Downtown St. Pete: Art, Beaches & More
St. Petersburg is one of those rare cities that balances big city-caliber museums with the unparalleled beauty of nature.
Downtown St. Pete has a reputation for its friendly residents and proximity to beautiful beaches. Add to that world-class art museums, award-winning restaurants, entertainment venues and walkability, and you could easily spend an entire vacation exploring St. Petersburg.
The Surreal Life
The Dalí Museum (One Dalí Blvd., 727-823-3767, www.thedali.org) is Downtown St. Pete's newest jewel. With 96 oil paintings and hundreds of other pieces on display, plus thousands more in the vault, it houses the largest collection of Salvador Dalí’s works outside of his native Spain.
After nearly three decades in its original space, the museum recently reopened in a unique new building that reflects Dalí’s artistic perspective. The structure features exterior glass panels and a three-story interior helical staircase.
The Chihuly Collection (400 Beach Drive, 727-896-4527, www.moreanartscenter.org/chihuly) showcases the work of another creative genius, master glass artist Dale Chihuly. The waterfront building was designed specifically to display the collection, which features pieces as colorful and whimsical as a storybook.
Want more? Head less than a mile away to the Morean Arts Center Glass Studio & Hot Shop at 719 Central Ave., where you can watch a glassblowing demonstration, try your hand at the craft and shop for souvenirs made by local artists.
Before the Chihuly Collection and the new Dalí Museum, there was the Museum of Fine Arts (255 Beach Drive NE, 727-896-2667, www.fine-arts.org). Opened in 1965, the building has been an iconic part of Downtown St. Pete’s waterfront landscape, with its signature kapok tree out front.
The Museum is home to the most comprehensive art collection on Florida’s west coast, with major works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin and O’Keeffe. The photography collection is one of the largest and most significant in the Southeast.
Upcoming exhibitions include Global + Local: Studio and Contemporary Glass on Florida’s West Coast and The Art of Golf. The Museum is open every day and until 8 p.m. on Thursday, with admission reduced to $10 from 5-8 p.m. Visitors can also enjoy Super Saturdays for the entire family, lectures, Coffee Talks for people 55+, classical music concerts and a summer jazz series
Beauty and the Beach
St. Petersburg’s art museums are second only to the area’s natural works of art: award-winning Florida beaches. St. Pete Beach was voted TripAdvisor’s No. 1 Beach in the U.S. and No. 5 in the world in 2012 And it’s easy to see why.
Just north of Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park (One Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, 727-469-5918) is one of Florida’s few remaining undeveloped barrier islands. Accessible by ferry and private boat, the island feels a world away with its mangroves, wildlife and peaceful silence.
Equally breathtaking is Fort De Soto Park (3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde, 727-552-1864), the beach is accessible, laid back and south of downtown. With picturesque white sand, two fishing piers, a canoe trail, bike paths and camping, a day at Fort De Soto Park is like a vacation from a vacation.
Between St. Petersburg’s exquisite art museums and natural wonders, there’s beauty at every turn.
This article was brought to you by the Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater Convention & Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area, go to www.visitstpeteclearwater.com.