ABOUT St. Petersburg, Florida
If you’re looking for a location where you can take any type of trip such as a solo trip for a retreat, a family vacation, or a girls trip for a bachelorette party or just to have a great time, you’ll want to look into planning a trip to St. Petersburg / Clearwater, Florida and this St. Petersburg, Florida travel guide will help you plan that trip. This slice of paradise is a location that many people often overlook, but once they have visited, they constantly want to go back.
From the crystal clear waters to the excellent food to the cultural experiences and local culinary scene, St. Pete is just one of those places that you can’t not have on your bucket list of places to visit.
After my first visit, I knew that I would be going back for multiple vacations and from that I’ve created an ultimate St. Petersburg, Florida travel guide.
PRE-PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA
As we all know, there is plenty to do in Florida. Whether you’re heading to Disney World with your toddler or maybe you’re taking a trip to Key West to spend time at the southernmost point of the US, you know that you’ll find an adventure in Florida. But if you’re looking for a place filled with luxury and where you can take time to slow down and just experience peace, fun and an overall good time, then it’s time to head to St. Petersburg, Florida.
How to Get to ST. PETE, FLORIDA
Getting to St. Pete is pretty easy and you have multiple options to get there. Of course, if you’re a Florida native, you may want to think about driving and taking that scenic road trip, but if you’re not in-state or you’re just not up to drive, flying into the area and making it to St. Petersburg is super easy.
You have two airports that you can fly into to get to St. Pete. You can either fly into Tampa or Sarasota and rent a car or take a rideshare to St. Pete. From Sarasota, you’re looking at about a 40-50 minute scenic drive, which mostly is based on the fact that there are quite a lot of stop lights and traffic can get a little heavy. On the other end, if you land in Tampa, you’re looking at about a 25 – 30 minute drive, which again, can be shorter if traffic is lighter.
What to Pack FOR A TRIP TO ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
When packing for your trip to St. Pete, you can plan for a casual beachy vacation with some dressier outfits for any activities where the location is a little more upscale. If you’re planning to go out an experience the nightlife, also make sure to pack some nightlife outfits so that you can get your party on.
A big tip for packing is to make sure that you pack for the season. If you’re heading to St. Petersburg, Florida during the summer, pack light clothing because it gets very hot where you’ll find yourself want to be in the pool or in the air conditioning more than you want to be outside.
PLACES TO STAY IN ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA
The Saint Hotel ST. PETE BEACH
The Saint Hotel, located at St. Pete Beach, is a boutique hotel that you’ll enjoy staying at and want to book again for your next vacation. When planning to stay here, make sure to book early because the rooms sell out pretty quickly because of the comfort, the fact that the place is so fun to stay at, and the great location. Maximum occupancy for many of the rooms is four people with rooms having a master bedroom, a pull out couch that doubles as the living room area, and a kitchen area. The Saint Hotel also features a large pool with a hot tub, flamingo floats, complimentary towels, and daily live music. In addition to the pool, there is an outdoor area to play cornhole and lounge on coaches around a fire pit. And when you’re ready to grab a bite and/or grab some cocktails, you can head to 82 Degrees which is the hotel’s on-property restaurant.
The Don Cesar Hotel aka THE PINK PALACE
The Don Cesar Hotel aka the Pink Palace is one of the most iconic places of St. Pete, Florida. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, visiting this hotel is a must. The Pink Palace is an expansive hotel that stands prominent at St. Pete Beach in it’s pink glory. Filled with multiple restaurants, bars, shops, pools and a private beach, it’s the luxury hotel that many want to stay at during their visit. Upon crossing one of the bridges to St. Pete Beach, you’ll see it standing tall greeting you to the area. Upon entering the hotel, you’ll find yourself on the one of the main floors where there are a couple of bars and restaurants. Filled with both “standard” rooms and suites, there is a room for everyone with its luxury amenities. For those staying at the hotel, you’ll have access to the pool and beach areas as they are private to only those staying at the hotel since others can come to visit.
The Vinoy IN DOWNTOWN ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA
If you’re looking to stay downtown in St. Pete, the Vinoy® Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort is definitely for you. This resort and gold club contains all the luxury that you’ll find in a Marriott Renaissance hotel. With an overlook over the bay, a gorgeous tea garden, and a variety of room types, you’ll find yourself relaxed and feeling pampered with each night of your stay. This resort is great for those who want the ability to just leave the hotel and walk around downtown since it’s in walking distance to many places downtown including the St. Pete Pier.
WHERE TO EAT IN ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA
Brunch in ST PETE FLORIDA
THE DEWEY BEACH BAR & GRILL
Casual Dinner IN ST. PETERSBURG
Fine Dining IN ST PETE
WHAT TO DO IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
Beach Locations in ST PETE FLORIDA
There are quite a few beach locations that you can spend your time at while in St. Petersburg, Florida. Depending on where you are staying and whether you’re looking for a busier beach or one that doesn’t have too many people along the waters and beach, you can find the perfect location to spend your time in the sun while wading in the crystal clear waters.
- St. Pete Beach – St. Pete Beach contains many of the beaches below and is a longer strip. With a number of access points, try to walk to the closest entrance so that you can avoid paying for parking.
- Pass A Grille Beach – Still a part of St. Pete Beach, Pass A Grill Beach is on the opposite side of Don Cesar Hotel and is typically lower on crowds than the rest of the beach.
- Treasure Island – If you travel further down the coast past the Saint Hotel, you’ll end up in Treasure Island where the beaches are somewhat crowded especially around the areas where the resorts are.
- Upham Beach – This beach is the closes to the Saint Hotel and is a part of St. Pete Beach. There are quite a few beach bars on this part of the beach, so if you’re looking to grab some cocktails while having your beach day, this area around 67 – 70th Ave. is for you.
- Madeira Beach – This is a mostly residential beach which means that it’s not as populated but also somewhat not as easy to access certain points. This beach allows for alcohol along the beach and is home to waterfront dining. Access points are great around 136th Ave W and Gulf Blvd.
When planning to head to the beach in St. Pete, look into renting with the Cabana Club. The Cabana Club is a service where you can rent a full cabana or umbrella along with beach chairs, towels, a cooler and more so that you don’t have to worry about lugging anything to the beach or worrying about the clean up. With the rental, they will set up everything before your scheduled time at a location convenient to you on the beaches mentioned above and when you’re done, they’ll come to clean up. The cabanas themselves are truly beautiful and the experience of just showing up and being able to just enjoy the clear water and the sun without worrying about carrying anything, setting it up, and taking it down was just luxurious in itself. You can also upgrade your cabana package to include a cocktail in a coconut, floats specific to your event such as a ring for a bachelorette party, and more.
Places to Go Out IN ST PETE
Located at the end point of the St. Pete Pier, you’ll find Pier Teaki. This great tiki bar is fun for those looking to look out over the water and the bay and enjoy some fun cocktails and bites. I recommend going on breezy days where it’s not too hot and order some of their craft cocktails while also enjoying some fresh bites. This is a great location for a pre-dinner cocktail or just an evening out. When it gets later and darker, you can hang out around the fire pits and enjoy the cocktails in the late evening.
Though they are open for brunch, I recommend heading to Dirty Laundry, one of St. Pete’s popular speakeasies, for a fun and exciting nightlife experience. Upon entering Dirty Laundry, you’ll enter into a space that looks like a laundry mat with a little bar area. Hidden behind one of the washing machines is the entrance to the bar and nightlife area. The decor matches the theme with dirty laundry is hanging in various places, and with places to sit and relax as well as a great bar menu, you’ll have fun dancing the night away.
The Bodega on Central Ave houses another speakeasy – Bar Chica. This speakeasy is open after the Bodega closes, so just because you see the lights dimmed and a closed restaurant, doesn’t mean that you can head into Bar Chica. When you enter the Bodega, head straight towards the back as if you are heading towards the bathrooms. There is a sliding door there that will open to this modern, classic cocktail bar. Open on Thursday – Saturday, there are a variety of eclectic cocktails that you can enjoy.
Places to Experience Art & Culture IN ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA
The Sunken Gardens in St. Pete is a gorgeous garden filled with tropical plants from around the region along with flamingos, macaws, butterflies, and a variety of waterfalls. Enjoy spending time at the Sunken Gardens as you walk along the winding paths and across the bridges over the coy ponds. For those getting married, look into the Sunken Gardens as you wedding venue as they have a variety of wedding lawns that are the perfect setting for many to enjoy. The best time to visit is earlier in the day when it is not as hot and you have enough time to explore as the garden closed typically around 4pm EST and they begin moving the animals into their homes prior to closing.
FAIRGROUNDS ST. PETE
For those who are looking to take some Instagram-worthy shots, make some Instagram Reels or TikToks, or just to have some fun and explore some interactive pieces of arts, then you need to stop by the Fairgrounds St. Pete. This fun, interactive, indoor art exhibit is filled with so many fun artistic pieces with so much neon flare. You can spend so much time in this place and it’s family friendly along with it being great for date night or just hanging out with friends. They encourage you to take as many photos and videos as you want and if you’re looking to do a little more, they have a fun scavenger hunt that you can take part in while you explore.
Outdoor Activities in ST PETERSBURG FLORIDA
CLEAR WATER KAYAKING
With the waters in St. Petersburg being so clear, it’s a must that you go clear water kayaking while visiting St. Pete / Clearwater Florida. I recommend booking a kayaking experience with Get Up and Go Kayaking Shell Key Preserve where you can book a single kayak or a tandem kayak. During the tour, the tour guide will take you around to gorgeous mangroves and over to one of the pristine beaches of St. Pete that you can only get to by kayaking, paddle boarding, or by boat where you can look for sea shells and just hang out and relax. While on your kayak tour, you may also see some of St. Pete’s wildlife including the possibility of dolphins and manatees along with other wildlife such as birds that will swim right next to you, tree crabs, jelly fish, and more. It’s a magical experience that you can’t pass up while you’re visiting the area.
BEACH WALK & SECRET GARDEN
In the later evenings or even in the morning, spend time walking along the beach while it’s somewhat empty and if you’re close to 70th Street, make sure to visit the Secret Garden. The garden is open to the public and once entering the 70th Street entrance, you’ll walk to your right towards the end of the beach past the hotel that is there and you’ll find this little secret garden. It’s a cute little thing to visit, but it’s not a garden like the Sunken Gardens where you can spend lots of time there. If you do a run along the beach, the garden is a great place to stop for a respite before turning around and running back.
RENT A SLINGSHOT OR GOLF CART
If it’s not too hot outside and you want to spend a day driving around downtown while enjoying the breeze, take advantage of renting a slingshot or a golf cart (which you can drive along roads of 35 MPH or under and it’s super common). During our trip, we rented a slingshot which was an easy process to rent and it gave us plenty of time to drive it around while we visited various places in downtown St. Pete. From talking to many people who rented golf carts, recommendations was to either rent for the entire time that you are there or rent daily and use it as your method of transportation while staying in St. Pete. The golf carts can fit up to six people depending on which gold cart you rent. You can rent golf carts from St. Pete Elite Carts and if you rent for more than two days, they’ll deliver the golf cart to you.