From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
You’ll find the gorgeous city of St Petersburg on Florida's gulf coast, as part of the Tampa Bay area. Nicknamed the ‘Sunshine City’, it’s well-known for its pleasant weather, making it a popular spot for water activities such as boating, fishing and beach going.
In fact, a stunning water view is never far in this city, especially with its numerous waterfront attractions such as the Dali Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, and Mahaffey Theater.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that St Petersburg has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of St Petersburg, Florida? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
St Petersburg isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
Sawgrass Lake State Park is ideal for long quiet walks with the family and picnics. With 300 acres of boardwalks and trails that gets you closer to Florida’s maple swamps, you can easily go bird watching, spot alligators in their natural habitat, and even get friendly with some turtles. Don’t miss the observation tower and the park’s nature trail that takes advantage of the elevated boardwalks and ends with a picturesque view of the lake.
Caladesi Island State Park is a hidden gem in Florida that is well worth the visit. Accessible only by boat, you can enjoy swimming, long walks on the beach, or even a nice kayak ride along the mangrove forest. Caladesi is also great for picnics with the family and eco-tourism, as it boasts of thriving habitats for birds, various animals, and plants. Be sure to check out the exhibit at the historic homestead too!
Anclote Key Preserve State Park is a must-visit, with its cool, clear waters and wide beaches, it almost gives you the feeling of having a private beach all to yourself. It’s also only accessible by boat, so the best way to experience Anclote Key Preserve is to rent a boat and head over there yourself. Blink and you’ll miss the stingrays, manatees, and sometimes even a couple of dolphins swimming by. It’s also an excellent spot for wade fishing, particularly for species such as speckled trout, skipjack, and mackerel.
The beautiful Honeymoon Island State Park offers visitors an escape from the bustle of city life, all just a 45-minute drive from St Petersburg. It’s one of Florida’s most-loved state parks, offering more than four miles of beach, a three-mile trail through pine forests, and the Rotary Centennial Nature Center. Activities on offer include swimming, fishing, shelling, hiking and bicycling.
Still need to get your nature fix? If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds St Petersburg, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.
The trails at Sawgrass Lake Park feature elevated boardwalks that loop around the maple swamps and some dirt trails too. They’re great for hikers of all levels (even kids!) and for jogging or walking. The trail loops nicely around the park and skirts the Sawgrass Lake, which makes for a pleasant afternoon activity with a lot of wildlife to enjoy.
There are several trails at Weedon Island Preserve for all levels, with paved walkways and boardwalks also available for seniors and kids. There are also canoe trails to be explored that will offer you a closer look at the densely populated park, where you’ll spot the armadillos and different bird species through the amazing Mangrove tunnels. We highly recommend doing this hike during the dry season to fully enjoy Weedon Island. Try to avoid visiting during the wet season or you may have to deal with some parts of the trails being flooded.
Found at Fort de Soto Park, the Arrowhead Nature Trail is a great beginner’s trail with a lot of learning opportunities thrown into the mix. Arrowhead offers mostly dirt trails that skirt the waters to give you a view of manatees and dolphins passing by. Be sure to wear hiking boots as the trail can get a bit squishy in some areas. Keep an eye on the signs for directions too, as the intersecting trails can get confusing at times!
St Petersburg is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!
Stillwaters Tavern has the great service and the amazing food of a superb restaurant, all while keeping it casual and welcoming. While all of the food is excellent - don’t miss out on a chance to try the Tavern Burger - the real standout at Stillwaters! Try sitting at the bar so you can get a good view of the bartenders mixing up their fancy cocktails.
Noble Crust is the best way to get a slice of traditional Italian pizza in town, but be warned - it can get quite busy during the lunch rush! It’s worth the wait though for the truly delicious food and great service. If the indoor seating is a little crowded and loud for you, try the outdoor seating, which is also available. If you’re not into pizza, the rigatoni, the short ribs, and the chicken marsala are all highly recommended by the locals.
Looking for the perfect sangria in Florida? Ceviche Tapas at St. Pete is the closest that you can get to Barcelona without leaving the state. Enjoy Spanish and Latin cuisine in this gem of a restaurant that locals simply call Ché. Complete the experience with some gambas ala jillo or rabo de toro and an ice cold caipirinha. Yum!
Definitely visit the Red Mesa Cantina for an evening of cocktail exploration and light drinking with friends. The Cantina itself is home to two separate bars - the Lucha bar, the Cantinita, and the DeSanto - all serving up excellent Mezcals and tequila of course. Pair your drinks with their amazing barbacoa burrito and the enchiladas. You can’t go wrong!
If a perfectly cooked steak dinner is what you’re looking for in an elegant ambience, then Parkshore Grill is definitely the restaurant you’re looking for. The prices can be a bit more than what you’d find at a casual restaurant, but they do deliver in flavor and service. Locals highly recommend the crab and avocado salad and the blue cheese au gratin potatoes to go with their beautiful marbled steaks.
After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to St Petersburg’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
The MFA is perfect for families and children, especially with their engaging youth program that offers activities for kids as young as nine and for kids in their teens as well. Enjoy their Art Break program and let your creative side run loose or try their empowerment and art workshop for young women.
Visit the Chihuly Collection for a unique artistic experience. It features a permanent collection of the works of Dale Chihuly who was a pioneer of the studio glass movement. His works are effervescent and beautiful, capturing natural beauty in the forms of glass. A must-see for all art fans!
What should you do in St Petersburg once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
While you’re in town, don’t forget to check what’s showing at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts. They are regularly hosting some really great national and international performances, especially in theatre, including some classic Broadway, lively off-Broadway musicals, and most notably the Florida Orchestra.
John’s Pass Village is a small recreation of a quaint fishing village that is home to a number of restaurants and shops. While it is fun to visit John’s Pass during the day, it truly shines at night, especially with the cool beach breeze. It’s a great one-stop shop kind of place - you’ll get access to boat rentals, parasailing, jet ski rentals, and shelling tours. The beach is also a stone’s throw away and the elevated boardwalks make for a nice evening stroll.
What can you do in or around St Petersburg that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
The Dali is a must-visit when you live in, or are visiting, St. Petersburg. Featuring an amazing collection of Dali’s work, the museum also holds shows of different artists’ collections (check their website for current exhibits). Don’t forget to bring a pair of headphones to experience the immersive audio tour!
For fans of flora, the Sunken Gardens are a must-visit. It is home to a living collection of plants and structures, some of which are over a hundred years old! The Sunken Gardens is also a great spot to take casual photos with families and friends. The structures and natural beauty of the place makes for a beautiful backdrop for any event.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of St Petersburg? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in St Petersburg that won’t cost you a cent.
Visit Fort de Soto Park for beaches, camping, and food stands beside crystal clear blue waters. Like most spots in Florida, it also comes with its lively population of flora and fauna, plus a few more fun activities like swimming and snorkeling. It can get quite hot though, so don’t forget to bring lots of drinking water.
Home to some truly beautiful plants and wildlife, you can explore Boyd Hill by walking or by biking (except on the board walks). There is a bird of prey exhibit and a picnic area that’s clean and well maintained, making it great for families and friends. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you!
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that St Petersburg has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
More than your usual spa experience, you’ll enjoy being pampered at The Woodhouse with a glass of wine or champagne after a long day of hiking and exploring. Their body treatments are also divine and the interiors are elegant. Their services go above and beyond, making it the perfect spot for a friends’ or couples’ spa day.
With over 20 different kinds of massage, The Massage Spa definitely lives up to its name. Spend a relaxing couple of hours unwinding after a rigorous day’s activities and maybe indulge in skincare and extra beauty pampering while you’re at it. Because of their excellent services, they can often be quite busy, so don’t forget to set an appointment!
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. St Petersburg is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
At Elevate, you can gain access to up-to-date gym equipment and friendly and knowledgeable coaches. Choose the program that fits your needs and personality - you can go for a personal approach or a group setting, whichever gets you going! They offer a great supportive environment that will keep you coming back.
Tired from a day of hiking? A relaxing yoga session might be just what you need. At St. Petersburg Yoga, you can gain access to 25 years of experience in the practice of yoga. All levels are welcome, from beginners to the more advanced. You’ll find different kinds of classes, including for body stiffness, back issues, and even for relieving anxiety.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within St Petersburg without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
A refuge park for animals, you’ll find more than the endangered Florida panther at this wildlife preserve. They also provide a habitat for over a hundred different species of birds, over 700 species of plants, and even have deer, fox squirrels, raccoons, and armadillos roaming the land.
Fort Myers is a two-hour drive from St. Petersburg and is great for a day trip or a weekender with family and friends. At Fort Myers, you’ll get to experience eco-tours, wildlife trails, cruises and sailing. Locals highly recommend visiting the Manatee Park and the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in St Petersburg that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in St Petersburg? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.