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Destinations

St. Pete and Clearwater Two Jewels to Discover in Florida

Pinellas County’s two major cities and the smaller communities that surround them provide an alternative to Florida’s best-known destinations. The attractions range from beautiful white sand beaches to important museums, art galleries, and delicious craft beers.

Text and photos: Winnie T. Sittón

The thought of a Florida vacation often brings to mind the state’s most popular destinations: Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Many don’t realize that, near these three cities, there is a little corner of Florida that is very easy to reach from the highway. Until recently, it was mostly a destination for U.S. tourists but in recent years it has gradually developed its international appeal. The area is attracting visitors from Latin America and Europe who are looking for a quieter vacation alternative that has nothing to do with amusement parks or crowded shopping centers.

St. Pete: A City of Art

Located between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg is the most important city in Pinellas County. Better known as St. Pete, it makes a perfect base for traveling to different tourist sites in the county. Although the atmosphere is calm and relaxed, the city is vibrant and colorful, distinguished by its remarkable artistic spirit. The downtown is home to a good number of museums and art galleries in addition to the striking murals by street artists that dress up the city.

 

The Dalí Museum

This museum is one of St. Pete’s most visited attractions. It houses an unparalleled collection of more than 2,400 works by the Catalan painter Salvador Dalí; it is the largest exhibit of his work outside of Spain. The building itself is considered a work of art thanks to its original geodesic glass bubble. It was built, using 1,062 triangular panels, as a tribute to the legacy of this surrealist artist.

Chihuly Collection

A permanent exhibit of works by the artist Dale Chihuly, who is world famous for his impressive sculptures and installations made of blown glass, a technique he pioneered in the United States. The building’s interior was carefully designed to make viewing the collection a sublime experience.

Imagine Museum

The museum contains glass works created by U.S. sculptors from the American Studio Glass Movement, including pioneers and founders as well as current and emerging artists. It also includes an extraordinary selection of contemporary artists from around the world working in different glasswork techniques. A visit to the museum is an exceptional way to spend a few hours

Clearwater

Clearwater is considered one of the ten best beaches in the United States and it is indeed beautiful! It is only thirty minutes from St. Pete, so you could make a day trip or stay in one of Clearwater’s luxurious hotels that overlook the turquoise sea of the Gulf of Mexico. Take advantage of your visit to see other attractions in the area, including the aquarium.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

This aquarium is home to the dolphins Winter and Hope, famous for their roles in the movies Dolphin’s Tale and Dolphin’s Tale 2. These inspiring films, shot in the aquarium, are based on real events. They show the important mission of this non-profit foundation, which rescues and heals wounded or sick marine species, later releasing them back into their natural habitat. Visiting the aquarium is fun and a great way to support their work and meet these stars!

Craft Beer Lover? This is the Perfect Spot!

¡Está en el lugar ideal!

El movimiento de cerveza artesanal de Florida es uno de los más fuertes de Estados Unidos. Y en Pinellas County hay muy buenas y ricas opciones para degustar. He aquí tres.

Dunedin Brewery

This is the oldest microbrewery in Florida and, as its name implies, it is located in Dunedin, a small town just ten minutes from Clearwater. Make a day at the beach even better by taking a little beer adventure. You won’t regret it.

3 Daughters

This brewery is located in the Grand Central District of St. Pete (not far from Downtown). It has a comfortable tasting room where you can try around twenty different beer options served directly from the barrel. A delight.

Mad Beach

Madeira Beach’s flagship brewery offers almost thirty types of beers on tap (direct from the barrel). It is best to request a tasting so you can try several types in small portions. Just twenty minutes from St. Pete.

John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk

A must stop during your visit to Pinellas County. Located on Madeira Beach, it has more than 100 shops of all kinds and a boardwalk with bars and restaurants overlooking the sea. There are also multiple options for getting in the water that range from boat rentals to parasailing or deep sea fishing excursions. This place offers a full day’s worth of fun. 

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs resembles a small town on the coast of Greece that somehow got lost in Florida. At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 500 Greek divers settled here and perfected the commercial extraction of sea sponges, which served as the town’s main commercial activity for many years. Since then, the town has evolved into the largest representation of Hellenic culture in the United States. Just forty minutes from St. Pete, there is a lot to do in Tarpon Springs. Personally, I would take advantage of the food! Here, the Mediterranean cuisine steals the show.

How to Get There

From North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, Copa Airlines offers an average of seven weekly flights to and from Tampa through the Hub of the Americas in Panama City. There are also 4 daily flights to and from Orlando.

St. Pete is located just 25 miles from Tampa and can be easily reached by highway in 30 minutes. It is 105 miles from Orlando, around a two-hour drive.