Gulf beaches, thriving local art scene, waterfront walks, botanic garden and the historic Kenwood neighborhood head my list of 10 things to do in St. Pete Florida. If you are expecting a retiring kind of place, think again. You’ll be running around crazy whether you visit for a day or spend a long weekend in St. Petersburg. Plus it is a short drive from Clearwater or Tampa.
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Warehouse Arts District
I love street art . . . anywhere. If you want to discover a city, head for the neighborhood where artists lug their paint brushes and spray cans. In St. Petersburg, this art haven is found in the Warehouse Arts District.
Therefore, the district is my first stop during my whirlwind tour of St. Petersburg. Pulling my car over, I get out to wander through the deserted parking lot. Large paintings cover the side of buildings. Brightly painted birds flock on a cement wall. Like Florida’s wide open blue sky and towering palm trees, the street art opens up the mind.
“Where art is made” is the slogan for the Warehouse Arts District. Once again, art can remake a deteriorating neighborhood through community revitalization. The association’s mission is to support the success of all artists and the community at large. Programs range from educational events to arts advocacy.
“We are a cultural arts destination in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg dedicated to flourishing our community through artistic endeavors, support, and highly curated art.”
So the heart of the District is The Studios at The ArtsXChange. Artists can rent space at the warehouse. There are 28 artist studios. It also features event space for parties. The ArtsXChange’s educational classes are ideal to consider for things to do in St. Pete Florida. (In the non-covid world, Tully Levine Gallery hosted gallery openings.)
For those people who are not big fans of visiting an art museum, The Warehouse Art District is the place to get your art fix outdoors. Picture art rising next to tufted grass and bushy trees instead of framed on stark white walls.
Now since I was bowled over by a mural stretching across a building complex, I needed to shoot from three different angles to capture a Fantasia scene. Lightening illuminates a black sky. A pink building rises like a pyramid. A green satyr reigns in his demonic woodland world. A tiny boy raises his hands in the air to accept electrocution. Odd. I wish I could find the artist’s manifesto.
Next I enter Gina’s world. Her workshop is behind a gate. It is painted in hot pink—Gina’s Warehouse. Hi5US. A yellow faced woman stares out with turquoise eyes. Bright blue and black striped hair wraps her head. Her finger touches her bright red lips.
The actual artist is silhouetted again the cartoon figure who is the artist Gina. She has also decorated her studio with splashes of bright primary colors.
Meanwhile, mural art by artist Cecilia Lueza is featured prominently in the District. Two doves face each other. A brilliant sapphire background looms like the sky. One dove is blue and green. The other dove rises like a Florida sunset—red, orange, gold and yellow.
In addition, Lueza also painted the Sky Is The Limit which is a 164 x 11 feet mural. It was created for the SHINE St Petersburg Mural Festival.
So I also love exploring old neighborhoods when I travel. St. Pete’s Kenwood community was designated a historic district on August 4, 2003. Parking my car at 28th Street North, I wander for blocks.
Brightly painted Craftsman-style bungalows are lined up like doll houses. I marvel at the rainbow of colors stretching down the tiny street—powder blue, lemon yellow, frost green and light chocolate. Doors are often painted bright red or orange. With over 2,200 homes, Kenwood is a town within a city. There are one and two-story residences. The majority of homes were built between 1912 and 1945.
Kenwood won the National Neighborhood of the Year award in 2020. Signs adorn lawns and porches. I was charmed by the sign outside one home reminding me “One Sunrise At A Time: We’re In This Together.” Shine on neighbor!
Meanwhile the historic Seminole Park features a large pavilion (with roof) for community gatherings. On this Saturday morning, I watch families play with their children and walk their dogs. Stepping back in time to roam these neighborhoods is high on my list of things to do in St. Pete Florida.
Donated by Charles Park (an early city developer), the Seminole Park features sidewalks, wide open lawns and playground equipment. It is a lovely place to bring a picnic or read a book. Check out the blue bench decorated with hearts and flowers.
No trip to Florida is complete without visiting a roadside attraction, like Sunken Gardens. Trip Advisor rates it #16 of 105 things to do in St. Pete. Although I bought my ticket with some hesitation, I was delightfully surprised. Gardeners need to bring a notebook!
Planted in a shopping mall, the Sunken Gardens features some plants and structures that are over a century old. Follow the meandering paths to see more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.
“Sunken Gardens is a botanical paradise in the midst of a bustling city. As St. Pete’s oldest living museum, this 100-year-old garden is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region.” (Visit Florida)
Such a historic gem must be protected, so visitors are warned to not climb or touch the plants. “Our plants, trees, animals, and structures are delicate and part of the Sunken Gardens’ living collection. Some of these plants and structures are over 100 years old!”
Honestly, it is hilarious to watch the flamingos cavort. They break me up how they like to stand on one leg. These exotic birds are often viewed as a symbol of the the Sunshine State. For children, this is a #1 choice on the list of things do in St. Pete Florida. Check out my video so you can hear the children shrieking with delight as they watch the flamingos play in the water.
St. Petersburg Farmers Market
My nose led me towards the St. Petersburg Farmers Market. The Saturday Morning Market is billed as “the heart of St. Petersburg.” A waft of pungent exotic scents floated over the crowd. Dogs pranced beside their owners, eager to stop for biscuits or sip from a bowl of water. I was partial to the Dancing Goat and Just Ginger. Folks lined up to buy their fresh vegetables and fruits. For instance, the five-acre organic Little Pond Farm sells fruit, vegetables, specialty cut flowers, and herbs – all grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Specialties include heirloom tomatoes, wildflowers, and the most delicious carrots.
Since all farmers markets end by November in Washington DC, I am thrilled to see this bustling winter market in pretty St. Petersburg. The 2020-2021 season runs November 14 – May 29. This Saturday Morning Market turns a city into a community. Hello kiddos (everywhere)!
This outdoor emporium sets up in the parking lot of Al Lang Field. It is located at 1st Ave S on the Downtown Waterfront. I estimate there were at least 125 booths and food trucks. They sell amazing artisan foods & handmade crafts. The Saturday market market allows locals to buy from family-owned farms. There is delicious ready-to-eat food from 15 countries.
“Come hungry! A close-knit neighborhood of local business owners, makers, musicians & St. Pete residents.”
Unfortunately due to Covid-19, the live music concerts are cancelled this season. The Farmers Market uses recorded music to add an upbeat atmosphere.
Demens Landing Park
After I left the Farmers Market, I decided to investigate the harbor. The bay sparkled like diamonds. Sail boats bobbed in the water. Clouds looked like big fat cotton balls smushed together. I could easily imagine myself just floating on the water, staring back at the city’s sights.
Demens Landing (located at 1st Avenue SE and Bayshore Drive) is a city park located on the site of the first railroad pier in St. Pete. It is named after Peter Demens. He built the pier in 1889. I suspect a lot of families visit the Saturday Morning Market to buy their lunch and then walk the kids down to Demens Landing for an afternoon picnic. The park offers picnic areas (no grills), clean restrooms, a beautiful view of the bay and boat ramps.
Floridians love their parks. Throughout my 10-day stay in Florida, I explored multiple state and county parks. The state also features an impressive lineup of bike trails that connect cities and towns on the Gulf Coast.
I was eager to explore Vinroy Park, which is part of a two-mile stretch of waterfront in downtown St. Pete. Part sculpture garden/part outdoor gym, Vinroy Park is named after the old Vinoy Park Hotel. Today visitors can book a stay at the Vinoy® Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. The hotel is a short distance from Vinoy Park, Tropicana Field and the Dali Museum.
Along my walk, I discovered a towering abstract blue and black sculpture consisting of two triangles. Tilting towards each other, they come together at the top. Called “Truth,” the steel piece was designed by Rolf Brommelsick (1980). When the sculpture fell into disrepair, St. Cate Fine Art worked with the city to successfully repair in 2018.
By the way, St. Pete residents love this park. Everywhere I saw young and old alike relaxing in the city’s “outdoor living room.” One couple worked feverishly to string a blue hammock between two trees. It reminded me of a hilarious saying about hammocks.
“A hammock. It’s like a giant net for catching lazy people.” (Jim Gaffigan)
Apparently, their plan was to spend a “lazy” afternoon just staring at the city’s high rises and listening to the lap of waves on the beach. This is my kind of vaca.
North Bay Trail
After spending your morning eating your way through the Farmers Market, you will definitely need some exercise. And St. Pete is the place to burn the calories. I highly recommend you walk a portion of the North Trail along the waterfront.
The views are extraordinary. You will be severely tempted to stop multiple times to sit on the grass or a nearby bench to just ponder life. Start at Albert Whitted Park to jump on the trail that leads you north past the Dali Museum and St. Pete Pier.
“This popular waterfront path through downtown St. Pete is chock full ‘o local eye candy.”
So live a little. Drop your load and sink onto a bench. Gaze out at the bay. Afterwards, you might rent a bike to connect to the Pinellas Trail. Or you can end your afternoon at one of the numerous bars and restaurants and order a craft beer. Pretty St. Pete will steal your heart. It did mine.
Hey St. Pete . . . “You are my Sunshine City.”
After I finished by whirlwind tour of St. Pete, I stopped on my ride back to Clearwater to visit Pass-A-Grille. Located at the southernmost tip of St. Petersburg Beach, this retro beach town could be a Key West-by-way-of-Gulf-Coast haunt for Hemingway. Time slows down and sometimes stops here.
Pass-A-Grille, Florida is beach town USA circa 1950s. Drive over to a beachside restaurant for a burger. Buy an ice cream cone. Fish off the pier. Jump in a motor boat. Fly a kite.
I saw every vintage of house from seaside shack to millionaire’s mansion. This is a Crayola crayon town. Houses are painted foam green, coral and lemon yellow. You walk through a rainbow of abode. The median price is $500,000. A 2-bedroom high rise condo on Gulf Blvd. costs $800,000+.
Other Things To Do In St. Pete
I didn’t get to see these places so I have to rely on other sources.
I bought a $25 ticket for the Dali Museum. There was a 9-day delay in getting a reservation due to covid. On the day before I departed Florida, I drove to St. Pete. I was so excited. Guess what? I forgot my wallet. No money, no parking. This burns me up. I will return Dali!
The Florida Holocaust Museum is on a fellow blogger’s Top 15 things to see in St. Pete. According to its website, the museum “honors the memory of millions of innocent men, women and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The Museum is dedicated to teaching the members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides.”