When you need a break from the sun and surf, step across the street and "take a walk into history".
A quaint museum, small enough to keep your interest, it houses many artifacts and photographs of the beginnings of the tourist trade on the beaches. Info about the wildlife found in the area, including nesting sea turtles and the elusive manatee can be found as well as audiovisual and other things to entertain the kids. Docents are always available to answer all your questions and maps of the surrounding historic homes will provide a self guided tour.
Gift Shop includes books by local authors.
The Museum has limited hours, as it is run solely by volunteers. Thurs-Sat open 10-4 Sun 1-4
While there can be a dearth of things to do on St. Pete Beach, save lie on the sand and soak up rays, there are some opportunities to explore. One is the nearby Egmont Key. This island was originally developed as a military base during the Spanish-American War, Fort Dade, and has served also as a military prison during the Seminole Wars, and currently lies empty for the most part. About an hour from St. Pete, it is a place to explore both above and below the water.
Take a trip out there, and start on the island itself. You can see the remnants of the old fort, including the jail cell and gun batteries. There is a long promenade of brickwork (quite impressive considering it all had to be shipped in) with other ruins of buildings. You can cruise the beach, shell hunt, and look for the turtles that live on the island. There is also a lighthouse, one of the most continually inhabited lighthouses in the country (though it is unmanned now) and dates back to the mid 19th century.
Then, there's under the water. Go snorkeling and see what lies beneath the waves. On the Gulf side of the island, some of the Fort's ruins lie there, and you can snorkel among them and look for fish. On the far side, you can see zebra wrasse and other fish among the sea grasses that line the water, along with sand dollars which live on the sand. Look for more shells, and enjoy the warm sunshine.
I was certified for scuba diving at age 13 but since I have not been diving in the past 5 years, I decided to get recertified. My boyfriend also decided to get certified so we took our classes in Virginia and decided to do our open water dives in Florida. Just as a warning, the weather in the Gulf changes daily and the bay is shallow so you have to go far out to do a proper dive. We were not able to do an ocean dive sadly, but we did our open water dives at Lake Denton and Rainbow River. Lake Denton was good for a controlled environment but there was little to see and I do not like diving with snapping turtles. Rainbow River was so worth it and it is the clearest water ever due to the spring water and it stays 72 degrees year round.
As far as who to dive with--do NOT dive with Narcosis Scuba Center (Tarpon Springs). They are rude and poorly managed. We were charged a cancellation fee even though we cancelled 24 hrs in advance. They kept losing our files and were not sure if we had been charged and they misrepresented where we would be diving.
DO dive with Jim's Dive shop (St. Petersburg). We had personal instruction and the dive instructor drove us around to all the dive sites which were over 1 hr each way. The prices are reasonable too.
While Tampa is about 30-40 minutes from St. Pete, it is worth visiting. The aquarium has an amazing amount of fish. I took so many pictures and I found this to be one of the better aquariums I have visited.
Shell Key is a quick boat ride from St. Pete. The beach is more of a laying out and looking for shells beach rather than for swimming. There are a lot of boats and jet skis coming close to shore which I found annoying for snorkeling. However, if you want to chance it, you can find some good sand dollars (only take the dead ones, not the lives ones). As its name suggests, there are a huge amount of shells that wash up on the beach--not great for walking around but fun for looking.
It is ranked the number one beach in the U.S. for a reason. The sand is white and powdery and the water is clear and blue. The fact that it is a park gives you lots of places to go so the beach is not too crowded. Visiting the actual fort built during the Spanish American War was pretty fun too.
Probably the most famous surreal painter of our time, this place is all his!! It started in Cleveland in the early 40's. A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse became intrigued by Dali's subject matter and draftsmanship after viewing a retrospective of the artist at the Cleveland Museum of Art. A year later, they bought their first painting, which led to a 40 year relationship with Dali himself. Until 1971, the Morses displayed thier over 200 Dali pieces in their home...they realized that these works were a retrospective in their own right and deserved their own permanent home. Later that year, with Dali presiding, they opened a museum near their Beachwood, Ohio office building. By the end of the 70's, the overwhelming number of visitors made the Morses realize they needed improved facilities. They decided on an old marine warehouse in St. Petersburg, where the museum has called home since 1982.
At the mouth of Tampa Bay, there is a 440 acre island that was once a camp for captured Seminoles and a Civil War Navy Base. It is now an animal refuge and State Park. There are fort ruins, an old lighthouse, and hiking/ nature trails. There are excursion companies that run out of St. Pete Beach that come out here. Off shore, there are submerged ruins that make for pretty good snorkeling (you need a boat to get out there). Some excursions bring you here to fish. It's fun just to walk around...great plant life and gopher tortoises everywhere. The beaches are beautiful and perfect for shelling. Bring a cooler for a picnic, but no alcohol is allowed because it is a state park!
A very long pier with restaurants and shops at the end. People also fish off the pier. Looks great at night.
Sit, relax and watch the sun going down. At St. Pete you can find a wooden pub where you can have a beer to see the sunset.
The colours and the atmosphere are worth it.
Sip (or gulp) a beach drink and watch the sun set. Crabby Bill's on St. Pete Beach is a good spot. Jason the Bartender makes a good Madras.