What to Do in Apollo Beach, Florida
A relatively quiet, small coastal town in Hillsborough County Florida, Apollo Beach has a population of 15,083 as of 2015 and is located approximately 12 miles south of Tampa. Apollo Beach is an ethnically diverse, well- educated community with the majority of residents working in tech or mathematics. There are an estimated 55 canals in Apollo Beach which lead to Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Apollo Beach is located on the northernmost part of Canaveral National Seashore.
With a history dating back to 1923, the area was originally used for grazing pasture and farming but was purchased by the Dickman family during the early 1920s. While Paul Dickman had the idea of creating a coastal town it would be the early 1950s before his idea came to fruition. With the help of a Miami based engineering firm, roads, schools, canals and recreation areas were created. Paul Dickman negotiated the sale of the land to three New Yorkers, who felt that the name “Tampa Beach” would attract more people to the area since this would clearly identify the geographical location due to the association with Tampa.
Flamingo Canal construction began, proceeding toward Fairway Boulevard with the intention of extending the canal to Tampa Bay in an effort to achieve access to open water. The amount of capital invested and the capabilities of the three men fell short. Dickman was notified in 1956 that they could no longer continue with the project. The land was ultimately purchased by Francis Corr in 1957. Corr was a businessman from Michigan who soon renamed the area La Vida Beach. In 1958 Corr began development on 50 homes that would sit between US 41 and Sea and Gold Boulevards. While legend has it that Corr’s wife, Dorothy, was responsible for re-naming Tampa Beach to Apollo Beach due to the sunshine which she felt was the greatest benefit of the area. Locals, however, state it was the US Space Program that served as the inspiration for the new name. Some residents also believe the town of Apollo Beach was named after the mythical Greek God, Apollo.
After suffering a heart attack in the early 1960s, Francis Corr sold both the land of Apollo Beach and his company to Flora Sun Company out of Miami. Seven years later Flora Sun filed for bankruptcy and Corr regained his land. The Corr family continued to struggle with the community development although they donated land for schools and parks to the government. Through the 1970s and 80s Corr’s son, Thomas, led the project and completed a community bank, chamber of commerce and civic clubs.
Emerging despite early development struggles, Apollo Beach is now a thriving waterfront community with a small-town, warm atmosphere offering year-round water activities. The guide below lists some of our favorite things to do in this destination full of treasures waiting to be discovered.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Apollo Beach, Florida
Our mini guide below lists some of our favorite things to do in Apollo Beach, Florida
- Nature and Parks
- Places to Eat
Warmer summers and mild winters make Apollo Beach a perfect location for outdoor exploration. Activities like swimming, fishing, paddling, boating, kayaking and rafting are made possible by the beaches and canals that can be found throughout Apollo Beach. Boardwalks provide unprecedented views of sharks, manatees and other wonderful wildlife. Here are some of our favorite outdoor adventures in the Apollo Beach.
TECO Manatee Viewing Center
6990 Dickman Road
Prior to the Big Bend Unit 4 commercial operation beginning in 1986, Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach was the main source of electricity for the community. With Big Bend Unit 4 came a discharge canal which allowed saltwater to flow clean and warm back to the bay. The saltwater was taken from Tampa Bay to cool Unit 4. Residents started to notice manatees in large numbers in the discharge canal when Tampa Bay became 68 degrees or cooler. Soon the area was known as the Manatee Viewing Center and it has now become a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary providing these gentle creatures refuge from the cold. With the mission of educating the public about the Florida manatee and its habitat, TECO Viewing Center is open November 1 through April 15 and features interactive exhibits and displays offering a glimpse into the life cycle and challenges of the manatee. The reserve also has a 50 foot observation tower, a butterfly garden, trails and a boardwalk.
Apollo Beach Nature Preserve
6760 Surfside Blvd
Wiped out from storms and erosion, Apollo Beach Nature Preserve was recently given a much needed facelift. With protection now in place to prevent future erosion, this two acre beach now features a boardwalk, hiking trails, a volleyball court and a play area. The real attractions here, however, are the incredible sunsets, the occasional glimpse of manatee and dolphin and the view of Tampa/St.Pete just across the bay.
Canaveral National Seashore
7611 S. Atlantic Avenue
Access via Florida A1A
(386) 428-3384 ext. 0 (visitor’s center)
(321) 267-1110 (park headquarters)
Considered a coastal sanctuary Canaveral National Seashore spans 24 miles and is the largest unspoiled beach on the East coast of Florida. This is an area inhabited by a diversity of wildlife, tucked into the forests, dunes, lagoons and islands that make up the seashore. The entrance accessed in Apollo Beach is somewhat less traveled yet it offers visitors plentiful landmarks of both recreational and historical significance. Turtle Mound can be found near the entrance and is a prehistoric archaeological site. It is at this site that shells were discarded by Timucuan Indians for centuries. In fact at 600 feet long and rising at 50 feet, this is the largest shell midden to be found in the country. A viewing platform can also be found here which allows for panoramic views of Indian River Lagoon. Canoes, paddle boards and kayaks can also be launched here. If you take the drive a few miles south (use the Eldorado exit) the subtropical trees will lead you to the Eldorado State House. Now restored with a museum, this area once served as the center of a small agricultural community. The lagoon here is also perfect for a day of paddling through paradise.
While you are in Apollo Beach we highly recommend trying out some of the local favorites for a meal. In fact visiting these local “haunts” will also introduce you to local culture…and some actual locals. From flown-in-fresh to fresh-caught to local street food, it’s all here in Apollo Beach. And you’re guaranteed the best meal if you choose to eat like the locals. These are some of our favorite local spots below:
1212 Apollo Beach Blvd
Step into Circle’s Waterfront and you will find a relaxed marina setting with outdoor seating and water views. The menu is creative and the ingredients are fresh. Local seafood comes directly from the docks and imported seafood is flown in overnight. Nothing is ever frozen. Meat lovers rejoice: Circle’s Waterfront have some of the best ribeye in the state. Soups and sauces are made from scratch and the desserts are all made from scratch by the owner’s 72 year old grandmother. It doesn’t get much better than that! They take it one step further by ensuring that nothing stays on their pantry for more than three days. Because of these high standards and fresh to table approach, the wait times can be longer than usual but diners reap the rewards when the food arrives at their table.
Latitudes Apollo Restaurant and Lounge
131 Harbor Village Ln
With a menu that constantly changes, Latitudes Apollo Restaurant and Lounge uses the freshest ingredients they can find. Their daily specials are posted on Facebook (so be sure to check in on social media before you go). They offer a lunch, dinner and kids’ menu, a generous appetizer menu and a clever “Build Your Own Boat” option where guests choose a protein, a sauce and a side. Don’t be fooled though; Latitiudes is also a lounge and their happy hour starts at 11am every day and goes until 6:30pm so bring you’re “A” game.
The Mullet Shack
7075 North Hwy 41
The name says it all: it’s a shack and a food truck. But don’t drive on by. Be prepared to stop and take in the amazing taste sensations of smoked mullet (and we’re not talking the hair from the 80s ether). If you’re not familiar with mullet it is a ray-finned fish found mostly in coastal temperate and tropical waters and they are somewhat of a staple for the residents of Florida. So while you’re in the area we recommend you do like the locals and try the Mullet. The Mullet Shack offers other menu items like fried green tomatoes and fried catfish, but the owner, Steve, is known for his smoked Mullet (again fish – not hair!). The shack is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the option to callSteve ahead of time to place a take out order.