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Florida is home to some of the world’s top beaches, award-winning restaurants, and stunning natural scenery. It’s not often thought of as a hub for culture, but as anyone who’s visited its top cities can tell you, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Florida’s charm.
St. Petersburg is a city on Florida’s gulf coast and has the perfect selection of white sandy beaches, top-tier dining, and nature exploration. The list of things to do in St Petersburg is never-ending, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to give you a glimpse into some of the top activities when visiting the city.
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Things to do in St Petersburg, FL
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1. Check out the Saint Petersburg Pier
Also known as St. Pete Pier, the Saint Petersburg Pier is a famous landmark in the city. The pier is a waterfront attraction and extends from the downtown core into Tampa Bay.
There is lots to do at the pier. Firstly, there’s a huge parking area so it’s easy to find a place to leave your car. There’s a public art and green spaces where you can come just to meet up with friends or spend a relaxing afternoon. Or, beat the heat and check out the outdoor waterpark area called the Splash Pad.
There are also some of the best restaurants in St Petersburg in the area and some great cafés & bars. Check out Teak at the end of the Pier for a fine dining experience.
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2. Explore the Sunken Gardens
The Sunken Gardens are a botanical hideaway in the middle of the city. It is sometimes called a living museum as some of its tropical plant species are over a century old.
The gardens are full of an astonishing variety of some 50,000 different species of tropical plants. Follow the winding walkways past pools and waterfalls and marvel at this lush paradise in the middle of a bustling metropolis.
Don’t miss the different parts of the garden. There is a peaceful Japanese garden, a walk-through butterfly garden, a cactus garden, and even a garden featuring Chilean flamingos.
Right now you can get two adult admission tickets here on Groupon for $16.
- Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for Seniors 62+, Children 2-17 $6, under 2 is free
Make sure to check out our article on planning a family Clearwater beach vacation, we include where we stayed, where we ate, and everything we did.
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3. Get up early for the St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market
A great way to feel part of the community in a new city is to visit a market. The St. Petersburg Saturday morning market is open every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm. it’s one of the best things to do in St Peterburg on a Saturday.
It’s one of the largest markets in the US and covers several blocks’ radius in the downtown area. This is more than just going shopping.
You’ll find freshly-harvested produce from local farmers, baked goods, and homemade preserves. There are food trucks serving up hot meals throughout the day, and vendors selling art, crafts, jewelry, and clothing. Street performers roam the pathways, playing live music or entertaining kids with giant bubble blowers.
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4. Spent some time at Shell Key Preserve
Shell Key Preserve is another must-visit park just southwest of St. Petersburg. It stretches for 195 acres of beautiful white sand beach, and it’s just a stone’s throw from the city center.
Fishing and boating are popular here, and it’s a hotspot for nesting and migrating birds. There are no facilities on the island, so it’s best suited to a day trip. Access is via private boat or public ferry.
There are some tours you can do if you want an organized expedition. Try out the clear-bottom kayak tour to get a glimpse of tons of wildlife. There is this private dolphin tour & visit shell key preserve on Groupon for $99.
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5. Explore the Edge District
No visit to St. Petersburg is complete without exploring the city’s Edge District. This is the life and soul of the city, full of restaurants, breweries, cafés, and unique independent shops. They focus on maintaining small communities through independent businesses.
This is where the most eclectic mix of businesses live. You’ll find everything from furniture stores to bohemian clothing shops. For anyone seeking activities, stop by one of their yoga studios or lose yourself in an Escape Room game.
The Edge is easily one of our favorite parts of St Petersburg. Some of the best restaurants in St Petersburg are found in the Edge District. Red Mesa Mercado has one of the best breakfasts in St. Petersburg, we highly suggest visiting them before exploring the town.
Check out their events schedule ahead of time, since there are often street performances, live music, and more happening in the district.
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6. Learn something new at Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center
Located on St. Pete Pier, the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center is a learning experience that is interactive and fun for all ages. If you are looking for things to do in St Petersburg with kids add the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center to your itinerary.
Their indoor exhibit area focuses on educational exposés on local wildlife and ecosystems. There are video presentations, displays, daily talks from experts, and even a touch-tank that is welcome for all ages.
If you want to learn about Florida’s ecosystems in a more exciting, hands-on way, book a tour on their 45-foot “eco-vessel” boat, which takes visitors out onto the water to see native species in the wild. This is the most fun way to learn about ecology while also exploring the city. For more information and tickets click here.
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7. Visit the Dalí Museum
Immerse yourself in the art and history of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí at the Dalí Museum. It holds 200 paintings and over 1,000 sculptures, graphics, and photos. It is probably the most well-known museum in St Petersburg, remember there are 31 museums in St. Petersburg.
The building’s architecture was inspired by the surrealism Dalí himself is famous for. You’ll want to take your time exploring the halls and seeing the glass entryway.
After you’ve explored the astounding collection of original artwork, grab a bite of Spanish-inspired food in the Gala Café.
- Admission is $24 for adults (with some discounts available, including seniors, military, and students), and $12 for youth. Children under 5 get in free.
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8. Visit Pass-a-Grille Beach
You can expect to find lots of beaches when you visit St. Petersburg, but Pass-a-Grille Beach stands out from the rest. The soft white sand stretches for over 4 miles of undeveloped beachfront.
The beach is located only minutes from downtown St. Petersburg. The area around the beach feels like a quiet, laid-back beach town. It’s full of quaint boutiques, markets, bars, cafés, and ice cream shops.
Aside from the Paradise Grille, where you can grab a bite to eat while listening to live music, Pass-a-Grille Beach has no developments on the beach itself. The beach is pretty much the same as it has been for decades: nothing but sand, surf, and sun. It’s the perfect place to spend a day when visiting St. Petersburg.
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9. Spend some time at Egmont Key
Egmont Key State Park is the place to go if you want a nature refuge. This is one of Florida’s most secluded national parks, located on a small island just south of St Petersburg. You can reach it by ferry from the city or via private boat.
The island is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It’s particularly known for being home to gopher tortoises and many varieties of seabirds. Be sure to check out the hidden beach to explore a 19th-century fort and go hunting for seashells.
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10. Take your kids to the Great Explorations Children’s Museum
This is one of the best spots to take your kids when visiting St. Petersburg. The Great Explorations Children’s Museum is an interactive play museum perfect for ages 10 and under.
The museum is full of exhibits, play areas, and hands-on activities to help children stay stimulated and burn off a little energy. They can get their hands messy at art stations or play pretend in a vet’s office, grocery store, and other scenarios.
There are also physical activities like climbing areas and jungle gyms. This is such a great rainy day family activity that your kids will be begging to return.
- Admission $12 for ages 1-54, $11 for seniors 55+, and children under 12 months are free
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12. Upham Beach Park
Upham Beach is a great example of the beauty of Florida’s beaches, but without the massive buildings and hotels that line the busier, more touristy St Pete Beach. Sometimes lively music can be heard drifting from the south end of the beach where more restaurants, bars, and hotels can be found.
There is a grassy dune area just beyond the parking lot (meter pay parking that operates from 8:00 to 20:00), and once you are past the dunes you land right on Upham Beach. The beach is a wide expanse of white sand at low tide, and virtually sandless at high tide, when the water comes right up to the dunes. If you’re planning a day of lounging, be sure to check tide charts to find out when to come and go.
Other amenities include a concession (the Seaside Grille), an outdoor shower, public bathrooms, and a nearby trolley stop just a few minutes walk from the beach. You can surf here too, but erosion over time has caused water conditions to be less than ideal.
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11. Fort de Soto Park
Fort de Soto Park is widely regarded as having the nicest beaches in Florida. It’s located a bit further south of St Pete Beach and spans over 1,100 acres across five connected islands. If you’re looking for things to do in St Petersburg with kids it’s also great for families, and the pirate-themed playground is a big hit with kids. However, they’ll love the beach too, where shallow tide pools are great for playing and looking for seashells.
The white sandy beaches lead into warm, crystal-clear waters, so whether you’re lounging or swimming, the conditions are perfect. If you like to go fishing, good news: you can do that here too. There’s a bait shop nearby, and plenty of pelicans to keep you company while you wait for your catch of the day.
There’s also an area with an off-leash, dog-friendly beach, so your furry friends can have fun on the beach too. The nearby Paw Playground has hoses you can use to clean off your pooch after they’ve gotten sandy.
Other things you can do include kayaking, canoeing, or snorkeling, and there is plenty of wildlife to be seen in the nearby shallows! You might get lucky and spot some sea turtles.
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13. Florida Orange Groves Winery
Florida Orange Groves Winery is a family-owned winery on the Florida mainland, just across the Pasadena Avenue bridge from St Pete Beach. They call themselves a ‘tropical fruit winery’ (the first in Florida), specializing in the production of over 43 varieties of tropical fruit wine.
Their wines are pure fruit-derived, made from tropical fruit, berries, or citrus. A specialized fermentation and aging process means that the final result tastes like wine, but with the distinct flavor of the fruit used to make it! They do daily tastings and tours, during which you can sample many varieties of their wine, like the mango wine, red raspberry wine, or their bestseller – the key lime wine, a true Florida flavor.
There is also a gift shop where you can purchase bottles to take home or gifts to loved ones. It makes for a great souvenir of your visit.
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14. Sunset Beach
The entire area of St Pete Beach and Clearwater is great for sunset watching, and Sunset Beach is another spot where you can get a great view of the sunset. It’s located at the south end of Treasure Island. Without the usual condominiums and resorts that are right next to most beaches, Sunset Beach is a more relaxing, laid-back beach that still has white sand and warm blue water.
It has the feel of a small bohemian beach town. The area has colorfully decorated houses, tiki huts, and small bars with laid-back attitudes. Because of this, it’s a big hit with the LGBTQ+ community and you’ll find people from all different lifestyles and backgrounds who like to come here and hang out.
It still has all the beach necessities like bathrooms, shower area, and even a beautiful pavilion that is a great example of Florida vernacular architecture.
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15. Treasure Island Slide
Back on Treasure Island just north of St Pete Beach is one of the most fun attractions you’ll find in the area. The Treasure Island Slide is so big it can be spotted before you even reach the parking lot. Also called The Hippo, it’s a huge inflatable water slide that kids will love to go down.
There are also a few smaller inflatables nearby, like a pirate ship and a bounce castle. In addition, there is a bungee trampoline. These attractions are right on the sand, so you can set up nearby and alternate between lounging in the sun and going for a slide. Rates vary depending on how many times you go. Single trips are $3, two trips are $5, and an all-day pass is $25.
There’s a mat walkway from the parking lot directly to the complex area to make access easier. Some rides do have weight limits (since they are designed with kids in mind), so not everything will be adult-friendly.
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16. Gulf Beaches Historical Museum
Originally a church built in 1917, the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum is a small, intimate museum with exhibits that focus on the local history. It was the first church of the barrier islands, and it became so popular that a new, larger church was commissioned nearby.
Hours are limited and the museum is only open 11 am-2 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, but admission is free. Visitors will learn about many nautical topics relevant to the natural surroundings of the keys, like Red Tide, sea turtles, and the old now-closed Aquatarium, which kept trained dolphins, pilot whales, and later on, sharks.
There are separate exhibits on the Second World War, the Don CeSar Hotel, and artifacts dating back to the 1500s. There are also exhibits with hundred-year-old photographs and postcards which give visitors a glimpse into life in this area a long time ago. Once you’ve learned plenty of new things about the history of the region, swing by the gift shop for sea-themed pieces made by local jewelers, artisans, and designers.
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