Just across Tampa Bay lies St. Petersburg, the once sleepy town that was transformed thanks to a thriving arts and food scene. Known as the “Sunshine City” (thanks to a record 361 days of sunshine), the peninsula within the peninsula has Tampa Bay to the East and the Gulf to the West making it the best of both worlds.
With so many things to do, we wanted to provide you with the ultimate St. Pete guide for the best date nights:
For the Foodies…
Locale Market, part of the Sundial, is a mecca for food enthusiasts. With over twenty food stations serving a variety of cuisines from burgers to poke bowls to house-made pasta, this is a food lover’s paradise. This gem was opened by celebrity Chef Michael Mina and culinary expert Chef Don Pintabona, who came together to master the casual yet gourmet culinary experience.
You may decide to wander upstairs to their full-service restaurant, FarmTable Kitchen, where they serve an assortment of small plates for the more casual diner or a wood-fired grilled steak if you’re looking for fancier fare. Either way, have a local craft beer or choose from their extensive wine list and stay awhile.
If you prefer a newer, undiscovered foodie spot, look no further than the Reading Room. The onsite lush gardens are the first to catch your eye as you approach the stand alone building on West Central Ave, once a Christian Reading Room. Their motto “garden-inspired, wood-fired” sums up exactly what to expect out of your dining experience. Many of the dishes are created from what’s growing outside and as you bite into your salad you have no doubt the contents of it was plucked from the garden only mere hours earlier.
Can you get more local than that? Other menu items such as Marrow & Egg Toast and Liver Mousse will please even the most adventurous of eaters.
Gone are the days of fighting over whether you should go out for Italian or Southern soul food thanks to Noble Crust. They somehow manage to prepare both cuisines exceptionally well serving up some of the best fried chicken and pizza in the city. Using only the freshest ingredients, the menu changes with the seasons but popular dishes like the ricotta gnocchi and kale caesar are there to stay.
Plus, the fun yet intimate atmosphere makes this a date night you’ll want to do over and over again. Making it a day date instead? Their brunch, served Saturday and Sunday, is one of the best in all of Tampa Bay.
For the Cultured…
Visit one of the many museums in the Downtown area, including the Dali Museum, home to the largest of collection of Salvador Dali’s art in the world. Along with permanent exhibit of Dali’s work, a new exhibition comes to the museum every few months. If you work up an appetite perusing the museum, be sure to grab food downstairs from Cafe Gala, the cafe serving up not only soups and sandwiches but gourmet Spanish-style tapas to fit into the theme of the museum.
Sitting on Beach Drive next to the most beautiful kapok tree is the Museum of Fine Arts, home to a collection of works that goes back thousands of years. Spend the day admiring various works of art before heading into the romantic sculpture garden, the perfect place to reset before making your next move. Be sure to check the events on their website as they frequently add new ones, such as the Beer Project: Art + Beer Lounge coming in June.
One of the best ways to see St. Pete’s thriving arts scene is by attending the Art Walk, which takes place every second Saturday of the month from 5pm-9pm. Over 40 galleries within the Waterfront Arts District, EDGE District, Warehouse Arts District and Grand Central District keep their doors open late so you can spend the evening discovering the work of local artists in the area. For many artists, this is a way to showcase new pieces of art and some galleries only open their doors for this special monthly event. There’s even free trolleys to take you to the different neighborhoods that begin on 2nd St and go as far West as 30th St, with each trolley stop serviced every 30 minutes.
For the Outdoorsy…
What better way to camp than surrounded by large palm trees and sparkling blue waters. Fort Desoto Park, a mere 20-minute car ride from St. Pete, has over 230 fully-equipped campsites with over half offering views of the water. Launch a kayak right from your campsite (rent one or bring your own) and explore the waters along the 2.25 mile paddling trail. If you’re looking to bring your furry friend, the park also has one of the only dog-friendly beaches in the area and a dog park. Walk or bike the seven-mile nature trail or wander around the historic Fort. If that all sounds like too much, you can always just relax on the white sandy beaches and enjoy the scenery.
If you’re looking for a unique paddling experience, Weedon Island Preserve is the spot for you. Rent kayaks or paddleboards from Sweetwater Kayaks and take off on a four-mile loop that will take you not only past but through the mangroves. The tall branches create a tunnel-like setting that will immediately make you feel like you’re one with nature and hopefully provide some relief from that Florida sun. If you prefer to explore by foot, hike one of the many trails. Expect to see a variety of wildlife and native plant species on the 3,000 acre nature preserve. Don’t leave without walking to the top of the 45-foot observation tower that looks out onto Tampa Bay.
Hike through six unique Florida ecosystems at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, the 245-acre park along Lake Maggiore. The Lake Maggiore trail takes you over a boardwalk overlooking the massive lake with views of the downtown St. Pete skyline and Tropicana field in the distance. The nature park is home to many gopher tortoise who build homes by digging holes in the ground. These skittish creatures scare easily so tread lightly or you run the risk of scaring them away. There’s also a birds of prey aviary on the grounds that’s sure to grab your attention.
For the Sporty…
Get rowdy at a Rowdies game, the professional soccer team (up for a spot to become a Major League team) that St. Pete loves cheering to victory. Games take place at Al Lang Stadium, the 7,500 seat roofless stadium across the street from the open waters of Tampa Bay. If you’re really feeling the team spirit, buy seats near the super fans known as Ralph’s Mob and join in on their chants as you scream GOAL!
If there’s one thing St. Pete has taught us, it’s that Shuffleboard is not just for retirees. The Shuffleboard Club of St. Pete is the world’s largest shuffleboard club and every Friday night it’s open to the public for a suggested donation of two dollars. The paddle pushers and discs needed to play – or the tang and biscuits in shuffleboard lingo – are available for use onsite. Bring yourselves and cooler of beer (cans only) for a relaxing game under the stringed lights at one of the hippest spots in town.
Climb to new heights at Vertical Ventures, the indoor rock climbing gym. As a beginner, you’re likely to start off with what’s knows as “top rope” where one person climbs and the other belays holding a device attached to a rope made for catching your partner when they’re overcome with fear or just can’t hold on anymore. This workout is guaranteed to strengthen both your muscles and your relationship. Plan on brushing up on those communications skills before you go.
For the Adventurous….
If it’s thrill you seek, head out to Madeira beach and climb aboard a parasailing boat at Gators Parasailing run by US Coast Guard licensed Captains. Once you’re lifted into the air, you’ll enjoy glorious views of the beaches as you dangle high in the air over the Gulf of Mexico. This daring experience isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s the perfect outing for those looking to add a little excitement into the mix.
Take off on an unforgettable tour of downtown St. Pete in a helicopter piloted by Tampa Bay Aviation. Leaving from Albert Whitted Airport, the in flight aerial views allow you to see the city as you’ve never seen before. Choose from various packages such as the “Historic” tour that takes you over downtown and the surrounding area or opt to go further on the “Treasure” tour exploring the beaches flying over landmarks such as the Don CeSar Resort (known as the “pink palace”).
Those couples looking to keep their feet on ground while taking their brains on an adventure might check out Escape Room St. Pete. Themed rooms such as the Science Lab or Writer’s Cabin come with storyline that you’re playfully immersed in while having 60 minutes to crack the code using clues and solving puzzles. Put your thinking cap on for this one and remember the key here is teamwork.
Featured Image Credit: The Dali Museum