Things to do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

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Last updated Jan 18, 2024

Condé Nast Traveler has named St. Petersburg one of the top 10 American Cities to visit in 2020. What a year to get that type of recognition! However, those of us who frequent here always knew that about St. Pete or the Sunshine City.

The art scene, festivals, small business vibe, sprawling dining scene, and amazing beaches are just some things to do in St. Petersburg, FL. The Sunshine City gets on average 361 days of sunshine and is located on the peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The best time to visit is between October and April when the heat and humidity eases off a bit.

The list of things to do and places to see is endless. In this post, we will cover arts and culture, the iconic Sunshine Skyway bridge, different kayak and bike trails, how to get lessons for kite surfing or where to go sailing and much more.

Sunshine City
Downtown St. Petersburg | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City



Arts and Culture in St. Petersburg, FL

When it comes to arts, St. Pete has it all from big-name artists to street murals. One of the Sunshine City’s biggest draws for art lovers is The Dalí Museum – the biggest collection of his art outside of Europe.

Museum St Pete Florida
Dali Museum | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Another big draw to the area in the recent past is the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center. Morean Arts Center displays works by local, national, and international artists and also offers different art classes including glass blowing where you can make your own Christmas ornaments or figurines for any other occasion. It is a lot of fun!

Morean Arts
Glass Blowing at Morean Arts Center | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

The Museum of Fine Arts, Imagine Museum, and The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art are just some of the other great cultural gems in the city.

On top of great museums, St. Pete’s outdoor art scene is just as impressive. Hundreds of murals have popped up in recent years on buildings in the downtown area. The murals are so famous here that there is a SHINE St. Pete Mural Festival every year where the streets are turned into an open-air museum showcasing many large-scale murals.

Murals St Pete
Murals in St. Petersburg | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Mahaffey Theater is an excellent theater to catch a musical act, comedy show, or a play however, we always prefer the smaller and more quaint American Stage Theater, especially their spring American Stage in the Park shows. This 30-year tradition of bringing great theater to the park is one of our favorite things to do! All you need to bring is either a blanket or a chair to sit on, and bug spray – beverages and food are available at the park. Even though we like to bring our food and wine. The shows are always excellent but in a more relaxed atmosphere than sitting in a theater.

Drive over Sunshine Skyway Bridge

As scenic as the drive over the Skyway Bridge may be many people have a significant fear of driving over that bad boy. Some of it has to do with its steepness and some with the fact that it has already collapsed once in the 1980s. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is the world’s longest cable-stayed concrete bridge and a very photogenic landmark of St. Pete.

Skyway Bridge | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City



Go Biking!

St. Pete is becoming more bike-friendly each year, and whether you enjoy urban biking to move around downtown or like to ride the trails, you can find both in the area. For urban riding, bike rentals are available and located in a few different locations throughout downtown.

Bike Trail St Pete
Biking & Murals in St. Petersburg | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Some of the great trails we like to ride are:
The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail – starts in downtown St. Petersburg and stretches for 45 miles to Tarpon Springs with quite a few overpasses that make any stretch you choose to conquer challenging.
Fort De Soto Island Park Trail – another paved path running next to Fort Desoto Beach where you can stop and go for a swim. Bike rentals are available on-premises.
Skyway Bridge Trail – offers panoramic views of Tampa Bays and it is a great workout to climb this trail.

There are many more bike trails in the Tampa Bay area – just a few that we frequent.

The Best Kitesurfing

Whether you are a beginner, spectator, or professional kitesurfer, St. Pete is your place. The windiest season is between October and May, also the best time to visit Florida. This is when the “cold fronts” roll in and the wind picks up. The best spots are next to Skyway Bridge and Fort Desoto Park. Many outfits in the area offer kitesurfing classes if you want to take this up as a hobby.

Kite Surfing Florida
Kitesurfing | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Fishing Piers

Fishing in Florida is a year-round event and many locals fish off the fishing piers. The remaining portions of the original Skyway Bridge that collapsed are the longest fishing piers. With the middle of the bridge removed, the north and south sides of the bridge were left in place as fishing piers. The concrete and steel rubble were strategically placed to form artificial reefs along both piers which attract a wide variety of species.

Both piers are open 24 hours every day of the year and fishing supplies, snacks, drinks, and bait can be purchased at the location. The entrance fee is $4 per vehicle, plus $4 per adult, and is good for 24 hrs.

Other hot fishing spots are two fishing piers in the Fort De Soto Island Park and Weedon Island Park – mostly used by locals. Spanish mackerel is the most popular fish caught in these locations.

Fishing Beach

Offshore fishing is very popular too and the best way to catch grouper or snapper. There are quite a few different charters that offer half-day, full-day, or multi-day services in the area.



Kayaking

Two main kayaking locations in St. Petersburg are:

  1. Weedon Island Preserve – what makes this kayaking experience our favorite is navigating through several long, dark, and narrow corridors of thick mangrove canopies, which also provide shade in the hot summer months. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a manatee.
  2. Fort De Soto Park – another popular kayaking destination through mangrove communities, seagrass beds, and oyster bars.
Crystal River

For some other great kayaking spots outside of St. Petersburg, check out the kayaking section in our post 10 Exciting Things To Do in the Tampa Bay Area.

Visit The New Pier

After 3 years of construction, the new St. Pete Pier opened to the public in the summer of 2020. What timing! It stretches over 26 acres of Tampa Bay’s waterfront and offers interactive areas for groups, a marketplace for local vendors, awesome public art, live music, a fishing dock, a great sunset-watching spot, five different dining options, and much more. It is still a new thing in town, and most restaurants have lines of people waiting to be seated.

New Pier St Pete
Sailing in St. Petersburg | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Explore Sunshine City’s Dining Scene

As a local, it feels like every other month there is a new and unique restaurant popping up. Options are endless and many very good.

Here are some of our favorites:

Bodega on Central Cuban Sandwich
Bodega on Central | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Bodega on Central – the best Cuban in town!
Engine No. 9 – the best burger joint!
La V Vietnamese Fusion – simplistic, yet very delicious Vietnamese-inspired food.
Red Mesa Cantina – best-handcrafted margaritas! Taco salad with blackened tuna is refreshing and perfect for the hot and humid summer months.
Lolita’s Wine Market – is excellent for Cheese & Charcuterie and has a great selection of unique and delicious wines from around the world.
Brick and Mortar – an ever-changing menu of New American fare with unique wines and craft beers
Il Ritorno – excellent Italian food.

These are just some of our favorites, for a more detailed list read our blog about Where Do Locals Eat In St. Pete.



Visit Mazzaro’s Italian Market

Looking for authentic Italian food and experience, Mazzaro’s is the place to be. It usually feels like complete chaos for first-timers and can be overwhelming, but it is worth a visit! They have the best selection of desserts, bread, cheese, wine, and Italian prosciutto in the area.

Prepared food is available to eat there, with limited seating inside or outside, or take away. The coffee bar is undeniably Italian.

Mazzaro’s is known for some of the most delicious sandwiches in town.

Endless Festivals

From the food truck festival to different music festivals to car shows to arts and mural festivals there is always something going on in the ‘Burg. 2020 has been exceptionally hard to plan some of these events, but during a typical year, every month, there is at least one festival going on. If all else fails, there is always the first Friday block party! The first Friday of every month is a street party on Central Ave that locals and tourists enjoy alike.

Enjoy a Tweed Ride

You may wonder what’s that?! It is one of our favorite things to do every January/February. This bike ride starts at the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club where everyone is dressed in tweed, the only time of the year you can comfortably wear tweed in Florida, and rides his/her bike through downtown St. Pete as a group. Upon return, a live band, a local food truck, and a local brewery are always supporting the event. It is a lot of fun, trust us!

Tweed Bike Ride
Tweed Ride St. Petersburg | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City



Take a Ferry to Tampa

Whether you want to explore the river walk or go to a hockey game in Tampa, taking a ferry is a great way to avoid the terrible traffic across the bridges to Tampa. It’s about a 50-minute trip with refreshments available and is also a great way to see a different side of St. Pete.

Sunset Florida

Sail Into the Sunset

If you just want to take a sailboat tour or are interested in learning how to sail, there are some excellent sailboat marinas in St. Pete that offer either or both and a lot more. They are conveniently located downtown and some of them provide lodging on the boat after the Sunset Cruise.

Sailing St Pete Marina
St. Pete Sailing Center | Things to do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Fort De Soto Park & Beach

Fort de Soto Park is the largest park in Pinellas County and has a plethora of things to do. The historic fort is still part of the park and is a great exploring adventure for kids and adults alike.

Paved and natural trails are all over the park for walking and exploring, or biking and rollerblading. You can also rent canoes and kayaks and take them on a self-guided paddling trail and even camp in the park if you desire to do so.

Many locals come here for family gatherings and celebrations and spend the day grilling, fishing, and swimming. It also has one of the best dog beaches in the area!



Stop for the Brews

Microbreweries have been on a steep incline in Florida and the Tampa Bay area is quickly becoming a capital of craft brews.  Breweries are great hangout spots for families or just adults.

In St. Pete, most of them are clustered together downtown along Central Avenue. You can hop on one of the city bikes or your own and ride from brewery to brewery-tasting different brews, enjoying live entertainment, games, and food from food trucks.

Brewery
Green Bench Brewery | Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

The ‘Burg may not be the biggest city, but it is definitely a city full of personality and growing by the minute. If you ever get a chance it is a great place to visit!

Saint Petersburg
Sunshine City at Night | Things to do in St. Petersburg, FL – The Sunshine City

Other helpful posts…
10 Exciting Things To Do in the Tampa Bay Area
5 Most Romantic Cities in Florida
Kayaking at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
10 Exciting Warm-Weather Winter Getaways

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