Planning a once-in-a-lifetime road trip through Florida? Put space in your itinerary to explore all the best things to do in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Located in Pinellas County along Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Pete Beach is known for stunning turquoise water and soft white sand, making it one of the top destinations on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The top tourist attractions in St. Pete Beach span historical museums, sandy beaches, and nature preserves. When you’re tired of being outside in the Florida sun, you can check out the many boutiques, art galleries, and brewing companies throughout the city. There are fun activities whether you’re on a family vacation or traveling solo.
Not sure what to do in St. Pete Beach? Start planning your dream trip with this complete guide to all the best places to visit in St. Pete Beach, FL.
Best places to visit in St. Pete Beach, FL
Shell Key Preserve
Located right in the mouth of Tampa Bay, Shell Key Preserve is a perfect spot to explore the waters and wildlife of St. Pete Beach. Set just south of town, the barrier island is only accessible by water. You can either bring your own boat or take the public ferry. If you feel like getting some exercise in, you can also kayak to the island.
Bring your camping gear: Shell Key Preserve has beautiful sand bars where you can pitch your tent under tall palm trees and clear blue skies. Hike the small trails through the island to get a glimpse of turtles and other marine life.
You can also rent kayaks and jet skis to explore the open water around the island. Make sure to bring your camera and swimsuit so you can get up close to the marine life teeming near the docks.
St. Pete Beach
Looking to just lay out and soak up the sun? St. Pete Beach is famous for its emerald green waters and soft white sand. The kids will love building sandcastles or swimming in the year-round warm water. Despite being the most beautiful beach in the area, it never gets too crowded.
The award-winning beach is also a short driving distance to many of the top tourist spots in St. Petersburg, FL, including Upham Beach Park and the Tradewinds Island Grand. You can also walk to many restaurants, pubs, and ice cream shops from the beach.
Gulf Beaches Historical Museum
Interested in learning about the history of St. Pete Beach while on holiday? The Gulf Beaches Historical Museum has permanent and rotating exhibits showcasing the legacy of the islands and beaches along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Browse the photo collection to see how the Gulf Beaches impacted World War II. You can also take a peek at Don Cesar artifacts and the story of Silas Dent. Take your time with a self-guided tour or let museum workers guide you through the exhibits.
On some weekends, the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum even has dessert tours and sampling. Make sure to check out the collection of old newspaper clippings on your way out and hit up the gift shop to bring a souvenir to take home.
For a truly laid-back and authentic Floridian experience, head to Pass-a-Grille Beach. Feeling like a small and quaint beach town, Pass-a-Grille offers ample parking; you’ll never have to fight for a spot like at the most popular beaches in the Clearwater & St. Pete area. This lovely public beach is a fantastic place to sunbathe with locals or go for a dip in the cool water.
When you’re done at Pass-a-Grille Beach, make sure to check out the small historic downtown area. Grab a scoop of homemade ice cream and shop in the local boutiques. You can also play a family game of tennis or fish from the pier if you have a license.
In the evening, snack on some local seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants or grab a beer and take in the breathtaking sunsets from one of the rooftop bars.
John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk
John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk has some interesting history worth checking out while you’re in St. Pete Beach. First created by a hurricane in 1848, John’s Pass got its name from pirate John Levique.
One of the top tourist attractions in Pinellas County, John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk feels like a small and quaint fishing village. The village has over one hundred merchants. Bring comfortable shoes and spend the day or evening visiting the merchant stalls.
While at John’s Pass, get your adrenaline pumping with some parasailing or jet skiing. You can also spend laid-back time on the water through a boat or shelling tour.
Unwind from the adventure by spending the evening boutique shopping or visiting the local restaurants. Make sure to grab a spot by the waterfront for the sunset to catch a few glimpses of the dolphins.
Upham Beach Park
For a simple and quiet beach day, head to Upham Beach Park. The waves here are always small, making Upham a perfect place for swimming with small children.
Most people come to Upham Beach Park for the sunsets during their stay in St. Pete Beach. Grab a seat on the sand and watch the streaking colors of red, orange, and pink.
Unfortunately, the sandy beach has red tide from time to time. Make sure to check local reports or the news while in the area. It’s best not to visit Upham Beach Park during red tide since the toxins are harmful to humans and marine life. (Don’t worry, though, the red tide doesn’t happen too often!)
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
Looking for some nature right in the middle of the city? Located just 15 minutes south of downtown St. Petersburg, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is full of nature activities for the whole family.
Start your day by paying a visit to the Lake Maggiore Environmental Education Center to look at some exhibits or take a class or two on birding or wildlife watching. You can also spend the day hiking along one of the trails in Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Bring some binoculars and see if you can spot a rare bird or two.
If you feel like staying overnight in the preserve, you can get a camping permit at the education center. Bring along your tents and mosquito spray and set up camp at the newly renovated Terry Tomalin Campground.
Located along the beautiful Gulf Coast, Madeira Beach is home to warm waters and pure white sand. The small beach town is just north of St. Pete Beach, but worth the few minutes extra drive. The beach is 2.5 miles long, with plenty of space to lay under your beach umbrella and read a book.
At Madeira Beach, there’s a designated spot for fishing. Bring your fishing rod and some bait to catch fresh grouper for dinner.
If you’re visiting in October, check out the annual Seafood Festival at Madeira Beach. Sample fresh shrimp and grab a plate at the oyster bar. You can also enjoy live music and buy music from local artists.
Fort DeSoto Park
Fort DeSoto Park is the largest park in Pinellas County, with 1,136 acres of interconnected islands. You can hike or kayak through mangroves, wetlands, and palm hammocks. Take a self-guided tour through the historic fort to learn more about the Spanish-American War.
Located in Tierra Verde south of St. Pete Beach, Fort DeSoto Park has over 7 miles of beaches where you can stretch out and enjoy the sun. Don’t feel like swimming in the ocean? The park also has two large swimming centers where you can grab food and drinks. There are also paved hiking trails, several playgrounds, and a dog park.
Located on the very southern tip of Treasure Island, Sunset Beach is full of locals and tourists enjoying the Florida sun and palm trees. The beachfront bars make it popular among young travelers and those looking to get a little rowdy while on vacation. The bright colorful houses and fun tiki huts are great photo opportunities as well.
In the evening, stroll along the fishing pier and watch the sunset streaking across the horizon. The waterfront restaurants have a spectacular view of the water and serve fresh-caught fish every day.
Weekends and evenings at Sunset Beach can get crowded. Make sure to make dinner reservations in advance and get to the beach early to snag a close parking spot.
Visiting St. Pete Beach for fishing or boating? Merry Pier is one of the top places to go in St. Pete Beach for both activities.
Merry Pier has everything you need for fishing, including rod rentals, live boats, and frozen bait. Spend a few hours along the fishing pier and see if you can catch some flounder, redfish, or mackerel. If you don’t get lucky, you can always buy fish at the Fresh Fish Market.
Party boats also leave Merry Pier for half and full-day trips if you want to explore the water and see the city skyline from a different perspective. You can also catch a shuttle to Shell Key Preserve from Merry Pier.
Sea Dog Brewing Company
Looking to try some locally made beers? Located on nearby Treasure Island, Sea Dog Brewing Company is a large brewery with breathtaking waterfront views and a bayside dock where you can sit and enjoy a pint or two.
Sea Dog Brewing Company also dishes out a full food menu if you get hungry. Choose from classic American bar food or get a gulf-inspired creation, such as shrimp or fresh fish.
For those who don’t love beer, the brewhouse also spins up a large handcrafted cocktail menu. The numerous TVs in the bar play NFL games and other sports. It’s a great place to visit with friends to watch a game and get a few drinks.
If you love tropical plants and magnificent gardens, the Sunken Gardens in St. Pete should have a spot on your Florida bucket list. The botanical gardens are over 100 years old and feature some of the oldest plants in the region. Strap on some comfortable shoes and meander down the garden paths to see over 50,000 tropical plants.
Grab a spot on one of the many benches and take in the sounds of the cascading waterfalls and the birds chirping. Sunken Gardens is a relaxing place to see flamingos and different species of flowers. You can also take a private garden tour or participate in a horticultural program at this living museum.
Caddy’s on the Beach
For some of the best views of Tampa Bay, make time in your schedule to eat at Caddy’s on the Beach. Featuring waterside dining and a laid-back beachside bar, the restaurant is casual and relaxed. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing meal & drinks after leaving the beachfront.
Caddy’s on the Beach offers daily drink promotions and happy hour. You’ll also love perusing an extensive food menu, including beach favorites like crab cakes, fish tacos, and sandwiches.
There’s plenty of entertainment on offer, too. Most nights, there’s a local band playing live music. On the weekend, you can even participate in sunrise and sunset yoga classes.
Corey Avenue Shopping District
Wedged between the Gulf of Mexico and Boca Ciega Bay, you’ll find the Corey Avenue Shopping District. It’s just a few blocks, but there are endless shopping and souvenir buying opportunities.
Most of the specialty boutiques along Corey Ave are locally owned. Spending your hard-earned dinero here is a great way to support the local economy and local artists.
On your Corey Ave visit, sample cheese and wine at the gourmet food shops or buy locally made crafts and paintings. Or pamper yourself with a massage or facial at one of the spas along the street or on nearby Gulf Blvd. Traveling with your furry friend? There’s even a pet spa and groomer here!
Sand Key Park
Looking to spend half the day at the beach and the other half with the kids at the park? Located on a barrier island south of Clearwater Beach, Sand Key Park offers both a beautiful beach and a well-equipped park. It’s the perfect spot to grill some burgers for lunch and eat under the pavilion while the kids play at one of the many playgrounds.
At Sand Key Park, you’ll also find a salt marsh. Take a short walk and sit on one of the viewing benches to see great-horned owls or wild herons lurking about.
The ocean water is shallow at Sand Key’s beaches, and there’s always a lifeguard on duty. It’s a great beach for the kids and to spend a day in the sun with the family.
Pass-A-Grille Historic District
Looking for lodging options or some shopping? Pass-A-Grille Historic District is a small and quaint historical area perched on the Gulf Coast. Unlike the beachfront area on Gulf Blvd, the historic district doesn’t have high-rise hotels and condos. Instead, you can spend your evenings in a small cottage or inn with stunning views of beach sunsets.
Pass-A-Grille Historic District has some of the best restaurants in the St. Pete Beach area. Have a fancy night out or grab a takeaway and bring it back to your cottage. The eclectic shops also feature unique clothes, antiques, and funky souvenirs to remember your stay in St. Pete Beach.