A bounty of beaches
When it comes to beaches, St Petersburg isn’t messing around. The star of this waterfront show is undoubtedly St Pete Beach, voted the number four best beach in the US by TripAdvisor reviewers in 2016. It has the characteristic sugar-white sand this area is known for, accompanied by a swathe of old-school motels and inns, beach shops, bars, restaurants and watersport opportunities.
St Pete is also the umbrella beach to the area’s longest stretch of undeveloped coast, Pass-a-Grille Beach. There aren’t any high rises or big crowds here, it’s just six kilometres of you, the sun and the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Treasure Island is a beach whose vibes rest somewhere in between, home to the self-proclaimed world’s longest waterfront bar, the Gator’s Cafe & Saloon.
There’s also Fort de Soto Beach – a long patch of coast found within the larger Fort de Soto Park. It’s a hit with families, as days here aren’t exclusively splashing around. There are also camping and picnic areas, a playground, walking trails and the historic fort the park was named after to widen the itinerary.
Days at the museum
Don’t be fooled – St Petersburg holidays wont leave you stranded in your average beach town. It’s home to a surprising number of museums and cultural activities to round out an otherwise beach-heavy holiday.
The Salvador Dali Museum is found within St Petersburg, and is home to the largest collection of Dali pieces outside of Europe. The region is also home to the Florida Holocaust Museum and the Morean Arts Center, where you’ll find wildly wonderful glass sculptures in the permanent Chihuly Collection.
Time to dine
Expect to eat well while on holiday in St Petersburg, as the cuisine here is about as varied as varied comes, with fare from all over the world. Caribbean, Mexican, British, Italian and American – you name it, there’s a restaurant for it. Plus a diner, steakhouse and wine bar, too.
But because of its seaside location, St Petersburg is especially treated to an enviable selection of fresh seafood. You’ll find each cuisine comes in a range of vibes, too, from waterfront chic to a swanky rooftop, a corner cantina to a classic American diner.
With its swoon-worthy array of beaches, St Petersburg used to have a reputation as a popular retirement spot, but recent years has a seen a shift toward a younger crowd. We have a feeling that the wave of bars and clubs had something to do with it.
There’s a special emphasis on live music here, with clubs boasting some of Florida’s finest musicians and watering holes for serious jazz fans. Big time clubs have also taken root, pumping out multi-storey dance parties until three in the morning, plus easy-going cocktail bars to keep your nights colourful and sweet.
On the calendar
Throughout the year, St Peterburg’s streets come alive with popular community events. If there’s an American holiday happening, you can believe there’ll be a celebration here. Martin Luther King Jr. Day sees a parade and music, while Christmas features a Santa Parade and icy events, despite the warm temperatures.
Bluesfest sets up shop along the waterfront in the spring with live music and big names in the blues scene, while St Pete Pride takes over a weekend in June with block parties, art festivals and a signature pride parade. Book a package holiday to Florida at just about any time of year and you can guarantee there’ll be a little something going on.