Bunny Does St. Petersburg, Florida
Bunny’s recent trip to Florida didn’t go exactly to plan. First, she endured horrible weather in Miami Beach and then tackled near gale force winds on the Overseas Highway to Key West. Once in Key West, she got sick and sat in her hotel room for three days while unprecedented levels of heavy rain fell outside. Then there was the tornado warning and six more rainy days spent inside her accommodation at Miami Beach while coughing her lungs out…
By the time she arrived at St. Petersburg (also known simply as “St Pete”) in the Tampa Bay Area, she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and was determined to finally have a good time…
Bunny chose to visit St. Petersburg as she had never been in the Tampa Bay Area before and the town looked and sounded attractive. St. Petersburg is advertised as one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in Florida, with interesting sights and great beaches nearby. Just what Bunny likes.
St. Petersburg is also supposed to have an average of 361 sunny days a year. And Bunny managed to pick two days that weren’t sunny. Oh well, maybe next time…
Where to Stay
Bunny chose to stay in The Avalon Hotel, which looked cool, had good reviews and was within walking distance to attractions. Walking into the hotel lobby, Bunny was instantly impressed. Not only was the lobby very funky, but they also had complimentary wine and champagne for guests! Too bad Bunny was in the middle of her annual dry January ritual…
Bunny’s room was OK, not quite as nice as the hotel lobby but certainly good value. The staff at the hotel was very friendly throughout Bunny’s stay. There was also the possibility to use the pool at the neighbouring sister hotel The Hollander but since the weather wasn’t cooperating, Bunny skipped swimming this visit.
What to Do
Downton St. Petersburg is a lively place, full of art galleries, vintage shops, attractive boutiques, gleaming new condo apartment buildings and cafes and restaurants. It is perfect for slowly hopping around and taking it all in.
There is also surprisingly lively night life. On Central Avenue, Bunny found the stretch of bars and watering holes starting from the 3rd Street towards the waterfront particularly appealing.
The Dali Museum
The Dali Museum was the only thing Bunny knew about St. Petersburg before visiting. The building housing the museum, with its gorgeous waterfront setting, is a masterpiece in its own right. It hosts the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside Europe and is one of the must-see sights in St. Petersburg.
If you’ve been to the excellent Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain, you might be a bit disappointed, but for anyone who loves Dali’s work, the museum in St. Pete is certainly worth a visit. Just make sure you go early, Bunny says. The queues can get absolutely horrendous.
Bunny adored the street murals in St. Pete! They are colourful, unique and seemingly around every corner. The murals used to be technically illegal, until 2015 when the first SHINE Mural Festival was organised in St. Petersburg.
Nowadays, St. Petersburg street art is embraced by all and often referred to as the city’s outdoor museum. There are literally dozens of large-scale murals on the main street and the small alleyways of St. Petersburg, bringing splashes of colour and creativity all around the city.
As advertised, Bunny found St. Petersburg pedestrian-friendly. However, if you get tired of walking, there’s a handy red-and-yellow Downtown Looper trolley bus that you can take around all the major museums and attractions in downtown St. Pete for free (just tip the driver). It operates every day and is a fun way of getting your bearings of the city.
St. Petersburg is renowned for some of the best beaches in the US. Clearwater Beach, which is a 40-minute drive from St. Petersburg, has been regularly voted by TripAdvisor readers as the best beach in the US. St. Pete Beach is another highly-rated stretch of sand close to downtown St. Pete.
Bunny had planned to explore the beaches during her visit, but eventually decided against it because of the bad weather.
Where to Eat
The St. Petersburg waterfront and its main streets are full of restaurants and cafes with al fresco dining. Bunny was pleasantly surprised by the number of vegetarian eateries in town and really enjoyed all her meals out.
Cider Press Cafe
The fully vegan Cider Press Cafe was one of the first restaurants Bunny visited in St. Petersburg. This popular place offers plant-based comfort food that will also satisfy meat-eaters. Bunny enjoyed her bean burger while Mr. Bunny delved into his mac and cheese with gusto.
Rawk Star Cafe
Bunny’s favourite breakfast place in town was the plant-based Rawk Star Cafe - all dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic and delicious. Bunny’s acai bowl and green juice were the perfect healthy start to the day.
Many of St. Pete’s vegetarian restaurants close early so the Bunnies had a bit of trouble finding a place for dinner. Then they stumbled on Sab Cafe online. Both Bunnies love Thai food and Sab Cafe has a menu of dishes that can all be made vegetarian.
Although Sab Cafe does not look very fancy, the food itself was delicious and the outdoor seating was nice, complete with propane heaters for those (rare) cloudy days in St. Petersburg.
Bunny’s first visit to the Tampa Bay Area was not graced with great weather but she managed to sample enough of St. Petersburg to know that it is worth a longer visit in the future. Preferably on a hot, sunny day when she can check out the famous beaches and down a couple of cold beers on a fun pub crawl downtown.