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St Petersburg - the One in Florida
By: James Richardson

Sometimes absorbed on maps by its neighbor, Tampa, the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, has every reason to declare its cartographic independence and claim itself a separate vacation destination.

St. Petersburg is adjacent to Tampa and many other incorporated and unincorporated towns in that large and popular metropolitan area. Clearwater. Brandon. Tarpon Springs. Dunedin. Safety Harbor. St. Pete Beach. Treasure Island. Many visitors spend their vacations along the Gulf on some of the prettiest beaches that Florida has to offer. Being so close to Tampa probably detracts from St. Petersburg receiving some of the visitor brags on the attractions and scenery. Granted, St. Petersburg has plenty of things to offer visitors on its own. But St. Petersburg also makes an excellent day trip from Tampa.

What To Do in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is large enough to offer visitors almost anything they desire in the way of attractions. There are museums for the culture-seekers. There are fishing excursions and cruises for the water enthusiasts. The beaches are magnificent. Shopping areas and excellent restaurants are plentiful along the downtown waterfront. Trolleys routes are around the downtown area allowing visitors easy access to the hot spots without the hassle of finding parking spaces (which are relatively easy to find).

The Pier is one of the icons of the waterfront. As a multi-level, uniquely designed structure (it’s shape is an inverted pyramid), it is constructed out in Tampa Bay with a multi-lane thoroughfare connecting to the downtown section of St. Pete. Inside the Pier are shops with clothing, souvenirs and specialties. A food court occupies a portion of the lower level. On the upper levels there are a couple of sit-down restaurants offering delicious meals and a club in located on the observation level. An aquarium, located on the second floor of the Pier, is filled with native and tropical fish, including sharks.

Museums

For the museum-minded, there are several to take advantage of in St. Petersburg. The Great Explorations Museum is on one of the upper floors of the Pier. The Museum of Fine Arts is near the Pier in downtown and contains over four thousand objects of art including some of the works of French artists Cezanne, Monet, Morisot, Gauguin, Renoir, and Rodin. American artists work includes Thomas Moran, Robert Henri and Georgia O’Keeffe.

The Florida Holocaust Museum is the nation’s fourth largest Holocaust museum containing art and cultural exhibits. Florida’s International Museum features permanent Kennedy galleries and special exhibits in association with the Smithsonian Institute. The Salvador Dali Museum offers the visitor glimpses into the works of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists. Several galleries house Dali’s and other artists work. The St. Petersburg Museum of History is near the Pier. All these museums are in the downtown section of St. Petersburg and are on one the trolley loops.

Go Natural

Along the peninsula of Pinellas County, in which are several incorporated cities near Tampa and St. Petersburg, there are many beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay allowing the visitor to absorb rays quite frequently. The beaches on the Gulf side are especially beautiful and plentiful. Noteworthy is Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach. Plenty of white sand. Plenty of parking. Plenty of sun. It is also adjacent to shopping, food, and the marina of Clearwater Beach, which offers fishing and sightseeing excursions.

If the sun gets too much for you or if the beach is not your thing, there are plenty of other natural sites to enjoy. For instance, the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg is a welcome contrast from the beach or the fast paced urban scene. At the Sunken Gardens enjoy a quiet walk beside vine-covered walls and flowering trees. Admire the assortment of tropical plants and animals in a pond and waterfall bedecked environment. At only four acres, Sunken Gardens is a pleasant break from an otherwise hurried pace. The Sunken Gardens are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Farther south of St. Petersburg (at the tip end of the peninsula of Pinellas County) is Fort De Soto and Pinellas National Wildlife Refuge. Fort De Soto is a historical site that has a long fishing pier extending into the Gulf. This affords a distant view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge crossing the mouth of Tampa Bay joining Pinellas County with the mainland near Bradenton, Florida. Interstate 275 is the main route across the Sunshine Skyway.

North of Fort De Soto and just south of St. Pete Beach is one of the oldest settlements in Florida - Pass-a-Grille Beach. Interesting name - Pass-a-Grille. There are several theories as to its origin, but most long-time Pass-a-Grille residents agree on the meaning. It was a place where "the old-timers came by and they would stop to grill fish." Pass-a-Grille has much history associated with it. It was the first beach community on the Gulf of Mexico to develop as a weekend residential spot for successful Tampa and St. Petersburg residents.

Pass-a-Grille has several interesting attractions. Of course, there is an almost unspoiled beach of beautiful white sand. The beach is on the Gulf side and a fishing pier is on the bay side. A museum related to the history of Pass-a-Grille is located in the ‘historical’ section. That would be the entire town of Pass-a-Grille. The buildings of the town are of the early 1900s. The town consists of two main streets, one along the bay and one along the Gulf. Between the streets are the historical buildings with unique shops and quaint architecture. If time allows, visit Pass-a-Grille near the southern tip of Pinellas County.

Other Attractions

St. Petersburg has many fine restaurants and shopping areas. Most are in the downtown and waterfront districts and are on the trolley routes. For sports enthusiasts there are plenty of opportunities for fishing. Charter boats are available along with cruises. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays Major League baseball team holds their spring training at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg in the “Grapefruit” League (which is the spring training held in Florida by several Major League teams).

With the abundance of activities available for the visitor to St. Petersburg, there should be very little time to waste unless you just want to. In that case, St. Petersburg can accommodate that also.

For More Information:

St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce
1-727- 821- 4069
http://www.stpete.com