“This is the reason we live in Florida,” I exclaimed to my husband when we were recently stuck in a blizzard in New York City. “I’ll take heat over cold any day.” He rolled his eyes because as much as I love warm weather, I always said I didn’t want to live in Florida. When our son and daughter-in-law moved to the Tampa Bay area, though, we visited them in March, and something about St. Petersburg in the spring enchanted me.
The first time I visited some 30 years ago, St. Pete was a haven for senior citizens who spent days on park benches and shuffleboard courts. Today, St. Pete is a vibrant city filled with residents of all ages who enjoy its great weather, lively art scene, parks, marinas, sunshine, and warmth.
Tourism is the city’s major industry, and spring is the perfect time to partake in St. Pete because the winter chill is gone, but the summer heat and humidity have not yet come to visit. Visitors and residents alike flock to the area’s cultural, artistic, sports, culinary, and outdoorsy activities.
Fun in the Water
Except for two small downtown beaches on Tampa Bay, St. Pete is not really a beach community. Many people assume that St. Pete Beach, which is always among the best beaches in America, is in St. Petersburg. Actually, the beach belongs to the city of St. Pete Beach, a short drive from St. Petersburg. All along the Gulf Coast, you’ll find white sand beaches of the area’s award-winning beaches.
Even if you are in St. Pete, though, you can still have fun in the water. The Vinoy Park and Spa Beach at the St. Pete Pier are both in the downtown area. Windsurfing, kite boarding, skimboarding, and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) are popular too. For those who prefer being on the water instead of in it, you can rent a kayak or take a boat tour. St. Pete is home to the south’s largest city marina, and you’ll find others dotting the shore in the area.
Fun on Dry Land
Home to many museums, 137 parks, numerous hiking and biking trails, botanical gardens, an arboretum, and Tropicana Field (home to the Tampa Bay Rays), St. Pete offers plenty of experiences for those times away from the beach. Hop on the free St. Petersburg Downtown Looper and ride to many of them.
The Looper is a good way to tour the downtown area. Be sure to keep an eye out for the more than 450 street art murals that decorate the buildings, or use it to museum hop. The Dali and Chihuly are wonderful, but every museum deserves a visit. The James Museum offers a fantastic collection of western art and sculpture. If you love Chihuly, be sure to check out the Imagine Museum’s spectacular glass art. With 11 museums just in the downtown area, St. Pete is a great cultural destination.
If you prefer to be outside, pedal The Pinellas Trail, a 47-mile bike trail that starts in Downtown St. Pete and wanders north through peninsular towns to end in Tarpon Springs (where you can visit the historic sponge docks). If you’d rather walk, you’ll find more than 20 hiking trails all over the peninsula.
Are you a sports fan? In addition to the Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies are to have their training facilities and hold games on the peninsula. The New York Yankees train and play in Tampa, a short ride away. Golfers can hit the links on more than 40 golf courses or watch the PGA Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Golf Course (north in Palm Harbor).
While the St. Pete Pier is popular all year, it is particularly pleasant in spring when you can find a variety of activities for the entire family. One of the two downtown beaches, Spa Beach, is on the pier, and you can even cast a line from the fishing platform.
Not far from the Pier, are a number of city parks and the Vinoy Park Beach. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one of the city’s many spring art festivals in progress. My absolute favorite is the Saturday Morning Market, a weekly celebration of fresh produce, food, crafts, music, and fun.
If you’re looking for an incredible place to spend some time this spring, St. Petersburg might just fill the bill.
Find more at https://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/.