There is St. Petersburg, Florida and there is the other one in Russia (the one formerly known as Leningrad). If you are traveling in an RV, the Florida one is easier to get to. It is a big city, and it gets subsumed into the city of Tampa to become this meglopolis called the Tampa Bay area. With a metropolitan area comes all the things we love: traffic, crowds and parking issues. But if it’s January and you want to be warm and soaking up the sun, then this area has to be on your short list of places to go.
There is no shortage of RV parks, this is one of the snowbird capitals of the world. There is no shortage of beaches. From Ft. De Soto Park to St. Pete Beach to Clearwater Beach and in between, one of them is always on the top ten most beautiful beaches in the US. Fishing piers, sunset cruises, nightlife, seafood, frozen cocktails with small paper umbrellas, all can be had in abundance. While we like the beachy “Florida lifestyle,” we also like to find things off the beaten path, things that don’t fall into the list of “fun in the sun” things to do mentioned above.
We have found several that are unique to St. Pete. One is the Chihuly Collection at the Moran Arts Center, a collection of Dale Chihuly’s jaw-droppingly beautiful glass art. Large, colorful and creative, you haven’t seen anything like his work. The other is The Dali Museum, the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of his museum in Spain. His works are weird and incomprehensible to most of us mere mortals, so take the free guided tour and it maybe it will all start to make some sense. The museum building itself is a work of art and it is set right on the water overlooking Tampa Bay. If art is not your thing you can try The Sunken Gardens, a beautiful 100-year old Botanical garden hidden in a sinkhole in the middle of the city. Tropical flowers, koi ponds, small bridges, benches, butterflies and flamingos all make for a peaceful, low key few hours.
But our most favorite thing to do is to head to Clearwater Beach and stroll along Pier 60. Friday nights it is always packed with people enjoying the docks, the beach, the street performers and the craft vendors along the pier. The evening can usually be capped off by a lovely sunset over the Gulf. Last time I went to photograph the sights, the sun did not cooperate. Well, I guess it did set, we just couldn’t see it due to large clouds hovering on the horizon blocking our view. But trust me, it’s usually pretty spectacular.
So if it’s deep into winter and you are tired of shoveling the white stuff, or if, like us, you are driving along in your RV looking for someplace new to explore, try St. Petersburg. Stay off the big highways, take the backroads and enjoy the Florida lifestyle. You can’t say I didn’t give you some new things to see as well.