Home to Tripadvisor’s No. 1 Beach in the U.S. in 2021, this friendly, laid-back beach town is part family destination, part low-key haven for aspiring beach bums. You can see the famous Pink Palace – officially, The Don Cesar – from any point on this nearly seven-mile barrier island with its lengthy ribbon of white-sand beach. Wherever you are in St. Pete Beach, you’re never far from great spots to eat, drink and shop.
There’s plenty of beach to go around here; you just have to decide what kind of beach day you’re in the mood for on America’s No. 1 Beach. If you’re looking for hours of affordable family fun, head to Upham Beach Park, the northernmost stretch of sand in town, where you’ll find parking, bathrooms, showers and a snack bar with a full menu that includes wine and craft beer. (Tip from a local: Check out the “Secret Garden” on the north end of Upham Beach. You can only get to this lushly landscaped spot by walking all the way to the north.) For a splurge, The Tradewinds Island Grand resort sells day passes that give you access to amenities such as the High Tide Slide, pools, a beach cabana, mini-golf, parking and more. If you’re craving an action-packed day with brews and beach volleyball, spread your blanket out on the beach behind Postcard Inn or check out some live music on the expansive deck at award-winning beach bar Jimmy B’s behind the Beachcomber Hotel.
For a truly laid-back beach day, head to Pass-a-Grille Beach, a small beach community that is on the south end of St. Pete Beach. Rent a paddleboard from the kiosk outside Paradise Grille, build a sandcastle and enjoy a swim - and be sure to stick around for the nightly sunset celebration, when one lucky beach-goer gets to ring a bell at the exact moment the sun sinks into the Gulf.
Things to Do
After some time at the beach, explore St. Pete Beach’s two “main streets”: Corey Avenue, several blocks east of the beach, and historic 8th Avenue in Pass-a-Grille Beach.
Corey Avenue has a small collection of boutiques, cafes and bars, and there’s a great farmer’s market here every Sunday. Pass-a-Grille’s downtown area has several galleries and beachwear shops.
For a (literal) deep dive into the undersea creatures that live just off the coast, head to Rumfish, the restaurant and bar within the resort of the same name. Here, you’ll find three aquariums that are home to local sea life (the largest of the aquariums is 33,500 gallons and was featured on the Animal Planet series Tanked). For a totally immersive experience, you can actually snorkel in a Rumfish aquarium, putting you face-to-face with the aquarium’s resident snook, tarpons and stingrays (reservations needed).
Budget-friendly things to do include relaxing poolside at the St. Pete Beach Family Aquatic Center, and visiting parks on the city’s sparkling Intracoastal waterfront, including Horan Park, Egan Park and Ron McKenney Park.
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Where to Eat & Drink
Seafood is, of course, front-and-center on menus here. Head off-the-beaten-path to super-casual PJ’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant or check out Madfish, with its cool 1950s diner exterior. Hurricane Seafood Restaurant in Pass-a-Grille is legendary – for a memorable night, be sure to enjoy sunset from its rooftop bar. Find another spectacular rooftop bar at The Dewey, a more recent addition to the local dining scene. Looking for luxury? There’s the AAA Four Diamond-rated Maritana Grille, housed in The Don CeSar – the menu here is an ever-changing culinary wonder, with Mediterranean-inspired dishes using local, sustainably sourced produce and seafood.
For wonderful Mexican food, head to Agave, which has an extensive menu with fresh ingredients (you’ll be able to tell this from your first bite of salsa), an astonishing tequila selection and plenty of outdoor seating. Grand Hacienda further down the beach has more traditional Mexican plates you and your crew can wash down with margaritas by the pitcher. Nori Thai is a great spot for sushi and curry. Craving some pizza? You can’t go wrong with Vito & Michael’s on the north side of Blind Pass (night owl’s alert: this popular pizzeria is open until at least 2 a.m. for takeout orders).
For a sophisticated brunch menu with something for everyone (yes, including vegans and gluten-free folks), head to Chill on Corey Avenue – the bloody Mary bar here is a must. Just across Gulf Boulevard, beloved breakfast spot The Frog Pond has great eggs Benedict and omelettes so big you may want to share.
If beach bar-hopping is on your list, St. Pete Beach is one of the best places to do it. On the south end of St. Pete Beach (just before Pass-a-Grille), The Undertow is perfect for open-air fun right on the sand. Closer to the main stretch of resorts, you’ll find popular beach bars Harry’s Beach Bar, Jimmy B’s and, next door, Postcard Inn – all featuring live music virtually every day. Or, mingle with the locals at Swigwam, a legendary dive, on Corey Avenue.
Places to Stay
Full-service resorts such as The Don CeSar and The TradeWinds Resorts offer luxurious experiences with all the amenities you could desire. But you’ll also find plenty of “Old Florida” accommodations that are hidden gems here. Mid-century hotels such as the Bon-Aire Resort and Pass-a-Grille’s Coconut Inn harken back to vintage Florida without skimping on creature comforts. Beachfront accommodations in St. Pete Beach that won’t strain your wallet include the Dolphin Beach Resort – which has a huge pool and a great beach bar and Alden Suites, which has surprisingly spacious rooms and great deals on hotel packages.
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