Before I visited St. Petersburg, Florida, my uncle John said it reminded him of “Old Florida.” I pictured South Florida in the 1970’s--you know, alligators and cheesy tourist trinkets, jalousie windows and the addictive smell of St. Augustine grass, ant lions and dragonflies, room to spread out and a slower pace.
While I didn’t see any alligators or many cheesy tourist trinkets, I did notice pretty much everything else existed in St. Petersburg—especially the slower pace which was in direct contrast to my earlier visit to South Florida.
St. Petersburg is the kind of town that you’ll want to get out on foot—or pedal—and explore. Much like many small southern towns, it’s downright cozy yet bustling enough to offer something for visitors of all ages.
If you’ve got kiddos in town, one of your first stops should be to Crescent Lake Park, located at 1320 5th Street North. It’s got a great playground, not to mention a large grassy area and beautiful Crescent Lake to take a stroll around. After your visit to the park, it’s time for lunch. Cruise south, and after exploring the unique shops of adorable Central Avenue to build up your appetite, head over to Leafy Greens Cafe, located at 1431 Central Avenue, for a wonderful raw vegan lunch. You can’t go wrong with any of their salads, and their veggie burger is out of this world!
After lunch, it’s time for some culture, and there’s nothing more intriguing than an art museum. Filled with art pieces throughout Salvidore Dali’s entire career, the Dali Museum will not disappoint. After feasting your eyes on tantalizing art for several hours, it’s probably time to give your feet a little break and wind down for a light dinner at Lime, located in the Tyrone Mall at 6901 22nd Avenue North. Lime has a great selection of healthy, Mexican fast food including fresh guacamole and a severe sampling of sauces on their condiment bar. Their organic refried and black beans are scrumptious on any vegetarian dish.
The following day, your goal is to hang out by the waterfront. Take the historic waterfront walk and meander through the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg Museum of History, Vinoy Park, North and South Straub Park, and then some. If you feel so inclined, you could also rent bikes and peddle your way around town.
Lunchtime could include a visit to Evos, located at 2631 4th Street North. Evos is famous for their air-baked fries and healthy fast food featuring airbaked menu options. They also serve salads, wraps, burgers and shakes. Or, why not head over to Rollin’ Oats Market and Cafe, located at 2842 Drive Martin Luther King Junior Street North. Grab something from their Café and roll out a picnic blanket in one of the many nearby parks.
Later that evening, head back to the waterfront. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the great atmosphere and lively downtown nightlife. It’s an ideal place to dine outdoors near the waterfront in the delicious, warm evening air on one of the many restaurant patios. You can enjoy dining on coastal cuisine while dreaming about turning your land yacht into a nautical one.
Other things to do include ghost and helicopter tours, the St. Petersburg Trolley, kayak and paddleboarding tours. Baseball lovers, of course, will enjoy catching a game at Tropicana Field. And history buffs will want to take a few last photos of The Pier. This historic icon has been a main focal point of downtown St. Petersburg since 1896. It’s now closed and a new pier is going to take its place in 2016.
Whether it’s a leisurely stroll down 2nd Avenue, visiting some of the many parks and museums, or just daydreaming about nautical living on the waterfront, you’re sure to find plenty to see and do, at a pleasant “Old Florida” style pace, in St. Petersburg.