Hotel at a Glance: Bilmar Beach Resort
Situated along the Gulf of Mexico, Treasure Island is known as “the sand-sculpture capital of Florida.” The Bilmar Beach Resort has done its part to help the city keep that title, hosting a sand-castle competition every year. The resort was also the site of the world’s largest sand castle in 1985, and more recently, Bilmar Beach was selected as the location for sand sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and the White House, built by world-champion builders Dan Doubleday and Meredith Corson.
- Beachfront dining: The resort’s Sloppy Joe’s on the Beach features a two-tier deck where you can look out over the ocean while sipping a margarita and savoring fresh Gulf Coast grouper.
- Grab a drink at the Beachfront Café and enjoy live entertainment in the evening.
- Where you’ll stay: Inside a deluxe gulf-front studio, you can whip up meals in a kitchenette and soak in views from a private balcony overlooking the beach; shell studios offer the same views via large picture windows.
- Take a dip in two outdoor pools, swim in the Gulf of Mexico, or collect shells along the pristine shoreline.
Treasure Island, Florida: Three Miles of White-Sand Beachfront
Treasure Island got its name after a group of enterprising hotel owners buried—and later “discovered”—a couple of fake treasure chests along the beach. In spite of their farce, the name stuck. So all right, you won’t find any buried treasure here, but surely you can console yourself with 3 miles of white sand along the Gulf of Mexico. Head to the middle of the island for extra-wide beaches lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. There’s also a walking trail that runs parallel to the shoreline between 104th and 119th Avenues.
A great way to explore Treasure Island and nearby beach communities is by taking the Suncoast Beach Trolley. It runs along the Gulf coast from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater, stopping at many popular beaches along the way. Just across the bridge, St. Petersburg’s charming waterfront downtown is also worth a visit. You’ll find art-deco buildings, broad streets lined with palm trees, and the Dali Museum, which displays many of the paintings, sculptures, and melted timepieces of surrealist master Salvador Dalí.