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
FOOD HALLS + MARKETS
While the beloved Locale Market, part of the Sundial, closed in 2019, the area will remain a mecca for food enthusiasts. A new food hall concept is in the works from the same team behind Heights Public Market located within Tampa's Armature Works. The original plan was to open in fall of 2020, so stay tuned for news.
If you and your date love cooking at home, definitely plan a visit to the infamous Mazzaro's Italian Market. This Italian market has everything you could dream of for an Italian-inspired date night at home, or pick up some prepared foods and enjoy your own picnic on the terrace. Make sure to stop by the espresso counter for a little caffeine before continuing on to peruse fresh pastas, cheese (including fresh mozzarella), wine, bread, produce, meats, gelato and so much more.
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 are there to stay.
- Check out these New Hot Spots in St. Pete for even more ideas throughout St. Pete and Clearwater.
- Bodega on Central
- Engine No. 9
ST. PETE PIER
Looking for the perfect spot for a progressive dinner? Dine around the newly-opened and reimagined St. Pete Pier, which features six dining concepts all in one walkable area. Head to the third floor of The Point to dine at Teak, then make your way upstairs for drinks at the rooftop tiki lounge, Pier Teaki.
For the Cultured…
Visit one of the many museums in the Downtown area, including the Dalí 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. This bright cafe serves soups and sandwiches alongside 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 (temporarily closed), 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. Admission is $10/person.
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. Free trolleys transport 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…
FORT DE SOTO PARK
What better way to camp than surrounded by large palm trees and sparkling blue waters? Fort De Soto 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.
Sunken Gardens is a botanical garden as well as St. Pete’s oldest living museum. Here you’ll find a myriad of tropical plants, waterfalls, flowers, and even some plants and structures that exceed 100 years of age. You can explore the gardens every day except on holidays. Admission is $10/person.
Located about a 7-minute drive from Sunken Gardens is the Gizella Kopsick Arboretum. Originally a city miniature golf course which closed, the area was later proposed and approved to house an arboretum instead. The arboretum was made possible due to a large donation from Miss Gizella Kopsick, a long time palm admirer. Visitors can now enjoy the scenery and tranquility, in addition to information regarding the many exotic and native Florida palms and cycads.
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 and provide 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.
Alternatively, 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…
If there’s one thing St. Pete has taught us, it’s that shuffleboard is not just for retirees. The St. Pete Shuffle 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 a cooler of beer (cans only) for a relaxing game under at one of the hippest spots in town.
Note: St. Pete Shuffle is currently open for members only. Stay tuned for news on when public events will resume.
Climb to new heights at Vertical Ventures, the indoor rock climbing gym. As a beginner, you’re likely to start off with what’s known as top rope. This is 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.
Get rowdy at a Rowdies game, the professional soccer 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!
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 in the air, enjoy glorious views of the beaches as you soar over the Gulf of Mexico. This daring experience isn’t for the faint of heart.
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.
Feature image credit: The Dali Museum