Whether you’re looking to commune with the herons or just curious about what’s at the end of the St. Pete Pier, this list is locals-approved.
It’s one of the most desirable, rapidly growing cities in Florida, and with good reason—St. Petersburg on Florida’s Gulf coast is home to quality restaurants and bars with gorgeous coastal views, a host of museums and attractions to educate and entertain the whole family, as well as endless opportunities to acquaint yourself with the area’s natural beauty and wildlife.
Plan a locals-approved weekend in St. Pete with this collection of places to see and things to do, including some spots to relax with a much-deserved meal and drink after an exciting day of taking in all this waterfront oasis has to offer.
What to See
Fort De Soto State Park: With more than 1,100 acres spread over five interconnected key islands, Fort De Soto State Park is the largest park in Pinellas County. It’s home to more than 300 species of birds and a complex ecosystem of mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, and more. Explore the expanses by boat—ferry services to both Egmont Key and Shell Key run daily—or traverse the sandy coastline on foot or by bicycle along the 2,200-foot Barrier-Free Nature Trail. When you’ve tuckered yourself out, settle in for a peaceful night of camping in the park’s extensive family camp site, complete with facilities.
Dalí Museum: The Surrealistic works of 20th-century Spanish artist Salvador Dalí remain synonymous with imagination and wonder in an ever-changing world. View iconic pieces like “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” and “The Persistence of Memory,” along with more than 2,400 other Dalí paintings, drawings, prints, book illustrations, photographs, and objects, in the permanent collections of the Dalí, which are housed in a similarly awe-inspiring building in downtown St. Pete near its Tampa Bay waterfront. For those dying to dig a little deeper into Dalí’s process and history, The Dalí’s Center for the Avant-garde contains extensive digital collections and research resources for scholars and curious visitors alike.
Treasure Island: A favorite spot among locals for its old-school charm, Treasure Island boasts three miles of pristine beachfront where powdery white sands meet warm, crystal-clear Gulf waters. Its unique beauty is so striking the island has even inspired musicians to write hit songs about it. After a day of fun in the sun, the 65-year-old Thunderbird Beach Resort beckons with its famous neon sign entrance and the Ikki Woo Woo tiki bar serving up tropical drinks and live music with a side of mid-century nostalgia.
What to Do
St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club: Contrary to popular opinion, shuffleboard isn’t your grandpa’s pastime anymore—the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club hosts 1,200 members and countless visitors of all ages at their bustling St. Pete Shuffle event each Friday from 7-10 p.m. The club’s volunteer staff teaches newcomers how to play while pop music blasts from the speakers and drinks flow. History buffs may be keen to learn that the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, established a century ago, played a vital role in standardizing the rules of the game the world over. No matter where you play the game, the center line running through the scoring triangles is usually called Central Avenue, a nod to St. Pete’s main thoroughfare.
Weedon Island Preserve: Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the 3,700-acre Weedon Island Preserve located on the shores of Tampa Bay to commune with the herons, egrets, catfish, mullet, dolphins, stingrays, frogs, alligators, and rabbits that call this special corner of the world home. Rent a canoe or kayak on site and take to the South Paddling Trail, four miles of mangrove and seagrass flats that wind among several islands in the bay. If it’s a rainy day, attend an archaeology lecture given by the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society on the history of the Indigenous people who called the preserve home.
St. Pete Pier: In summer of 2020, the city of St. Petersburg opened the much-awaited, 26-acre St. Pete Pier, a vibrant collection of attractions connecting downtown St. Pete and the Tampa Bay. Take the kids to the playground and splash pad to cool off on a hot day, or spend some time relaxing on the fishing deck or perusing wares from a rotating cast of local vendors in the Marketplace. Squish some sand between your toes at Spa Beach, a strip of naturalized shoreline right in the middle of downtown. On rainy days, duck into the St. Petersburg Museum of History to check out exhibits on the Sunshine City’s past, including Little Cooperstown, which celebrates St. Pete’s role as a long-standing fixture of Major League Baseball spring training.
Where to Eat and Drink
Pier Teaki: Like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, those who follow the St. Pete Pier to its end will be treated to delicious food and drinks paired with breathtaking views at Pier Teaki. The cocktail shrimp and fish spread appetizers are crowd pleasers at this modern, tiki-themed restaurant and bar, as is the Pink Lava, a cocktail made with tequila, pineapple, and hibiscus.
Trophy Fish: Nowhere else does “bait shop chic” quite like Trophy Fish, St. Pete’s premier spot for seafood dishes and signature “boat drinks.” Located in the inland marina of the St. Pete Grand Central District, Trophy Fish serves up fresh catch from local fishermen each day and gives guests the power to decide how they’d like to eat it: choose your fish, its seasoning, and its preparation to enjoy the Sunshine City’s freshest local seafood your way. Plan to arrive early in the day to catch your trophy fish, as they do not take reservations.
Bonù Taverna Italiana: One of the city’s newest hotspots is Bonù Taverna Italiana, an upscale southern Italian restaurant offering fresh ingredients and a welcoming, neighborhood atmosphere. Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner in downtown St. Pete, Bonù Taverna combines time-honored dishes like the Roman pinsa—a hand-pressed, thinner-crusted cousin of the pizza we all know and love—with an impressive Italian wine selection. Save some room for tiramisu or a cannoli.