St Petersburg, Florida is a great place to visit. With Tampa Bay to its east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west makes it a perfect stepping stone to either one of these fantastic locations. St Petersburg incorporated and became a city in 1892 with approximately 300 residents living within its city limits. Today it is home to an estimated population of 250,000. Downtown, which is where we stayed has around 15,000 people living and enjoying the vibrant city life.
We booked a room in downtown St Pete that overlooks the harbor. The Ponce de Leon hotel (pictured, below & right) is a quaint, 1920s Spanish styled hotel that offers a contemporary ambience. It is within easy walking distance to many restaurants, bars, nightlife and points of interest.
Coming from South Florida on Interstate 75 you will crossover the Bob Graham Skyway Bridge. This 4 plus mile long, dual tower cabled work of art is a spectacular sight. You drive at a gradual incline to the structures mid-point and then coast down the other side with views of the bay and Tampa being in the foreground. Going north on Hwy 275 you might want to stop at the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park and relax for awhile, have a picnic or drop a fishing line in and see what’s biting that day.
Before driving to downtown St Petersburg, we made a few stops in St Pete Beach. This coastal community of approximately 10,000 residents offers everything a larger city has, but minus the metropolitan sprawl. There are plenty of homegrown bar & grills to choose from. Select one with a view and satisfy your appetite and/or quench your thirst. Most all of them have a Caribbean flare with grass thatched roofs shading their open air lounges. There is usually some type of local entertainment that lends to the laidback atmosphere.
We pulled up to our night’s accommodations and unloaded our necessities. The surroundings were very favorable to us with having Bay Shore Drive and the harbor to the east and downtown’s entertainment district to our west. We couldn’t wait to explore the sites. We checked into the room and strapped on our walking shoes.
Straub and Pioneer Parks parallel Bay Shore Drive. The parkway like greenbelt offers a pedestrian friendly place to stroll and enjoy the Tampa Bay scenery. There is a smaller masonry structured bridge that crosses over to Demens Landing Park and provides additional views of the harbor, its pier and the bay. Looking south from Pioneer Park before you cross the bridge you will see Al Lang Stadium, The Mahaffey Theater and The Dali Museum.
We ventured onto Demens Landing and looked back at the city from across its harbor. Downtown St Petersburg expresses its urban sophistication alongside its subtle waterside charm. We reversed our viewing direction towards the pier and watched the sailing vessels arrive back to port. Here is where dreams come alive and wishes meet the sky and blue water.
We made the short trip back to downtown. The sun was beginning to set behind the city’s towering skyline as the Friday evening crowds started to settle in. The many venues that make up the approximately eight square blocks came alive with people looking for good food, drink and entertainment. Central Ave between 1st and 3rd streets was our night’s playground. Most of the establishments that line the streets let you know what they offer by advertising their specials on sidewalk menu boards.
We selected Five Bucks Drinkery to enjoy an afternoon Happy Hour cocktail. There are so many places to enjoy your favorite grog and share conversation with family, friends or perhaps the person setting next to you.
Downtown St Pete is a very modern city with a diverse cultural and contemporary feel. The city’s streets are lined with Royal palms and plenty of trees for shade on those hot days that frequent this popular destination. For being a major metropolitan area, the city seems to be very clean and free of trash. This is a positive check mark in my travel book!
After having a few beverages at Five Bucks and exploring Central Ave, we ended up at Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant. This particular establishment happens to be in the same building as our hotel. Ceviche’s offers a Latin Dance show that entertained us through dinner and drinks.
After a good nights sleep, we checked out of our hotel and found a nice little New York style deli that serves breakfast. Lucky Dill is on the corner of Central Ave and 3rd Street. The breakfast was prepared with fresh ingredients, tasted fantastic and was priced very reasonable. Downtown St Petersburg makes for a great destination and has something for everyone.