EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this article about the best things to do in St. Petersburg Florida a few months after I moved there in early 2022. All of the things I list in this post are the reasons why after traveling all around the world I decided to move my residence to St. Pete. This year-round tropical paradise is nicknamed Sunshine City USA due to the fact that it boasts more consecutive days of sunshine each year than anywhere else in America. It is an eclectic town full of parks to enjoy, white sandy beaches to relax on, and delicious bars and restaurants to try. Whether you’re looking for your next Spring Break destination, a warm place to spend the winter, or sunny escape, keep reading to learn all the best things to do in St. Petersburg Florida! This post was originally wrote on 365 Atlanta Traveler.
Located along the western shores of the Gulf of Mexico is St. Petersburg, Florida, a year-round tropical paradise full of palm trees, sunshine, and good vibes. Otherwise known as Sunshine City USA, this eclectic town is best known for its sandy beaches, cute downtown area, artsy museums, and outdoor activities.
As a resident of St. Petersburg for a couple of winters, I can confirm that it’s one of the cutest and most fun towns to visit in America. The sunrises and sunsets are out of this world, the beaches are pristine, and the downtown area is full of delicious food and fun bars to try.
Whether you’re looking for your next Spring Break destination or just a sunny getaway, St. Pete should be on your bucket list. Keep reading to learn all the best things to do in St Petersburg Florida!
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The Salvador Dali Museum, or “The Dali” as locals call it, is a world renowned art museum in downtown St. Petersburg that houses an outstanding collection of works by artist Salvador Dali. Plan to spend about 2 hours in the museum admiring permanent exhibits featuring the iconic melting clocks and other rotating collections. Check their website for their calendar of events, including educational lectures and wine nights.
When you’re done wandering through the museum, make sure you head outside to the docks for sunset. Here you’ll get to enjoy a stunning view of downtown St. Petersburg, be able to watch planes fly off the runway at the airport, and find dolphins in the harbor.
Details: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg Florida earns the title of being both the first and the largest art museum in Tampa Bay. It features works of art from early African cultures, European paintings, and American photography.
Their traveling exhibitions are often very unique and worth checking out, so I’d definitely recommend planning a visit during your time in St. Petersburg.
Details: 255 Beach dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
The 100-year-old Sunken Gardens is St. Pete’s oldest living museum, and a world famous roadside botanical attraction located in the Old Northeast district.
It features over 50,000 plants and flowers, including some of the oldest tropical plants in the region arranged into beautiful gardens with flowing ponds in the middle. It’s a relaxing place to visit just to stroll around and admire the beauty, take photos, or attend one of their events, like when they showcase a holiday lights display in the winter.
Make sure you plan a reservation in advance so you don’t miss this century old botanical beauty during your visit to St. Pete!
Details: 1825 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704 | Website
The Morean Arts Center has a long history in St. Pete, housing the original Art Club of St. Petersburg back in 1917, and remaining a prominent figure in the area throughout its history.
The Morean Art Center features innovative, community-oriented works of art from artists all over the world. They offer classes and workshops regularly to help bring out your own inner artist, so if you have any interest in learning something new and creative while you’re in town, be sure to pop in to take a look around or check their workshop schedule while you’re in town.
You must visit the Chihuly Collection while here. Featuring world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork, the building that houses the collection was specifically designed for that purpose. You’ll find large-scale installations, as well as artwork from some of his most popular collections here.
Details: 719 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
St. Petersburg has been a growing city for many years, and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is one of the best kept secrets if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a little bit and out in nature.
Originally a zoo and botanical garden for the city of St. Petersburg, this 245-acre preserve along Lake Maggiore offers a quiet area away from downtown to escape to.
Spend an afternoon taking a walk along the nature trails, taking a scenic tram tour, and visiting the gift shop. Keep an out for wildlife, as birds of prey and wild alligators have been spotted here.
Details: 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705 | Website
When I lived in St. Pete, I spent every morning doing sunrise yoga on the beach at Vinoy Park. Vinoy Park sits upon a two mile stretch of waterfront by St. Pete Pier, and offers some of the most scenic views of both the ocean and downtown St. Petersburg. It’s a great place to get some exercise as there are plenty of walking paths, tennis courts, outdoor exercise equipment, and recreational activities available to try here.
Learn more about palm trees by taking a walk through a garden featuring over 200 species of palm, get in a workout on the beach, or just relax, take a walk, and admire the views. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some dolphins and stingrays! You can also visit their website to learn more about local events on the weekends, such as music festivals, farmers markets, and more.
Details: 701 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
If you’re a fan of craft cocktails and live music, a great place to spend your evening would be visiting Mandarin Hide. Located on Central Ave right downtown, you’ll find a little hole in the wall bar on a side street with a line out the door called Mandarin Hide.
Come here after dinner for a perfect cocktail, lovely ambiance, and friendly staff.
Details: 231 Central Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
The Imagine Museum is a contemporary glass museum located in downtown St. Pete. It showcases works of art from both emerging American artists and established international glass art movements. If you’ve never visited a glass museum before, it truly is a uniquely stunning and inspiring place to visit.
The Imagine Museum itself was one of the first and largest glass museums in North America, and aims to inspire and uplift their guests after their visit. I highly recommend making a reservation and planning a visit during your time in St. Petersburg!
Details: 1901 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 | Website
The actual structure of the St. Pete Pier has changed quite a few times over the years, but the newest build opened in 2020 and is here for the long haul. The St. Pete Pier is a permanent structure located in the downtown area of St. Pete, extending into Tampa Bay.
There are quite a few different shops and restaurants on the pier, and a trolley that stops along the way. By the water you’ll find grassy areas to lounge in, as well as Spa Beach for relaxing. Along the way you’ll find the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar, different souvenir shops, and a collection of restaurants at the end, including Pier Teaki, which overlooks the city and ocean below.
Details: 600 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
If you’re visiting St. Petersburg for spring break or other vacation, you’ll probably be spending most of your time in St. Pete Beach. St. Pete Beach is a barrier island on the west side of St. Petersburg, known for its plethora of resorts and hotels, bars and restaurants, and white sandy beaches.
Bring the whole family to Upham Beach for the week to play volleyball, build sand castles, and relax in the sunshine all year long. Enjoy many resorts and hotels near the beach and world-class dining nearby. Stop by Snapper’s Sea Grill or Crabby Bill’s Seafood for Florida staples, or 1200 Chophouse for an incredible steak dinner.
Tropicana Field is a 1.1 million square foot stadium in St. Petersburg, best known for being the home of the Major League Baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Escape the summertime humidity with a hot dog and an ice cold beer while watching baseball! Stop by the baseball museum during the game and check out different bars and restaurants in the area, such as Ferg’s, afterwards.
Details: 1 Tropicana dr., St. Petersburg, FL 33705 | Website
When you visit Tampa Bay, get to know more about the marine life in the area by booking a 75-minute long eco tour, or visit the Tampa Bay Discovery Watch Center at the pier.
The Tampa Bay Watch building showcases species found in local waters through a series of interactive presentations, a touch tank, outreach programs, and restoration projects.
If you’re looking for more of a hands-on experience, join an eco tour to get to know the areas dolphins, mangroves, and shoreline.
Details: 700 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Website
If you’re curious to explore more of the swampland and marshes of Florida, make your way over to Sawgrass Lake Park. This is a small park on the Gulf of Mexico with a boardwalk and dirt path you can walk around to observe the flora and fauna, and learn more about the nature of the area.
It’s totally free to park and walk around the lake, so I highly recommend making a small pit stop here!
Details: 7400 25th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33702 | Website
If you can’t pick one restaurant to visit in St. Pete, or are traveling by yourself, join a food tour! Tampa Bay Food Tours offers walking food and wine tours on St. Pete Beach Drive that takes you to the best bars and restaurants in downtown St. Pete.
Check their website to pick a tour that works for you, and make sure to arrive hungry!
The Skyway Bridge is probably one of the most iconic sights to see in St. Petersburg, and is also an excellent place to go fishing.
The Skyway Fishing Pier has a bait shop and admission allows you to fish off the pier for 24 hours without requiring an additional permit. Stop by to catch some snapper or grouper for dinner!
Details: I-275, St. Petersburg, FL 33711 | Website
Downtown St. Pete is a bustling area full of bars and restaurants, theaters, green spaces, sculptures, and more! It’s the perfect place to go shopping, try local seafood, or sip martinis from a rooftop bar after a full day out on the water.
Take a bike ride all the way from Vinoy Park to the pier and pop into different shops along the way. Try oysters and ceviche from the Oyster Bar on a Friday night, grab a drink from the Canopy, or guess the password that lets you into Dirty Laundry.
Stop by the Dali to see some unique Spanish art, or the Mahaffey Theater for a show. No matter what you’re in the mood for, the downtown area of St. Petersburg has it all!
When I lived in St. Pete, I went to Fort Desoto Park every single day for sunset, spent many days laying out on the beach, and went camping there every night I could. Covering nearly 1,200 acres over five islands, there’s something for everyone at Fort Desoto.
Explore the historic fort, go biking along 7 miles of paved trail, or spend your day laying on the white sands of the beach. Go fishing on the water or rent some kayaks and paddle your way through the marshes to Shell Key Preserve or Pass-A-Grille Beach.
If you’re lucky enough to snag a campsite at the Fort Desoto Campground, you can spend a night below the palm trees listening to the sounds of the ocean as you sleep. This campground is generally booked out well in advance, so if you have the time, I would recommend trying to get an overnight kayak rental or hopping aboard the ferry and spending the night at Shell Key Preserve. There are always open spots here, and you’re able to pitch a tent and camp directly on the beach! Permits are required, so be sure to book in advance.
Details: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde, FL 33715 | Website
Shell Key Preserve is a small barrier island located in Fort Desoto Park known for its white sands and great shelling opportunities. You can take a ferry to the island a few times a day, join a guided tour taking you to the island, such as a clear-bottom kayak tour, or rent some kayaks yourself and make a day out of visiting the island with some friends.
Spend the afternoon searching for sand dollars among the shores and then make your way over to Pass-A-Grille. If you’re looking for a more rustic experience, you can pack a picnic instead and get a permit that allows you to camp overnight on the beach. No matter how long you choose to stay at Shell Key Preserve, you’re sure to have a great time!
Details: 2187 Oceanview dr., Tierra Verde, FL 33715 | Website
Pass-A-Grille Beach is the southernmost barrier island at the end of St. Pete Beach reachable by car or ferry. It has powdery soft white sandy beaches, a great dog beach, a cute historic district, and many cute local shops and delicious restaurants to visit.
I’d recommend getting there early if you plan on driving, or take the ferry, as it can get crowded fast and parking is limited. Nonetheless, it’s worth a visit for a beach day in St. Pete!
If you’re looking for white sandy beaches without the crowds, make your way over to Treasure Island! Home to less than 7,000 people, this small area of Pinellas County is the perfect escape for those looking to beat the Spring Break crowds and opt for more of a local experience.
Treasure Island features a pristine shoreline, a scenic boardwalk, a playground, and many delicious restaurants just waiting to be explored!
Details: 11260 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL 33706 | Website
Tampa is located about 45 minutes across the bridge from St. Petersburg. You’ll likely fly into the airport in Tampa, so if you’re planning on spending a day there, I’d recommend doing it first or last.
Tampa is a lively city most known for its pristine beaches, fun amusement parks, and fun nightlife. If you have kids, you should plan a day to visit one of Tampa’s top attractions, Busch Gardens, an African themed amusement park/zoo all in one.
Spend a day enjoying the year-round sunshine on the beach and visiting a world-class steakhouse for dinner. No matter what you choose to do in Tampa the whole family is sure to have a fun time!
If you’re looking to visit Florida simply just to lay on the beach, consider visiting Clearwater and Clearwater Beach.
Clearwater, Florida is located in Tampa Bay, about 40 minutes north of St. Petersburg, and has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Imagine pristine white sands occupying miles and miles of prime real estate along the Gulf of Mexico, spoiling sunbathers with year-round crystal clear skies and waters alike.
When you stop in town, be sure to check out the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Take a day trip when visiting St. Petersburg, or find a hotel to relax at for your entire stay!
If you have a weekend free when visiting St. Petersburg, I highly recommend making your way down to Sanibel Island. This barrier island getaway is located about 3 hours south of St. Pete in the Fort Myers area.
It’s consistently ranked as one of the best beach towns in America, thanks to its white sandy beaches, plethora of seashells, and ease of access to outdoor activities, such as bird watching and kayaking.
Bring your bike to explore the shores or make your way out onto the water for a true Florida experience!
Originally published on 365 Atlanta Traveler.
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