Perched upon the shores of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg is one of West Central Florida’s most popular urban destinations. And like neighboring Tampa and Clearwater, there are plenty of fun things to do in St. Petersburg, FL.
Nicknamed the “Sunshine City,” St. Petersburg is famed for its sunny weather. Many of the top tourist attractions in St. Petersburg take full advantage of its bright skies and warm climate. Around St. Pete, you’ll enjoy beautiful beaches and lovely state parks teeming with wildlife. In town, you’ll browse art galleries, sip brews at craft breweries, and revel in its innovative food scene.
Ready to discover what to do in St. Petersburg, FL? Plan the ultimate trip to the Tampa Bay area with this guide to the best places to visit in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Must-see places to visit in St. Petersburg, FL
The Dali (Salvador Dali Museum)
Only visiting St. Petersburg in one day? Make your first stop The Dali (Salvador Dali Museum). Located on Dali Boulevard, the museum hosts the world’s second-largest collection of Salvador Dali’s works. Even if you’re not an art history buff, The Dali is one of the coolest places to see in St. Petersburg.
The Dali Museum’s collection spans some of the artist’s finest works. Included are hundreds of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, graphics, and photographs. The collection of paintings also includes several Dali masterpieces. Most striking is the multi-story surrealist masterwork, The Hallucinogenic Toreador.
On the way out, be sure to stop at The Dali’s gift shop. Grab a unique Dali souvenir for yourself or the surrealist art lover in your life!
Located in the city of Clearwater to the west, Clearwater Beach is one of the finest beaches in the Tampa Bay area. The beach is famed for its perfect white sand, fun water activities, and spring break vibes. For beach bums, visiting Clearwater Beach is one of the most popular things to do around St. Petersburg.
If you’re up for a little adventure, you can enjoy water sports like jet skiing, paddle boarding, and parasailing. Or simply enjoy the sea breeze with a relaxing walk along the shoreline. Stop at one of the beach’s seafood restaurants, coffee shops, or bars. Enjoy a memorable seaside chill-out session with some delicious food, craft beers, and cocktails.
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To max out the Clearwater Beach experience, check out Pier 60. Jutting out from the center of the beach, the fishing pier is a popular hangout spot for locals & travelers alike. Pier 60 is famed for its nightly sunset celebrations. Join in to watch street performers and musicians entertain while the sun falls below the Gulf.
Clearwater Beach is also a great jumping-off point for exploring the Gulf of Mexico. Hop onto one of the boat tours embarking from the barrier island. Delight in a dolphin-watching adventure or a sunset cruise on the deep blue water.
Florida Holocaust Museum
While it’s a somber affair, the Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the most important museums in St. Petersburg, FL. For history buffs, the museum is among the top St. Petersburg tourist attractions and a must-see.
The Florida Holocaust Museum’s permanent collection assembles unique artifacts. The exhibitions include photos, documents, and personal effects. Its moving exhibits weave together a narrative of those who suffered or died during the Holocaust. It also enlightens about the braves soul who risked their own lives to lend a helping hand to Survivors.
The museum is open from Friday to Sunday between 10 am to 3 pm.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Need a break from the beach and cultural activities? Spend an hour or two at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The aquarium is famed for its sea life rehabilitation and conservation efforts. Its remarkable efforts have even garnered attention on the silver screen in Dolphin Tale.
Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see the heartwarming movie’s star, Winter the Dolphin. After losing her tail, Winter was rehabilitated by the aquarium’s staff. Her journey back to health inspired the touching film. Today, you’ll still be able to spot Winter frolicking with her Clearwater aquarium friends.
After checking out the exhibits, save time for a meal at the on-site Island Way Grill. Serving high-brow seafood with an Asian twist, it’s a great place to dig into the city’s food scene to views over Causeway Blvd to the sea.
PRO TIP: Want to save time and avoid line-ups? Book your Clearwater Marine Aquarium Admission online! Or save by combining entry to the aquarium with several other top area attractions with the Tampa Bay CityPASS.
Fort De Soto Park
The largest park in Pinellas County, Fort De Soto Park sprawls 1,136 acres of islands between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The popular nature park is one of the most beguiling places to go in St. Petersburg for outdoor enthusiasts.
Fort De Soto Park gets its name from its historic military fortress at its southwest tip. Built to defend Tampa Bay during the Spanish-American War, Fort De Soto finished up the skirmish without firing a single shot. Nonetheless, you’ll still see a handful of cool historical artifacts here. Keep your eyes peeled for its National Historic Register emplacements.
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Better yet, spend time enjoying the seaside pleasures at Fort De Soto Beach. Don your swimsuit to frolic in the emerald waters of this popular beach, named one of America’s finest. If swimming’s not your thing, poke out onto the pier for some fishing or rent a kayak to paddle around the island.
Got time and energy left after your Fort De Soto Park visit? Take the ferry to the neighboring Egmont Key National Wildlife Reserve. Accessible only by water, the former military base now protects several endangered species, including gopher tortoises.
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
Located four miles south of downtown, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is near the top of the list of what to see in St. Petersburg for nature lovers. The 245-acre nature preserve sits on the site of a former zoo & botanical gardens. It’s admired by locals for its abundant wildlife and beautiful views over St. Pete.
Perched on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is the perfect place to get in touch with Pinella County’s wilderness. Wander along its 3-mile main loop and five side trails to admire its slash pine forests, marshes, and swamps.
After your visit, venture south to the tip of the peninsula to Pinellas Point Park. The small, quiet park delivers fantastic views over Tampa and the magnificent Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
Searching for a new favorite fishing spot? Grab your rod & reel and plonk down at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. Reaching state park status in 1994, the pier extends four miles into Tampa Bay.
Skyway Fishing Pier State Park runs parallel to the massive Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The fishing pier repurposes the Skyway Bridge’s original expanse, following its 1980 collapse.
At the pier, anglers can reel in various local fish species, including black sea bass, snook, and tarpon. Not into fishing? Dust off your camera to capture the park’s incredible views over the bay and the bridge.
Sawgrass Lake Park
Spanning 400 acres north of the city, Sawgrass Lake Park encompasses one of the Gulf Coast’s largest maple swamps. For experiencing nature in the heart of one of the state’s most populated areas, it’s among the top St. Petersburg points of interest.
Visit Sawgrass Lake Park to stroll along its mile-long elevated boardwalk. On the way, you’ll spot diverse wildlife from herons and ibises to alligators and turtles. Be sure to climb up its observation tower for a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the park.
Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail
Want to get active on your St. Pete trip? Tune up your bike and pedal along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail. The multi-use recreational trail stretches 38 miles from St. Pete to Tarpon Springs along a former rail bed. For active travelers, it’s one of the top points of interest in St. Petersburg. It offers a fun way to explore Pinellas County’s cities, including Clearwater, Dunedin, and Largo.
You can jump onto the Pinellas Trail in downtown St. Petersburg around the Waterfront Arts District. The trip to Clearwater via Largo is 20 miles and should take about two hours. You can also extend your cycling trip another 14 miles north to Tarpon Springs via Dunedin and Palm Harbor.
Five minutes north of downtown, Sunken Gardens is a fantastic escape from the bustle of St. Pete. Often dubbed the city’s oldest living museum, the botanical paradise houses some of West Central Florida’s most colorful native tropical plants.
Spend time wandering through its lush landscapes, soaking up exotic species from around the globe. Among its 50,000 plants & flowers, the 100-year-old Sunken Gardens also feature beautiful waterfalls and a butterfly aviary.
Hop onto one of the Sunken Gardens’ garden tours to learn more about its fascinating flora mix.
Duncan McClellan Gallery
In the heart of St. Pete’s Warehouse Art District, the Duncan McClellan Gallery is one of the city’s coolest hidden gems. The art gallery showcases modern works from renowned American and international glass artists.
Besides the 3,000 square feet of gallery space, the facility also features a lush outdoor sculpture garden. The Duncan McClellan Gallery is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, except Sundays when it opens at 12 pm.
Museum of Fine Arts
Located on Beach Drive in the Waterfront Arts District, the Museum of Fine Arts is a must-stop for art lovers. The impressive art museum spans over 5,000 years of art history. Its collections feature over 20,000 works from around the globe.
Famed artists at the Museum of Fine Arts include the impressionist French painter Claude Monet and modernist American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The museum is also home to one of the finest photography collections in the Southeastern USA.
Morean Arts Center
Dating back to 1917, the Morean Arts Center has long been a fixture in the St. Pete art scene. The organization, once known as the Art Club of St. Petersburg, helps to promote art to the great community. It offers everything from art classes and summer art camps to world-class exhibition spaces.
The Morean Arts Center operates several art venues around St. Petersburg’s Central Arts District. The most interesting for many travelers is the stunning Chihuly Collection. Located across from the main building, the collection displays world-famous American glass artist Dale Chihuly’s finest pieces.
Sand Key Park
Want to escape downtown St. Pete? Venture 45 minutes northwest to Sand Key Park. Located south of Clearwater Beach, the barrier island is the perfect getaway for families, solo travelers, and couples.
Sand Key Park spans 95 acres of sandy beaches and salt marshes. Drift along its nature trail to spot the park’s birdlife, including herons, spoonbills, and great horned owls.
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Ditch the crowds of the most popular beaches in St. Petersburg, FL, by visiting Sand Key Park in the evening. It’s a glorious place to dazzle at a spectacular Gulf Coast sunset.
Looking to spark some excitement? Whizz over Old Tampa Bay to Busch Gardens. Located in the city of Tampa, the theme park is one of the must-do day trips from St. Petersburg. Busch Gardens fuses together the thrills of an amusement park with the intrigue of a zoo for an experience like none other.
To get your adrenaline pumping, dare to zip down the Iron Gwazi. With its reopening in 2021, the remodeled Iron Gwazi is set to be the fastest hybrid wood-steel rollercoaster in the world.
Chill out from the high-octane rush with a visit to the park’s world-class Serengeti Safari. The animal habitat features over 200 exotic species, including lions, giraffes, and elephants.
PRO TIP: Avoid line-ups at the popular Tampa Bay park by booking your Busch Gardens Ticket online in advance!
John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk
Named after famed pirate John Levique, who first passed through in 1848, John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is one of the most interesting St. Pete tourist attractions. Located across the water from Treasure Island in Madeira Beach, the area still holds the vibe of a turn-of-the-century village. The waterfront at John’s Pass teems with boutique shops and restaurants along with a smattering of tour companies.
If you’re looking to hit the water, gear up and hop onto an adrenaline-pumping parasailing or jet-skiing excursion. For a more laid-back day on the Gulf, embark on a fishing charter, dolphin cruise, or shelling tour.
After your sightseeing adventures, spend the evening perusing the shops around John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. Pull up a chair at one of the many waterfront seafood restaurants to enjoy a sunset meal with dolphins splashing around the distance.
Upham Beach Park
Want to enjoy one of St. Pete’s 361 average days of sunshine a year? Slip over to Upham Beach Park. Located in the beachside town of St. Pete Beach, the beautiful beach is one of the St. Pete area’s most popular spots for a relaxing day on the water.
Aside from the gentle surf that’s perfect for the little ones, Upham Beach is famed for its sunsets. After a day splashing around the sea, take a seat and let the blazing colors overtake you.
Want to experience Central Florida’s seaside charms without leaving the city? Traipse over to Vinoy Park, perched on Tampa Bay just minutes from Downtown St. Pete. Named after the historic Vinoy Renaissance Resort, the park offers some of the city’s most epic waterfront views.
Thanks to its fantastic location, Vinoy Park is the perfect spot to breathe in some fresh air after a long day of soaking up St. Pete’s urban and cultural charms. Take a walk or bike ride along its recreational trails as you dazzle at spectacular vistas over Tampa Bay.
If you’re an early bird, the east-facing beach at Vinoy Park is a superb place to catch an epic Florida sunrise.
Although only seven blocks wide, St. Pete’s Edge District is one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods to explore. The area is wedged east and west between Dr. MLK Jr. Street and 16th Street, with 1st Avenue North & South forming its upper and lower boundaries.
Immensely walkable, the Edge District is the perfect place to dig into St. Pete’s hip cultural scene. The main drag bursts with indie shops and trendy restaurants & bars alongside eye-catching street art.
One of the most popular things to do in St. Petersburg, FL, is to sink your teeth into some blissful Asian food at Hawkers Asian Street Food or Buya Ramen. Or slake your thirst with a pint of craft beer at the popular Green Bench Brewing Company.
Recommended places to stay in St. Petersburg for sightseeing
For travelers, many of the best places to stay in St. Petersburg, FL, fall within its quirky Downtown. The area is home to many of the city’s most popular hotels and the top St. Petersburg sightseeing hotspots. You’ll also find a string of excellent hotels in Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Madeira Beach.
Located blocks from the center of town, this value-laden boutique hotel is one of the city’s top accommodation picks. Besides the excellent location, the heated outdoor pool and poolside bar get big thumbs-ups from travelers.
Steps away from the waterfront, this popular mid-range hotel is a fantastic choice for families and couples alike. Rooms are modern, spacious, and comfortable. You’ll also enjoy access to an outdoor pool and fitness center.
One of St. Pete’s top luxury picks, this historic hotel shows off a striking 1920s American style. You’ll love sipping a sundowner to lovely Tampa Bay and skyline views at the hotel’s classy rooftop bar.