s FAQ’s page for other helpful information.

Monday | No service
Tuesday | No service
Wednesday | Depart St. Pete: 4:45pm, 9:30pm | Depart Tampa: 6:15pm, 10:45pm
Thursday | Depart St. Pete: 4:45pm, 9:30pm | Depart Tampa: 6:15pm, 10:45pm
Friday | Depart St. Pete: 10am, 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 9:45pm | Depart Tampa: 11:30am, 3pm, 6:15pm, 11pm
Saturday | Depart St. Pete: 10am, 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 9:45pm | Depart Tampa: 11:30am, 3pm, 6:15pm, 11pm
Sunday | Depart St. Pete: 11am, 2pm, 6pm | Depart Tampa: 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 7:30pm

📍 375 Bayshore Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

The St. Petersburg Ferry Terminal is located on Bayshore Drive NE, between 2nd Ave North & 5th Ave N across from North Straub Park and just south of the Vinoy Hotel.

10:50am: Arrive in Downtown Tampa

Currently, the ferry docks near the Tampa Convention Center in Downtown Tampa. This location makes it really easy to take the TECO Streetcar once you arrive. There’s a pick-up spot just a few hundred feet away from where the ferry docks. It’s as simple as hopping on and hopping off. We rode it right down the street to Sparkman Wharf in Channelside.

Pro-tip: The streetcar stops every 15 minutes during ferry operating hours and it’s free! The streetcar line connects to Amalie Arena, Sparkman Wharf, the Florida Aquarium and Ybor City. You can find out more info about the TECO Streetcar through our guide below!

Monday | 7:00am-11:00pm
Tuesday | 7:00am-11:00pm
Wednesday | 7:00am-11:00pm
Thursday | 7:00am-11:00pm
Friday | 7:00am-2am
Saturday | 8:30am-2:00am
Sunday | 8:30am-11:00pm

📍 645 Central Avenue, Suite 13, St.Petersburg, FL 33701

11:15am: Rent Scooters

We didn’t eat breakfast before leaving, so first things first – find coffee and an easy breakfast! There are scooters just steps away from where the ferry drops off, so we decided to continue with the fun modes of transportation and scoot our way to locate food instead of walking, because scooting > walking in the Florida heat any day.

Pro-tip: You can save time and energy by downloading a scooter app ahead of time and pre-loading your credit card info. Once you’ve done that, you just pull up the app, snap a pic of the QR code on the scooter and you’re off. We used Spin Scooters, but they have Bird Scooters around too.

11:35am: Milkin’ It Cafe

Milkin’ It is a fun new café that invites you to enjoy cereals you probably haven’t had since you were a kid. Bonus: They serve Buddy Brew coffee! Even better, you can opt to get cereal almond milk added to any beverage. The cereal almond milk tastes exactly like the milk you’d drink at the bottom of a bowl of cereal. Are you kidding me? So fun, right? While I usually eat healthy-schmealthy, it was nice to indulge in some sugary old school cereal. Since I’m vegan, I ordered a mix of the Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch in Almond Milk. I also got an iced latte with the cereal almond milk. So freaking good!

Next time, I’ll definitely be getting one of their authentic New York bagels that happen to be vegan! They even have those rainbow swirl bagels you’ve likely seen on Instagram before. The bagels are legit too, flown in directly from New York.

Monday | 7:15am-3:00pm
Tuesday | 7:15am-3:00pm
Wednesday | Closed
Thursday | 7:15am-3:00pm
Friday | 7:15am-3:00pm
Saturday | 7:15am-3:00pm
Sunday | 8:00am-1:00pm

📍1000 Channelside Drive Tampa, FL 33602

12:15pm: Explore Channelside Murals

After getting jacked up on sugar, we continued our scooter adventure and drove up and down the streets of Channelside to admire some of the beautiful murals adorning the sides of usually drab garages, apartments and office buildings. So many beautiful murals!

📍All around the streets of Channelside

1:30pm: Sparkman Wharf

There’s a scooter corral right next to the big red Tampa sign across from Sparkman, so we dropped the scooters off there before heading to cool down and venture around Sparkman Wharf. This is a great spot to grab a beverage and relax for a little while. We decided to grab a drink (non-alcoholic for me), catch up and people watch, while taking in the views of the Garrison Channel and Tampa Bay. 

We picked up some treats and toys at an adorable dog bakery called The Modern Paws. We didn’t want to do too much shopping though, since we planned on taking the scooters for an early dinner and didn’t want to have to carry bags with us. I wore a crossbody bag and my friend brought a little backpack, which I suggest doing, so you can bring bottled water and also have a place to store some shopping finds.

Monday | 11:00am-9:00pm
Tuesday | 11:00am-9:00pm
Wednesday | 11:00am-9:00pm
Thursday | 11:00am-9:00pm
Friday | 11:00am-11:00pm
Saturday | 11:00am-11:00pm
Sunday | 11:00am-9:00pm

📍615 Channelside Drive Tampa, FL 33602

3:00pm: Scooter to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park​

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a beautiful public park that overlooks the University of Tampa campus in the heart of Downtown Tampa. It’s a staple in the community and where tons of outdoor festivals and celebrations take place. It’s scooter friendly and just a 10-minute ride from Channelside. I can’t recommend this scooter route enough!

Taking the scenic route along the Hillsborough River back to Channelside from Curtis Hixon was unbelievably beautiful and one of those “core memory unlocked” moments. You ride alongside the river, under bridges, through tunnels and past the Amalie Arena in order to get back. It’s a great way to really feel like you’ve seen a lot of Tampa in one day. I already can’t wait to go back and scooter along the waterway again. 

Monday | 7:00am-10:00pm
Tuesday | 7:00am-10:00pm
Wednesday | 7:00am-10:00pm
Thursday | 7:00am-10:00pm
Friday | 7:00am-10:00pm
Saturday | 7:00am-10:00pm
Sunday | 7:00am-10:00pm

📍3402 W. Columbus Drive Tampa, Florida 33607

4:45pm: Dinner at Farmacy Vegan Kitchen Channel District

This vegan spot is one of my faves in Channelside and it’s just enough off the beaten path that it wasn’t packed with pre-game Lightning fans. I got their Cuban sandwich, because whether you’re vegan or not, a Cuban is a must while in Tampa. My friend got their buffalo sandwich and both of us weren’t disappointed. They had a case of grab-n-go options too that looked so good, but they unfortunately wouldn’t fit in my fanny pack! 

I’m going to come back another day to pick up some of their grab-n-go’s for a picnic in a nearby park. I think they’d be perfect for that!

Monday | 11:00am-4:00pm
Tuesday | 11:00am-4:00pm
Wednesday | 11:00am-4:00pm
Thursday | 11:00am-6:00pm
Friday | 11:00am-6:00pm
Saturday | 11:00am-6:00pm
Sunday | 11:00am-6:00pm

📍117 N 12th St, Tampa, FL 33602

6:00pm: Board Ferry Back to St. Pete

That’s a wrap! The Cross Bay Ferry heads back at 6:15pm, so we dropped off the scooters one last time and boarded the ferry to head back. It felt amazing to be in the A/C after a long day of exploring…and to think we had all this fun in Channelside without having to drive over the bridge.

Monday | No service
Tuesday | No service
Wednesday | Depart St. Pete: 4:45pm, 9:30pm | Depart Tampa: 6:15pm, 10:45pm
Thursday | Depart St. Pete: 4:45pm, 9:30pm | Depart Tampa: 6:15pm, 10:45pm
Friday | Depart St. Pete: 10am, 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 9:45pm | Depart Tampa: 11:30am, 3pm, 6:15pm, 11pm
Saturday | Depart St. Pete: 10am, 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 9:45pm | Depart Tampa: 11:30am, 3pm, 6:15pm, 11pm
Sunday | Depart St. Pete: 11am, 2pm, 6pm | Depart Tampa: 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 7:30pm

📍333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

The Tampa Ferry Terminal is located on the waterside of the Tampa Convention Center, just west of the Sail Restaurant and Franklin Street.

Spend a Day Taking The Cross Bay Ferry To Explore Channelside

Excited about exploring different areas around Tampa Bay? Let us know your favorite by tagging @StuffToDoInTampaBay on Instagram and Facebook!

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