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.

Downtown St. Pete skyline

Downtown St. Pete skyline.

- Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

People at the Gecko festival having fun and posing for a photograph

Gecko Fun at the Gecko Fest in Gulfport

- Gulfport Gecko Fest

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.

Aerial view of the Fort Desoto Park island

Fort DeSoto Park offers two beaches on five islands, seven miles of bike trails, two fishing piers, camping, picnic pavilions, playgrounds and a historic fort.


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.

Loews Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach

Don Cesar Hotel on St. Pete Beach

- Kara Franker for VISIT FLORIDA

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. Hop on an upscale yacht cruise or family-friendly dolphin boat tour with StarLite Cruises. Or visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, whose mission is to inspire others through the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals -- a cause that exploded in popularity with Winter, the movie star dolphin with the prosthetic tail. Winter died in November 2021, but the aquarium's mission remains the same.

John's Pass Marina on Treasure Island has island-style shopping and dining.

Scenic shot of the John's Pass Marina on Treasure Island

- Contributed Photo

Dolphin jump diving in the St. Pete Clearwater.

Dolphin Alongside Boat in St. Pete Clearwater. They love to jump boat wakes and surf bow waves.

- Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

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.

Aerial shot of the Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island

Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island: One last view of Caladesi, left, and its beautiful neighbor.

- Courtesy St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Racks of sponges on sale at the Sponge docks in Tarpon Springs

Visit the Sponge Docks, our World Famous working waterfront and learn about the sponge industry.

- Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

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 for more travel tips.



Things to Do

New Towns in Southwest Florida

  • 2 minute read

By Lynn Waddell Read up on the latest start-up towns in southwest Florida. Places to Go: Lakewood Ranch; Ave Maria Things to see: Florida has a long...

Things to Do

Weird, Wonderful Facts About Florida

  • 8 minute read

We come across lots of weird and wonderful Florida facts. So we thought we'd share a few. OK, more than a few. You never know ... these Florida...

Things to Do

Sunset Rituals

  • 4 minute read

By Lisa M. Moten The land of sunshine says good-night. Check out any number of sunset celebrations along the Gulf coast. Nothing beats the sight of a...