Downtown St. Petersburg
Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg is known as the “sunshine city”, with an average of 361 sunshiny days every year. With weather like that, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite vacation spot for all ages. Whether you are looking for some outdoor adventure or want to explore the city’s trendy art scene, there’s something for everyone on St. Pete!
The Waterfront Arts District is St. Pete’s most fashionable address. Anchored by the Dali Museum and the Performing Arts Center, this neighborhood has established galleries and museums for a sophisticated experience. Visitors looking for the “next big thing” will want to explore the urban-historic mix of galleries and music venues in the Central Arts District. The Grand Central District is home to Florida’s largest new and used bookstore, Haslam. The Edge District is seven blocks of murals, restaurants, microbreweries, and shopping. If you’re looking for a large installation, check out the Warehouse Arts District. Emerging neighborhoods like Deuces Live, and MLK North, embrace and celebrate the diversity of the city’s African American heritage and future.
Fort De Soto State Park
Year in and year out, the five islands that make up the 1,136 acre Fort De Soto State Park are ranked as some of the best beaches in all of Florida and draws more than 2.7 million visitors every year. Locals and visitors alike come to enjoy not only the beach, but the hiking, biking, rollerblading trails, fishing, and camping.
North Beach is the most popular beach in the park, with a large parking lot and ten picnic shelters that get utilized by the crowds every day. A section of North Beach has been designated as a bird sanctuary, and off limits to people, but visitors can still birdwatch from other areas of the park and see some of the more than 325 species of birds that call For De Soto home. North Beach is the most popular and crowded of the all the beaches in the park. South of North beach, you’ll find more secluded beaches, including, including Gulf Pier Beach. East Beach is a less impressive beach, but the location makes it perfect for kiteboarding. Bay Pier is also known as “Dog Beach” because it’s close to the two fenced in dog parks. Well behaved dogs and their owners can run off leash at this beach, as long as they clean up after themselves.
Fort Desoto also has two piers for fishing. The Gulf Pier has stronger currents, so you’re likely to catch larger gamefish and maybe see some sharks. The Bay Pier is a little calmer, and you’re apt to fish for Spanish mackerel, pompano, and the occasional tarpon. Shore fishing and kayaking are also popular options, which often yield some redfish and snook. A Florida fishing license is required. Kayakers can also access Shell Key, a pristine, uninhabited barrier island, which is a a shellers paradise! The park has 238 camping sites, which have electricity, water, central washroom buildings with flush toilets and showers. Camping is extremely popular, and sites go fast, so make your plans early. On the Southern end of Mullet key, is the park’s name sake, Fort De Soto. Built during the Spanish-American war, visitors can take a self -guided tour of the buildings.
The Dali Museum
The center of Tampa-St. Pete’s vibrant art scene is most definitely the Salvador Dali Museum. This 2,000 square foot gallery was designed to display the collections 96 oil painting, the largest Dali Collection in the United States, as well as other important works of the time.
The museum is designed chronologically and features a dramatic double helix staircase in the center, a nod to the artist’s obsession with the geometrical shape. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, designed to withstand category 5 winds and storm surges and protect the 2,000 piece collection. The museum’s permeant collection includes six of the artist’s eighteen large master pieces, including the nine-foot tall “Hallucinogenic Toreador”. The museum offers guided tours as well as audio tours, and these are definitely recommended for those visitors who didn’t major in art in college.
The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail
Created along an abandoned railroad corridor, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is he Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, is 37 miles of running, walking, biking, and skaters from St. Pete along an abandoned railroad corridor, is a 47-mile-long park and recreation trail, running from the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.
The trail connects some highly urbanized areas with parks, coastlines, and residential neighborhoods, creating a mix of leisurely walkers, runners, and commuters all enjoying the view. More than 70,000 people use the trails every month. In St. Pete, the first 15 miles of the trail include dozens of pedestrian bridges, including the scenic quarter mile Cross Bayou Bridge, which crosses Boca Ciega Bay. All trails are wheelchair accessible. Trail amenities, like bike rakes, and water stops are provided by the Pinellas Trails, Inc., a not-for-profit citizen’s group.
The Sunken Gardens
The oldest museum in St. Pete and one of the last “roadside attractions”, The Sunken Gardens is a hidden oasis in the middle of a busy, urban environment. With more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers, waterfalls, and flamingos, Sunken Gardens feels like you’ve stepped into a whole new world. Unlike other public parks, this living museum is home to some of St. Petersburg’s oldest plants, some are more than 100 years old.
Unwind as you stroll through meandering paths, lush with exotic plants from around the world. Explore cascading waterfalls, beautiful demonstration gardens, more than 50,000 tropical plants, and flowers. The grounds include a Japanese Garden, a cactus garden, a butterfly garden, and flamingoes.
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