A lot of people balk at crossing the 7-mile-long bridge that connects Tampa to St. Petersburg. Those people are missing out on a place filled with world-class museums, attractions, and dining options where the time seems to fly by.
From Tampa, you will enter St. Petersburg from the north. Some people stay on I-275 all the way to downtown, but if you do that you’re missing out on some breakfast options on 4th Street, such as Skyway Jack's and the Tick Tock Restaurant. It’s also a better way to reach our first destination, Sunken Gardens.
For more than 100 years, Sunken Gardens has mesmerized its visitors with a unique collection of tropical plants that make you feel as if you’re no longer in the middle of the city. Photography opportunities abound and there is helpful staff that is more than happy to take you on a tour.
In Sunken Gardens, you feel like you've left the city behind — Photo courtesy of Photomatt28 - Flickr
You can have lunch at the Carrabba’s within the Sunken Gardens complex or you can move downtown and eat at the world-famous Columbia Restaurant, located on top of the Pier. You are literally surrounded by Tampa Bay as you lunch on Spanish and Cuban specialties like roast pork boliche and the famous Cuban sandwich.
Speaking of Spanish, your next stop is St. Petersburg’s most popular attraction, the Salvador Dali Museum on the south side of downtown, overlooking the water. The collection recently moved to its new facility, which looks as if liquid is being squeezed out of a concrete box. Inside are hundreds of oil paintings and watercolors from the master of the surrealist movement, including 7 of his masterwork paintings, each spanning over 10 feet tall.
The architecture of the Dali Museum is as interesting as the works inside — Photo courtesy of Fifth World Art - Flickr
It’s possible to spend the whole day at the Dali itself, but there’s another museum well worth a visit, the Museum of Fine Arts. Its building has also been recently renovated, adding almost double the space of the original. The permanent collection includes European and American art from such masters as Monet, Cezanne, and O’Keeffe, photography, and Greek & Roman antiquities. It also regularly hosts international travelling exhibits, so check their website to see what’s available.
Within walking distance from the Museum of Fine Arts is the first permanent installation of the works of the world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. The Chihuly Collection includes some of his most popular works as well as new pieces created specifically for this installation. If you’re really interested in the fascinating world of glass art, the Morean Arts Center, which runs the Chihuly exhibit, operates its own glass-blowing operation about a mile away from the exhibit.
The Chiluly Collection is located on fashionable Beach Drive — Photo courtesy of Morean Arts Center
On your way back up 4th Street, there are a few dinner options. Bonefish Grill serves fresh grilled seafood and steaks. Red Mesa specializes in authentic tex-mex style Mexican food and generous margaritas. Finally, EVOs is a fast food concept where nothing on the menu is fried, including the French fries. Most items are organic and some are even locally sourced.