St. Petersburg is classic Florida. It provides travelers with endless sunshine, miles of golden sand beach and the picturesque waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, swimming and relaxing may be at the top of your list of things to do in St Petersburg. But if you’ve spent too much time in the sun or need to switch things up, you’ll be happy to know there’s much more to St. Pete.
The city is crammed between the Gulf and Tampa Bay. Its relatively small size makes it easy to get from A to B, with many of the downtown attractions within walking distance of each other. Beyond the sand, you’ll find a wonderful collection of art galleries along with protected lands to explore.
In this post, we'll cover:
19. James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art
In the heart of St. Petersburg, the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art is the place to be captivated by the grandiosity of the American west, its romantic landscape that is both beautiful and harsh.
The museum is an open door into the Old West, both from a cultural and natural perspective. The museum is home to over 400 works of art from a variety of genres, including sculptures, photography and jewelry. In addition, it has a large focus on exploring forgotten voices and artists that are not at the forefront of western art.
Visitors can join one of the many educational programs and also sign up for a guided tour.
18. Imagine Museum
The Duncan McClellan Gallery isn’t the only place to go in St. Petersburg for your fix of glass art. The Imagine Museum is perhaps a more comprehensive look at the genre and it boasts a larger permanent collection of over 500 glass designs.
The spacious gallery has works from as far back as the mid-20th century and includes the Studio Glass Movement exhibit, one of the most renowned in the United States. Importantly, it’s not just a space to enjoy the genre but to also explore its history, including the early artists and those taking the world by storm today.
17. Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
Connecting Sarasota to St. Petersburg, the Skyway Bridge is considered one of the most beautiful in Florida. Indeed, it is a blast to drive over, offering spectacular views of the colorful St. Petersburg, the bay and the gulf beyond. It’s so long it even has a rest area.
But at either end of the bridge is the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. On either side, you’ll have access to a fantastic dedicated fishing spot. The state park combines both shallow waters and deep channels, allowing for a variety of fish to catch such include sea trout, redfish, mackerel and tarpon.
You can also fish after dark, as the bridge is lit up, attracting nocturnal species.
16. Mahaffey Theater
Nighttime in St. Petersburg often features a beautiful sunset and some tropical cocktails by the water. But to switch it up, head downtown and pay a visit to the Mahaffey Theater.
You’ll find the complex within the Duke Energy Center for the Arts and it has maintained much of the beauty it began with in 1965. The theater boasts 2,000-plus seats and a stage that welcomes well-known theater productions, standup comedy, dance and orchestras. There is also an elegant ballroom and views of the bay.
Rather than another night out on the town, venture arm in arm with your loved one and enjoy a night of laughs or high culture.
15. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
On the banks of Lake Maggiore, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve has a gorgeous collection of ecosystems that makes it a delight to explore. There are miles of nature trails alongside accessible boardwalks that help showcase the many variations and wildlife that call the preserve home.
As you wander through Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, the trails will guide you through leafy pine flatwoods on your way to the vast broad-leafed forest. This will eventually make way for swampy woodlands and interesting maritime hammocks. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for local and migrating bird species.
To rest up, you’ll find shaded picnic areas, playgrounds, plus campsites for an overnight trip.
14. Tropicana Field
For a taste of live sport while in St. Petersburg, make your way to Tropicana Field, the home of MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays. From March to October, the Rays play their home games in the domed stadium, which ensures the heat is kept at bay even at the height of summer.
Because the dome protects fans from the elements, it’s a fun place to watch a game of baseball. The stadium features plenty of standing room so you can see the action from a variety of angles. Plus, there is the Rays Tanks which feature cownose stingrays that are looked after by the Florida Aquarium.
13. Florida Holocaust Museum
St. Petersburg is home to one of the US’ most comprehensive holocaust museums. The multi-story Florida Holocaust Museum is a thorough exploration of the tragic events, offering valuable insight for guests with first hand stories and original artifacts.
The museum doesn’t ease you into the experience either. The entire first floor is dedicated to the History, Heritage and Hope exhibition. It’s presented in a matter-of-fact manner and doesn’t shy away from what occurred. Other parts of the complex explore Hitler’s ascension, the concentration camps (there are original box cars from Auschwitz) and the years after the Second World War.
12. Duncan McClellan Gallery
Far from your typical art gallery, Duncan McClellan Gallery is all about glasswork. Plus, rather than the standard permanent collection, the gallery has a consistent rotation of exhibitions that helps showcase a wider range of local, national and international glass artists.
The expansive gallery was once a humble fish and tomato packing plant. But it’s been transformed into a multi-functional space, a haven in an otherwise busy industrial area. The Duncan McClellan Gallery is a part of a local art Renaissance, with many of the region artists able to ply their trade at the gallery’s Hot Shop.
Exhibitions run between one and two months, meaning there’s often new work to enjoy.
11. Weedon Island Preserve
On the banks of Tampa Bay, Weedon Island Preserve is an enormous plot of protected land ready to return you to nature. That was the idea behind the installation of the preserve, a chance not just to protect native flora and fauna, but to provide fantastic opportunities to escape the city and enjoy the fresh air.
Thanks to its location on the edge of the bay, Weedon Island Preserve offers both on and off water activities. Start off your day of adventure at the Visitor Center where you can discover all there is to do in the preserve, including some renowned birding and fishing. Plus, the area is home to a number of archaeological sites created long ago by Native Americans.
10. Museum of Fine Arts
Featuring over 20,000 pieces of art and hundreds of years of history, it’s easy to see why the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is the preeminent gallery in the region.
It’s not just centuries of history either. Some exhibits showcase work from prehistoric eras, dating back to 3000 years BC. Some of the highlights of the vast collection include work from ancient Rome and Greece, masters such as Rodin and Monet, not to mention some amazing creations from contemporary and Native American life.
Visitors will be able to explore on their own or sign up for a guided tour to experience the museum in greater depth.
9. Vinoy Park
Just north of St. Pete Pier is a fixture of the St. Petersburg waterfront. Vinoy Park is an excellent place to hang with friends and family, with beautiful views out to Tampa Bay.
The lush, scenic park has several paved walking trails to explore. These will bring you past picnic areas, playgrounds for the kids and the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum. Head in the other direction to discover the Vinoy Marina and the iconic Vinoy Park Hotel.
Whenever you want to switch off or break out some treats and enjoy a sunset, this is the place to go. It stretches for two miles, and the weekends often bring fun community events and live music.
8. Saturday Morning Market
Traveling can often be as exhausting as it is fun. One of the best ways to take a deep breath while still enjoying local culture is to enjoy a farmers market. St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market is the best in town and boasts over 120 vendors slinging everything from fresh produce to artisan treats.
If you have a picnic planned, this should be your first stop. Regional produce can be found throughout along with delightful cheese, meats and vegetables, perfect for a delicious charcuterie board to enjoy in a leafy park.
The market brings the community together, so while you’ll be happy with the offerings, you’ll find the atmosphere to be just as exciting.
7. Sawgrass Lake Park
If you want to get to know more of the natural ecosystems around St. Petersburg, then don’t pass up a visit to Sawgrass Lake Park. This underrated preserve grants the opportunity to explore one of the biggest maple swamps in Florida.
The park stretches in all directions, but the main focus will be the elevated boardwalk and hiking trail. The boardwalk takes you above and through the swamp, showcasing the beguiling habitat where alligators loom beneath the surface.
Along the way, you can climb up observation towers which provide splendid views of Sawgrass Lake Park. If you arrive in the spring and fall seasons, you’ll come just in time to spot 1000s of migrating birds.
6. Clearwater Beach
One of the most popular beaches in Florida can be found just a short drive north along the Gulf of Mexico. This is, of course, Clearwater Beach, which is well worth the forty-minute drive. After putting the car in park, you’ll find yourself on the precipice of miles upon miles of golden sand, interrupted only by historic piers.
Along the sand, you’ll have access to all the necessary amenities, from picnic areas to bathrooms and playgrounds, while there are lifeguards on the lookout year round. When you aren’t sunbathing on swimming in the balmy waters, you can walk a few steps beyond the sand to find beachfront bars and restaurants.
5. Sunken Gardens
A living museum in the heart of St. Petersburg, the Sunken Gardens are a sight to behold. The resplendent beauty draws you in from the get go. It’s home to over 50,000 different plant species, some of which are more than a hundred years old.
The evolution of the gardens helps to show how alive it is. Throughout the year, flowers blossom and fall like the sun. Some peter out and new additions are made, while others continue to stand the test of time.
There are several themed sections within Sunken Gardens, including the gorgeous Japanese Garden which features charming footbridges, blooming cherries and cultural ambiance. The park also hosts tours, horticultural programs and annual events that put on display the true beauty of the tropical gardens.
4. Chihuly Collection
Dale Chihuly is a worldwide sensation, whose work can be found as far as Paris and London, along with the sensational Chihuly Gardens in Seattle. But the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg is a great place to go to get a better understanding of his storied career.
You’ll find the collection within the Morean Arts Center. The permanent repository is spread throughout a stunning space designed by architect Alberto Alfonso.
To begin, watch a short video which explores Chihuly’s foundation years and what inspires his creative works. Afterwards, you’ll be able to see some of his most famed pieces, including Tumbleweeds, Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier and Ikebana.
3. St. Pete Beach
For those traveling from afar, the main reason to come to this part of Florida is for the sun, sand, and sea. It’s a tough competition for the title of best beach, but it’s hard to go past St. Pete Beach.
You’ll find this vibrant stretch of soft white sand 20 minutes from downtown. It offers beachgoers all the amenities you need for a fun day on the sand, with plenty of room to move about.
Aside from lazing on the hot golden sand, it’s a great place to go jet skiing, enjoy some on-shore fishing or even parasailing. Backed by many restaurants and resorts, it’s no surprise this area is also one of the top spots to stay.
2. Fort De Soto Park
The immense Fort De Soto Park isn’t just a place to enjoy St. Petersburg’s perfect weather and resplendent nature. As the name suggests, the park harbors some fascinating history, one that paints the picture of the town’s early years.
Still, it’s the golden sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico that bring travelers and locals here in great numbers. You can enjoy the calm waters that are great for families, plus the two piers that offer great fishing and even better views.
From the beach, you’ll find several nature trails that guide you throughout the park. Some are paved, perfect for cycling and rollerblading. One will guide you to the fort at Mullet Key where you can explore the historic fortress, the old barracks and hospital.
1. Dali Museum
The impressive building that houses the Dali Museum was designed in honor of the famous artist himself. The structure is a celebration of Dali’s most distinctive traits, including a combination of fantasy and realism.
You could spend a while taking in the beguiling facade and glass dome. But within, there are over 2,000 works and the largest Dali collection in the United States. The repository began as a private collection before it was donated to the public in the 1980s.
Among the many works are almost 100 oil paintings, originals, eye-catching sculptures, photos and manuscripts. It adds up to one of the most fascinating attractions in town and one that helps to showcase the full scope of Dali’s masterful work.