There’s a moment, as a car goes over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, when it feels like the drive just keeps going into the sky. The bridge is a feat of modern engineering arching over the mouth of Tampa Bay and stretching for over 4 miles (6 kilometers). It’s also a Florida landmark, even featuring on a postage stamp. Drive over the bridge for amazing views of the Florida coast stretching for miles.
After a day of visiting historic St. Petersburg, hop in the car and head toward the bridge, which can be seen from far away. Locals joke that it’s one of the highest points in Florida. Drive onto the ramp, then onto the bridge, and bid farewell to the land as the bridge peels off into the sea. Look to the right to see the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, dotted with occasional ships. To the left, spot Tampa, then farther, the great expanse of Floridian wilderness.
If you have a fear of heights, stay at the base. The prior bridge has been turned into one of the world’s longest fishing piers. Drive straight up to the fishing spots and cast a line for grouper, black sea bass, red snapper and other varieties. Spend an evening chatting with locals and having dinner while the hum of the bridge above serves as the only reminder that the world continues to turn.
South of Tampa at the opening of Tampa Bay, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge connects the towns of St. Petersburg and Bradenton. Drive to the western entrance in 25 minutes from Tampa International Airport or in 30 minutes from Downtown Tampa. The eastern entrance is a 40-minute drive from Downtown. Parking lots are available at either end for taking pictures and admiring the bridge. The fishing pier offers convenient parking next to prime angling spots.
The bridge occasionally closes during bad weather, so check its status online. The bridge itself and the fishing pier are well lit at night. There’s a toll to cross the bridge. The fishing pier charges a separate admission fee.