My family has enjoyed the city of St. Petersburg for years now and it’s a place we always go back to. I especially love the Downtown St. Pete area, known for its artsy vibe and many craft breweries. I initially wrote this post to include ten things to do in Downtown St. Petersburg, but since going back a few more times, I have expanded it further. Whether you are a local or on vacation, here are some fun ideas in the area.
The Salvador Dali Museum
One of the most well-known St. Petersburg attractions is the Salvador Dali museum, where the Spanish surrealist’s works are on display. He is best known for the “melting clock” painting, The Persistence of Memory and the museum architecture reflects the whimsy from that work. Here, they have 7 of his 18 masterworks and lots more on display. Exhibits rotate, with the coolest one to me being the Disney and Dali exhibit which was on display a couple years ago. It showcased an unfinished collaboration from the two and some of the Dali influence in Disney works.
The museum costs $25 and is open every day from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. On Thursday, they have a 5 – 8 PM special where anyone can get in for $12. Three hours is plenty of time to spend there, so this is a great deal if you visit on a Thursday. If you do not have time to visit the museum, you can walk around the gardens for free and enjoy some of the displays. This is what we did on this visit and it is a great opportunity to see the St. Pete waterfront as well.
The Canopy Rooftop Bar
If you want a great view of the city and a refreshing drink, head to the Birchwood. Here, you will find the Canopy Rooftop Lounge completely open to the public. Not only is there a great selection of libations, but they also have comfy couches and fire pits! We came up here one afternoon for happy hour and had a wonderful time drinking and socializing. I highly recommend the frose if it’s a hot day! They have all sorts of beer, wine and cocktails for whatever fits your mood though.
Brick & Mortar
For some of the best eats in St. Pete, check out Brick & Mortar. This restaurant has a curated menu of delicious eats. We went here for dinner one night and were amazed by the top notch ingredients. The wine and beer list was equally impressive. It’s a great place for tapas, but they have full entrees as well. Our favorite dish was the beef carpaccio with a house made ravioli. It was so savory and perfectly seasoned! This is an essential spot for foodies for dinner.
Cycle Brewing Company
Downtown St. Petersburg is also home to one of my favorite Florida breweries, Cycle Brewing. This brewery has an industrial cycling theme and some of the best IPA’s around. I have been here almost every time I am in the area. It is just impossible to resist trying their new brews!
The Sunken Gardens
I was shocked to learn that in the middle of the city, there is a gorgeous oasis at the Sunken Gardens. This botanical garden has been around for 100 years and is home to hundreds of unique plant species. If you want to escape for a few hours, you can visit for only $12 per person. We had a lovely morning here seeing the exotic plants, trees and even flamingos!
Green Bench Brewing Company
Another beloved St. Pete brewery is Green Bench Brewing, which you can find off Central Avenue. There are actually two different bar offerings here as their classic brewery operates on one side and the barrel aged brewery on the other. Both have such unique and delicious beers that are perfect for sipping on the shared patio.
2nd & Second Diner
We came across the adorable diner 2nd & Second on Valentine’s Day morning and it was just the place we needed for breakfast! It’s open 24 hours per day, so you can get your breakfast fix whenever you want. They do have sandwiches and burgers, but we found the breakfast to be too good to pass up. Don’t miss this adorable spot tucked away from the bustle of Downtown St. Pete.
St. Pete Brewing Company
We only got one beer here at the end of the night, so I could not justify doing a whole brewery series on this one, but it was still another great St. Pete brewery! They had a cute nautical theme I loved with a toucan as their mascot and oars on the wall. The taproom was a decent size and even had a small TV set up with an N64. The beer selection was very well-rounded, with a selection of different styles.
I got the Orange Wheat and Andrew got the Put Me in Kolsch. They were both solid choices, with mine being just the right amount of fruity and his being very smooth with a clean finish. My sister got the Europe 72 Pale Ale and found it to be a good standard pale ale. That’s the best way to describe their beer list, as they make beers that fit the style by the textbook, in a good way. It’s definitely a place where everyone will find something to like. They also have a food menu and free popcorn! You can’t beat a salty snack with a cold brew!
As a sushi lover, I am always on the hunt for delicious sushi options in new cities. There is plenty to try in St. Pete, especially the awesome counter service Rollbotto Sushi. This place has the option for you to create your own rolls, made right in front of you! It’s perfect for if you want a quick and cheap meal, as opposed to lots of sushi restaurants that can be an expensive experience. We really wanted to create our own, however the menu already had so many good choices! We did one create-your-own, one Yellow Submarine and one Torpedo Claw, which were described as:
The Yellow Submarine – Tuna, yellowtail, cucumber green onions, tempura chips, sriracha chili sauce, sesame oil & mayo
The Torpedo Claw – Tempura Shrimp, krabstick, avocado, cream cheese, sesame seeds, teriyaki sauce.
For the create your own, it ended being more basic with tuna, jalapeno, green onions, tempura chips, and sriracha. All three rolls were so good! The fish was fresh and plentiful and the other ingredients really complimented them. If you are looking for a quick sushi spot, this is just what you need.
Chihuly Collection Museum
Another cool experience in St. Pete is the Chihuly Collection, which i just found out about and really want to visit! This art museum displays the stunning works of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. I saw this statue out front while walking around Downtown and was instantly intrigued. As I have researched this museum, his other works seem even more amazing. The museum is open every day from 10 AM – 5 PM, except Sunday when it opens at noon. It costs $20 for adults, but if you are going to Busch Gardens, you can save money and purchase a Tampa City Pass for $107 and get admission to the theme park, two aquariums and this museum, as opposed to the usual $70 for the theme park. If you are going to be in the are for the week, this is a pretty good deal because the aquariums in Tampa and Clearwater are some great attractions to see as well!
The Hyppo Popsicles
The Hyppo is probably one of the most well known popsicles stores in Florida. They have grown their gourmet popsicle business from St. Augustine to all over the state, including Sarasota, Gainesville and this St. Pete location. They make popsicles out of natural fruit and have created 450 flavors since 2010! With Florida always being so hot, you need something to cool you off while walking around town and this is just the place.
We had a hard time choosing between all the unique flavors like Blackberry Goat Cheese and Canatoupe Lemon Chia. They have classic flavors as well like Peaches and Cream if you just want something simple! My whole family loved the flavors they got, but Andrew’s and mine were the most memorable. He had pineapple jalapeno and I had strawberry basil. The inclusion of herbs is really what makes these pops unique and adds to the flavor profile. Both of them were so refreshing, and I can;t wait to try their new flavors.
Haslam’s Book Store
I saw this book store mentioned a couple times while looking for things to do in St. Pete, and thought it seemed like a weird tourist attraction. My sister loves cats and books, so I figured we would check it out! Those other websites ended up being right, it is actually a pretty neat experience. This is the largest book store in Florida with rooms full of new and used books.
It’s on the west side of 275 so you have to drive to it from Downtown St. Pete, but it is worth it! I always forget how much I enjoy wandering around a bookstore, plus there were some cats to meet so it was extra entertaining. The prices can’t compete with Amazon of course, but I recommend buying one so you can experience St. Pete to the fullest and prevent book stores from dying.
See the Murals
Downtown St. Pete is one of the many Floridian cities that have embraced artistic murals to brighten the community. What started as a way to revitalize Wynwood by painting works of arts on warehouse buildings, has now become the state and even country’s favorite way to distinguish cities. This trend is seen all over the state including EGAD, in my neck of the woods. I love that it adds a unique touch to the area and I enjoy walking around and taking pictures of them. A trip to St. Pete is not complete without seeing a few, so take some time to stroll through the area. If you’re like me and need some structure on your leisurely walk, check out this mural map and then try and find your favorites!
Oysters are one of my favorite treats! While I haven’t been able to get Andrew on board with these slimy delicacies, the rest of my family loves them. The Oyster Bar is just the place to get that oyster fix. It’s right on Central Ave in the heart of downtown, on Central Ave where they set up First Friday. That was going on when we there and it added a very lively atmosphere to the city.
The best part about this restaurant is that they have $1 oysters from 4-5 every day. This is also during happy hour where you can get 24 ounces of local craft beer for $5. This is an awesome deal and a good way to start your evening in St. Pete. If you are extra adventurous, you can also get a “One Buck Chuck” shot for a $1. This is a shot of beer, cocktail sauce, hot sauce and horseradish with an oyster in it! We all got one and it was very good, almost better than slurping an oyster off a shell. They also have some really good sounding baked oysters like three cheese jalapeno or Parmesan herb crusted, We only tried the oysters and hush puppies, but just from these I could tell it is a delicious place to go.
In addition to sushi, St. Pete also has some excellent ramen options. Buya is the one we keep going back to, because of the ramen and the tiki drinks! It’s an especially good choice for happy hour, as you can get half ramen bowls for $7 and appetizers for $5. This is perfect for those who want to sample a variety of the menu!
Red Mesa Cantina and Mercado
For Mexican food lovers, Red Mesa is a can’t miss! There is a sit-down restaurant and a food stand, both serving equally delicious food. If you want margaritas, fajitas and a lively atmosphere, then Red Mesa Cantina is the place to go for a meal. However, I also love the quick service and the delicious burrito bowls at Red Mesa Mercado. Either way, you will be able to enjoy some of the best Mexican food around!
Parks and Rec
If you prefer bars to breweries, Parks and Rec is one of my favorite bars to hang out at. This is a bar complete with all sorts of games, including an arcade, giant beer pong and much more! We have came here a few times and it’s fun to get a game going with a big group or just play skeeball while you drink.
Oak and Stone
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite pizza and beer place! Oak & Stone not only has artisan pizza, but they also have a beer wall. What this means is you can sample all sorts of local craft beers in whatever amount you want! We had so much fun trying new beers and paying as you go.
Know Before You Go: Things To Do In Downtown St. Pete
I hope this guide gives you some ideas for things to do in one of my favorite cities! I have yet to have a boring day here and there is always more being added. Keep in mind, the best time of year to visit St. Pete is October through May, as the summers can be hot and stormy. There is lots of metered parking all over the city, for only a few dollars per hour. I prefer to park in the Sundial Parking Garage, which is only $1 per hour. Make sure to also check out the beautiful St. Pete beaches while you are here, as they are only a few miles from Downtown!
If you need more ideas of things to do in St. Petersburg, check out my full guide on the area, as well number one hotel recommendation! This is probably in my top three favorite Florida locations, and it even beats Miami and West Palm Beach. It’s only a short drive from Orlando, but with so much to do, I like staying here for a few days. Let me know if you enjoy this city as much as I do in the comments.