St. Petersburg is the perfect vacation destination whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with your family. The city averages 360 days of sunshine every year and offers great weather in every season, world-class restaurants, amenity-filled vacation rentals, and a glimmering coastline with some of the best beaches anywhere. With so many things to do in St. Pete, your day trip from Siesta Key is sure to be exciting and possibly exhausting. Good thing you have a luxury vacation rental waiting for you.
You’ll love the time you spend in St. Petersburg no matter what you’re looking for, including family-friendly attractions, museums, beaches, fishing, golfing, live music, sports, nightlife, arts, culture, and more. St. Petersburg is also located in close proximity to some of the other vacationing areas of Florida including Tampa, Siesta Key, Anna Maria Island, and Bradenton.
You’ll find plenty of family-friendly activities while you’re in St. Petersburg, as it’s widely considered to be one of the top beach towns for family trips.
The Dali Museum is the perfect choice for a family day out. It’s a “must see” attraction where you’ll get to view some of the most important works of the famed artist Salvador Dali. You’ll also get to see the unique architecture of the building, and you can take a self-guided tour that introduces you to the artist and his works.
The Morean Art Center is another great stop for a family day out and it offers a unique, community-oriented approach to art education with family programs, art classes, exhibitions and other activities. You’ll be able to meet with resident artists at the Center to ask questions, participate in art classes as a family, view shows, and attend several events for families hosted each week. If you’re interested in learning a particular medium, you can take introductory classes at the Center. Kids camps are also available throughout the summer.
Fort De Soto Park is located south-southwest of St. Petersburg. Its North Beach was named “The Best Beach for Families” by USA Today in 2014 for several reasons. The natural sandbar off the coast creates a tidal pool, which is perfect for children. It also has beautiful white sands, several picnic areas, and colorful shells scatted along the shore. Don’t take any live shells or sand dollars as it is illegal, but you can find preserved sand dollars at many of the gift shops if you want one. You’ll find plenty of walking or jogging opportunities along the seven miles of multi-purpose trails. The North Beach is easy to spot, as a large pirate ship playground is located right near its entrance.
The Boyd Hill Nature Preserve offers opportunities to enjoy some of the local flora and fauna and is an award winning park that sits on 245 sprawling acres. Admission to the park is only $3.00 for adults and $1.50 for children under the age of 16. The preserve features over three miles of boardwalks and trails for walking. There are also picnic and playground areas for families and an environmental educational center. The Boyd Hill Preserve is home to an aviary for permanently injured birds including vultures, hawks, owls, and other birds of prey, as well as several species of butterfly and alligators. Boyd Hill offers five distinct ecosystems and an exciting adventure in nature for your family to enjoy.
You’ll find plenty of nightlife opportunities when traveling in St. Petersburg, as downtown comes to life once the sun sets. You’ll find great food, dancing, live music, and drinks at venues like Push Ultra Lounge, Fubar Downtown, and Mandarin Hide. The Canopy Rooftop Lounge is a hidden gem and offers comfortable seating and incredible views of the St. Petersburg skyline. Grab a drink and watch the sun set while relaxing in a private cabana at the lounge, and you’ll often get live music and happy hour specials. Push Ultra Lounge is an upscale urban spot that features a rooftop lounge, hip hop, and house music played on the weekends.
While you’re downtown, you can check out one of the many craft breweries in the area. St. Petersburg is home to 14 brew pubs and craft breweries such as 3 Daughters Brewing, St. Pete Brewing Company, Cycle Brewing, and Green Bench Brewing Company. Green Bench is a local favorite with its large beer garden, relaxing outdoor atmosphere, and wide range of ales and IPAs. 3 Daughters Brewing is a family-owned brewery with a fun atmosphere and a wide range of games including card games, chess, board games, darts, table tennis, giant jenga, and pictionary. You’ll also be able to enjoy live music on many nights, and most importantly, a wide selection of delicious craft beers.
If you can’t convince yourself to leave St. Pete Beach, be sure to check out Harry’s Beach Bar or Woody’s Waterfront, both of which are located there and offer you the chance to grab a drink and listen to live music. Harry’s Beach Bar has nice views of the beach and a cozy fire pit to relax by. There are plenty of other beach bar options, of course, including Jimmy B’s, Undertow, and Swigwam. Jimmy B’s offers nightly live music with a large deck that overlooks the beach, and is a favorite nighttime hang out spot among locals. When you’re hungry for a bite to eat, head over to Undertow, which is open late and has pool, sports on the TVs, and a view of the beach.
In terms of restaurants, St. Petersburg has plenty of choices to offer no matter what you’re craving. The area is home to several highly-rated Italian, Mexican, Cuban, and American restaurants, as well as plenty of places to enjoy fresh, deliciously-prepared seafood. The seafood and American restaurants are certainly popular choices. Some sure bets for a great meal include The Mill Restaurant, Brick & Mortar, and the Birch & Vine, all three of which are located in downtown St. Petersburg.
The Mill Restaurant, launched by Chef Ted Dorsey, is definitely not inexpensive, but it’s a local favorite that offers delicious expertly prepared brunch, lunch and dinner options made with fresh seasonal ingredients. You also can’t go wrong with the Brick & Mortar, which offers a multitude of creative and delicious dishes at reasonable prices. You’ll find the entrees there are made with the freshest ingredients there including seafood, quail, duck, beef and pork, and you’ll enjoy the cozy cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Birch & Vine also features reasonably-priced starters and entrees with a creative menu and plenty of satisfying sandwiches to pick from. All of these restaurants aren’t just highly rated for their food; they also always have attentive and dedicated service which will ensure that you have a pleasant experience dining.
All of the above mentioned restaurants are perfect choices when you’re downtown, but when you’re out at St. Pete Beach, you’ll still have some really high quality options to choose from such as Snapper’s Sea Grill, Sea Critters Café, and Verducci’s Pizzeria Trattoria. Truth be told, most of the restaurants on St. Pete’s Beach are highly rated and even if you pick a random option, the chances are that you’ll be more than satisfied with the results. But of course every restaurant on St. Pete Beach has its own specialty. Head to Snapper’s Sea Grill if you’re looking for traditional Gulf-style seafood in a lively atmosphere. Verducci’s Pizza Trattoria is one of the best places in the entire St. Petersburg area to get delicious pizza and generous pasta portions. If you love Italian food, it’s the perfect place for you. Sea Critters Café is located in Pass-a-Grille Beach if you find yourself on the south of the island, and if the weather is nice it’s the perfect place to sit outside and watch the ocean while eating. Some of the favorites here include clam chowder, char grilled grouper, crab bisque, crab cakes, lobster and many other satisfying seafood dishes.
Other good options to eat on St. Pete Beach include Level 11, Palm Court Italian Grill, and Frog Pond. When you want to enjoy a relaxing and satisfying breakfast, head over to Frog Pond. Be sure to come hungry because the portions are huge and the prices are reasonable, and although you might find yourself in a line, it’s well worth the wait. Some popular menu items include crepes, eggs benedict, cinnamon French toast, quiche, omelets and much more. Palm Court Italian Grill at the Tradewinds Resort is the place to enjoy an expertly-prepared authentic Italian meal, and some of the favorite entrees include carpaccio, sea bass, crab cakes, and specialty salads. Complement your meal with one of many wine options. Finally, Level 11 is on a level of its own with incredible beach views, phenomenal service, and delicious, traditional pub-style entrees. You’ll find a wide range of small plate choices on the menu at reasonable prices, and it’s the place to go when the weather is nice.
Attractions: Places to See
There’s no question that you should visit St. Pete Beach, the nearby barrier island community which is widely considered to be one of the best beaches in the world and the top attraction in the area. Miles of pristine white sand, yearlong pleasant weather, a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities, and numerous highly-reviewed restaurants and shopping areas have made it one of the most desirable vacation spots. In 2016, it was rated as the “No. 4 Beach in the U.S.” by TripAdvisor based on reports from locals and tourists. When you visit the beach, you’ll see why when you see the stunning shoreline or a captivating sunset.
Also head over to the southern tip of St. Pete Beach to see Pass-A-Grille Beach, which has a long stretch of undeveloped shoreline and offers a wide range of water sport opportunities including stand up paddleboarding, kayak rentals, and parasailing adventures. Pass-A-Grille is a relaxing and quaint beach town, and you’ll find several restaurants, boutiques, fishing piers, and an outdoor market within walking distance. While you’re visiting you’ll always get to enjoy the incredible untouched views of the beach while you’re out shopping. Every Friday and Sunday from 9am to 3pm, a group of local artists and shops come out to sell their works. Fish at the Merry Pier or head out on a semi-private sunset or dolphin tour for a low cost.
Sawgrass Lake Park is one of the top attractions in St. Petersburg and offers you the opportunity to see alligators in their natural habitat along with other flora and fauna. You’ll view gators of all sizes, squirrels, raccoons, frogs, snakes, and many types of birds, and the trails are very accessible for those of all ages. On the sunnier days, you’ll likely see gopher tortoises. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll want to take a stroll through Sawgrass Lake Park while you’re in St. Petersburg, and thankfully the boardwalk system is nicely designed and stroller friendly so that you can make it a family adventure.
Things to Do: Activities to Do
The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail is about an hour drive from end to end, and along the way, there’s a wide range of small, independent craft breweries where you’ll get to sample craft beers and take the ones you like home. You won’t find these beers anywhere else, and regardless of which breweries you decide to visit, you’ll want to sample the area’s signature beer: Florida Weisse. This unique beer is created from a process that includes adding fresh fruits during the fermentation process such as mango, dragonfruit, passionfruit, and pineapple. This helps create a tart, highly-carbonated, low-alcohol beer. Even if you don’t want to head out too far, check out 3 Daughters Brewing, which is conveniently located downtown, or the nearby Green Bench Brewing Co and Cycle Brewing.
The boat tours in St. Petersburg are another top attraction and are thrilling ways to enjoy the open ocean. The speedboat tours are a good choice for those who prefer a faster pace. You’ll likely catch a glimpse of dolphins when you’re out, but if you want to be sure that you see them, you can always go on one of the many dolphin tours. Bring your GoPro or camera phone with you. The snorkeling tours are an even better way to see ocean life up close, such as manta rays, manatees, tortoises, and beautifully patterned ocean fish.
If you’re into theatrical arts, attend a production at the free Fall Theatre Company. It’s a favorite among locals and visitors because of its high quality products, small venue size (which offers a good view in every seat), and creative, professional productions. Talented actors, musicians, producers, and writers work together to create some of the best off-Broadway productions that you’ll find in all of Florida. You won’t want to miss out on this hidden gem if you happen to be traveling through St. Petersburg.
The next time you’ve booked a vacation rental on Siesta Key, make sure you set aside at least one day to head out to St. Petersburg and explore the many restaurants, family-friendly attractions, nightlife venues, outdoor recreation opportunities, art and culture events, and other opportunities St. Petersburg has to offer. Siesta Key is undoubtedly amazing on its own, but St. Petersburg is just an hour away and well worth the trip for at least one day. You might not able to do everything that you want in such a short span of time, but try to see as much of this unique area as you can. At the very least, make a trip out to the St. Pete Beach area to enjoy a beautiful sunset and the scenic shoreline, and if you have more time, you can check out one of the many recreational opportunities downtown.