St. Petersburg, aka "St. Pete" perches on a peninsula edged by glittering Gulf waters and boat-speckled Tampa Bay. In addition to the annual spring-break migration of college students from around the country, this city also attracts a strong foreign following of European travellers. Unlike Tampa, which is fixated on a suit-and-tie attitude, St. Petersburg is a haven for retirees and tourists clad in shorts, shades and sneakers, which only furthers its laid-back appeal; just wait until the sun sinks down over the Gulf of Mexico though, and you'll find that St. Pete also has a revved-up party side to complement it's day look.
In addition to seemingly endless hours of sunshine on picture-worthy beaches nearby, sight-seers are drawn to cultural attractions, spectator sports and an abundance of water-oriented activity. The Pier, a 5-story inverted pyramid jutting out 2400 feet into the Bay, pulls in thousands of tourists each year alone, though downtown - the stretch of streets just in from the Tampa Bay side of the city along Central Avenue - is definitely the heart of the place. There's the expected selection of restaurants, boutiques, bars and miniature golf venues on hand of course, but highlights here range more towards the museum end of the spectrum, with the Florida Holocaust Museum, Florida International Museum, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, the Museum of Fine Art and the Salvador Dali Museum (for fans of Surrealism a must-see) to top a list that also includes a hands-on children's museum and an assortment of parks and gardens.
Walking and hiking are popular here, whether it's strolling the sandy beaches, trekking the picturesque trails of Fort de Soto Park, or walking along the paved paths through the wildlife-rich marshes of Weedon Island Wildlife Refuge. In addition to hiking trails, the Brooker Creek Preserve offers 10 miles of equestrian trails that are home to rare plants (if you're lucky you might also spot a resident bobcat or white-tailed deer while wandering). Camping is available at Fort de Soto Park with 235 family-sized campsites within a stone's throw of a top-ranked beach. If connecting with nature is a priority, take your leisure on Lake Seminole, where boating, fishing and water activities dominate the scene.
For diversion, consider steering for the Sunshine Skyway, a breathtaking bridge that reaches heavenward on a 15-mile trek between Pinellas and Manatee Counties with fishing, swimming and picnicking facilities along the way.
St. Petersburg is an easy 20-mile ride south of Tampa on I-75.