I have work in Tampa, but will have two free days (actually, just over -- Thursday evening through Saturday night -- I fly out of Tampa crack of dawn on Sunday morning).
I have been to Tampa before and I did not love it, or probably more likely I just did not see the right places because I was working. Mostly, I just saw the downtown area. I don't have much desire to spend more time there.
But I am more interested this time to see the Sarasota area, and maybe Bradenton if there are interesting places to see there, and perhaps the various keys I see on the map (Longboat, Siesta, Lido, etc.).
But at this point these places are just names to me, since I have never been there. So I am looking for recommendations for places to see. I guess that depends what I like. So: I like nice walkable towns, walking on or along the beach, waterfront cafes, good seafood, natural scenery. (I don't like: huge crowds, lots of chain stores, shopping malls, strip centers). So maybe that gives you a little idea.
Given that, how would you spend two days?
Also, I have this problem of having a hotel room booked in Tampa (near TPA) for this whole time. That makes really good sense for the last night, since I will be flying out of TPA early Sunday morning, So it is good to stay near the airport the night before. But I guess I would be better off staying in the Sarasota area the first two nights, if that is the area I want to see.
The thing is I have a very inexpensive place to stay in Tampa and it seems like rooms in decent hotels for my dates are much more expensive in Sarasota (and I really don't know one area from the other there). I found this place that looks OK: "BEST WESTERN PLUS Siesta Key Gateway" and I guess I could book there for the first two nights and then return to TPA for the last night. The price is around $160/night (which is still a lot more than my heavily discounted place near TPA) but it gets good reviews.
Or is it practical for me to do what I want to do while based in a hotel near TPA? That would save me money and it would also save me moving hotels yet again. (This is part of a long business trip in various places throughout the country, with a lot of moves from one hotel to another, and while it is not all that big a deal, I could do with one less move if what I want to do is practical while staying near TPA).
I would welcome your suggestions on any of this, and particularly on places I might like to see in Bradenton, or Sarasota, or the keys, or someplace else in the area. Thanks!!