I’ve traveled the majority of my life and yet, I’ve never hated anything more than feeling like a tourist. Obviously, it’s inevitable—you can’t visit Washington DC without seeing the Mall or London without riding on the Eye or Cleveland without visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. However, I think there’s something to be said for trying the local (or at least more unknown) places.
So, that’s my mission, to bring the local flavor of a city to your visit (which arguably should still include all the museums and sightseeing you want). This week, I’m focusing on St. Petersburg, Florida.
1. While Florida’s nickname is the Sunshine State, St. Petersburg is the Sunshine City, with temperate climates and amazing sunsets viewable from almost every beach!
2. Known for its vibrant arts & music scenes, there are a variety of festivals all year long, ranging from the quirky Geckofest to the Tampa Bay Blues Festival! If festivals aren’t your thing, you can also check out some of the numerous art galleries and theater venues, such as Florida Craft Art, an art museum and workshop that leads walking tours of St. Petersburg’s extensive murals.
3. From June to August, join locals and tourist for Sunsets at Pier 60, an all-night block party every night of the week. There, you can listen to live music, eat beachfront food and look at a prime view of the sunset over the Gulf Coast!
4. Florida has plenty of nature but nothing quite like St. Petersburg’s Sunken Gardens. Here, you can find live animals and a variety of botanical gardens, as well as attractions like morning yoga classes! It’s also the oldest roadside attraction on the west coast for Florida!
5. If you want a beach away from the hustle and bustle, try Indian Rocks Beach! Plus, if you get tired of looking at the ocean, there are many quaint restaurants, beachfront houses and quirky boutiques only a few blocks away.
6. Even if you can’t stay here (and I would highly recommend that you do), pop into the decadent lobby of the Don CeSar hotel, an iconic 1920s building that was saved from destruction in the 1970s. Known as the “Pink Palace,” it’s close to both the marina, the beaches and St. Petersburg’s downtown.
7. Check out the St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market for fresh fruits, veggies, and seafood. Then pop over to Mazzaro’s Italian Market, where you can find fresh bread, and handmade pasta as well as cheese and wine tastings all day long!
8. Want to see marine life close-up? Try Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rescue/rehab/release marine hospital and non-profit, where you can see local celebrity Winter the Dolphin, who has appeared in several movies. (You can even check the animals out through live webcams!)
9. If you feel like dressing up (and are 21+), check out Canopy Rooftop Lounge, with its views of the sunset and signature cocktails. If you feel like just hanging out (and are 21+), hit up the Mandarin Hide, a bar, and lounge that is all about the eclectic and unpretentious, especially when it comes to their music.
10. A stunning glass building that towers above the waterfront, the Salvador Dali Museum has been named the #1 attraction in St. Petersburg—meaning, it’s popular with not only the tourists, but the locals as well! It houses the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of Europe, so it’s definitely worth the visit.
11. While in Florida, don’t forget to take advantage of the beautiful surrounding islands (some inhabited, some not), such as Fort de Soto Park and the Weedon Island Preserve. You can get a ferry or fishing boat to most of them, but there are also many kayaking options!
12. Feeling sporty? Go to a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game in the only non-retractable domed stadium in MLB! They’ve got a long-standing rivalry with both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
13. Despite having started in Louisville KY, 3 Daughters Brewing is now firmly at home in St. Petersburg. It has a tasting room, an extensive and delicious menu provided by a variety of food trucks, live music, and games!
14. Meze 119 is a Middle Eastern, vegan/vegetarian restaurant where all the cuisine is prepared with local ingredients. Located near downtown, most locals recommend going for brunch and starting the meal with a Moroccan Mint Iced Tea!
15. Local slang falls along the same lines as New York and New Jersey. The most pertinent piece of slang to know is that St. Petersburg gets shortened into St. Pete’s—which can reference St. Pete’s Beach, the downtown area or even just the general Tampa Bay area!
If you love your hometown or have a city you’re particularly familiar with and want to show tourists what the locals love, please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll happily sit down with you to work out an article that showcases your love for your city.
Image sources: visitgulfportflorida.com