11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in St Petersburg and Clearwater
The city of St Petersburg, famed for its perpetual sunshine, lies on the Pinellas Peninsula on the central Gulf Coast of Florida, between Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay. Off the peninsula is a chain of long, narrow islands with beaches and numerous marinas. Clearwater is largely a resort and retirement community located 22 miles west of Tampa. People are drawn here by the wide stretch of white sand beach which is connected to the city by a two mile long causeway.
See also: Where to Stay in St. Petersburg
1 Editor's Pick The Dali Museum in St Petersburg
The Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg houses a comprehensive collection of paintings by this Surrealist master. Dali's entire artistic career is represented from his early work in impressionism and cubism to later experiments in more "Classical" styles. There are oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, sculptures, graphics, photographs and other artworks.
The museum now has a fabulous new building that better reflects the creativity of the artist it promotes.
Address: One Dali Boulevard, St Petersburg, FL 33701, United States
2 Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Located on I 275 crossing the waters at the entrance to Tampa Bay, this spectacular bridge is impressive from a distance or from the road while driving across. Stretching 12 miles in total, a little more than 4 miles of the bridge rises high above the ocean, allowing for large water vessels to pass below. Two main pillars tower above the road and the high points adding some eye catching drama to the bridge.
3 Fort DeSoto
Five different keys make up the 900 acre Fort DeSoto Park. There are numerous nature and recreation trails suited for hiking, biking, rollerblading and walking. There is also a beautiful swimming beach and two fishing piers. The park is named for the fort located on the southern end of Mullet Key. It was built in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, but never saw action. Remains of the fort can be visited.
3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde
4 Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is often rated as one of the top beaches in the United States. The pristine white sand attracts locals as well as sun seekers who come here on vacation. Additional highlights along this stretch include Pier 60 and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
5 Sandy Key Park
Sand Key Park features local vegetation, walking trails, and a half mile stretch of wide sandy beach. The park has an artificial reef program and an area where sea turtles annually lay eggs. Sand Key Park is ideal for bird watching, where heron, roseate spoonbill, great horned owl, anhinga, and common moorhen nest and feed in the salt marsh.
Address: 1060 Gulf Boulevard, Clearwater
6 Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park is a 600 acre island. It is a State operated park accessible by ferry, boat, or canoe. There is a 3 mile beach for swimming, strolling, fishing or shelling, and nature trails for wildlife watching. The area's inaccessible location has saved it from development and the flora and fauna remain undisturbed.
Dunedin has preserved its village like atmosphere, which began in the early days when it was a seaport and trading center. The Toronto Blue Jays have spring training camp at Dunedin Stadium. Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area and Caladesi Island State Park are located just off the coast and offer opportunities for water and nature enthusiasts.
8 Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach is a resort community near Sand Key, off the Pinellas County coast. The lovely stretch of soft sand beach fronting the ocean is always popular with morning walkers and afternoon sun bathers in good weather.
9 Tarpon Springs
Formerly the center of a thriving sponge fishing industry, Tarpon Springs is primarily a Greek community and well known tourist destination. There are still sponge boats at the dock and others offering deep-sea fishing trips. The Mediterranean heritage is represented in the town's numerous restaurants and bakeries, cultural festivals, and in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
10 Pinellas Trail
The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, created along an abandoned railroad corridor, is currently 37-miles and a multi-use trail everyone can enjoy. The Pinellas Trail is a linear park and recreation trail that runs from the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.
The trail is used for walking, jogging, skating, and biking. There are a number of shops, restaurants, and cafes along the route.
11 Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
This lovely park featuring walking trails, boardwalks, and camping and picnic facilities, is a beautiful retreat for those looking for a little nature. Looking out onto Lake Maggiore the preserve features wetlands, pine trees, scrubland, and wildlife, with everything from turtles to birds of prey. Many people come here for birdwatching but the park is most popular with those who are looking to get out for a walk or enjoy a family outing.
Where to Stay in St. Petersburg for Sightseeing
We recommend these highly-rated hotels in St. Petersburg near popular downtown attractions like the Dali Museum:
- The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club: 4-star luxury resort, 1925 landmark, stylish decor, multiple restaurants, deluxe spa, heated outdoor pool.
- Avalon Hotel: mid-range hotel, historic district, funky retro feel, Art Deco room decor, access to adjacent pool, free area shuttle.
- Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg Downtown: affordable rates, lovely outdoor pool, modern room decor, free hot breakfast.
- The Inn on Third: budget-friendly hotel, wonderful owners, quaint decor, antique furnishings.