St. Petersburg, Florida
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- St. Petersburg boasts the world’s longest run of consecutive sunny days (768 days, from Feb. 9, 1967).
- Coastal waters were home to pirates in the 19th century.
- America’s first air freight service (1914) carried bacon and hams from Tampa to St. Petersburg.
- The cannons at Fort De Soto have never been fired.
- Major League baseball spring training originated in St. Petersburg (1914).
The sunshine city
St. Petersburg clearly helps Florida earn its nickname, the Sunshine State. The city even holds a world record for the most consecutive sunny days. However, St. Petersburg takes its strong appeal for tourists from other features, too, especially the area waters and what they promise in the way of vacation pleasures.
The city is about midway down the coast of Florida, on the west side, facing the Gulf of Mexico. More saliently, it sits on the peninsula that shapes Tampa Bay and Old Tampa Bay, and it faces bay waters.
In other words, St. Petersburg claims a good setting for all sorts of water-based activities in the bays and on the Gulf of Mexico. There are choices for all comers, regardless of personality type, ranging from swimming or sunbathing at the area’s beaches — some of the country’s finest — to kite surfing and windsurfing.
Anglers charter boats in their search for a few big ones while inland lakes offer freshwater choices. Tourists may join lunch or dinner cruises for sightseeing and entertainment or other cruises focused on dolphins. Water lovers may charter a yacht for a day or days of sailing — and take lessons if desired. Others want to be closer to sea level in kayaks or canoes — or right in the waves snorkeling or diving.
St. Petersburg, a metropolis of about a quarter million, has a culture scene, too, with a variety of museums, theater and choice restaurants. Much visitor shopping and dining is centered on the Pier, also site of an aquarium.
Parks and nature preserves in and near the city provide diversions of their own — as do the baseball fields where Major League teams have spring training.
The city markets itself in cooperation with the smaller Clearwater, on the opposite side of their shared peninsula facing the Gulf of Mexico, and several smaller area communities.
Clearwater is best known for its beaches, whereas neighboring Dunedin and Tarpon Springs are noted for their ethnic identities. Dunedin, as the name suggests, retains Scottish traditions. At Tarpon Springs, the unique heritage is Greek, evident in festivals, food and music.
Things to do for Venturers
- Go kite surfing where Tampa Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico. Or dive in the area’s waters.
- Try tubing the lively way: riding a tube attached to the back of a motorboat. You’ll be bouncing and spinning across the water.
- Sample the goods at Dunedin Brewery, a microbrewery.
- Cycle the 34-mile Pinellas Trail, a large urban greenway that runs north from St. Petersburg to towns like Dunedin and Tarpon Springs.
- Take lessons and practice a newfound skill: stand-up paddle boarding. Or, take windsurfing lessons.
- Fish for tarpon, shark and a number of other big catches in Tampa Bay or in the state’s nearby coastal waters. Several area vendors offer fishing charters.
Things to do for Centrics
- Take a Dixieland jazz lunch cruise or a dinner dance cruise from St. Petersburg Beach.
- Learn about Native Americans who lived on the St. Petersburg site at the city’s Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center; their burial mounds are in the preserve. Enjoy the site’s natural attractions, too, with a four-mile paddle by canoe or kayak, and look for wading birds such as reddish egrets, roseate spoonbills and white ibis.
- Take a self-guided tour among restored homes and buildings assembled at Heritage Village in Largo, to get an understanding of the lifestyle of Florida’s pioneers.
- Head to Lake Tarpon and fish for bass. Or, stay considerably closer to St. Petersburg and do your freshwater fishing at Lake Seminole Park.
- Watch the caber toss (imagine throwing a telephone pole) and other competitions at the Dunedin Highland Games, held each April. Enjoy traditional Scottish music and dance, too.
- Join a ghost tour, a guided nighttime walking excursion through downtown St. Petersburg.
Things to do for Authentics
- Watch holographic residents from the area’s past step off the screen at the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center outside Clearwater. They will teach you about the region’s history.
- Study the art at the Salvador Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. Another option for those on museum rounds is the Florida International Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, which brings Smithsonian exhibitions to St. Petersburg.
- Head to the beach, of course. If a duffer, add golf to your agenda.
- Play shuffleboard at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, once the world’s largest such club. It still offers year-round access to 65 courts. Join the Friday-night St. Pete Shuffle, which combines the game with music.
- Choose a cruise designed for watching playful dolphins in their natural habitat. If you are into these creatures, also head to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for a hands-on experience with dolphins and maybe other rescued marine animals.
- If a baseball fan, time your visit for mid-February to early April to attend spring training in Clearwater, where the Philadelphia Phillies report each year, and collect a few autographs. Other teams are nearby, the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin and the New York Yankees in Tampa.
For more information, consult Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater at www.visitstpeteclearwater.com