St. Petersburg is not the first city that comes to mind when thinking about vacationing in Florida. People usually think of Miami, Orlando, or Panama City Beach where tourists crowd the beaches. It was only through my search for places to stay on Airbnb that I even knew of St. Petersburg’s existence.
St. Petersburg is a city an hour from Orlando on the west coast of Florida. Through research I found that this is actually where, arguably, the best beaches are. Beaches on the Gulf of Mexico tend to have the whitest sand and the clearest water. St. Petersburg is within an hour drive of several beaches on the Gulf coast.
Going on a trip to Florida was a spontaneous decision that me and two other friends made. It was to be a reward for completing our first year of college.Like typical college students, though, we had procrastinated in our search so there weren’t many listings for our dates and budget.
I stumbled upon Airbnb and decided to give it a try. After narrowing our search area to the Gulf Coast and deciding we had no desire to drive more than thirteen hours, we found a cute apartment in St. Petersburg that would only cost $189 each for the whole week. It was perfect. The night before our trip, we got no sleep from the excitement of what was to come. We left Louisville at 3 AM and got to our destination in the evening. The bridge leading to the city provides an impressive view of the ocean. The St. Petersburg welcome tower was a gratifying sight after hours of driving.
Navigating the city was easy enough and we found our rental to be in a beautiful neighborhood close to downtown. It was private and in a great location. The place was clean and had everything we needed, even a beach umbrella and chairs.
The next day we headed to the Salvador Dali Museum. Parking downtown was painless. The weather was hot and sunny without being suffocating.
Downtown St. Petersburg is filled with cute shops and restuarants. The city provides a trolley that rides around the area for free depending on where you want to go. The museum is on the route but we chose to walk and take in the views.
The museum is recognizable even from far away with its reflective surface. It’s filled with the works of Salvador Dali as well as pictures documenting his life. A Disney and Dali exhibit made for a memorable visit.
The next few days were all about exploring the beaches. There are several beaches within an hour of St. Petersburg. We went to Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, St. Pete Beach, and Clearwater Beach.
Each beach was gorgeous. The sand was white and soft. The water was clear and the waves were calm yet fun. None of them were crowded and we were easily able to find a spot to leave our things without worrying they might get stolen.
My favorite beach was St. Pete but Caladesi was an interesting experience. Apparently, there had been stingray sightings and even an accident before we got there. They warned us to shuffle our feet while in the water. Luckily, nothing happened
Parking was the only difficult thing we encountered. It’ll be difficult to find if you don’t want to pay or don’t stay in a hotel near the beach. You also have to pay to get in to Honeymoon Island. Caladesi Island requires you to pay for ferry transportation.
St. Petersburg not only offers a prime location for beaches but also for food. The downtown area is filled with a wide array of restuarants such as Bombay Grill, which has delicious Indian food. During our short stay we had everything ranging from burgers to huaraches – all at a decent price.
Because of this, I would recommend a visit to St. Petersburg to everyone. It’s a beautiful and eclectic city with lots to do. You won’t get bored of its beauty. The ride back was bittersweet. I was sad to leave but I hope to return. Maybe even to stay.