St Petersburg Travel Guide

Jess Ann Kirby stays at the Don Cesar Hotel during her stay in St Petersburg, Florida.

As many of you know this was our second trip to St Petersburg. Last year was our first visit, we went down for a wedding, and we really fell in love with the area. Our initial plan was to spend a month or so down there bring the animals and work from St Pete, but our priorities changed and we wanted to get serious about looking for another fixer upper, so we decided to go for a week instead. We originally planned to stay in a rental and when we arrived we basically walked in, turned around and left. So we ended up staying at the Don, which is funny because last year I said I wouldn’t stay there again, but a little more on that below. We had a bit more time to explore and do some of the things we couldn’t last year, but if you’re planning a trip definitely check out this post from last year as well. If you want to see what I packed check out this post, it was warm when we were there but still a bit cooler at night and early in the morning.

Jess Ann Kirby stays at the Don Cesar Hotel during her stay in St Petersburg, Florida.

Where to Stay

Having stayed at not one, not two, but THREE hotels during our most recent visit I can attest that the Don Cesar is where you should stay. It’s a bit of a long story but essentially because of our crappy rental we had to find a hotel day of, the first one I booked was so bad we literally walked in the room, turned around and left (Postcard Inn), then we stayed at the Zamora which is across the street from the Don Cesar (the Don was sold out for the beginning of our trip). The Zamora isn’t bad, the room was actually nice and spacious and clean, but it’s not on the beach, and I feel like if you’re going somewhere like St. Pete Beach it’s worth it to spend the money and just walk out onto the beach. But, if you’re looking to stay somewhere more affordable, I’d go with Zamora.

Finally we ended up at the Don Cesar. There really isn’t a lot of nice options in St. Pete Beach for hotels, and it seems like the Don Cesar is the best (if you’re local to the area and think otherwise please let me know). They did change their policy since last year, so you can sit on the beach now (with an umbrella and chair) as a guest and not be charged (yes they charged us for that last time). I also like that they have self-parking as opposed to making you valet, you have to pay for it but it’s worth being able to get the car when you want. The only time we ate at the hotel was when we had lunch on the beach. It was ok, the convenience is nice. It’s pretty great to be able to have cocktails brought to your beach chair. Everyone is very nice and the service is great. The beach is really beautiful too, we would go out early in the morning and walk the beach at sunrise, hard to beat that.

Jess Ann Kirby rents a new Volvo xc 60 during her stay in Florida.
Jess Ann Kirby wears a Mara Hoffman Sia Bikini from Anthropologie on the beaches of St Petersburg.

What to Do

We spent most of our time at the beach but there’s a lot to do in St Pete Beach/St Petersburg. We would go out in the morning and explore then come back for the afternoon and hang at the beach at the Don Cesar. You don’t have to have a car but it’s nice to have the option. We never had issues finding parking and definitely went back and forth between St Pete Beach and downtown St Petersburg a lot (huge thanks to Volvo for letting us borrow the XC-60, omg it’s SO nice to drive).

Pass-a-Grille Beach is beautiful, and if you’re not staying at the Don, there’s actually lots of metered spots a little farther down the beach.
Shell Key Preserve, we took the Shell Key Shuttle one morning to this little barrier island. The shuttle goes a few times a day so you can stay for a few hours or stay until the last shuttle goes back. It’s a fun little spot to look for shells and the water is beautiful. We basically had the place to ourselves.
Saturday Morning Market, if you find yourself in St Pete on a weekend you have to check out this market. It’s one of the best farmer’s markets we’ve been to. Lots of vendors, incredible produce and food for purchase. I can’t remember but I think it was around $10 or less to park.
Dali Museum, right near the Saturday market is a great place to check out. We saw the Magritte and Dali exhibit which was really cool. It can get busy so go early.
Central Avenue, there’s tons of really good shops all along Central Ave. There’s also incredible murals everywhere.
Breweries, there’s tons of them in St. Petersburg, check out my post from last year for a list of some popular ones.

Jess Ann Kirby visits the flower market in St Petersburg on Saturday morning.
Jess Ann Kirby browses the fresh vegetables at the farmers' market in St Petersburg.
Jess Ann Kirby wears all white on a walk to Bandit Coffee in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Jess Ann Kirby suggests visiting Baum Ave Market when in St Petersburg.

Where to Eat

This really should have been first right? So here’s the thing, in my experience there’s not a ton of great places to eat in the St. Pete Beach area. Please if you’re local, correct me if I’m wrong, but even some locals that gave me food recommendations didn’t point me to any places in St. Pete Beach. To eat, we basically went to downtown St Petersburg for almost all our meals. There’s SO many good restaurants it’s hard to beat. Some of our favorite spots were:

Bodega, couldn’t resist going back here (twice). We actually went and grabbed stuff to go then brought it to the beach one day.
Cider Press Cafe, really great vegan spot, that was almost always busy.
Red Mesa Cantina, we love this place, if you love Mexican this is a must.
Hawker’s Asian Street Fare, I think this spot is new because we didn’t remember it from our last trip but it was really good.
Baum Ave Market, this is an adorable multi-concept space with several food options include a juice/smoothie bar, vegan bakery and Mediterranean food.
Intermezzo, connected to Baum Ave Market this is a great little coffee shop and cocktail spot.
Bandit Coffee, another super cool coffee spot that also has amazing kombucha on tap (and Craig LOVES their chocolate chip cookies).
Oak & Stone, we had dinner at this spot one night (kind of a sports bar feel) and it’s a pretty cool concept. They have TONS of brews on tap and it’s serve yourself so you get a bracelet and pour your own.
Plant+Love, a good little vegan ice cream downtown.
Seahorse Restaurant, this was one of the only meals we ate in St. Pete Beach but a good spot for a diner breakfast. Super friendly service.

Jess Ann Kirby walks down Central Ave in St Petersburg, Florida.
Jess Ann Kirby suggests visiting the Dali Museum when on vacation in St Petersburg, Florida.

4 Comments

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  1. Loved this travel guide! St Pete sounds like an interesting place to go, the beach looks beautiful!

    I hope you have a great Thursday!
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.com

  2. Katie says:

    Yay I LOVE St. Pete. Always so fun to see how you guys capture photos of a place I’ve been to so much. The different perspective is the best! Your so right though, that’s an amazing market!

    Have you heard of Noble Crust?! It’s not in DT or the beach but it’s in St. Pete and only about 20 minutes from either location. I love raw, vegan or really healthy food places and am not one for Southern style foods. This place was hip, healthy, and delicious all in one! They do have things like cheeese and meat too ha! I am not a picky eater but I do love food that’s tasty. This restaurant had the most amazing pizza I have ever tasted in my life. My mouth still waters. The waiter was so fun, he gave us free mimosas! Hope you get to come back longer next year. INSANE you had to pay to sit on a beach, I’ve never experienced that ha.

    Katie | http://www.sunshinestyleblog.com

  3. Tory says:

    First of all, love your blog and instagram! Big fan <3 Out of curiosity, after this trip are you still as in love with St Pete as you were the first time? Seems like a lot of negative experiences with St Pete Beach (having stayed at the Postcard Inn myself, I would wholeheartedly agree it is not a place I would want to return to but since I was traveling on a tight budget for that trip, made it work). Do you think if/when you return you would recommend staying in St Petersburg and making day trips to the beach?

    • Jessica says:

      I still definitely would recommend St Pete Beach as I think the beach is beautiful and I LOVE downtown St Petersburg. I guess it depends on what your priorities are, I just love being able to walk out on the beach in the morning and hopping in the ocean for a swim and being able to relax at the hotel (Don Cesar) without worrying about towels, beach chairs, umbrellas, etc. But I realize you pay for that, so I think staying in downtown and driving to the beach wouldn’t be that big of a deal, there’s plenty of parking in Pass-a-grille and there’s so much to do downtown as well so you have activities in both places. We drove back and forth a lot.