Two Romantic Worlds in St. Petersburg and Clearwater

By: Angel Lee

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Florida has much to offer in the way of romance, whether you're looking for a laidback beach retreat or an exciting city escape.

By day, soft waves roll up onto white sand, sunlight warms you and tropical drinks cool you off. By night, candlelight illuminates your gourmet dinner, moonlight smiles on your waterfront stroll and dancing carries you through the night – until it's time to head back to your beachfront abode. It's the picture of paradise, for you and your other half.

Florida has much to offer in the way of romance, whether you're looking for a laidback beach retreat or exciting city escape. But maybe you want a little of both – variety, after all, is the spice of life. The St. Petersburg/Clearwater area is one destination that offers the best of both romantic worlds.


Coastal Attraction

For a mix of quiet shores and classic beach amenities, check out Fort De Soto Park, voted the #1 beach in America in 2005 by Dr. Beach, also known as coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman. The park's natural beauty and expansive beaches offer couples the chance to find a secluded spot and bask in the sun. But kayaking, picnicking, hiking, biking and swimming are also within easy reach.

To the north, Clearwater Beach is famous for its fine white sand and fun atmosphere, and when the sun goes down it gets even hotter. Pier 60 has nightly sunset celebrations featuring street vendors, artists, live music and street performers that can range from clowns to fire dancers. The entertainment is free, and so is a romantic post-sunset walk on the beach.

If you're craving more secluded shores, take the ferry to Caladesi Island State Park – it's only accessible by boat and has previously been ranked the No. 2 beach in America by Dr. Beach. Here you'll find dramatic white-sand shores and pristine nature just waiting to be explored.

For dining along the coast, try Salt Rock Grill in Indian Rocks, known for its fresh seafood and cool, elegant ambiance. For something more casual, head to the rooftop deck of The Hurricane in St. Pete Beach, where every table has a wide-open view of the beach, and enjoy the sunset and a grouper sandwich.

Beach-loving couples have many options when it comes to accommodations. The Don CeSar Beach Resort, a luxurious area icon known as "the Pink Palace," is a historic hotel on St. Pete Beach that has hosted such notables as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone. Also on St. Pete Beach, the TradeWinds Island Resorts specialize in more laidback pampering and are rich with resort amenities. On Clearwater Beach, the new and ultra-sophisticated Sandpearl Resort takes up residence along 700 feet of spectacular beachfront.


Downtown Escape

Downtown St. Petersburg is sprinkled with variety. It's known for its art museums, including the internationally famous Salvador Dalí Museum, which showcases the mind-bending work of the Spanish surrealist. Shop the trendy boutiques and stores of BayWalk, where you can also grab a bite to eat at one of several restaurants. Later, catch a pro baseball game at Tropicana Field or explore the downtown waterfront, crowned by Vinoy Park.

At night, sample the amazing restaurants and hot night spots downtown. Ceviche features tapas, the Spanish style of dining that focuses on small, flavorful portions – perfect for sharing. Café Alma also offers European charm and an eclectic fine-dining menu.

Urban-leaning couples should check out the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, a landmark area hotel downtown. This stunning Mediterranean Revival structure, built in 1925, has housed presidents and movie stars. The area also has several cozy, Victorian-style B&Bs such as Sunset Bay Inn, LaVeranda and Inn at the Bay.


Small-town Hideaways

Try to carve out some time for two other St. Petersburg area gems, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs. Dunedin is rich with European flavor and small-town charm, including a bustling little Main Street. The town has Scottish roots, but you'll find many other influences here.

In the Greek enclave of Tarpon Springs, couples can take a boat ride to witness sponge diving first-hand, window shop along Dodecanese Boulevard and try Greek delicacies at authentic restaurants and cafés. If you enjoy architecture, check out the collection of Victorian homes along nearby Spring Bayou, where you can complete your romantic step back in time with a stay at the Spring Bayou Inn.

For more information on planning your own romantic getaway to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, call the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 877-352-3224 or visit www.FloridasBeach.com.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners

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