Sensational St. Petersburg & Clearwater
There are few places that offer the immense variety of arts and culture, shopping and dining, or hotels and resorts, as the sister cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater. These two destinations work in unison to provide you with everything from arts museums and theaters, to boutique stores and art galleries, to surf shops and beach resorts. Where else can you spend they day in the sun and surf, then head to a luxurious theater for the evening? To say the very least, St. Pete/Clearwater is sensational!
Sensational Arts and Culture
These sister cities love to celebrate the colorful cultures that influence Florida’s communities, through all kinds of artistic expression and historical interpretations. Whether you’re visiting the hallowed halls of a premiere museum, snapping photos of fantastic murals on the busy downtown streets, or catching a live show in a historic theater, you’re always surrounded by arts and culture.
The Dali Museum cares for and shares an expertly curated collection of Salvador Dali works to delight and educate their visitors and to provide unique inspiration for events, programs and special exhibits. The Museum contains the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of Europe, housed in a completely unique facility whose facade resembles a Dali work itself. In addition to the famous works by Dali, the Museum serves as an active resource in the cultural life of the St. Petersburg community and the world at large. Special events encourage the community and visitors to engage in hands-on art projects, particularly for children and families.
The Morean Arts Center offers people of all ages and diverse cultural backgrounds the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts. The Center has been a leader in the revitalization of the downtown area, anchoring a thriving arts district composed of galleries, museums and businesses and is the oldest arts organization in the Tampa Bay area with the roots dating back to 1917 as the Art Club of St. Petersburg. The Center has been a part of the St. Petersburg cultural landscape for a century! Visit one of its four locations located throughout the downtown: the Morean Arts Center, Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop, Morean Center for Clay, and the Chihuly Collection. The Chihuly Collection is a unique arts experience, showcasing the work of world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly. The building in which the Collection is showcased was specifically built to create an immersive experience for visitors, beginning with a 20 foot sculpture made specifically for the entrance of this site.
You can also see art while simply walking around the downtown St. Pete area, thanks to the St. Pete Mural Tour, started in 2014 by Florida native Michael S. Novilla. This tour takes you on a walk through downtown to enjoy all the fabulously unique murals this city has to offer. It will give you a real taste of the urban art scene and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the community. Don’t forget to take pictures - some of the murals also make a great backdrop for selfies.
Downtown Clearwater has plenty of cultural offerings in its own right, including the historic Capitol Theatre. Its intimate, 750-seat setting makes for a memorable experience, whether you’re watching a live concert or a classic film. Dating back to 1921, the beautifully restored former movie house and Vaudeville venue virtually transports you back to the heyday of Hollywood glitz and glam. Don't miss Grammy-award winning performers like Diana Krall and Los Lonely Boys. The theater also offers the ultimate luxury theater experience with Capitol Theatre Luxury Boxes, which include private access to VIP lounge and outdoor balcony overlooking the beautiful Clearwater causeway. The Capitol Theatre is part of the Ruth Eckerd Hall Experience, which encompasses four performing arts venues throughout St. Pete and Clearwater. rutheckerdhall.com
In downtown St. Pete, you’ll find the newly renovated Mahaffey Theater. The Mahaffey is a cultural jewel featuring elegant ballroom space, spectacular waterfront views, and European box-style seating. Just steps away from downtown and minutes away from white sandy beaches and world-famous museums, The Mahaffey hosts top-quality national and international artists and performances from Broadway, classical, pop, rock, comedy, dance, family, and the renowned Florida Orchestra. Additionally, the theater supports the highly successful Class Acts program, which enables school children to experience the performing arts through in-theater performances as well as in-school outreach and extension programs.
Sensational Shopping and Dining
From finding the perfect trinket to take home, to discovering a statement outfit that you just have to have, St. Pete and Clearwater have lots of shop-portunities for retail adventures. Plus, the cities’ location near the water (St. Pete on the bay and Clearwater on the Gulf) will provide you with pleasant conditions for strolling around the shopping districts. Of course, all of that walking will make you quite hungry - so it’s a good thing that wherever you venture, you’ll find energy-restoring drinks and dishes at downtown cafes and restaurants.
For a traditional shopping experience, Sundial Mall is the place to go. Just steps from the world famous waterfront, Sundial is right in the middle of bustling downtown St. Pete and keeps in theme by offering a unique selection of art shops, restaurants and spas special to the area. The center is an art piece in and of itself with its sleek, clean design meant to capture the modern beachy feel of St. Petersburg. The centerpiece of it all is the nearly three-story functioning sundial and fountain art piece by Emmy Award-winning production designer René Lagler, surrounded by bronze dolphins from the mind of St. Pete artist Mark Aeling. sundialstpete.com
Another quintessential mall experience, with an added touch of luxury, is the Westfield Countryside in the heart of Clearwater. With a wide variety of 150 shops, Westfield Countryside is also the home to Clearwater's state-of-the-art 12-screen movie theatre, a restaurant collection that includes P.F. Chang's and BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, and an ice rink that's fun for the whole family.
The 600 block of St. Petersburg’s Central Ave is the epicenter of the shopping culture. With dozens of shops and restaurants filled with everything from handmade jewelry and palm reading to a hot cup of joe or some vegan pad Thai, you’ll find yourself in the presence of everything you need to satisfy your hipster and thrifty needs. The street life is booming in this vibrant downtown district and offers shopping experiences like Strands of Sunshine, a cutesy shop filled with all sorts of locally handcrafted gifts such as jewelry, clothing, and art items. Or maybe you want to grab a bite to eat; don’t worry, the options won’t disappoint! Stop in Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops for a tasty treat on the go or kick back at the Cider Press Café for some unique raw, gluten-free, vegan dishes that are sure to leave you satisfied and energized for another round of shopping strandsofsunshine.com; thehyppo.com; ciderpresscafe.com
Beach bums in particular like to visit Pelican Walk Plaza on Mandalay Avenue in Clearwater, a small shopping center with plenty of beachwear, accessories, gifts, and souvenirs. Maui Nix Surf Shop is a great place to find surf gear and apparel, plus skateboarding gear, and all kinds of gifts and trinkets to commemorate your time in the sun. The plaza is also home to a sushi eatery, Italian cafe, and a specialty jerky shop: Beef Jerky Outlet (great for storing up on snacks for the beach).
pelicanwalkplaza.com; mauinix.com; beefjerkyoutlet.com
Foodies love St. Pete/Clearwater for their variety of offerings and amazing craft dishes, providing restaurants with culinary influences from around the world. BellaBrava, New World Trattoria, an authentic Italian cuisine with urban flair near the waterfront in St. Pete. Pick from any of their authentic Woodstone Oven pizzas, sample a delicious pasta dish or dig into a New World burger. Enjoy the longest Happy Hour on Beach Drive at their horseshoe-shaped bar or on the romantic outdoor patio that welcomes you to bring along your four-legged friends. Take in the view of the St. Pete Pier and captivating Tampa Bay, and enjoy the central location neighboring the Chihuly exhibit and Dali Museum.
For fresh seafood on St. Pete’s popular Beach Drive, visit 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House. This elegant spot, featuring waterfront views, is a must-visit for seafood and coast cuisine as well as its 24 on-tap beers and 48 wines by the glass. Take part in the freshest seafood from the Best of the Bay’s raw bar or see what the best of the land and sea have to offer at the Sunday Brunch Buffet, boasting the raw seafood bar as well as omelet and carving stations. But be sure to save room; there’s a whole dessert room waiting for you, filled with such things as chocolate dipped strawberries, assorted cakes, and a full sundae bar. Even your sweetest sweet tooth is sure to be satisfied.
On Clearwater Beach you will find the delicious seafood offerings of several Frenchy’s Restaurants locations, which are spread throughout several unique venues. These colorful eateries are known for their quirky decor, delicious fresh seafood dishes and yummy American standards, as well as their friendly and dedicated staff. We recommend you try the Frenchy’s Original Cafe, the local favorite spot that started it all! This small, quaint location features many of Frenchy’s original menu items like fish spread, seafood gumbo, and the Super Grouper sandwich. Perhaps you will even see Frenchy himself!
Sensational Hotels and Resorts
While some people may view a hotel as a place to crash for the night, many see it as the home-base of your vacation, the place where you find ultimate relaxation, and an attraction in and of itself. Do you prefer a boutique hotel in the historic part of town, or a grand resort on the beach?
Downtown St. Pete also offers comfortable but unique places to stay without having to compromise location or comfort. The Mansion Inn is settled on the waterfront in the historic district of Old Northeast, within just five blocks of all that downtown has to offer. This urban wonder puts a diverse mix of restaurants, shops, museums, and parks within easy reach but offers a getaway from loud bars and busy nightlife. The mansion offers 13 unique, newly renovated rooms overlooking a quiet poolside courtyard; perfect for couples, families, or anything that might bring you to this downtown gem.
Another cultural jewel to be found here is The Birchwood. Originally constructed as apartments in 1924, the nationally registered property underwent historically-accurate renovations to modernize it and turn it into the three-floor, 18-room boutique Inn that is presented today. It provides a quaint history-touched stay while still maintaining a fresh feel with modern amenities, holding you in the heart of the downtown nightlife. It even offers world-class dining from its very own lunch-and-dinner restaurant, the Birch & Vine, which boasts a diverse menu filled with delicious creativity and unique spins on Florida classics. Between the inn and the restaurant, this stay offers an experience like no other.
Uniqueness in hotels does not always mean small; in the case of the The Don Cesar, it is its grandness that in fact makes it unique. A breathtaking “Pink Palace” that sits on the crystalline sands of St. Pete’s beach, facing the Gulf, this hotel was originally erected in 1928 and exudes an aura of Roaring 20s glamour. Once a playground for distinguished celebrities, the seaside Don CeSar Hotel continues to charm and impress guests today with service preserved from the Great Gatsby era of pampering. Renovated guestrooms, refreshed public spaces, sugar-sand beaches, Spa Oceana, poolside activities and award-winning dining await visitors who return season after season. And, for the ultimate beach getaway, the Don Cesar also offers Beach House Suites. This coastal cool collection of 70 all-suite accommodations is just one-half mile down the beach from the dining, shopping and amenities of the legendary Pink Palace itself. Ideal for families, groups or those looking for extended stay comfort, spread out with spacious gathering areas and home-like amenities. Savor superb views of tropical gardens, the outdoor heated pool and sparkling Gulf of Mexico. doncesar.com
For a true beach resort vacation, stay at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach. Standing between popular Mandalay Avenue and the white sands of the beach, each of the resort’s 253 guest rooms and suites invite brilliant sunlight and whispers of encompassing Gulf waves. Expansive balconies frame captivating views of alabaster sands, scenic shoreline and spectacular sunsets. From every well-appointed room, you will enjoy the uncompromising luxury and serenity of a setting that will enrich your experience at Sandpearl. Relax on the beach, or sit by the pool while you sip a cocktail. Indulge in personalized pampering at the Spa at Sandpearl. Not only is Sandpearl Resort a Green Resort that strives to improve energy efficiency and other environmental protections, it also offers a variety of enrichment programs that include dolphin encounters, organic food and wine tastings, and tours of the resort’s impressive art collection.
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