St. Petersburg Florida Travel Guide

Why St. Petersburg, Florida Should Top Your Travel List

FTG-StPetersburg-CreditTheBirchwoodGiven all the “best beach” lists the St. Petersburg, Fla., area has topped over the years, you could be forgiven for thinking the Gulf Coast town is all sand and no substance. But beyond the 35 miles of coastline, which reaches from Caladesi Island in the north to Fort De Soto Park in the south, it’s not a stretch to say that St. Pete is experiencing an art- and food-fueled renaissance. The two scenes often intermingle, in fact, from the inaugural, celebrity-chef-studded Enjoy Arts & Tastes festival last November to the Beer Project that will bring three days of tastings to the Museum of Fine Arts this June. Though a host of new developments—including the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, a redesigned pier and luxury shopping at The Shops at St. Pete—are still on the horizon, food lovers and culture hounds will find plenty of draws in downtown St. Pete now. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s tips for your trip to this most sophisticated of beach towns.

Dali MuseumWhere to Stay
Rarely does an 18-room boutique inn draw the lines you’ll find at The Birchwood on high-end Beach Drive. With the farm- and sea-to-table Birch & Vine restaurant and cabana-lined The Canopy rooftop lounge, The Birchwood lures locals and visitors looking for elevated gulf cuisine and a buzzing social scene. More than a few merrymakers no doubt wander in after seeing projections of The Canopy’s happy throngs, tropical-inspired cocktails in hand, on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. But while the bartenders’ blood orange margaritas are refreshing and Birch & Vine’s seasonal specialties, such as sous-vide butter-poached lobster with truffle grits (the truffles just flown in from Alba, Italy), are perfectly prepared, it’s the 18 guest rooms that make The Birchwood a true gem. Each one puts a modern twist on 1920s décor—the era when the building first opened—with two- and four-poster beds, romantic lantern lighting, and porcelain and silver claw-foot tubs under gilded mirrors (there’s a large shower with a rainshower head, too). The color palette and materials are dramatic, with bold damask, wide stripes and marble and crimson bathrooms. Despite the water views, this is not your typical beach hotel.


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FAQ

Faith
Least Crowded Beach Vacation Spots (in Florida)?

My family and I are thinking of going to Florida (as we're Canadian snow-birds) for a week, and I am just wondering which beaches are the least crowded. From what I know, Orlando, Miami, and Panema City's beaches are THE most crowded. I just want to go to a beach with the palm trees, sugar-white sand, and crystal-blue water, and where I don't have to worry about finding a spot, if the water is clean or not, etc.

A great place for less crowded beaches is Destin and the Emerald Coast, which is up on the Florida Panhandle and not too far from Panama City. Destin has the sugar-white sand and clear crystal water you're looking for; however, in Dec-Jan-Feb, as one of the other answers says, the water is too cool for swimming, even for Canadians:) Do check out Destin if you're traveling in the warmer months!!

forester814
Tampa/St.Pete/Ybor Relocation?

We are thinking very seriously about relocating to the Tampa/St.Pete/Ybor area. We have taken a couple vacations there over the years, and I used to travel there for work. But we still feel we don't really know the area that well, from the perspective of a local.

We are heading back down there in mid-December to do some serious house/condo hunting. We are drawn to the energy of downtown Tampa, but after a few years of living in suburban Chicago, we are debating if we are up to that pace of life or not.

The Ybor area looks good to us, with all the old…

Ybor City is a bad area. Stay away from it. Ybor is in Tampa, not Orlando as this section is Orlando not Tampa.

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