Last week I introduced you to St. Pete (Florida For Grownups-Part I), a sophisticated city destination for grownups seeking to explore a Disney-alternative in Florida. Here are some of the great things to do while you’re there.
The best way to orient yourself is to take an evening walking tour with Ghost Tours.com. Leaving from the Hooker Tea Company (this is a PG-13 trip after all) the tour winds along Beach Drive, the centerpiece of the city’s revitalization efforts. You’ll pass rumored haunts, like the Vinoy, several private residences and the Ponce De Leon. According to our guide a former Rockette burned to death in the hotel. And Ceviche, its top-notch tapas restaurant, was used as a morgue during World War II. This may be your first clue that you’re not in Orlando anymore.
With 7 museums and dozens of galleries, St. Pete’s the place to get your art on. Part of recent multi-million dollar renovations at the Vinoy was the installation of a chandelier created by renowned glass artisan Daniel Chihuly. The city is home to a unique museum housing a collection of his works, close to the Dali Museum on Beach Drive. Enjoy the excellent photography collections and Impressionist works at the St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts, the third most desirable location in the U.S. to host a wedding, according to lifestyle maven Martha Stewart. For arts benefactor Margaret Stuart Acheson it was her #1 final resting place, as she chose to have her ashes buried in the sculpture garden.
Steve Westphal suggests that you don’t confine your art explorations to traditional museums. The city is deeply in touch with its creative side and has many fine galleries and collectives. The Craftsman House, a fully restored Arts and Crafts bungalow features the works of over 300 artists, a café and the working studio of potter Stephanie Schorr that’s open to visitors.
Besides Mickey, Florida is known for endless sunshine and you’ll definitely want to soak up some by a pool or on one of the area’s beaches. If you’re a grownup of a certain age, you remember Cocoon. The film, set in St. Pete, follows the adventures of a group of renegade retirees who trespass in a neighborhood pool and surprisingly find the vitality of their youth restored. Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, firmly believes there’s magic in St. Pete’s waters, contributing to the enduring popularity of the city. He draws a comparison to Sedona, Arizona, noting a certain vibration in the air and a feeling you get from the ocean. He mentions that historical promotions touted the city as “the healthiest place in America.”
For an indulgent day at the beach, head to the Don CeSar, a pink palace like the Vinoy, located at the northern end of Pass-a-Grille Beach. You can get there via trolley or cab. Call the hotel to check the availability of Beach Club passes for the day. You’ll get a terry-draped chaise lounge poolside, beach towels, use of the hotel’s pools, hot tub, fitness club, umbrellas and showers. Tip a beach attendant and you’ll get another lounger on the beach. By the time the sun sets, you’re sure to feel refreshed and renewed.