Located on the west coast of Florida, St Petersburg is the ideal destination if you are looking for a relaxing and sunny place to spend your holidays. It is a very interesting city and there are many things to do in St Pete!
As a matter of fact, the whole Tampa bay area is very different from what you expect Florida to be. It’s young, dynamic, arty and lively.
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I got the chance to live in St Pete for a few months. I loved the place. It was my first time in the United States of America and I loved exploring the area. This top things to do in St Pete is based on my own experience. There are places that locals recommended to me, others that I found in Lonely Planet Florida, went to check out and loved!
Without further ado, let’s discover the best things to do in St Petersburg, FL! I put together a comprehensive travel guide to help you figure out what to do in St Pete, where to eat and where to stay.
Honeymoon and Caladesi Island
These 2 islands are located in Clearwater, about 30mins drive from downtown St Pete. They are state parks. The entrance fee is $8 per vehicle, $4 per single-occupant vehicles. The best thing about these islands is that they offer a variety of things to do and see that will make happy almost everyone.
You can park in one of the 5 carparks and go explore the nature on the 2.5 miles Osprey walk. You will get to see ospreys and American eagles. I really enjoyed that walk, I thought the environment was beautiful and relaxing. It was also good fun to spot the eagles and Osprey.
If you fancy going on a short walk, I would definitely recommend this one. Don’t forget to take closed shoes though as it would be a bit difficult in flip flops and you never know what you are going to walk on! If you want good walking shoes, I personally use these shoes. I’ve been using them for years and I’m very happy with them.
Also, that’s a place where you will want to take a proper camera. I only had my phone when I went there and got some great photos of the beach but I regretted not having taken my camera to get photos of the wildlife.
If you want to chill for the day, you can take your towel and go on the beach. There is a 2.5 miles long beach that is accessible from the carparks. White sand, trees … it’s the perfect place for a relaxing day. Kids will also love it as they will get the chance to look for pretty shells on the sand. The beach is well-preserved and very unique.
If you fancy a walk, you can also go to the tip of the beach and come back to your car, it will be a good 5 miles.
There is also a big picnic area with tables and amenities by the parking lot, definitely a good spot to get lunch.
It’s a beautiful place and I just can’t recommend it enough. I loved going to honeymoon island when I was living in St Pete. It was like my little bit of peace and quiet! A true heaven!
Downtown St Pete
St Pete might not have the architectural charm of an European city but it is a very cool place! Downtown St Pete has a very unique vibe. I would definitely recommend you going and check that out. Just park near central avenue and start walking around.
You will find street art murals at every corner!
St Pete downtown is also packed with cool little places to grab food, coffee shops and vintage clothes shops.
It’s a very nice place to just have a wonder. People in St Pete are very friendly so they will welcome you and talk to you and also give you recommendations if you want some.
If you fancy exploring the city by playing a game, you can go on a scavenger hunt for example. (I haven’t tried it myself though)
While you are having a wander downtown, if you fancy grabbing a cup of coffee, I’d recommend going to Grassroots Kava House. It’s a very nice hipster coffee shop where you can get Kava, coffee or tea.
If you are looking for accommodation in St Pete, Downtown is also a very good choice.
Florida Holocaust museum
This one is a bit of an odd one. I mean, it seems a bit random doesn’t it. But yet that’s a very good museum. The entrance is normally $16 but if you go on remembrance day in January, it’s free.
There is a lot of reading and not a lot of things to actually see but I was impressed by the accuracy of the facts. Being a French citizen living in the UK and having travelled to Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland … I think I have a good understanding and knowledge of what happened during WWII so I was extremely curious to see what this museum would be like. Understand the American point of view on these facts. And I must say, they did a very good job at it. Facts are accurate and very well explained. The museum is well set up which makes understanding and reading very easy. I would definitely recommend if you are interested in WWII and history. It is a lot of reading though, so be prepared. You will spend a good 2 or 3 hours in the museum.
St Pete beach & Treasure Island
St Pete is particularly known for its beaches. As a matter of fact, the most beautiful beaches in North America are located in or near St Petersburg, Florida. St Pete Beach is perfect for a beach day. You will find everything you need to relax and have fun. White sand, bars, ice creams…
Treasure Island is a bit calmer and offers quieter beaches. It’s also the perfect place to go kayaking and see dolphins.
If you want to see dolphins, you may also want to consider a Dolphin watching cruise to Shell Key.
Salvador Dali museum
Home to the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of Europe, the Salvador Dali museum is located in downtown St Pete, on the waterfront.
It’s beautifully done and the pieces are, as you would expect, quirky and amazing.
The entrance costs $25 for adults but you can have it reduced to $12 if you go on Thursdays after 5 pm.
If you are looking for a very Florida experience or more specifically a St Pete experience, shuffleboard is exactly what you need!
Shuffleboard was originally an English game but it turns out to have way more momentum in Florida than anywhere else. It might have to do with the fact that Florida has a fairly old population and it’s a game particularly adapted for elderly people.
That having been said, it is good fun at any age!
You can find a shuffleboard ground in downtown St Pete (559 Mirror Lake Dr N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701). It’s generally only open to members but on Friday evening they open it to the public for free.
It’s also BYOB which means that as well as being a fun evening, it will be cheap.
It’s opened from 7pm to 10pm. You only need to go there, grab a stick and discs and start playing. I always thought it was the most authentic thing you can do in St Pete.
If you really like it and would like to go the rest of the week, taking a membership is also a good option as it’s only $35 per year (or $60 for a family).
How do you play Shuffleboard?
It’s very easy and you will get the grip of it quickly. Shuffleboard is played on a narrow court, 2 players on each side. You need to team of 2 players to have the ideal configuration. One player of each team on each side.
The scoring area (see below) is formed by 4 areas with different scores (10, 8, 7 and – 10). The purpose is to push the discs to make them glide onto the scoring area. The first team to get to 71 wins.
When you count the points, you have two options. Either you count the total for each team or if you want to spice it up and make the game longer you can only count the difference in points.
Clearwater beach was rated the best beach in the USA in 2019. It is a large white sanded beach with crystal blue water. However, it can get very crowded so it’s better to avoid it during Spring break.
As a general thing, Clearwater is a nice place to go to have a relaxing day. You can walk along the promenade, get ice cream, relax on the beach and go to a beach party in one of the beach bars.
There are many dolphins in Clearwater and even though you can catch a glimpse of them from the beach, going on a dolphin watching cruise is also a good idea.
Clearwater is mainly known for its beautiful crystal clear water and sunsets. To watch the sunset, I’d recommend to either grab some food or a drink, stay on the beach and watch it from there or go on a sunset cruise. These are both really good options to get to see the beautiful sunset in Clearwater.
Finally, in the evening, if you want to go for a drink and maybe dancing on the beach, I particularly recommend the Shephard’s Beach Resort. I absolutely loved this place! Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you can still go to the bar and grab food or drinks. They get famous DJs from all over the world to come and mix for hours and hours.
Last year I got to see Robin Schulz there (he might not be that famous in the USA, but he sure is in Europe!). It was amazing! They generally do that on Saturday or Sunday. It starts at 2pm and go all the way until 1 am. You can have a drink, dancing under the stars, your footsies in the sand… what else can we ask?
Fort De Soto
Located in South St Pete, Fort De Soto is a park formed of 5 islands: Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key and the main island, Mullet Key. Accessible via a toll road, Fort De Soto is perfect to relax and enjoy nature. It’s very pretty and ideal to discover native wildlife.
Tampa Bush Gardens
St Pete is located only 30 mins away from Tampa. If you like themed park then you should go to Bush Gardens! It’s a way better alternative to Orlando’s parks. It’s less busy and just as much fun!
There are plenty of roller coasters and also a waterpark (which is always something you want in Florida).
Busch Gardens are always good fun. You can go with kids as well. Ideally, it’s better to go a tiny bit before Spring Break as it’s less crowded and it’s nice weather but of course, if you can’t then Spring Break is fine.
You can also go in winter if you want to but might not be able to enjoy all water activities. Florida is hot but still January is not necessarily bikini material.
You can book online, directly there or even take a Tampa Bay Pass that will also give you access to: the Florida Aquarium, Zoo Tampa, Clearwater Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Where to eat and drink in St Pete, FL
If you are a foodie, St Pete will be your paradise! There are so many places serving amazing food in St Pete! Over the years, cultures mixed in St Pete and that’s the reason why nowadays the food scene in St Pete is so much developed. You will find all sorts of restaurants with cuban, asian and european influences. Here are my favourite places to eat and drink in St Pete FL.
Grab a Cuban sandwich at Bodega
Bodega is a rustic-chic restaurant located at 1120 Central Avenue.
This little bodega has only a few tables on the side and they generally get quite busy. So they should be! Their Cuban sandwiches are simply AMAZING! It can just not go wrong!
So, if you want to try what may very well be the best Cuban sandwich of your life, go to Bodega on Central.
Sandwiches cost about $8. They also offer platters.
Grab a drink in a brewery
There are several breweries in St Pete. If you are downtown, I’d recommend Green Bench Brewery. If you are willing to drive for a few minutes, the 3 Daughters Brewery is well worth it.
Get lunch at Mazzaro’s Italian Market
Roasted coffee, an amazing deli, wine tasting… it smells and feels like Italy in there! Yep, that’s right! Mazzaro’s Italian Market is in some sort of way St Pete’s little Italy. The atmosphere is great and the food is DELICIOUS!
If you like Italian food, you will love Mazzaro! Give it a try!
Some items can get pretty pricey but their sandwiches are about $6. I particularly recommend the Philly sandwich. So good!
Going to Mazzaro’s is one of my favourite things to do in St Pete, it just never disappoint!
It can get pretty busy between 12 and 1pm so I’d recommend going either a bit earlier or later.
Get a pizza at Britt’s Pizza on Treasure Island
If you are a pizza lover, you need to go to Britt’s Pizza! I’m very picky when it comes to pizzas and yet, I love this place! Britt’s offers homemade pizzas cooked in a coal-fired oven. They use fresh and tasty products. Everything is made to perfection!
I highly recommend you to go there for lunch or dinner. Alternatively, they also have delivery options!
Britt’s is located on 10709 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL 33706.
Have a wander in Tampa
Tampa is the main city near St Petersburg. It’s probably where you will fly to.
It’s very easy to get to Tampa from St Pete. Just take the interstate, cross the bridge and here you are!
Tampa is very nice place. I particularly recommend to go downtown and go to the waterfront. It’s very nice and chilled. You will find loads of bars and restaurants where you can have a drink.
My favourite place in Tampa is Ybor. It’s the perfect place to go for a drink! I always loved going to Bernini’s for their $3 martinis! Ybor is the old cuban quarter which makes it the perfect place to smoke a cigar!
That said, Ybor is also known to be a fairly dangerous place so be aware of that. As long as you stay between the arches, on the main strip, you will be just fine. That’s the entertainment quarter, you can park in the multi-storey carpark at the entrance and just go for a walk. I wouldn’t recommend it with kids though. Again stay on the main street and no matter what do not walk further than the arches. As long as you do that, you will love Ybor! So much fun!
Finally, you can not go to Tampa without going to see an ice-hockey game! The Tampa Lightning are an amazing team and seeing a game is always a great experience!
Go on a day trip to Crystal River
Who says Florida says manatees! There are over 6,000 manatees in Florida and St Pete is a very good place to see them. You can find manatees in St Pete and Tampa but the best place to see manatees is Crystal River.
Crystal River is located about 2 hours drive from St Pete. It’s particularly famous for its springs and being home to hundreds of manatees in winter. It’s a beautiful place. The Three Sisters springs are beautiful springs with crystal-clear water. From january to march, hundreds of manatees head to the springs to run off from the cold waters of the gulf of Mexico. The springs are at a stable temperature of 72 degrees (Fahrenheit).
In december / january, when the gulf starts to be colder manatees go to Crystal River. They stayed as long as the springs are warmer than the sea. Once we get closer to spring or summer they leave.
It’s a very unique thing to see and makes it a very popular destination.
I would definitely recommend to call the visitor centre beforehand to check how many manatees were there. Otherwise you might end up doing like me and drive up for 2 hours to see no manatees.
Even though the manatees are supposed to be there between january and march, again it all depends on the temperature. In 2019, february was very hot and all manatees left almost 2 months before the time they normally leave. But that was ok, I ended up seeing them in Homosassa 😉
Once you ensure the manatees are there, you can head to Crystal River. You can see the manatees from the walk around the Three Sisters Springs. But if you want to make the best out of the experience, I’d recommend to go swimming with the manatees.
No matter what though, please be respectful. Animals should be treated well so going swimming with the manatees is fine but be respectful!
St Pete is a very welcoming place, you will have loads of fun there! Check out these things to do in St Petersburg, Florida and let us know what you liked the most!
How I planned my trip to St Pete, Florida
Travelling to St Pete soon and want to know what services and apps I use when I went to St Petersburg, FL?
Here is the list of my favourite travel apps. I use them all of the time and can’t recommend them enough! They always make travels so much easier!
First of all, I bought the Lonely Planet Florida and I used it quite a lot. It came in very handy!
I always book my flights through either:
– Skyscanner to find a cheap flight ticket (especially in Europe)
– Momondo to find a cheap long haul flight and inspiration
When I rent a car, I always compare prices on either Skyscanner or Rentalcars, take the cheapest option and then take an additional insurance somewhere else (way cheaper than taking the one from the rental company)
In terms of accommodation, I use the following:
– Airbnb for shared accommodation
For day tours and entrance tickets I use:
I love taking photos and I use the following photo cameras:
– Nikon Coolpix L830 for wildlife photos (the zoom is great but the camera is a bit annoying to carry around sometimes)
– Nikon 1 J5: this compact camera is perfect in any situation especially city trips
– Samsung S9: most of the time I do use my phone, it’s easier!
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