Holidays to St Pete Beach take you to one of America’s best beach hubs – expect sunshine, flawless beaches and relaxed restaurants.
The Sunshine City
With an average of 360 sun-drenched days a year, St Pete Beach is often dubbed the Sun Capital of America. Its Gulf of Mexico setting means pristine beaches are in good supply, plus it’s bookended by a string of untouched barrier islands. As such, day-to-day life revolves around the great outdoors.
The beaches here merge into Clearwater to the north, forming one huge 28-mile stretch. Sun-drenched resorts like Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and Redington Shores add a crop of waterfront hotels in between. What they all share is a ribbon of uninterrupted snow-white sand and translucent waters fringed by a long ribbon of palms. The area’s spectacular sunsets are best watched from Pass-a-Grille Beach. This big, light-sand sweep is also prime dolphin-spotting territory.
The city stays true to its seaside locale, with a laid-back shopping and dining scene. Take a stroll down Corey Avenue, and you’ll come across beachwear shops, galleries and restaurants. And the streets come alive on Sunday with a bustling market. Colourful fruit and veg stalls rub shoulders with barbecue vendors, while local artisans tout their handmade jewellery and artwork.
When it comes to experiencing the thrills and spills of Florida’s world-famous theme parks, you’re in a great spot. Busch Gardens is a 50-minute drive away, while Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort™ can be reached in around an hour and a half. Turn your attention south, and you can tick off one of the state's cultural capitals – Sarasota – in 50 minutes' drive. The journey there takes you across the spectacular Sunshine Skyway Bridge, too, which arches for miles above Tampa Bay.
Things to See and Do in St Pete Beach
Set on a seven-mile-long shoreline, St Pete Beach specialises in big belts of beach. Some are action-packed, while others are crowdless. But the one thing they have in common is a winning combination of soft, white melting into calm waters.
There’s a reason the city was named after this sizeable, sandy stretch. It’s a huge hit with families, thanks to an array of fun facilities. Jet-skis, pedalos and boats bob by the shore, along with a mini Total Wipeout-style obstacle course. On the sands, you’ll also find three huge, inflatable slides and a bucking shark. Despite all this, there’s still lots of room spare to roll out a towel.
If you want to switch off, this is the place to come. Egmont Key State Park is only accessible by boat, making for a quiet-as-a-mouse beach retreat. The unmarked sands are adorned with palms and little else. Inland, meanwhile, it’s just as peaceful, with hundreds of tortoises going about their daily business. As you’d expect, there’s no drinking water or shops on the island, so make sure to pack a picnic.
On Sundays, Corey Avenue is packed out with stalls selling food, trinkets and second-hand clothing. The market is a must-do for foodies – Bratwurst, barbecued ribs and organic granola are all up for grabs. After, you can pore over the tables or pop into the one-off shops to find custom-made souvenirs.
Whether you’re after new make-up, moccasins or the latest mobile, Tyrone Square Mall has all corners covered. The shops here extend all the way from H&M and Hollister to Victoria’s Secret and MAC. When you need to fill up, there’s a well-stocked food court on hand, too.
For designer tags, you’ll need to make the half an hour drive to Ellenton. Here, you’ve got a Premium Outlet offering all the big names in fashion, with a discount. Think Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and DKNY. And there’s a Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, where you can snap up cut-price, designer handbags, shoes and homeware.
Rooftop bars are all the rage in St Pete Beach. Most of them line up along the main Gulf Boulevard, or as locals like to call it The Miracle Mile. They’ve all got a relaxed, beach vibe with rustic décor, live music and games, like pool, pinball and Pac-Man.
While St Pete Beach is about relaxed, beachside bars, nearby St Petersburg stocks the clubs. You’ve got lively, retro-style cocktail bars and swanky, dress-up clubs. If you’re in town for the first Friday of every month, you’re in for a treat. It’s when a whole section of downtown turns into one, huge block party. Live music, food and drink all flows.
Clam chowder at Crabby Bill’s
You can get your shrimps cooked in just about every way here – prawn cocktail, boiled, or in a fondue with feta. But it’s the creamy clam chowder that keeps the visitors coming back. In fact, it’s so popular that they even sell cans of the stuff in the gift shop. Just don’t ask for the recipe – it’s a secret.
Mexican at Taco Bus
You need to roll your way over to nearby St Petersburg for this one, but it’s worth it. Disguised as a yellow school bus, Taco Bus majors in Mexican food. All you need to do is pick a style – there’s everything from quesadillas to tacos. Then fill it with marinated chicken, pork, beef or seafood.
Fine dining at The Maritana Grille
You’ll find this place inside the iconic, pink-hued Loews Don CeSar Resort. Its menu lives up to its grand setting with dishes, like lobster, quinoa risotto and fillet steak. The puddings here are works of art, too – their signature dessert melts into the shape of a flower once the caramel sauce is added.
Decadent desserts at RumFish Grill
It’s the desserts that make the RumFish Grill stand out – that, and the 33,500-gallon aquarium. Seafood mains are followed by top-rated puddings, like molten lava cake with salted caramel ice cream. And there’s even a section for liquid desserts, featuring a chocolate cream pie martini.
Seafood at Madfish
Like the old saying goes, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Madfish is a great example. Outside, it looks like your typical American diner. Step inside, however, and the menu is anything but ordinary. Chilean sea bass, swordfish steak, and grouper and shrimp sautee all feature, along with hand-cut steak.
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