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    Saint Petersburg Florida: discovering the city of the bright sun

    Who I am
    Martí Micolau
    @martímicolau
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    We love the sun and let ourselves be carried away by the inviting nickname “the sunshine city”. We are in Florida and we are going to check with our eyes what the nickname of Saint Petersburg corresponds to the truth. Precisely because of the benevolent climate, the advertising initiative conceived in 1910 by Mayor Brawn, owner of the Evening Independent newspaper, continues today, who decided to distribute a free copy of the newspaper on rainy days. Luckily we haven't experienced firsthand how true the story is because the good weather is supporting us, but apparently people say it is.



    When in the distance you begin to glimpse the skyline you have the first sign of an architecturally harmonious and active town and then discover how careful it is to promote the activities that enhance its Marina, but not only, with an eye also to catering, to shopping and art. Enjoy the many points of interest that the city offers and is developing, the pretty neighborhoods and the sunshine that the city is internationally known for. Have fun exploring and don't forget to include St. Pete Beach.

    Index

    • What to see in Saint Petersburg
      • Beach Drive
      • Pier Park
      • Salvador Dalì Museum
      • The natural parks
      • The neighborhoods of Saint Petersburg
    • The events of Saint Petersburg
    • Where to eat
    • Where sleeping in Saint Petersburg
    • St. Pete Beach and surroundings
    • How to reach Saint Petersburg

    What to see in Saint Petersburg


    With more than 260.000 inhabitants, Saint Petersburg is the fifth most populous urban agglomeration in Florida, in Pinellas County, on a peninsula in the Tampa Bay connected to the city of the same name on the Gulf of Mexico by three long bridges over the water. The nice abbreviation St. Pete it is an affectionate way of calling the city by the locals who thus distinguish it from the high-sounding homonymy with the Russian metropolis.



    Beach Drive

    Take a long walk Beach Drive means to grasp one of the most aesthetically interesting city essences: shops and boutiques, museums and galleries of excellence as well as excellent catering opportunities for all tastes and budgets in a context of light, architecture with warm and harmonious colors, all in an area full of greenery near the Marina, a couple of blocks from downtown (Central Ave. N. and 2nd St.N.) which also houses cafes, pubs and shops.

    Traveling Beach Drive and its surroundings in a horse-drawn carriage is a captivating option. A pedestrian walkway follows the outline of the Marina where we see the sign to pay attention to manatees (manatee), an important warning for those who sail the waters of the bay and the gulf on board a boat.

    Pier Park

    Il Pier Park (800 2nd Ave. NE) has always been an icon of the city, with an imposing construction that stood out at the end of a long walkway, but since 2016 a new futuristic pier is under construction and will be inaugurated in 2019 with a whole other dresses.

    The architects, engineers and workers are giving life to an ultra modern and functional structure that will host a series of activities and points of interest to satisfy all tastes and all ages starting from the walkway itself which will be much wider up to a new landmark building (among many things there will be: a fishing pier and mooring for boats, a floating platform, restaurants, an open-air market, stalls, an education center, water-themed attractions, play areas, a beach and much more; it will be called a "pleasure park").


    The project is ambitious but certainly successful with a renovated waterfront that also houses works of art. Until 2012, when he was not visiting elsewhere, here was the replica of the Bounty, the galleon used for the remake of the film of the same name. Unfortunately, the destructive momentum of Hurricane Sandy caused it to sink into the North Carolina coast.


    Salvador Dalì Museum

    The best-known cultural attraction in the country is the Salvador Dalì Museum (1 Dali Blvd. - downtown) located in a modern building whose architecture is a linear and curvilinear mix in which the blue color stands out on the white base. The museum is dedicated to the Catalan artist Salvador Dalì exponent of the surrealist movement. His works reflect his great imagination, extravagance and eccentricity. Here is the largest collection of works of art from Dali's entire artistic career outside Europe.

    More than 2.000 works are exhibited including sculptures, paintings on canvas, drawings, prints and photos. In the garden there are sculptures, all obviously very particular but what struck us most is the gigantic reproduction of his mustache. The shop attached to the structure allows you to take home a souvenir of the visit. The museum is open every day from 10am to 17.30pm and on Thursdays the hours extend until 20pm. Admission costs $ 24 for ages 18 to 64, $ 22 for ages 65, $ 17 for ages 13 to 17. plus students aged 18 and $ 10 from 6 to 12.

    The natural parks

    It is a short step from art to nature. In the historic district of Old Northeast i Sunken Gardens (18254th St. N.) is a botanical paradise with tropical plants and flowers against a backdrop of trails and waterfalls, flamingos and a butterfly garden. We love being here in the Japanese gardens among royal palms, water lilies and cacti. It is possible to take guided tours, attend special events and even rent the gardens which are accessible from Monday to Saturday from 10 to 16.30 and on Sunday from 12 to 16.30. Parking is free while admission costs $ 10 for adults, $ 8 for 62 and $ 4 for 2 to 11 years.



    A slightly wilder nature awaits us at Boyd Hill Nature Park (1101 Country Club Ways S.), an area with marshes, wooded areas with pines, oaks and maples, areas with wild flowers on the shores of Lake Maggiore. In the large park there are well-marked paths, some in the shade, which can be accessed for $ 3. We meet birds, squirrels, turtles, lizards and, at a safe distance, alligators. The area is equipped with free parking, bathrooms, a picnic area and games.

    We then visit the Pinellas Pioneer Settlement (3120 31st St S.), practically a living history museum set up by a non-profit organization for the purpose of relocating or faithfully recreating the buildings and lifestyle of the county's pioneers in the 19th century with traditions and craftsmanship that visitors they can also experience for themselves.

    The neighborhoods of Saint Petersburg

    Two lovely historic districts grace the city. Near the downtown we point out theHistoric Old Northeast (bordered by 4th St. N., 5th Ave. N., 30th Ave. N., Tampa Bay) appreciated as the jewel of Saint Petersburg on Tampa Bay.

    Here you will find museums, shops, restaurants, theaters, parks and homes. L'Historic Kenwood (bounded by 9th Ave. N., 1st Ave. N., 19th St. N., 34th St. N.) is located immediately west of downtown and contains more than 2.000 historic buildings among colonial revival, Mediterranean revival style residences and tudor revival as well as Seminole Park where we walk among lots of greenery and play areas for children. In this area there is a large concentration of craftsman-style bungalows that date back to the 20s and 30s and which are registered with assets to be protected.

    About three miles west of downtown, along Central Avenue N., is the Grand Central District, a buzzing and busy shopping strip within the aforementioned Historic Kenwood neighborhood.

    If you don't mind a little bit of Shopping between one view and another we point out the Sundial Shopping Complex (153 2nd Ave. N. - downtown) and the Tyrone Square (6901 22nd Ave. N. - north-west area).

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    The events of Saint Petersburg

    It would be an added value to combine the visit of St. Petersburg with one of the many local events. In January we report the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. A long parade with the presence of the band in honor of Martin Luther King is the heart of the event, then at Tropicana Field (1 Tropicana Dr.) you can have fun with many forms of entertainment, enjoy good food and shop in the stalls. There is also an area dedicated to children.

    For three days of March at the waterfront, in the heart of the city literally around the Dali Museum, one witnesses the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, an international grand prix with 11 different car races taking place on a temporary track of nearly 3 kilometers with 14 corners. The event is paid and includes admission to the races, live entertainment and access to the market area with the presence of street vendors.

    In April, at Vinoy Park (701 Bayshore Dr. NE) in the waterfront area, the Blue Festival. For three days, with paid admission, you can enjoy good music by blues bands, taste the culinary specialties of fish and barbeque combined with a mix of Cuban and Florida dishes. There is also no shortage of sellers of various objects.

    There are many events during the Christmas holidays which start from the end of November and continue throughout December. Here are a few Holiday events in the city. A large Christmas tree and skating rink are set up at the North Starub park (400 Bayshore Dr. NE) and sometimes Santa Claus comes to visit. Also at Vinoy Park you can breathe the atmosphere of Christmas with a large display of greeting cards. There is also a city parade with inflatable bands and balls. Hundreds of lights and decorations create the right suggestion of the moment at the waterfront.

    Where to eat

    Never leave a location without tasting local delicacies. We report some restaurants where it will be a pleasure to stop. The refined Rococo Steak (655 2nd Ave St.) adds a chic touch to the classic steakhouse. The restaurant was born from a passion for creative cuisine. Excellent dishes are Korean-style duck, the prized filet mignon and even an apparently simple roast chicken. Those who love fish should try the shrimp cocktail and those who love to eat light should order the cesar salad.

    Whatever the choice of dish, you must keep space for the Key Lime Pie, the typical Florida cake or for the honey and lavender creme brulee. Wine connoisseurs will appreciate the long list that the restaurant offers. From 16 to 18.30 pm it is time for happy hour and small tastings, for example based on oysters and beef carpaccio.

    More exotic flavors are appreciated from Lanna Thai and Sushi Restaurant (4871 Park St. N.) where Thai and Japanese dishes are served. The restaurant, full of oriental decorations, is open for lunch and dinner. The menu is very extensive and among the house specialties we point out noodles, shrimp tempura, Thai spring rolls, lobster with ginger sauce, soup with rice and chicken, but don't forget to taste one of the desserts, for example the coconut ice cream and fried banana with an addition of coconut ice cream.

    A family atmosphere in a waterfront location you live from The Waterway (13090 Gandy Blvd. N.) where the menu is inspired by the Florida Keys and coastal communities. Coconut shrimp, shrimp cocktail, smoked chicken wings, and various sandwich choices are remarkable. Do you love sipping a cocktail? The tiki bar prepares some excellent ones. On Saturdays and Sundays, a brunch with tasty waffles, omelettes and tortillas is served. On-line you can consult the events that the restaurant offers.

    Since 1984, those who love shrimp can enjoy them in various ways al 4th St. Shrimp Store (1006 ½ 4th St. N.), a lunch and dinner venue with a fun casual atmosphere. The restaurant offers not only fish or shellfish but also pasta with chicken, Philly Steak & Cheese and Key Lime Pie.

    Where sleeping in Saint Petersburg

    Inn at the Bay

    Choosing one structure accommodation it is large here in Saint Petersburg. In downtown the Inn at the Bay (126 4th Ave. NE.) Is a B&B surrounded by lush greenery that makes it seem like a long way from the center. Two buildings house 14 rooms and suites, each of which is unique. The property has a swimming pool, wi-fi, parking and breakfast area.

    In the lovely Old North East neighborhood, close to downtown il Dickens House B&B (335 8th Ave. NE.) Is a richly detailed historic wooden house that belonged to Henry and Sadie Dickens, two of the first settlers of Saint Petersburg. The breakfast is delicious and multi-course. The rooms and suites, each with its own style, are equipped with a refrigerator, private bathroom and free wi-fi. The B&B offers a laundry service, a library room and a business center.

    In the Old North East district, a restored Victorian house with porch and gazebo dating from 1908, houses Larelle House B&B (237 6th NE.), A quiet property that has four en-suite bedrooms on the second floor. Hot tub, free wi-fi, parking, bicycle rental and snacks available all day are services available to customers.

    In a good location between Saint Petersburg and Tampa, the Quality Inn at Tropical Field (1400 34th N. St.) has rooms equipped with refrigerators and microwaves. The hotel offers its customers business and fitness centers, outdoor swimming pool, free wi-fi and breakfast.

    Search for a hotel in Saint Petersburg

    St. Pete Beach and surroundings

    A excursion which we recommend is a St. Pete Beach, a town that develops on a so-called “barrier island” 15 minutes from Saint Petersburg, reachable via the Pinellas byway bridge, aka route 682. Pass-a-Grille Beach it's a beautiful one beach of white sand in the southernmost part of the strip of land. We suggest not to miss the sunrise and sunset. The whole area of ​​St. Pete beach is very pleasant, with excellent restaurants, shopping opportunities in quaint shops, fishing, boat rentals and the presence of delightful inns and motels.

    We report the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum (115 10th Ave.), an important reality with free admission (closed from Monday to Wednesday) managed with passion by volunteers. Coming here means coming into close contact with history through photos, stories of local life, traditions and events. The small downtown it develops long Corey Ave where there are bars, restaurants, shops and a theater. On Sunday mornings from October to May the market is a vibrant local reality.

    In the city they are located restaurants overlooking the beach serving fish specialties. The flagship here is The Don CeSar (3400 Gulf Blvd.) nicknamed “the pink palace” of St. Pete Beach, a popular location in and around the city. It is a charming and sophisticated hotel. Since 1928 it has welcomed the world's elite as movie stars, writers and presidents. It is located on top of dunes embraced by the breeze and with a wide view in every direction. The hotel offers countless services in an exemplary manner. It is a luxury hotel but it is worth taking a tour, entering the lobby and maybe asking permission to see the property (sometimes they do) or have dinner.

    How to reach Saint Petersburg

    You can reach Saint Petersburg via direct flights from Europe on theMiami airport (2100 42nd Ave.) which is a 4 hour drive away. About 25 minutes away is theairport di Tampa (4100 George J. Bean Pkwy.) Operating out of non-European ports. Fromairport di Saint Petersburg (14700 Terminal Pkwy.) Small airline flights depart for so-called "minor" destinations but certainly not least.

    For those who don't like to rent a car there Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) provides buses that make transport within the county, while in the city you can move around in tram means The Looper which makes stops every day in various destinations in the center.

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

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    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
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