Best Florida Vacation Values

A Picture Perfect Day at St. Pete Pier

John and I enjoyed another gorgeous Florida day exploring the new Pier in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

We went on a Saturday morning before noon and although it was already starting to get crowded, we were able to find a parking space without any problem. It is metered parking and we spent $8.00 to park for 4 hours.

There is a tram that you can take from the parking area to the end of the pier or what they call pier point. At Pier Point, you can have ice cream at the walk-up Driftwood Cafe, enjoy fine elegant dining at Teak, or kick back and enjoy the view with a drink in hand at the rooftop Pier Teaki.

St. Pete has a long-standing fishing tradition and the pier stands with that tradition providing a dedicated spacious fishing deck. Bring your own bait or stop by Gator Jims to pick some up.

Pier Point is, however, not where the journey begins, to truly take in all the scenic views of Tampa Bay, the beauty of the gardens and green spaces, and see everything the pier has to offer, you must walk it. If you have difficulty walking long distances, there are plenty of places where you can sit and rest, in addition, there are, ramps, wide walkways, and an elevator that makes all the areas easily accessible for wheelchairs and motorized scooters.

John and I started at the outdoor market at the entrance to the pier’s walkway. This market is only there on weekends and I am glad we went on the weekend because I bought the cutest ever handbag.

John and I got there around 11 am and after the market we headed straight to Doc Ford’s. Because of the heavenly view and the divine food, there is usually a line to get seated but because we were there before 11:30 we were seated right away. After noon there is always a line so get there early and get there hungry!!

If you are unfamiliar with Doc Ford, he is actually a fictional character. The main character in all of Randy Wayne White’s books, Doc Ford is a retired CIA agent who returns to live in his home state of Florida. No rest for him though, as many exciting adventures and dangerous mysteries to investigate, seem to find him, even in his retirement in the Sunshine State.

Pictures just simply can not do justice to Janet Echelman’s aerial sculpture Bending Arc. Composed of 1,662,528 knots and 180 miles of twine, the aerial sculpture spans 424 feet and measures 72 feet at its tallest point, and Bending Arc must be seen in person to truly appreciate.

There is a lot of green space in Downtown St. Petersburg so it seems only fitting that the Pier, as its new focal point, would follow suit and also provide many relaxing areas of green gardens, shade trees and what? Parrots? Yes! Parrots

They didn’t forget the little ones either, outdoor fun complete with a splash pad to fight off the Florida heat. All-day fun for the young and young at heart.

The pier even has its own beach on the waters of Tampa Bay so the whole family can beat the heat. The revitalized Spa Beach now gives downtown visitors a place to cool off and play in the sand. Beach volleyball, paddle boarding, and kayaking are all popular activities that can be enjoyed at Spa Beach.

I would like to mention that for families on a budget, a visit to the Pier does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Yes of course the restaurants can get pricey but there are so many areas that provide green spaces where one can lay out a blanket and enjoy a packed picnic lunch. There are even spaces with big shade umbrellas provided. Oh and another important item of note, there are plenty of restroom facilities provided as well.

While at the Pier be sure to visit the St. Petersburg Museum of History and Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center (Admission ticket purchase required) and if you are looking for a water excursion, Dolphin tour or sunset sail, you will find plenty to choose from at the pier’s dockside.

With its scenic waterfront and abundant green spaces, John and I find Downtown St. Petersburg to be one of the most beautiful downtown areas in Florida, (actually, to be truthful I think it is our top choice downtown area). But not only is it a beautiful downtown, but it is also a downtown bustling with activity and things to do, – museums, restaurants, shops, parks, sports venues and opportunities for all sorts of outdoor activities, it is loaded with must do’s that will keep a family busy all vacation long.

Another reason John and I enjoy spending time in Downtown St. Petersburg is the ease of getting around. One can literally park their car at the hotel and never have to drive it again their entire vacation long, by taking advantage of the trolley or beach bus. Plus the entire downtown is pedestrian and bike-friendly and many attractions and restaurants are within walking distance.

Historic Vinoy Renaissance Hotel a Marriot Property

One of my favorite hotels and my dream stay is a stay at the historic Vinoy Renaissance, built-in 1925 and considered then and now to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. (Book from the link below and our little website will earn a small commission – one that we can surely use to help keep up with the expenses of bringing you the view from Florida – Thank you)

If you would like to read more about Downtown St. Petersburg, click to read about our other adventures there. These articles, however, only scratch the surface of all the things to do see and do there.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the St. Petersburg Pier, another one of our great adventures on our journey through Florida. During Covid, John and I have been limiting ourselves to outdoor venues that we feel are safer during these crazy times. We also are trying to stick with less pricey adventures because we know that many families have suffered financial setbacks during 2020 and the need for information on family fun places that fit the budget-conscious is essential right now.

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