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Why Go To St. Petersburg, FL

Holding the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine, St. Petersburg is appropriately nicknamed "The Sunshine City." The city provides visitors with a unique blend of traditional beach getaway and urban flavor. The white, sandy beaches offer views of spectacular sunsets and the 7 miles of waterfront parks invite travelers to enjoy a host of activities, including hiking, camping and kayaking. An ongoing creative renaissance also promises an extensive cultural experience, whether it's through the world-class Dalí Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts. And every year, more than 1,000 events are held in the city — everything from St. Anthony's Triathlon to Ribfest, a celebration of barbecued ribs and touring bands. These events are often held downtown, which is peppered with shops, restaurants and craft beer pubs that come alive once the sun sets. With all that it has to offer, the sunshine-infused city is a popular destination for visitors all ages: families will love the relaxing outdoors and teeming wildlife, and the younger set will find plenty to do downtown, including the lively nightlife.

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The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

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St. Petersburg, FL Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit St. Petersburg is from March to May, when the weather is comfortably hot and a plethora of outdoor events make the city come alive. You'll find more affordable room rates from June to November, but the threat of hurricanes is imminent and the weather can often be scorching. The temperature cools down significantly for the winter months.

What You Need to Know

  • Dogs are welcome Feel free to bring your four-legged friend when visiting St. Petersburg. The city features nine dog parks, a lengthy dog beach at the Fort de Soto Park and a dog-friendly Saturday Morning Market.
  • Theme parks are a short drive away Don't fret – you can still enjoy Florida's thrilling theme parks while visiting St. Petersburg. Busch Gardens is about 35 miles northeast and Walt Disney World is about 90 miles northeast.
  • Enjoy the wildlife The Sunshine City is home to an abundance of wildlife, so keep an eye out and enjoy the scenery. Dolphins are seen year-round, while manatees appear in the wintertime. Beachgoers should do the "stingray shuffle" as they wade into the surf to avoid stepping on buried stingrays. And the city features the most diverse water bird colonies in North America.

How to Save Money in St. Petersburg, FL

  • Invest in a GO Card If you plan on getting around the city by bus, invest in a GO card. The daily card costs $4.50 and the seven-day card costs $20. These cards grant you unlimited bus rides and are a steal considering regular cash fare for a one-way trip is $2. You can purchase GO cards on the bus with exact change.
  • Pick the right beach Sunshine City features plenty of beaches but not all of them offer free parking, so do your research before you head out. Free parking is available near Treasure Island beach in two small sand lots, one on 127th Avenue and the other on 101st Avenue, and the downtown area of St. Pete Beach around Corey Avenue. If you'd rather not bring your own set of wheels, the Suncoast Beach Trolley is an inexpensive shuttle that runs between the area's beaches and offers connecting service to downtown.
  • Indulge in free events Check the St. Petersburg Calendar for more than 1,000 events held every year. Take advantage of the ones that are free while you're in town. 

What to Eat

As a city on Florida's Gulf Coast, seafood is a must in Sunshine City. Make sure to visit 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House and The Maritana Grille for exquisite seafood dishes like fresh oysters, coconut shrimp, tuna tartare and crispy calamari. And if you're not a fan of fishy food, there's plenty else in the city to eat as well. Beach Drive and Central Avenue feature alfresco dining; one of the most highly praised restaurants located on Beach Drive is The Moon Under Water. Visitors love the scrumptious curry dishes, chicken pot pie and fish and chips served at this eclectic restaurant. If you'd like a change of scenery, the Saturday Morning Market is a great place to pick up fresh produce, and food trucks all over the city offer fantastic street fare. For 20 years, the Taco Bus on Central Avenue has been a local favorite.   

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Getting Around St. Petersburg, FL

The best way to get around St. Petersburg is by car. The roads are easy to navigate and parking is inexpensive. Within the downtown area, many attractions are within walking distance of one another, so if you're staying in the city, getting around by foot is another easy way to see St. Petersburg. The entire city can also be explored with the help of public transportation — buses and trolleys run throughout and the fare is relatively inexpensive.

To visit St. Petersburg, you can fly into St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), located about 12 miles north of downtown, or Tampa International Airport (TPA), located about 20 miles northeast of downtown. Though buses run between St. Pete-Clearwater airport and the city, the travel time can be more than double what it is by car. So the most convenient way to reach St. Petersburg (from both airports) is by either renting a car or taking a cab.

Photos

St. Petersburg, FL1 of 15
St. Petersburg, FL2 of 15

Nicknamed "The Sunshine City," St. Petersburg features white, sandy beaches that make it the perfect beach getaway.

Matthew Paulson/Flickr

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