St. Petersburg, Florida, is a city located in the Tampa Bay region. This city has seen incredible growth over the last few years. Easily my favorite city in the entire state, if you haven’t been before then you are missing out. This city has so much to offer. I have spent a lot of time in this city and I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. Whether you live in St. Pete and are looking for new ideas or you are visiting, this list will take you through my favorite things to do in St. Petersburg FL. I’ll cover both St Pete Downtown as well as the surrounding areas. I hope after this guide, you’ll love this city as much as I do.
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My Favorite Things to Do in St. Petersburg FL
I’ve been visiting St. Petersburg for about five years now. And for those of you that don’t know, I recently moved to St. Pete and now call it home. Although I travel full time as a digital nomad, I have a home base in St. Pete. If you’ve read any of my other St Pete content you know that I absolutely love this city. There is so much to do, so many amazing people, and lots to offer. It is so unique compared to any other Floridian city. And hopefully, you’ll see why in my favorite things to do in St. Petersburg FL guide here!
1. Visit St. Pete Pier
My absolute favorite things to do in St. Petersburg FL is to visit the new St. Pete Pier. Recently reopened in 2020 after 3 years of renovations, St. Pete Pier is the latest and greatest addition to the city. With several restaurants, live music, a beach, a playground, and endless walking paths, this is the new crown jewel of the city. With the updated Pier, St. Petersburg is becoming one of the fastest growing cities in Florida.
The city already had a really young and lively vibe but this just improved it so much more. Although it may be more of a tourist spot than a local hangout, I absolutely love it. There is artwork all over the pier. There are events held here all the time and it’s a great place to just come enjoy being outside. Florida is such a beautiful state and has such great weather that something like this makes you really appreciate where you are. If you want to learn more about St. Pete Pier, I have a complete in-depth blog post about it that you can find here.
2. Lounge in a Hammock in Vinoy Park
If you are in the St Pete Downtown area, you will want to get a hammock for sure. The majority of the waterfront in St. Petersburg is a public park and there are trees everywhere. You will see so many people, and I’m talking like dozens, with their hammocks set up and just relaxing and enjoying the day. I’ve never been to a city that has so many trees along the water’s edge that are the perfect distance for this.
I got mine at Target for like $30 and it was totally worth it. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve brought my hammock down to the waterfront and spent hours here. It’s a great way to relax, read a book, maybe listen to some music and just enjoy the city life. I know this might seem like a silly thing to add to this list but it really is one of my favorite things to do in St. Petersburg FL.
3. Visit a Museum, There are lots of them.
Museums, museums, museums. There are so many museums in this small city. St. Pete is well known for having a great arts scene. The entire city is covered in art so it is no surprise that there are so many museums. You can find all different kinds of art styles in the many museums all over the city. Here’s a list of some of the most popular museums in downtown St. Pete.
- St Pete Downtown Museums
4. Visit Sunken Gardens
Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg Florida is a fantastic botanical garden that is situated downtown. In this beautiful garden, you’ll see over 50,000 amazing plants as you wander around the paths. It isn’t a particularly huge garden but is definitely worth a visit. You’ll even see beautiful flamingos in the center of the gardens. I must admit that I think the price is a little high for what it is, but that’s not really up to me to decide. Either way, Sunken Gardens is a great relaxing space in the middle of this major city.
5. Visit St. Pete Beach
One of the most popular beaches in all of Florida is St. Pete Beach. About a 15-20 minute drive from St Pete Downtown, this long stretch of beautiful beach is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. There are many different areas of the beach, all with different things to offer. I personally recommend the Pass-A-Grille area as being my favorite part of the beach. On this long stretch of beach, you’ll also find the famous Don CeSar hotel which is a beautiful pink hotel that has long been a major landmark for the region.
I could write an entire blog post just about St. Pete Beach itself as it is a very expansive area. The entire area is a very typical beach town with endless restaurants, hotels, shops, and activities. The beach itself is quite nice and the water is typically warmer than on the east coast of Florida. The gulf coast ocean water is much more enjoyable to swim in year-round. If you’ve ever swam in the ocean on Florida’s east coast in winter then you’ll know the water gets pretty cold. If you come to visit this area, I also highly recommend Fort DeSoto Park. This old fort is really beautiful and the entire surrounding area is a national park. The beach is relatively untouched here and it’s a great way to spend the day.
6. Go to Happy Hour at The Canopy and Bacchus Wine Bistro
One of my favorite things to do in St. Petersburg FL is to go to happy hour. There are lots of great happy hours all over the city. Drinking alcohol is a big part of St. Pete’s culture and the people in this city really like to have fun. And they know how to do it well. My personal favorite place to have drinks is at the Canopy at the Birchwood hotel. This hotel is located on the main street, Beach Drive, and has a rooftop bar with panoramic views. The bar is open to everyone, not just guests of the hotel. They have fantastic happy hour deals and the views of St Pete Downtown really can’t be beaten.
My second favorite place to come for happy hour is Bacchus Wine Bistro. Also located in St Pete Downtown, this wine bistro has some really fantastic wine specials as well as tapas. They have a really beautiful indoor area but try to sit outside if you can. You are right in the hustle and bustle of downtown life and it’s a great place to meet up with friends. They have really affordable happy hour pricing and everything is always top-notch. I really love it here. Visiting either of these places is a great option for things to do in St. Petersburg FL!
7. Bar Hop Along Central Avenue
As mentioned above, the people of St. Pete really love going out for drinks and having a great time. There are so many bars and cocktail lounges all over St Pete Down. The most popular place to “go out” is along Central Avenue in the heart of the city. There are some very popular “bar blocks” along Central Avenue and are home to some really great bars. Whether you enjoy a nice martini or doing shots and partying, there is something for everybody here. Since St. Pete has such a young culture, the party scene is very big here. I personally am more of a “have a martini and listen to jazz” type of guy, but everybody has their own thing. Here are some of my favorite places to go have a nice cocktail in St Pete Downtown.
- My Favorite Places for Cocktails in St. Petersburg FL
8. Explore the Amazing Coffee Culture in St Pete Downtown
St. Pete has some really incredible coffee shops. If you are a coffee lover like me, you’ll know just how enjoyable hopping around from coffee shop to coffee shop can be. St. Pete has some big name brand places but the best ones are the small mom-and-pop shops. My favorite coffee shop in St. Petersburg is definitely The Black Crow Coffee. They have two locations in St Pete Downtown and both are absolutely phenomenal. If you want to learn more about the coffee culture in St. Pete, you can check out my entire in-depth guide here.
9. Saturday Farmers Market
Every Saturday during certain months of the year, St Pete Downtown boasts one of my favorite things to do in St. Petersburg FL. And that would be the Saturday Morning Farmers Market. With over 125 local vendors, live music, food stands, and a feeling of community, this farmers market is a must see when visiting the city. I may just be a guy from a small town that isn’t used to such a large farmers’ market, but this is a really fun thing to do in my opinion.
I love to come on an empty stomach because there are food vendors with every kind of cuisine you could want. And they even have lots of vegan food options as well. Be sure to check out local merchants and buy some local produce. I love farmers’ markets because as a traveler this is a great way to feel involved in an area you’re visiting. And you are directly contributing to the community around you instead of shopping at the big brand stores. Buy local! Support the local community.
10. Go out to Dinner
This probably goes without saying, but St Pete has some really fantastic dining options. Any type of cuisine that you may want, there is probably an option for that downtown. One of my favorite things about this city is just how accommodating it is for people that are plant-based like me. If you are interested, I have put together an entire vegan food guide for the city of St. Petersburg that you can find here. But worry not if you are a meat-eater. There are great options for you as well. I just am not the one to tell you about them. No matter what you like to eat, you are certain to find something great for a night out on the town in St Pete downtown.
11. Explore the Many Waterfront Parks
One of my favorite things about St. Pete is all of the waterfront parks. If you visit other cities like Fort Lauderdale or Miami, you might find some public waterfront areas. But a lot of the waterfront has been developed as condos or resorts. St. Pete is super unique in that almost all of the waterfront is public space. These public spaces offer an incredibly unique living experience. The city really comes alive in these waterfront parks and there are lots of them to explore. Whether you are looking to work out, lounge or just people watch, here are my favorite parks in the city.
- Best St. Pete Parks
- Vinoy Park-The most popular park, Vinoy is a great place come to get great views of the city skyline and hang out. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and manatees! You’ll see them a lot.
- North Shore Park-Just north of Vinoy and connected, North Shore is a large expansive field where events are often held. There’s also a beach volleyball area with an outdoor workout area as well.
- St. Pete Pier-As mentioned before, the Pier is my favorite place to visit and it is obviously completely waterfront and public.
- North Straub Park-Situated right downtown, North Straub is a beautiful place to hang out and walkthrough.
- South Straub Park-Similar to North Straub, just located south of the Pier.
- Pioneer Park-This park is less visited than the others and is usually pretty empty. This is a great place for some solitude.
12. Explore the Many Murals Around St Pete
St Pete Downtown is an incredibly artsy scene. You’ll find hundreds of murals from local artists displayed on the many buildings downtown. Some are quite simple while others are very detailed. Next time you are walking around the city, slow down a bit and take in the sights. There is so much to see. I suggest getting off of the main roads to explore a little bit. You never know what is going to be one street over from your usual walk.
13. Visit Sawgrass Lake Park
If you are looking to escape the main downtown area for a bit, come to Sawgrass Lake Park. It is located only a few minutes drive from the main downtown but is a great refuge for some peace and relaxation. At this public park, you will see lots of wildlife usually including alligators. The walkway is elevated so you don’t have to worry about running into an alligator. But you can see them from above. The walkway empties out into several vantage points for great views of the lake. I highly recommend this for things to do in St. Petersburg FL.
14. Visit Gulfport
Gulfport is a neighboring town to St. Petersburg and has a lot of charm and character. Located about 15 minutes from St Pete Downtown, Gulfport is a great place to explore for the day. There are lots of cute little shops and restaurants along the main road. You can also explore the waterfront area. On certain days of the week, they even have a small farmers’ market setup here. My favorite place in Gulfport to eat is Golden Dinosaurs, which is a completely vegan deli. They have fantastic food and you can sit out front with views of the town. It is a very small town but has a lot of charm and is definitely worth visiting.
15. Visit Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is just a 30-minute drive north of St. Petersburg. This amusement park is very popular amongst visitors to the St. Pete area due to its proximity to St Pete Downtown. I haven’t been to Busch Gardens in years but it is definitely a very fun theme park. The entire theme park is African-themed, with different areas of the park representing different countries in Africa. The Busch Gardens in Virginia is similar but based on Europe instead of Africa.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has a similar feel to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The theme park is a mix of thrilling rides and viewing live animals. They even have an “African savanna” that takes you on a safari. The rides at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay are really great with every kind of ride you could want. The rollercoasters here are fantastic. Compared to Disney World and Universal Studios, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a more affordable option and a great addition to things to do in St. Petersburg FL!
St Pete Downtown Things to Do Conclusion
As you can see, there are lots of great things to do in St. Petersburg FL. This city really has stolen my heart and I hope this guide has inspired you to visit. Whether you visit the St Pete Downtown area or St Pete Beach, you will never be bored of activities. I genuinely hope you found this guide helpful and informative. If you enjoyed my content, please consider signing up for my email list to be notified of future content. Also, be sure to follow me on social media to stay up to date on all of my travels. Thank you so very much for visiting my website!