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10 Best Attractions And Activites In St Pete And Clearwater
Dated: March 10 2016
Whether you are coming down for vacation or you are looking to purchase in the area a question that you may be thinking.... "What is there to do besides the beach?' (Which, by the way, phenomenal!!!) Click below to check out what houses are for sale near your favorite attractions!
10 Best Attractions and Activities in St. Petersburg and Clearwater
By Kara Franker/USA Today 10 Best
St. Petersburg / Clearwater Local Expert
Home of many of America’s best beaches, trips to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area often start on a gorgeous white stretch of sand. There are plenty of activities for families who want to play in the Gulf of Mexico — like visits to Fort De Soto Park spanning seven miles of picturesque beaches, or sky surfing tours in funky motorcycle hang gliding machines that soar through the air and above the sea.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is not only a working marine hospital, it’s also home to the celebrity dolphin from the hit movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. And the Florida Botanical Gardens offer close encounters with butterflies, tropical plants and even endangered species like the bald eagle.
Unleash your inner artist at The Dali Museum where you’ll find an impressive collection of the artist’s work housed in a one-of-a-kind structure. Tour incredible glass works of art at the Chihuly Collection, presented by the Morean Arts Center.
Want to explore the outdoors? There are a number of boat rental companies, water sports, golf courses, sports venues and adventure tours sure to please. And the events calendar features everything from big-name concerts and performances to Saturday art walks and annual food and music festivals.
Enjoy the free nightly sunset show at Clearwater Beach's Pier 60. A family-friendly tradition, the daily festival runs from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. each night, weather permitting. Browse the local arts and craft pop-up shops. Street artists perform live painting demonstrations, while magicians, jugglers, fire eaters and stilt walkers draw the large crowds. There's a spacious playground to keep the kids busy while the sun sets over the horizon. Bring a beach towel or lawn chairs and find a seat on the grass for the Sunset Cinema free movies on select nights. Above all else, the sun puts on quite the impressive show. (727-449-1036)
Fort De Soto Park
Located in the boating community of Tierra Verde, Fort De Soto Park is more than just a beach. It's a drop-dead gorgeous park spanning five islands and more than 1,000 acres on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Voted "Best Beach for Families" by USA Today in 2014, the park offers seven miles of white sand beaches and a wide range of water activities. Rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board and explore the calm waters. There are campsites, picnic tables, playgrounds, boat launches, two fishing piers and a historic fort from the days of the Spanish-American War. Hike or bike (beach cruisers are available to rent) on the park's nature trails where you'll encounter indigenous flora and fauna. There is no cost for visitors entering the park on foot, but cars are charged a $5 parking fee. (727-552-1862)
The Dali Museum
Located in the heart of Florida's charming downtown St. Petersburg, The Dali Museum is home to an impressive collection of Salvador Dali art. The building itself is a work of art with it's more than 1,000 triangular-shaped glass panels. It's the only structure of its kind in North America and the Dali logo can be seen from above by airplanes, helicopters and even Google maps. Nicknamed The Enigma, the building provides a stunning view of St. Pete's picturesque waterfront. Inside the museum, you'll find more than 2,000 works of art, including oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures and objects d'art. The museum hosts a variety of special programs including workshops, lectures, films and family events. General admission tickets are $24 per person, teens and college students are $17, children 6 to 12 are $10, children 5 and under are free. Additionally, discounts are available for seniors, military, police, firefighters and educators. Tickets include access to all galleries, special exhibits, audio guides and scheduled public tours. (727-823-3767, 800-442-3254)
Florida Botanical Gardens
Tucked away in the heart of Largo and located about four miles east of Indian Rocks Beach, the Florida Botanical Gardens are a tropical oasis offering pure tranquility. Featuring more than 25 gardens and 150 lushly landscaped acres, it's a perfect escape for nature enthusiasts. Explore a wide variety of tropical plants like vibrant hibiscus and native fruits. There are also more than 150 types of birds, reptiles and animals, including endangered species like bald eagles, gopher tortoises and sherman fox squirrels. With an array of activities available for the whole family, go on the hunt for butterflies, wildlife and tropical trees. There's a children's trail and maps are available to serve as your guide. Before you leave, stop by the Botanical Bounty gift shop located inside the Garden Welcome Center. Admission is free. (727-582-2100)
John's Pass Village and Boardwalk
Designed to look like a rustic fishing village, John's Pass Village and Boardwalk is a waterfront entertainment complex featuring restaurants, souvenir shops, boutiques, bars, nightclubs, boat rentals and live music. Stroll along the 1100-foot boardwalk and enjoy the sites and sounds of the Gulf of Mexico. Take a walk on the wild side as you feed and hold live alligators, or book a fishing charter. Kayak tours, party boats, sunset cruises, shelling adventures and dolphin watching tours are available for visitors. Every Saturday night, there are live bands and drink specials at Bamboo Beach Bar and Grill, The Florida Winery and The Hut. (727-394-0756, 727-393-8230)
Sky Surfing Aviation
Calling all adrenaline junkies! Climb aboard a flying motorcycle and get ready to experience jaw-dropping views as you surf the sky. Manned by an FAA certified flight instructor, you'll learn the basics of what they call trike flying. There are steering wheels and controls in both seats, so once you get the hang of it, you're more than welcome to drive. Since these funky aircrafts have hang glider style wings, it's designed to land without any power. Most opt for the one-hour flight session, which will take you over the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater Marina, Pier 60, Shell Key, John's Pass, Fort DeSoto, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and out over the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico. Keep your eyes wide open as it's possible to spot dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, stingrays and even sharks. For those looking for a more extensive experience, book the 2.5 hour flight or come up with your own custom half day extreme adventure. This is your chance to help plan the flight -- whether you'd like to head south to Naples, out over the Everglades or north to Cedar Key. Prices vary based on the length of your trip. Flights leave from the Clearwater Airpark. (727-755-4359)
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
Explore the fascinating and unique culture at the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. Exactly like it sounds, the area is home to a hotbed of docked sponge boats. Greek immigrants first settled on the shores of Tarpon Springs and found the area rich with highly sought-after sea sponges. Families opened a number of Greek restaurants and bakeries, as well as souvenir shops selling seashells and, of course, sponges. Stroll down colorful Dodecanese Boulevard, dine on authentic Greek cuisine and visit a few of the original shops that are still operated by the same families that settled historically settled in the area. (727-937-6109)
Spring Training at Bright House Field
Each balmy March, join baseball fans and watch your favorite Major League team launch their pre-season practice series and exhibition games at Bright House Field in Clearwater. It's the newest venue on the Grapefruit League circuit. The St. Pete/Clearwater area has been hosting Spring Training since 1914 and the Philadelphia Phillies have been coming to Clearwater since 1948. Not a Phillies fan? They aren't the only team that calls this area home. The Toronto Blue Jays have opened spring training camp in Dunedin since the team's inception in 1977. Kick back, relax and enjoy the picture-perfect springtime weather as you watch the big-leaguers go to work. Offering more than 7,000 fixed seats, and 1500 more seats in the grass berm area, Bright House Field has a 360-degree open concourse. There are group picnic areas, party suites, a children's play area and the Tiki Pavilion offers cold drinks. A food court behind home plate series authentic Phillie cheesesteaks. In addition to being the spring home of the Phillies, Bright House Field also hosts home games of the organization's Florida State League team, the Clearwater Threshers, and the BIG EAST Baseball Championship. (727-441-9941)
Artist Dale Chihuly's incredible glass works of art are displayed in museum installations all over the world, from NYC to Paris. But his permanent collection resides in downtown St. Petersburg at the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center, a gallery designed specifically for displaying his art. Stroll along the bayfront on Beach Drive and you can't miss the entrance with it's 20-foot vertical rock-like glass piece of art, jutting into the sky and exuding a vivid reddish pink hue. Stop inside and get lost in Chihuly's colorful and exotic pieces, from the neon glowing "Tumbleweed" to the fancy twists in "Mille Fiore." After exploring the collection, check out the retail store for limited edition original prints and studio editions. General admission to the Chihuly Collection is $14.95 for adults and $10.95 for children and students. Kids five and under are free. For an even better deal, purchase a combo ticket to the St. Petersburg Art Experience for $19.95 and gain admission to the Chihuly Collection, Glass Studio & Hot Shop, Morean Arts Center Galleries and the Morean Arts Center for Clay (a working pottery studio housed inside a historic train station). (727-822-7872)
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Permanent home of Winter, the dolphin that stars in the hit movies "Dolphin Tale" and "Dolphin Tale 2," the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must-visit attraction on Florida's west coast. The aquarium is home to rescued dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, nurse sharks and more. In fact, it's been voted by USA Today and 10Best.com readers as the "Best Florida Attraction." Aside from the Hollywood stardom, the aquarium is also a working marine hospital. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has been rescuing marine life and teaching people about it since 1981. Go behind the scenes and see how staff members nurse rescued animals back to health in preparation for return to the wild -- when that isn't possible, they provide long term residential care. They also protect the growth of the endangered sea turtle population by guarding a 26-mile stretch of beach in Pinellas County. General admission tickets are $21.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids ages three to 12. (727-441-1790, 888-239-9414)