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St. Petersburg (or “St. Pete,” as it’s often called) in Pinellas County, Florida, is a thriving cultural destination with some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. With a history dating back to the 1840s, when settlers first started coming to the area, the city was officially founded in 1888 and became a major player as a resort destination, for seafood shipping, and as an iconic Florida home for retirees. Today, this sunny destination is loved by locals and travelers alike for its whimsical skyline, idyllic sunset views, renowned beaches, laid-back lifestyle, rave-worthy restaurants, outdoor pursuits, good shopping, and more.
As of the writing of this guide, St. Pete has a population of 258,000+ residents. Of that number, about 63% are White, 21% are Black or African American, 8% are Latino or Hispanic, and 3.5% are Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
Nicknamed “Sunshine City,” St. Pete holds the world record for having “the most consecutive days of sunshine,” reigning at 768 days in a row. Overall, St. Pete has mild seasons, with temperatures averaging at a low of 63 °F in January and a high of 84 °F in July and August. Hurricane season runs from June through the end of November, with August, September, and October being the most active. When it’s nice out, you can find the locals at the beach, walking their dogs in Downtown St. Pete, playing water sports, or at a rooftop bar. Florida weather tends to be unpredictable in general, especially when it comes to thunderstorms, so it’s always a good idea to keep an umbrella handy.
St. Pete offers both affordable and upscale living options. Homes and apartments in St. Petersburg range from older, single-family homes and beach condos to modest neighborhood bungalows, waterfront mansions, and trendy Downtown high-rises. Wander down Central Avenue and Beach Drive in Downtown St. Pete, and you’ll find streets lined with great restaurants, fun bars, stylish boutiques, interesting art galleries, can’t-miss art murals, museums, and even a weekend farmers market. Experience the charms of Old Florida in Gulfport, which is known for its local restaurants, weekly art walks, a monthly fair for just local businesses, and music festivals. Head to St. Pete Beach for an aspirational lifestyle that’s all about a cold beer, the sand between your toes, and taking life as it comes. In St. Pete, everyone feels right at home.
When you live in St. Pete, expect to drive. Most residents need their own car, and if they don’t have one, they’re constantly using rideshare services. (The exception to that is if you live in a walkable area, like Downtown St. Pete, where grocery stores, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife are all just steps away. That said, you’ll still want a car to go to the beach or explore the rest of the city.) Driving in St. Pete is pretty easy, with roads mapped out in a clearly-defined grid system. There is plenty of parking in St. Petersburg, from public parking garages and lots to streetside parking that’s either metered or payable through the ParkMobile app.
For those who can’t or don’t want to drive, St. Pete does have some very reliable, clean, and safe public transportation options. Running daily from as early as 7 am to late-night, the Red and Yellow Downtown Looper takes passengers to and from every major attraction and cultural institution in Downtown St. Pete, and it’s free for all to ride. The Central Avenue Looper runs to and from St. Petersburg Pier and the St. Pete Beach/Pass-a-Grille area for just a few dollars each way. St. Pete is a great city to explore by bike or scooter. Try it for yourself when you download the Social Bicycles, Razor, or Veo mobile apps or take advantage of the Coast Bike Share St. Pete program. All of them help you get where you need to be by offering affordable and convenient ways to pick up, ride, and drop off bikes and electric scooters at designated stations throughout St. Pete.
Visitors and residents alike love seeing the greater Tampa Bay area, too, and regional public transportation makes it easy to do. From November to May, the Cross Bay Ferry offers high-speed service to and from Downtown St. Pete and Tampa. It operates every Wednesday through Sunday. For just a few dollars per one-way ride, you can hop on the Suncoast Beach Trolley and go to Downtown Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Redington Shores, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Pass-a-Grille. The entire route runs along the sand, and trolleys arrive at designated stops every 20 to 30 minutes.
Flying in and out of St. Pete is easy through two airports: St. Petersburg-Clearwater International (PIE) and Tampa International Airport (TPA). St. Petersburg-Clearwater International prides itself on offering primarily low-cost, nonstop flights throughout the U.S. and Canada on airlines like Allegiant Air, Sun Country Airlines, and Swoop. Tampa International Airport is much larger, with daily direct flights to and from destinations all over the world. Both airports are about a half-hour from Downtown St. Pete. Life in St. Pete is all about the water, so it’s not uncommon to see locals jetting around the Tampa Bay area by boat.
St. Pete’s dining scene is as diverse as its people, with fresh-caught seafood, healthy grab-and-go options, casual beach restaurants, fine-dining, vegan-friendly haunts, and ethnic restaurants bringing interesting and authentic flavors from all over the world. The overarching vibe at restaurants in St. Petersburg is cool and relaxed, with friendly dining experiences that cater to both laid-back and sophisticated residents.
Given its coastal location, many people in St. Pete crave good seafood—and they’ll find it here, too. Go to the family-owned Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, a cash-only joint that’s been in the area since 1951, for (you guessed it!) different kinds of fresh fish smoked for four to six hours over fiery red oak. The Hurricane, in Pass-a-Grille, has five different dining rooms across three stories and an open-air rooftop bar. Pair its famous locally-caught grouper sandwich, which it’s been making for 33 years, with the restaurant’s signature oversized margarita and unbeatable views of the Gulf of Mexico. Inside the waterfront TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, seafood lovers can head to the famous Guy Harvey’s RumFish Grill & Bar and feast on sautéed mussels, shrimp, crab cakes, mustard-seed-crusted cedar salmon, blackened fish tacos, jerk swordfish, and more in front of a 33,500-gallon wall aquarium.
Get a mix of everything at Lolita’s Wine Market, where you can indulge in made-to-order charcuterie boards filled with domestic and imported cured meats, aged cheeses, crisp breads, house-made accouterments (truffled goat cheese-stuffed Peppadew peppers, anyone?), and of course, a large glass of wine. The Tuscan-inspired BellaBrava is a hit amongst locals for both the food and the view. Go to this downtown trattoria for an impressive menu of tasty pizzas, flatbreads, and wood-oven calzones—you can savor every bite while looking out at the Tampa Bay skyline. Get New American fare at the rustic-chic Brick & Mortar, like the namesake B&M burger with sharp white cheddar, bacon onion jam, and garlic aioli on a pretzel bun. Find French fare at Cassis St. Pete on scenic Beach Drive, or wander along Central Avenue and find good vegan at Cider Press Cafe, Lebanese and Greek food at Baba, or good beer and schnitzel at The German Knodle.
There are plenty of watering holes in St. Pete where you can grab a glass of wine, craft beer, cocktails, and even kava. The rooftop Birchwood Canopy makes haute cocktails like the Canopy Royale with Stoli Orange, Zonin Prosecco, and fresh lemon. If you love craft beer, the Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail connects 35 locally-owned breweries between Clearwater and St. Pete. Head to the beach and check out popular bars like Jimmy B’s Beach Bar, Undertow Beach Bar, PCI, and more. Kava is an alcohol-free drink made from the root or stump of the kava shrub that has a relaxing, euphoric effect. St. Pete has a thriving kava scene with bars like Bula Kava Bar & Coffee House, Muddy Water Kava, and Grassroots Kava House.
When it comes to grocery shopping in St. Pete, there’s every store you can think of, from Publix, Trader Joe’s, and The Fresh Market to ALDI, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, and Target. For a real treat, go to Mazarro’s Italian Market for everything from meats, cheeses, Italian delicacies, gelato, and pastries to some of the most authentic ready-made Italian food outside of Italy itself. If you love to buy your produce locally, don’t miss the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market, the largest farmers market in the southeastern US.
There’s plenty of great shopping in St. Pete, from funky goods, art, designer outlets, a traditional mall, and rare boutiques. For a traditional mall, head to Tyrone Square Mall and shop at department stores like Macy’s, Dillard’s, and JCPenney, as well as over 170 popular brands like H&M, Francesca’s, and DSW. At the outdoor Sundial St. Pete, shoppers will find two stories of luxury retailers and boutiques like The Spice & Tea Exchange and Timeless Treasures and Collectibles.
The art scene in St. Pete is huge. Sitting directly below 18 artist studios, Florida CraftArt sells contemporary clay, glass, jewelry, fiber, metal, wood, and mixed media pieces all handmade by Florida artists. At SHAPIRO’S Art Gallery, you’ll find more local art, this time in the style of contemporary American craftwork like handcrafted jewelry, glasswork, clay, pottery, wooden boxes, jewelry boxes, clocks, Judaica, metal sculptures, and home decor. Check out the city’s thriving glass art scene when you visit places like the Duncan McClellan Gallery. Once a packing plant, this 7,800-square-foot space now has an indoor garden and rotating exhibits of glass art by artists who have been recognized on the national and international stage. For a real unique experience, visit the Morean Glass Studio and watch as resident glass artists shape molten glass and teach onlookers about their process, then hop next door to the Hot Shop Store and buy their handmade work.
St. Pete is all about local goods. Wander up and down Central Avenue and its surrounding area, and you’ll find lots of artisan and thrift shops selling vintage vinyl, designer clothing, eclectic home furnishings from across the globe, witchy shops, and delicate, handmade soaps. Go to historic Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach, and you’ll find indie stores selling everything from cigars and handmade jewelry to Christmas decorations. Do vintage home shopping in Gulfport, or buy knick-knacks at the Lazy Lizard in John’s Pass Village, a quiet turn-of-the-century fishing village.
If you’re looking for sales, Ellenton Premium Outlets is just 30 minutes south of St. Pete and has heavily-discounted designer goods at over 130 popular retailers. For a real treat, the HSN Retail Outlet sells everything you see on HSN TV or HSN.com for up to 75% off the original discounted price, from cosmetic and beauty products to clothing, shoes, jewelry, appliances, luggage, home decor, and more. Of course, don’t miss the bargains at Wagon Wheel Flea Market, where you can spend a whole day browsing antiques, art, electronic merchandise, clothing, shoes, bedding, fresh produce, and more at over 2,500 vendors.
St. Pete is a hub of arts and culture, and in 2022, Condé Nast Traveler even named it one of the top small U.S. cities with “big-time art scenes.” While passersby will find more than 600 street murals, it’s the city’s collections of Salvador Dalí and Dale Chihuly works that attracts art aficionados from all over. Dalí’s largest collection of work outside of Europe can be found in the namesake The Dali Museum, which has over 2,000 oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and more. A permanent collection of Chihuly’s mesmerizing glass art is on display at the Morean Arts Center, in Downtown St. Pete—you’ll know you’re there when you see the 20-foot glass art installation out front that Chihuly himself made specifically for that location. It’s also worth your while to explore the extensive art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, glass art at the Imagine Museum, and 20th- and 21st-century modern art at the Leepa Rattner Museum of Art.
For performing arts, be sure to catch the St. Petersburg Opera Co. at the Palladium Theater, see an off-Broadway tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall, or go to an outdoor concert at Jannus Live. At the annual Localtopia festival, you can peruse goods by St. Pete’s homegrown artisans, chefs, restaurants, bars, and musicians. History buffs love a good museum, and the Florida Holocaust Museum is one of St. Pete’s most interesting. It was founded in 1989 by a Holocaust survivor and has a collection of tattered camp uniforms, children’s shoes, personal narratives recorded by survivors, and even a boxcar that was used to take prisoners between concentration camps.
If you love the outdoors, you’ll fit right in here. St. Pete Beach is regularly ranked as one of Tripadvisor’s top beaches in the U.S. for its gorgeous views, soft white sand, proximity to popular bars and restaurants, and laid-back vibes. Go to Madeira Beach (or “Mad Beach,” as the locals call it) for an old Florida beach town vibe, to explore rustic John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, or to hop on a sunset cruise, dolphin tour, or sky surfing or jet skiing excursion. Mid-century modern Treasure Island hosts a sunset drum circle every Sunday. Have a quiet beach day at Pass-a-Grille Beach, or get the opposite at St. Pete Pier, which has a playground and splash pad for kids, walking trails, SUP paddleboarding, beach volleyball, and an open-air market for all ages. Take your kids to the north end of Upham Beach Park, where—just steps from the water—they’ll discover Secret Garden, a lush, whimsical beach garden filled with tropical flowers, palms, and family photo ops.
If you’re not in the mood for a beach day, you can still enjoy being outdoors in St. Pete. Sunken Gardens, the city’s oldest living museum, is a garden with 50,000 tropical plants, cascading waterfalls, walkways, and a butterfly garden, all in a drained, seven-acre lake 15 feet below ground. Head to Vinoy Park to relax with friends and take in the views of downtown St. Pete, or go to Fort DeSoto Park to climb the fort or go kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing, or kite surfing. Exercise by biking, walking or skating down the 45-mile Pinellas Trail, which connects St. Pete to Tarpon Springs. Grab a frisbee and play disc golf at the Tocobaga Disc Golf Course & Club at Maximo Park. Swim in Caladesi Island State Park’s sparkling, translucent waters. Need an adrenaline rush? Captain your very own speedboat on a thrilling 13-mile ride through Tampa Bay and St. Pete’s waterways with Tampa Speed Boat Adventures.
Sports lovers can cheer on their favorite Tampa Bay teams in a variety of sports. Don’t miss a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game at Tropicana Field or a Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer match at Al Lang Stadium. Finally, be part of the excitement at IndyCar’s season opener when you line the waterfront streets of Downtown St. Pete and watch the Firestone Grand Prix race on by.
With its award-winning beaches, friendly people, fantastic food and drink scene, and convenient location, St. Pete is a fun place for students to spend their college years. Eckerd College and St. Petersburg College are in St. Pete, while other four-year colleges like The University of Tampa and the University of South Florida are in nearby Tampa.
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Pet Friendly Apartments St. Petersburg
92 apartments starting at $1,250/month
Studio Apartments St. Petersburg
11 apartments starting at $1,200/month
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61 apartments starting at $975/month
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86 apartments starting at $1,150/month
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74 apartments starting at $1,695/month
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17 apartments starting at $1,800/month
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