Flicking through the Florida guidebook, we were intrigued by the sound of the St Petersburg – Clearwater region. Sandy white beaches, balmy weather and an arts and culture mecca. This sounded just like our kind of area so we’ve arrived here for five days to get a taste of Sunny St Petes.
We decide to base ourselves in downtown St Petersburg, a convenient location to explore the area. We’re staying at the Hilton Bayfront which is accurately named being conveniently located on Tampa Bay. We actually have views of the bay from our room.
Hint, upgrade to the Executive rooms for access to the top floor Executive Lounge. From here, there’s expansive views of the surrounding area as well as complimentary access to non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
Our first sightseeing location is the Salvador Dali Museum which we can actually see from our hotel room. It’s a must-see if you’re visiting St Petersburg.
This art museum is dedicated to the works of artist Salvador Dali and houses the largest collection of his art outside Europe. Even if you’re not a Dali fan, I promise you that you will be by the time you finish touring the museum. (Make sure that you pick up your free audio headsets at the front counter for descriptions of each of the artworks).
There are some amazing artworks. I especially like one his paintings named Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln-Homage to Rothko (Second Version). Up close, the painting seems to be a woman in front of a cross. However, as you step back 20 metres, suddenly Abraham Lincoln’s face appears. It’s incredible.
Equally incredible are his sculptures.
The Dali Museum is especially great for kids. One of the audio tracks is specifically for little culture vultures and is called the Family Mustache Tour. It’s hilarious as well as being educational.
The friendly staff at the museum also provide us with a Kids Treasure Hunt which involves checking out various artworks and answering questions to receive a Dali-themed prize upon completion. There’s also a kids area where kids can do arts and crafts.
If you have time, try the 3 minute virtual reality experience Dreams of Dali at the museum.
As you put on the headset, you’ll be part of Dali’s painting Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus.” It’s remarkable experience and I love venturing into the towers and looking around distant lands.
The Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida is a striking building both inside and out. Spend some time in the outside garden looking at a sculpture of Dali’s mustache as well as his famous melting clock.
The museum is open all week but offers special pricing on Thursdays when it’s $10 for adults or $8 for kids after 5pm. This gives you three hours to explore the Dali Museum before it closes at 8pm.
Our second day of sightseeing involves heading to beach. The St Petersburg – Clearwater region is renowned for its beaches with 35 miles of white sand beaches! We take the trolley to St. Pete Beach (an easy 25 minute ride). Once there, we chill out on the soft sand and enjoy the warm water and gentle waves.
The next day, we make a special visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the inspiration behind the movie A Dolphin’s Tale and A Dolphin’s Tale 2.
We’re excited to see the real-life stars of the movies Winter, a dolphin with a prosthetic tale, her dolphin friend Hope and Ricky the Pelican.
Hope actually comes up to give us a big smile as we pass her tank.
It’s worth it to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. In addition to seeing the dolphins, turtles, otters, pelicans and stingrays, it’s also a marine rescue hospital.
Families can learn about the important work that the centre does in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life as well as learn about environmental education and conservation.
During our remaining days in St Petersburg, we explore the city. There’s plenty to do including walking along the scenic bayfront and even find a playground with water views.
There’s also plenty of events in St Petersburg. The city comes alive with the annual St. Anthony’s Triathalon featuring both adult and kid competitors. There’s also a soccer game featuring the Tampa Bay Rowdies that we can see from the Executive Lounge at the hotel.
We stroll through the Farmer’s Market and find a few souvenirs.
We’re lucky enough to be there for a Painting in the Park at the Museum of Fine Arts. We have so much fun at the event painting on buses, painting rocks and flying kites.
Our time in St. Petersburg exceeds our expectations. It’s a fantastic region for families with plenty to do.
Stay at the Hilton Saint Petersburg Bayfront, conveniently located in downtown St. Petersburg. We get upgraded to a Executive Suite which combines a King Bed and sitting area with sofa bed. The extra space is fantastic for families especially with access to the Executive Lounge. The hotel also includes a large swimming pool which is great to cool off on hot Florida days. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable.
Highly recommend The Locale Market in downtown St. Petersburg. This 20,000-square-foot new-age market features a variety of dishes as well as different counters of meat, fish, salads and deli goods. We visit over a number of days trying different dishes which are all freshly made and delicious.