From exploring the mural-covered streets, biplane rides and getting to know the area through its food, to heading to the beaches for some adventures on the water, it’s time to to find out the top things to do in St Petersburg in 48 hours.
When I was 15 I visited this region of Florida, and have happy memories of my first taste of Florida sunshine and beaches. I still remember the sand was whiter than any sand I’d seen before (yep – my family holidays generally involved annual trips to South Devon!) and the water was like getting into a bath. I loved it!
I was so excited to return to the area, especially once I saw our action packed itinerary. We’d already been swimming with manatees in Crystal River, swung from the trees and in Pasco County and enjoyed some excellent food, but there’s something extra special about reaching one of America’s best beaches. While its neighbour Clearwater Beach wins the bulk of the awards (including this year being named the top beach in America by TripAdvisor) St Pete Beach is also stunning, with miles of soft white sand.
I could happily spend a week in St Petersburg and St Pete Beach, but as many of you, like me, will only be there for a few days, I decided a 48-hour guide would work well. So with just two days to play with, here are my top picks! Plus if you’re looking for my tips on where to stay, scroll down for my selection of the best hotels in St Petersburg and St Pete Beach.
But first, here’s a little flavour of what I got up to….
48 HOURS IN ST PETERSBURG & ST PETE BEACH, FLORIDA
DAY 1 IN ST PETERSBURG & ST PETE BEACH, FLORIDA
Wake up early for a spot of sunrise paddle boarding with Sunccoast Surf Shop. While the sun actually rises on the other side to the ocean, our route took us out to the sea then in along a river. The sky was a candy floss pink, the ocean flat, and the experience absolutely magical. It was a fantastic way to wake up, and put me in a very calm state… We even saw dolphins!
Combine breakfast and lunch, and head off on an Eat St Pete Food Tour. Explore Central Avenue’s varied food scene with tastings of key dishes, and plenty of stories from guide Deborah. This was a great way to get to know the area’s history, info on the mural scene and breweries, and find out why it’s such a special part of Florida. From ramen and falafel, to ice pops, you’ll leave feeling satisfied!
READ MORE: Best Restaurants In St Petersburg, Florida
After the tour, head to Albert Whitted Airport for an incredible aerial view of St Pete on a Biplane Ride. For me, this was a huge highlight of our entire Florida trip! I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best things to do in Florida.
Our tour took us from Downtown St Pete, over Fort De Soto Park then along St Pete Beach. It was incredible to feel the wind in my hair and take in the views of the area. The colours were so vivid, especially seeing the white sand of St Pete Beach and the bright turquoise of the sea. What a rush!
DINNER IN ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
Tonight, head to one of St Pete’s top Japanese restaurants – Ichicoro Ane. Serving Japanese food with a twist, expect big bowls of ramen, sashimi, steamed buns, yakitori skewer and donburi rice bowls. The star dish for me? A spicy grilled avocado topped with soy, chilli oil, sesame and fried garlic – just delicious.
DAY 2 IN ST PETERSBURG & ST PETE BEACH, FLORIDA
BREAKFAST IN ST PETERSBURG
Start the day with brunch at The Cider Press Cafe on Central Avenue. This buzzy restaurant is totally vegan, so expect eggplant bacon instead of regular bacon and Beyond meat free products instead of sausages! Don’t forget, that means almond milk in your coffee today too!
Then have a relaxing stroll along Central Avenue and the surrounding areas, checking out the cute boutiques, gift stores and foodie spots. You also HAVE to see the street art. The area is famous for its murals and there are plenty to work your way around. That was a highlight for me!
LUNCH IN ST PETERSBURG
If you’ve worked up an appetite, join the crowds of locals ordering lunch at Bodega. The fast-food style eatery is famous for its Cuban sandwich and trust me when I say this is a TOTAL must! It’s divine! I also loved the juices next door in their juice bar. If you love passion fruit as much as I do, order a hummingbird – you won’t regret it.
READ MORE: Best Restaurants In St Petersburg, Florida
After all that food, it’s time to kayak in Fort De Soto Park. Hire kayaks in the park, or book onto a glass bottom kayak tour. It’s hard to believe you’re just a short drive from the city; it feels world’s away. Head through the mangroves and keep an eye out for wildlife – we saw a manatee on our trip!
Catch an epic sunset at Redington Shores, halfway between St Pete and Clearwater. Watching the sun go down by the rickety pier was absolutely magical, and lovely to share it with crowds of sunset chasers too!
DINNER IN INDIAN SHORES
Round off your trip in style, enjoying a surf and turf dinner at Salt Rock Grill. This restaurant was absolutely packed on our visit, and had a smart old-world feel. There’s a huge menu of seafood and steaks, and flavours were excellent. Nearby, Indian Rocks is also a lovely area to visit.
WHERE TO STAY IN ST PETERSBURG & ST PETE BEACH, FLORIDA
Kimpton Zamora Hotel – Just across from St Pete’s beach, this smart hotel is styled on a Spanish hacienda. Our suite was spacious with a lovely balcony overlooking the water. I also loved the rooftop bar – a great place to watch the sunset. Check the latest prices here.
The Don Cesar – Right on St Pete Beach, you can’t miss The Don Cesar, often nicknamed The Pink Palace. It launched in 1928 and was a favourite of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone among others. If you’re looking for that combo of beach, luxury and history, this is the place to stay! Check the latest prices here.
The Birchwood – Built in the 1920s, this historic boutique hotel located in the heart of Downtown St Petersburg has just 18 rooms. It has a great rooftop, so even if you don’t stay there, treat yourself to a cocktail during your trip! Check the latest prices here.
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