(UPDATED JULY 2022) St. Pete is a west coast destination with sugar-sand beaches, a wide array of resorts, popular eateries and breweries, and great artwork. With world-class art galleries, an impressive local art mural scene, and affordable luxuries, it quickly becomes one of the most sought-after Florida vacation spots. Here are some fun things to do in St. Pete when you visit.
Browse the Dali Museum
The incredible curved glass architecture is the first thing you notice when you arrive at the Salvador Dali Museum (known as The Dali). Sitting on the waterfront, this wonderful museum is home to the most extensive collection of Salvador Dali’s works outside of Spain.
The world-famous artist is known for his Spanish surrealism artworks and maybe the most famous mustache. Dali often depicts clocks that are melting and paintings that are two different things, depending on the spot from where you look at them.
The Dali Museum hosts mostly permanent Dali works and a traveling exhibit that changes every few months. Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, and haute couture gowns by Schiaparelli have been special interests in the past. Be sure to visit Café Gala, the onsite restaurant that serves delicious Spanish cuisine.
Eat Delicious Food
In the heart of downtown St. Pete’s EDGE District is a hip, rustic cafe with street seating with killer affordable Cuban eats: Bodega. Each dish at Bodega is made-to-order with quality ingredients and beautiful presentation in eco-friendly cardboard boxes.
Bodega is known for the Cuban sandwich on La Segunda bread and incredible juice bar drinks. Other favorite dishes include:
- The Frita (Cuban style beef & pork burger with spicy mayo, avocado, and fries on top).
- Guava & cheese pastelitos.
- Cuban cortadito.
Vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful.
See or Stay at Extraordinary Hotels
While I have never stayed at the iconic Don Cesar, you can’t help but notice and admire the big pink palace on St. Pete Beach. Called “The Don,” this beautiful resort is nearing 100 years old and luxurious to the hilt. Enjoy two pools, white sand beaches, gorgeous waterfront views, and stylish rooms in this timeless landmark.
At Sirata Beach Resort, a second waterfront gem on St. Pete Beach, you can find everything you need from a beach resort and mnore. Sirata prides itself on impeccable service, multiple onsite restaurants, picture-perfect swimming pools, and rooms with ocean views.
Have an Instagram-worthy beverage from RumRunners or enjoy casual eats with live music at Harry’s Beach Bar, two of the hotel’s onsite restaurants. Sirata’s seductive fire pits are definitely a highlight of the already desirable property.
Suncoast Water Sports (an outdoor outfitter) offers beachfront services and pick-ups on Sirata Beach Resort’s private beaches.
Check Out the St. Pete Murals
You’ll find murals all over St. Pete and St. Pete Beach. Perhaps the lively and festive colorful creations are one thing that sets this Florida city apart from the others. No matter how often you visit, you can always see new street art in the works; it’s one of the most fun things to do in St. Pete. Here are a few of my favorites.
Admire Chihuly Art Works
One of the best Dale Chihuly glass exhibits I’ve seen in the world is at the Morean Arts Center in St. Pete, Florida. The Chihuly Museum will cost you $20 to visit, but the pieces are so fascinating that it is worth it. See Dale’s chandeliers, sea form, glass flowers, fishing boats, and more in a casual setting. Imagine how much work it must take to make these stunning glass pieces so curvy and pointy. Chihuly’s work is captivating.
Stroll Downtown St. Pete
Downtown St. Pete is a treasure trove of art, murals, and incredible locally-owned shops. Check out the vibrant and colorful creations, one of the fun things to do in St. Pete, that are entirely free to admire. Consider hopping on and off the Downtown Looper trolley to see as many as possible. Take your dog along for the stroll, too; St. Pete is incredibly pet-friendly.
Step Onto Beautiful Beaches
St. Pete’s beaches are stunning and might afford the best sunsets in the entire state. The emerald green waters are so mesmerizing that you would think you are at a world-class exotic destination rather than an affordable Florida vacation spot. Then again, this spot has been used for filming several Hollywood films.
Pass-A-Grille, a charming Old Florida area in St. Pete, features boutique motels, savvy bungalows, inns, and beach cottages. Here you have the Intracoastal Waterway on one side of the road and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. What a way to experience the best of both worlds!
For your ideal beach photo opportunities, St. Pete’s uncrowded beaches are flanked by dunes covered in sea oats.
Take a Dolphin Cruise
The Suncoast Watersports Dolphin Cruise and visit to Shell Island is something you cannot miss during your stay. It is easily one of the best things to do in St. Pete. Tours board the Compass Rose boat for an approximate two-hour adventure in the Gulf of Mexico. The boating excursion includes a narrated tour, island music, one complimentary beverage, and a cash bar for snacks, adult libations, and sodas. Yes, there is an onboard restroom.
My boat trip included chasing playful dolphins for great photo-ops and then dropping anchor at Shell Island, a naturalist area and bird refuge. Shell Island is a small, walkable island home to thousands of sea creatures and sand dollars. Best of all, you can bring home your treasures. Wading knee-deep in the water on the island’s far side, I found over 20 perfect sand dollars at one time. I also saw sea urchins, exotic shells, and crabs.
Suncoast Watersports also offers parasailing, Wave-runners, kayaks, and paddleboard rentals.
Sip a Perfectly Good Coffee
St. Pete has a large number of upscale coffee shops. I’ve visited a few, and these two really stood out. Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails is a minimalist-looking shop with strong coffee (hooray!) and specialty drinks. And get this—they also serve cocktails!
Then, at The Merchant: Purveyor of Local Goods, you’ll find an artsy menu with fascinating creations like the Tennessee Whiskey, made a honey latte with bourbon maple syrup. Pair your favorite coffee drink with a Cuban croissant, then browse the treasures in the store the coffee shop sits in.
Take a Walk
Mirror Lake is a gem in the heart of downtown St. Pete. You can walk around the lake as you admire the birds and outdoor wonders, plus soak up Florida’s favorable weather. Have your camera ready as this is a very photogenic St. Pete spot.
St. Pete, Florida—A Must See
I’m amazed at how many fun things there are to enjoy in St. Pete and how laidback it is; no wonder families have been visiting this area for years now. Hip and trendy, yet cozy and intimate, St. Pete is a nature lover’s premier destination and a significant player in the vacation market.
Come see what it has to offer you and your family.
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