An update: the pier has closed. The long-term plan to redevelop it ended up going through, leaving the supporters attempting to save it in the dust. It will be torn down and rebuilt as something supposedly more "modern" over the next several years.
Although the Pier, architecturally, screams early '70's post-modernism, it couldn't be more charming. Leading out to the pier is a sidewalk-flanked roadway over the water. Along the walkway or shelters and various interpretative signs about the ecology of Tampa Bay. There are meters on the roadway ($0.75 per hour in September 2011) and $3/day parking at the end. There is a free trolley that runs from the pier and into Downtown every 10-15 minutes.
The first floor consists mostly of tourist-oriented shops. There are art stores, t-shirt stores, a store dedicated to Florida beer and wine, and a couple of cafes serving drinks and desserts. There is also an information booth providing tourist info on both the pier and the city itself. Outside on the back of the pier, there are shaded picnic tables and a stage where there is often live music.
The upper floors are restaurants, with the top floor being half the Cha Cha Coconuts restaurant/bar (popular and with a great patio) and half an observation deck. The observation deck provides a 360-degree view of both the bay and the St. Pete skyline. It's great at sunset.
There are bike rentals available at the front as well as a dolphin cruise stand and a pelican feeding stand.
A trip to St. Pete without a walk down Beach Drive is incomplete! Stop at 2nd Ave S. for a sip of incredibly good local Kahwa coffee and a peek into the local life. Then walk down to main Beach Drive, walk down the strip of sidewalk cafes. Stop for a sip at Tryst with its loungey feel, or stroll through Vinoy Park and grab a gelato at Italian owned Paciugo's (the best gelato in Tampa Bay)
For a romantic twist, jump on a horse-drawn carriage; or if you like art and culture go into the MFA or the famous Chihuly glassworks museum instead. Walk into the Vinoy, a historic hotel with a vibe that mixes old with new. A day well spent!:)
For those of you visiting the Tampa Bay area with children it is nice to know that we have a ton of free/cheap parks, playgrounds and pools. The kids will have a blast and your wallet won't be empty afterwards.
Here are a few I thought that were mentioning.
1) Highland Family Aquatic Center is more like a mini water park then a pool @ 400 Highland
Ave, Largo.(small charge) http://www.largo.com/department/division.php?fDD=13-176
2) Huge circus-themed playground @ 2050 Adams Lane, Sarasota @ offers two areas for different
age groups: an area for children ages 2-to-5 and one for ages 5-to-12. The playground
encompasses one-half acres and more than 300 children can play simultaneously.
These links will give extensive lists about other great places to go.
Tampa Bay times list of 10 water playgrounds
City of Tampa's list of playgrounds
List of indoor playgrounds (these all charge)
Tampa Bay Onlines List of playgrounds in Tampa - will give you one one closest to you.
Orlando Playground guide (some of these will be worth the drive). Website has pictures -
For a complete list of all the Tampa city parks and what they offer (remember neighborhoods
also have parks that are not on this list):
Pinellas county parks - http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/default.htm
John's Pass Boardwalk
John's Pass Boardwalk is an interesting wharf-like collection of shops and restaurants along the bank of an inlet that separates the communities of Madeira Beach and Treasure Island. It is also a popular launching point for recreational activities (e.g. parasailing). For updated information on restaurants and shops, click here.
The Pier is an unusual complex of shops, restaurants, and even an aquarium, that extends out from Downtown St. Petersburg into Tampa Bay. The Pier is also a site for special events and is now also illuminated with a light show at night. When I visited as a child my parents bought some fish there to feed the pelicans that like to hang out here. It is quite an experience to find yourself face-to-face with the large, agape beak of a hungry pelican! For updated information on what shops and restaurants are there today, and to see a virtual tour, click here.
The Salvador Dalí Museum sits between Albert Whitted Airport and Al Lang Field in downtown. This is the largest Dali collection in the world, with 96 oil paintings, 100 watercolors and drawings, and 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and other objects.
Salvador Doménec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain. He is famous for bizarre images and surrealist work.
The museum's collection was established by A. Reynolds Morse & Eleanor R. Morse. From the 1940s until 1982, the Morses displayed their collection in the Cleveland, Ohio, then it moved to a warehouse in St. Pete. The new location, designed by famous stadium architects HOK, opened in January 2011.
Entry is expensive at about $20 a person, with some discounts for students, military, and elderly. It's really not worth the high price, so you might consider going during one of their discounted evenings ($10 after 5pm
What's nice about downtown St. Petersburg is that all the areas of interest are located in a compact area downtown. Just find a place to park and walk everywhere. There is some interesting buildings with cool designs for architecture and photography buffs. Some very creative looking condos all over. Also, everything is surrounded by water, so there are some great parks all around the bay area to stroll. All the museums are located around the bay too. You can walk to the Pier as well as the shopping center called Bay Walk, which has a great movie theater. Central avenue is the place to go for restaurants and nightlife. Just make sure you watch out for the homeless which are situated around many of the parks downtown. They seemed relatively harmless though, I never really got hasseled.
fort desoto is located on mullet key in the fort desoto county park. the fort was built to defend tampa bay during the spanish american war. construction of the fort began in 1898 and it was completed in 1903. the fort was active until the 1920's. at the fort there are four seacoast mortars which are the only ones that still exist in the united states. for those interested in military history fort desoto is an interesting place to visit when in saint petersburg.
located at johns pass is a replica pirate ship that takes a cruise to the gulf. the pirate ship at johns pass has a show and "battles" using water cannons and squirt guns. a fun, touristy thing to do with children. see the attached web site for times and prices.
The Pier has a little aquarium. Great for kids. Besides having quite a few tanks for of exotic fishes it also houses a touch tank (where you can touch starfish etc) and a little store.
++ sorry guys the Aquarium is no longer FREE. Its now $5. I believe its $3 on Sundays. +++
I always manage to spend at least 30 minutes here every time I go
This is a full service resort and spa. It is Tampa oldie but has been recently renovated.
Offers 50 spa and salon treatments
* a 50,000 sq. ft. AVEDA spa & fitness center
* 35 wet and dry treatment rooms
* Full service salon
* Men’s and Women’s locker rooms with shower amenities
* Signature spa robe
* Assorted spa/recreation refreshments
This Smithsonian owned museum in downtown St. Petersburg hosts a variety of interesting rotating exhibits. They range from mundane to rather eccentric.
When I went, there was an exhibit on the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as Barbie's 45th Anniversary commemoration. Other exhibits have been artifacts from the State Russian Museum, a baseball/pop art collection, and a Hubble telescope recreation.
See my St. Petersburg travelogues for more photos of the exhibits.
General admission is $10, seniors $8, students $5, under 6 are free.
This island is off the coast, nearby Dunedin. The beach on Caladesi is world-renowned, and is consistently ranked as one of the best in the US. This beach is never crowded. In order to reach it, you have to take a ferry from Honeymoon Island in Dunedin. It is a great place to relax in white sand and enjoy tranquility.
There are also 3 miles of hiking trails and a 108-slip marina on the island.
In St Pete across the bridge - This museum is associated with the Smithsonian and has different roving exhibits - many of these exhibits are out of this world (Gold of the Czars, King Tuts Tomb, Titanic, Gold of the Inca's) some of which are out of this world - check to see what is there when you are here.
@@@@@NOTE THE MUSEUM IS NOW CLOSED@@@@
CHECK THE MUSEUM'S WEBSITE IN NOVEMBER 2011 FOR SPECIAL VISIT ANNOUNCEMENTS
Prices WILL vary depending on the exhibit (common price listed below)
$15 Senior (Age 62 and older) and Military- $12 on Monday, Tuesday and Wed
$ 5 Students (Age 7 and older)
Free (Age 6 and younger)
$10 Groups (10 or more)
$ 5 School groups (Chaperones are free)
The world's largest collection of works by Salvador Dali at Florida's highest rated museum.
The Dali Museum is also the second highest rated attraction of St Pete (the highest is the beaches) before they DOUBLED the museum size in January 11, 2011. Note the expanded museum is at a new location that is a few blocks away from its old location: One Dali Boulevard St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Be sure to attend one of the museums many free tours. Note free art museum seats are at the back of the museum (by the larger works) and are nice to grab at the beginning of the tour.
the museum also has a great store that seems to snag about everyone who visits for a few dollars.
If you are planning on doing other tourist activities or just want to see the area a bit the museum is on the St Pete (tourist) trolley route fair is 25 cents each time you board. See http://www.loopertrolley.com/SchedulesFares.html
Seniors 65+, Military, Police and Firefighters: $19
Children 13 to 18 & students 18+ with ID: $15
Children 6 to 12: $7
Children 5 and younger: free
After 5 p.m. on Thursday: $10
NOTE there is a $3 off coupon on the Dali website below
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10:00am - 5:30pm
Thursday: 10:00am - 8pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00am - 5:30pm
Sunday: 12 noon – 5:30pm