I’ve come to the conclusion that this post is less of a travel guide and more of a love letter to St. Petersburg. A quick trip to the west coast of Florida for a wedding turned into a few days of discovering a place we are determined to call home for a while next winter. I didn’t quite know what to expect when we left at 3am for our quick flight to Tampa, but from the moment we stepped off the plane it was love at first sight. I feel a bit silly talking about a place so fondly when we only spent three days there, but there’s just something special about it. From the perfect weather to the pristine beaches to the friendly people and the amazing food we must have said, “we have to come back” about 100 times. Many of you sent messages asking for our recommendations as you have trips planned in the near future so I wanted to get this post up quickly. A huge thank you to everyone who sent us your suggestions and favorite places, that’s the only way we made decisions of where to go and no one steered us wrong. I should also note, we didn’t get the chance to explore Tampa and I didn’t include anything about that here because it’s worthy of it’s own post. Saving it for our next trip. Don’t forget to check out my Youtube haul with everything I packed for the trip. Everything in this post is also linked at the bottom.
Where to Stay
So first things first, everyone wants to know about “The Don.” We stayed at the Don Cesar mainly because it was such a short trip and the wedding was there so I just wanted it to be easy and I wanted to be on the beach. Would I stay there again? No. But it was fine for this trip. I will say it was PERFECT for the wedding, and it was great to walk out of the hotel and onto the beach. The service was fine and we had an awesome lunch on the beach one day, but the rooms were nothing special, and it’s one of those places that charge you for everything. I get it, they’re a hotel, they need to make money, but I don’t even want to admit how much money we spent for just 3 nights (INSANE). And we weren’t by any means big spenders while we were staying there. My cousin and some friends stayed at the Kimpton across the street and down a few blocks. They loved it. We went for dinner one night and it was not impressive, but I think we just ordered the wrong things. That said, it’s way more affordable than the Don, but doesn’t have the convenience of walking out onto the beach. When we go back we are going to rent a house in downtown St. Petersburg instead of being near the beach. It’s only a 15 minute drive so it really depends on if you have a car and what you feel like doing. If you don’t plan on leaving the beach, stay at The Don or somewhere close. If you want to explore, I recommend downtown St. Petersburg. I will say, the sunrises we woke up to every morning were so beautiful. There are tons of vacation rentals, friends of ours rented a nice Airbnb not far from the beach (you did have to go over the bridge).
Where to Eat
There were SO many great restaurant, cafe, and brewery recommendations we didn’t even scratch the surface, but we had some amazing meals. I’ve included a bunch of suggestions below, including a lot of places we didn’t get to, but looked great. Like I said, we’ll be back! As you’ll see if you look these places up, they are all in St. Petersburg. The bars and restaurants on the beach are pretty touristy and if you want really good food, I’d make the trip. I’m sure there’s some decent spots for lunch and definitely cocktails on the beach, but downtown St. Petersburg is where it’s at for the food scene (from what we gathered during our short trip).
Bodega – OMG, this is a must. We had the most incredible lunch here. The sweet and spicy slaw is to die for. I got a juice from their spot next door too.
Red Mesa Cantina – We had the BEST dinner here. Great happy hour, awesome service, outdoor patio. Loved it.
Cider Press Cafe
Red Mesa Mercado – Walked by this place, it looked awesome.
Spinners (St. Pete Beach)
Canopy Rooftop & Bar
The Ale & the Witch
Pinellas Ale Works (dog themed)
Undertow (beach bar)
Jimmy Bs (beach bar)
What to Do
Obviously beach time is a must if you’re in the St. Petersburg/St. Pete Beach area. The beach is absolutely beautiful and the sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking. We spent majority of our time on Pass-a-grille Beach in front of the Don Cesar because it was just easy. There are of course also tons of amazing markets, museums and shopping.
Fort DeSoto Beach
Wall Murals (Shineonstpete.com)
Central Ave (tons of amazing shops)
St Pete Saturday Morning Market
Locale Gourmet Market