Whether you have your sights set on the world-renowned beaches or you’re just looking for a little outdoor excitement, St. Petersburg has something to offer every traveler. Not only does St. Pete have miles of sandy beachfront hotspots and barrier islands, it also offers plenty of natural attractions and outdoor activities. With sun and fun in mind, here are four attractions in St. Petersburg that are the epitome of beach perfection.
1. St. Pete Beach
The city of St. Petersburg averages 360 days of sunshine a year, so it’s no surprise that St. Pete Beach is one of the most popular attractions of the beachside city. The Gulf side of the beach offers sandy spots for sunbathing and just about every water activity under the sun.
If you’ve gotten your fill of sand and surf, the bay side of St. Pete Beach is a nature-lover’s paradise, complete with pristine views of the calm waters and countless marinas. McPherson Bayou on the southern bay side of the beach is also a great spot for sightseeing tarpon and beautiful waterfront homes.
2. Fort De Soto Park
At the southernmost point of Pinellas County, just a short drive from St. Petersburg’s city center, is Fort De Soto Park. The historic park is over 1,100 acres and includes Madelaine Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key, St. Jean Key, and Mullet Key, which is the park’s main island.
Fort De Soto Park derives its name from Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer who came ashore in the St. Petersburg area in 1539. The park features remnants of the fort, including replica canons and original embankment walls. Whether you want to fish, hike, or discover the historical sites, Fort De Soto Park is the perfect spot.
The name alone makes you want to check it out, right? Pass-a-Grille is a historic neighborhood at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach. The name Pass-a-Grille, or Passe Aux Grilleurs, is French for “the passageway of grillers,” which honors the fishermen who called the island-like neighborhood home in the 1500s.
Today, the Pass-a-Grille neighborhood is filled with boutique hotels, local art vendors, and eclectic restaurants that are sure to satisfy any traveler’s appetite. Although the historic beachfront district is an attraction in itself, the beautiful Merry Pier at the south end of the Pass-a-Grille neighborhood is an ideal spot to watch the sunset over the Gulf.
4. Shell Key Preserve
With spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Tampa Bay to the east, Shell Key Preserve is a perfect spot to spend an afternoon. The preserve has a massive bird preservation area, which means you can bird watch from sunrise to sunset.
There are also a number of unique ecosystems within the preserve, from saltwater marshes to sandy seaside dunes. If you simply can’t get enough of the nature and serenity that Shell Key Preserve provides, overnight campsites are also available in the heart of the island.
When you’re ready to soak up the sun in St. Petersburg, keep in mind the perfect beach attractions above and make the most of your trip.
Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including travel and the environment.