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Daytrips from Tampa (Lutz) area? Dives, Shacks, etc.

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I’m headed down to the Tampa area to visit in-laws for the Holidays and I’m looking for a few suggestions for day-trips. Combination food and destination type things within about a 2 hour drive in any direction.

I’m open to anything fun but enjoy the outdoors, off-the-beaten-path, weird and unusual. I’m not looking for anything fancy, in fact just the opposite. More Anthony Bourdain / Diners & Dives type of local spots that might have one item on the menu and a lot of local flava – run down seafood shacks etc. Suggestions or directions to other threads are most welcome. Thank you in advance.

P.S. A google search pulled up a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives suggestion for the grilled octopus at Keegan's. Do the locals concur?

P.S.S. I'm considering a daytrip to the Homosassa / Chassahowitza / Crystal
River area so suggestions in that area would be great.

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  1. You can get grilled octopus all over Tarpon Springs and it might be closer.

    1. Homosassa, Florida - Monkey Bar
      The Monkey Bar At the Riverside Crab House, you can have a drink, or a burger while you watch the daily antics of the monkey residents of the island located just across the water. There's a whole story about how the monekeys got there (on the island.) On your way you'll pass Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and the Yule Sugar Mill ruins. The ruins are very well ruined, but very interesting, since they date to the Civil War era. The Crab House has a 2nd floor deck that makes great river watching.

      In St. Petersburg you can get your fill of Florida kitsch at Beaks Old Florida. Outside patio, typical bar food, open mic nights and chotchkies (sp?) by the millions (and I'm probably not exaggerating!) 2451 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.

      1. I'm not a seafood aficionado, but I think Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa serves pretty good grub. It's worth it for its "unique" Florida atmosphere alone. Think Florida redneck-Deadhead crowd; most of the venue is outside with a bar. There's another bar and eating area inside. The place is on Skipper Road, near the intersection of Bearss and Nebraska, so it's close enough to Lutz to be more of a dinner outing than a day trip. Check their website and see what bands are playing on the nights you are in town. Maybe something will pique your interest.

        1. Try Ted Peter's on Pasadena in S. St. Pete. They smoke their own fish and serve it up in a rustic outdoors-on-the-front-porch setting. Good burger, too, last time I was there. (Closed Tuesday.) I'm heading to FL for Christmas and will be stopping by there myself next week.

          1. Are you a beer fan? Check out the Dunedin Brewery. The beers are excellent -- I especially like their Lowland Wheat Ale -- and the food menu has expanded. The fish tacos are always excellent. If they have the duck fingers -- they don't always, it's a special -- grab them. They're delicious.

            1. If you head south, come to Sarasota and stop at the Alpine Restaurant/Karl Ehmer Meats at 4520 Tamiami Trail, just a little ways south of Bee Ridge. Home of Florida Turducken, as featured on Diners, Drive-in & Dives.

              1. Here are a few suggestions in the not-too-fancy but tasty level.
                In Crystal River I like Charlie's Fish House on U.S. 19. Not fancy but my seafood has always been fresh and cooked the way I asked.
                it's not far from Lutz over to Tarpon Springs for really good Greek Food. It's a predominantly Greek community. My personal fave is Costa's.
                In St. Pete I would second the rec for Ted Peters. Also you might try Mid-Peninsula Seafood. It's a combo market/restaurant with very casual picnic table style seating for seafood cooked to order. People that run it are great and it's a taste of old Florida. It's on 49th St. South a few blocks south of Central.