By Kara Franker
From downtown St. Petersburg to the white sands of Clearwater Beach, there's much to do in this sunshine-drenched area of Florida.
Vibrant Scene in Downtown St. Petersburg
Downtown St. Peterburg boasts a vibrant waterfront dining and nightlife scene with new eateries and rooftop bars opening regularly.
Stay, dine and play at the historic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club with its luxurious rooms and storied past. Stroll along the water and make your way to explore cultural standouts like The Dali Museum, Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center, Museum of Fine Arts and more. Catch a baseball game at Tropicana Field, home to the Tampa Bay Rays. Or shop along Beach Drive at local boutiques and stop by the Saturday morning farmers market.
Visit Charming Waterfront Communities
Visit St. Petersburg's charming waterfront communities like Safety Harbor and Gulfport for more fun dining and shopping. Gulfport celebrates the end of summer with the annual GeckoFest, paying homage to the town's unofficial reptilian mascot. And in its outreaches, St. Petersburg spreads an impressive blanket of green for outdoor enthusiasts. One of its most outstanding recreational features includes Weedon Island Preserve, home to a Cultural & Natural History Center.
Explore Pristine Island Beaches
For the ultimate in nature and recreation, head to the islands that make St. Petersburg and Clearwater famous. This string of island pearls begins in the south with a couple of unhooked islands: aptly named Shell Island and Egmont Key, home to a wildlife refuge, a historic lighthouse and fort ruins. Its sister fort went up across the pass at today's Fort DeSoto Park, occupying a handful of islands popular with shellers, cyclists and campers.
Family-Friendly Fun at St. Pete Beach
The history timeline takes up again on St. Pete Beach, home to The Don CeSar Beach Resort, playground of 1920s glitterati such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone. The pink palace landmark welcomes travelers to the long island with its family-friendly beaches and hotels. Beach accesses are conveniently located and the action is always lively with watersports rentals and charters. Catch a boat to nearby islands for a day of snorkeling and beach picnicking.
Go Boating at Treasure Island and Madeira Beach
Next on the island roll call, Treasure Island is comparatively quiet and even more suited to family budgets. John's Pass separates Treasure Island from Madeira Beach and it's here you'll find the greatest concentration of fishing and boating charters. On the Madeira Beach side assembles the salty shopping and dining district of John's Pass Village & Boardwalk. It's a good place to hoist a beer and swap fish tales or enjoy the fruits of John's Pass' reputation for grouper catches. Clock in during October for the annual John's Pass Seafood Festival. Communities in various degrees of casual and wealth string along north of Madeira Beach, with beach accesses, a fishing pier, miniature golf, hotels intimate to grand, and seafood houses to welcome visitors. The island ends at Sand Key Park, consistently named among the nation's best for its green spaces and extra-wide powdery sands.
Kick Back in Picture-Perfect Clearwater Beach
From there a bridge takes you to Clearwater Beach, headquarters for beach volleyball competition and site of the nightly upbeat sunset celebration on Pier 60 with entertainers and crafts vendors. Clearwater, across the causeway, hosts the largest free-admission jazz festival in the Southeast every October. Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see dolphins, including Winter, star of the "Dolphin Tale" movies. Hop on an upscale yacht cruise or family-friendly dolphin boat tour with StarLite Cruises.
Go Antiquing and Beach Hopping in Dunedin
The 47-mile Pinellas Trail, which begins in St. Petersburg, gives cyclists an opportunity to two-wheel through town, all the way through Dunedin and into Tarpon Springs. The Scottish town of Dunedin is known for its antiquing and twin island state parks of Honeymoon and Caladesi, both beach havens.
Check out the Sponge Docks Tarpon Springs
Tarpon Springs has many Greek residents throughout the city. Along Dodecanese Boulevard, sample authentic baklava, visit the sponge docks, take a cultural boat tour, and shop for sponges and real feta cheese.
The St. Petersburg and Clearwater areas have everything under the sun for visitors. And about that sun: St. Petersburg once made Guinness World Book of Records for most consecutive days of sunshine.
When you go...
Check out VisitStPeteClearwater.com for more travel tips.