ALREADY HERALDED AS a great destination, St. Petersburg just added a spectacular new venue that has everyone buzzing. After $92 million in renovations, St. Pete’s Pier opened in July 2020 and dazzled the city with 26 eco-friendly acres of fun and food jutting out into Tampa Bay. Highlights include sunny and shaded walkways, landscaped green space, a beach, fishing pier, exhibit and event halls, picnic areas, and eateries ranging from a grab-and-go food shop to rum bars and seafood restaurants.
When you leave the pier and come into downtown, an array of attractions awaits. Renowned for its cultural scene, St. Pete is home to vibrant street murals, galleries and world-class arts facilities: Salvador Dali Museum, Chihuly Glass Collection, Morean Arts Center, Museum of Fine Arts and Mahaffey Theater, to name a few. Gorgeous historic hotels and buildings, such as the Vinoy, are showcased around the city. Sunken Gardens and Florida Botanical Gardens are a botanist’s dream.
Nearby professional sports teams, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (football), Rays (baseball) and Lightning (hockey), bring year-round excitement to the region. But if you’d rather play than spectate, you have plenty of outdoor options. At North Shore and Vinoy Parks, you can hike the trails, swim in a pool or paddle board on the waves, play tennis or beach volley ball along the shore, take kids to seaside playgrounds, and run your pup at dog parks. At Fort De Soto Park, you can kayak in mangroves or beach camp under the stars.
If all this activity works up an appetite, St. Pete’s got you covered. Strolling along Central Avenue, you find an assortment of restaurants, pubs and cafés featuring cuisines from Cuban and Italian to classic seafood and Southern BBQ. The Craft Beer Passport 2.0 lets you travel to 35 local breweries along the Gulp Coast, and downtown distilleries introduce you to regional rums and liquors. In between meals, indulge in retail relaxation at a plethora of vintage shops, hip boutiques and novelty stores.
Last but not least are St. Pete’s beaches, ranked among America’s best for white sand and clear waters. Head west to discover the convenience of Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach, or travel the 35-mile stretch of sunny spots along the Gulf Coast to explore a chain of idyllic waterfront destinations.
WHERE TO DOCK
Renaissance Vinoy Resort Marina
Guests at this full-service marina’s 74 slips have access to the gorgeous historic hotel, golf course, tennis courts, spa, restaurant and other luxurious amenities in the heart of St. Pete.
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina
The marina’s 640 wet slips accommodate vessels from 28 to 100 feet, and amenities include a mooring field, picnic area, fuel, electric and water hook-ups.
Port of St. Petersburg
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, Port St. Pete offers berthing for superyachts up to 500 feet. Amenities include a 1,200-foot long quay, dockside pump out and concierge service.
WHERE TO DINE
The Big Catch at Salt Creek
“Flip flop fabulous” means come as you are to this old-style Florida culinary gem and savor its extensive assortment of seafood, chicken and steak dishes.
Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro
Fresh fish dominates the menu at this seafood house at the base of St. Pete’s Pier. Watch boats sail by while dining on an array of dishes from casual tacos and sandwiches to daily catch entrees, with select meat and chicken plates for carnivores.
The Tavern at Bayboro
Some come here for the best crunchy grouper sandwich; others are eager for craft beer and live music, but everyone loves The Tavern for its good food and laid-back vibe.
Gratzzi Italian Grille
Classic Italian dishes served on white linen tablecloths cover all the Mediterranean essentials from insalata and paninis to home-made pasta, fresh seafood and grilled steaks.
Modern American cuisine sourced from local farmers and fishermen gives equal attention to seafood and meat dishes, with specialties such as house-smoked fish spread and pork sausage.
The Oyster Bar
Northern bivalve fans should not miss the chance to sample local Apalachicola oysters. This neighborhood favorite since 1999 offers a cozy setting for a regional seafood taste-off.