See the cathedrals. There are...
See the cathedrals. There are quite a few - Peter and Paul, Kazan and the interestingly named Bloody Christ (often translated as spilled blood). The view from my room included the golden dome (which I think was Kazan) and the onion domes of the bloody Christ.
Peter and Paul Cathedral is part of the fortress with the same name which contains the fantastic marble coffins of the last tsars. I was lucky enough to find myself in a cathedral as a service kicked off. As the babushkas started gathering and lighting tapers, the priest started up behind the iconastasis and was answered by the choir behind us. It's difficult to describe, but it was really moving. It was weird to only see old people in there - presumably people with memories or upbringing from before the Soviet atheism. I'm not religious, but it was like listening to an echo or something equally prosaic.
Isakievsky Cathedral, interior
The interior is excited and much richer than Pantheon interior. The cathedral would be have a name of semi-precious stones museum because here 43 sorts of stones used in the decorations. A group of painters took a part in the paintings of the wall as well as in mosaic making (Bryullov and Bruni as the most famous authors).
The Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev is probably the most acclaimed conductor in the world, and his theatre has done more than any other theatre in Russia to show that the transition from command economy to market economy is possible.
I don't think this qualifies as "off the beaten path" because it's right in the middle of town, but I've included this activity here because I don't think most people who come to visit St. Petersburg make it a point to come here. My new friend Christina took me here, and I found it to be quite depressing. I didn't feel the animals had satifactory accomidations - at least not in comparisson to the zoos we have back in the states.
Vyritsa is a saint place in Russia, people from all directons come here to pay a tribute and to pray to the relics of Seraphym Vyritsky. Seraphim is the saint of our days, he died sometime in the 50s of the last century. He perform a lot of wonders and is known as well for prediction, that decpite the blockade of Leningrad and a lot of fights around, Vyritsa would remain untouched by the enemy forces.
People usually write notes and requests, wishes and aspirations on small pieces of paper and put them near or under the shrine of St. Seraphym.