Though I live on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, I really love how beautiful and laid-back the “west, or Gulf Coast” is. One of my favorite places there is St. Pete/Clearwater, home to some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever experience.
With Old Florida charm, world-class museums and outdoor attractions, award-winning white sand beaches, and delicious dining, you’re sure to love this area as much as I do. In partnership with Hotels.com, here are 7 awesome things to do in St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida.
#1 Attend Spring Baseball Training
There isn’t much that tops the love and excitement for spring baseball season in the state of Florida. Home to the Grapefruit League, Florida itself hosts 15 teams for spring training. You’ll find the beloved Philadelphia Phillies training (since 1948) at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.
The Toronto Blue Jays play in Dunedin, and New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, both nearby towns.
This is a great way to experience fantastic spring weather, discounted baseball games, and often chances to meet and get photos with the players.
#2 Visit Celebrities at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
This magnificent aquarium is dedicated to rescuing sick and injured marine animals. They are treated and rehabbed, then released back into their respective homes. You will find dolphins, turtles, otters, and other marine life at the aquarium, but the most famous residents are Hope and Winter, stars of Dolphin Tale. Hope is cute, playful, and fun to interact with. If you take a piece of paper and drag it around the viewing window, she will chase after it.
#3 Explore the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
Tarpon Springs (20 minutes from Clearwater, but in the same region) is home to sponge markets. Since 1890, Tarpon Springs has been a leading world-producer of natural sponges. For a 30 year stretch, it was Florida’s largest industry and Tarpon Springs became known as the “Sponge Capital of the World.” You’ll find a plentiful Greek population in Tarpon Springs (second to Greece itself) and can dine at authentic and delicious Greek restaurants on your visit. Be sure to pick up a sponge to take home with you, too.
Need a Place to Stay in St. Pete/Clearwater?
When I visit St. Pete and/or Clearwater, I want to stay on the beach. You’ll find charming hotels, some with Old Florida charm like Sirata Beach Resort, on the coast in St. Pete. In Clearwater, I prefer the big name places to stay with all the bells and whistles, such as the Wyndham Grand and Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach. I also like the hotel to have an onsite restaurant and free parking is a bonus.
#4 Pick Up A Bounty of Shells
Take a fun, scenic, and narrated boat tour with Suncoast Watersports to Shell Island. There, you are welcome to walk around the island and gather shells and sand dollars to take home with you. Compass Rose is the boat that takes guests on a two-hour adventure in the Gulf of Mexico, and the time on the island is approximately 60 minutes. I recommend that you wade a bit into the water for a bigger and better selection of picture-perfect sand dollars, often seeing 20 at a time. Shell Island is full of gorgeous birds, too.
There is a bathroom onboard the Compass Rose, and a cash bar that sells snacks and drinks, including alcoholic beverages.
#5 Enjoy a Live Performance
The Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater is recognized as one of the best acoustic facilities in Florida and offers performances from world-renowned artists and touring companies. Events range from Broadway musicals to modern dance and comedy shows.
Frank Lloyd Wright inspired the 73,000 square foot hall’s design and gorgeous look. Look at this schedule to see what performances are coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall.
#6 Admire Incredible Art
Sitting on the waterfront, the museum is home to the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s works outside of Spain. The first thing you notice when you arrive at the Salvador Dali Museum is the awesome curved glass architecture.
The world-famous artist is known for both his Spanish surrealism artworks and maybe having the most famous mustache of all time. Dali often depicts clocks that are melting as well as paintings that are two different things, depending on the spot from where you look at them. The museum also has an onsite cafe that serves tantalizing Spanish cuisine.
#7 Enjoy Pier 60 and the Sugar Sand Festival
Pier 60 is a 1,080-foot-long fishing pier with covered pavilions, telescopes, and serves as a gathering spot for the daily sunset. Traditional park equipment dots the landscape and families flock to this area for fishing, street vendors, and celebrations. Pier 60 is not only a recreational park, but also has a fully stocked bait house and six covered pavilions.
In April, an event known as the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival displays themed professionally-designed sand castles for 17 days. The sugar sand displays are breathtaking! The 2020 display theme is “SANDimals, An Animal Adventure.”
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