St. Petersburg is perfect for the ever-curious adults, with its reputation and its wealth in terms of art and culture. Clearwater is perfect for adventurous families looking to have a fun break from the big cities. But with their proximity to each other, you can pretty much conquer both.
The list of titles held by St. Petersburg is impressive. You cannot just shrug off how amazing those feats are. Especially as it is the first green city and the sunniest in all of Florida. The coastal scenery and the city’s avant-garde cosmopolitan center provide the perfect contrast.
Families wishing to have a pleasant time away from the state’s powerhouses should visit the city. The city offers both education and entertainment to everyone, and expect to be wide-eyed and all smiles.
What Makes St. Petersburg Unique?
Florida’s First Green City
St. Petersburg is one of the pioneering green cities in the US, if not the world, thanks to its initiatives that started way back in 2006. The city made the complete switch from using traditional energy sources to renewable ones. It is one of the city’s most revolutionizing feats Now, the residents all enjoy cleaner air on top of the many effects of their eco-friendly program.
Apart from its many eco-friendly feats, the city has also created more pedestrian streets to lessen the use of cars. In turn, lessening carbon emissions. More and more trees have also been planted along these pedestrian streets. It garnered the title of “Tree City USA”, dubbed by the Arbor Day Foundation.
St. Petersburg has also partnered with several NGOs to further its eco-friendly objectives. This includes US Green Building Council, and Environmental Protection Agency. They all have taken strides with St. Petersburg in further developing a more green landscape.
The Sunshine City
All of Florida enjoys a nearly eternal summer boasting the sunniest days than any other place in the US. But St. Petersburg stands out on top of the rest of the Florida cities. Dubbed the “Sunshine City”, it enjoys the sunniest days in the entire state. It practically is the sunshine capital. With a record high of 361 days of sunshine, the city has an entry into the Guinness World Records.
St. Petersburg is perfect for strolling and exploring without worrying about rain. Thanks to its perpetual sunny disposition. St. Petersburg has average highs of 90 F (32 C), and average lows play around 50 F (10 C). If you’re looking to have a beach day or a full day of shopping and exploring the cosmopolitan area, expect to enjoy everything under the Florida sun.
The Beaches, of Course
Located right across Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, you can expect to find a treasure trove of beaches around the area. From Clearwater to St. Petersburg, you can expect to find a beach of your liking in between. The St. Pete–Clearwater area has quite a roster of entries, from laid-back beaches to energetic strips full of activities.
St. Petersburg and the surrounding area are home to a slew of beaches, some of which are even considered the US’ best. To narrow down your choices, here are some of them:
St. Pete Beach
By its name, St. Pete is the main beach of the city, and its most popular white-sand strip as well. It is a favorite among tourists and locals because how it has everything you’ll ever need on a beach trip. Filled with activities for the fun-seeking types, you can easily swim, paddleboard, and even surf here. On top of its jam-packed charms, the beach is also one of the most gorgeous you’ll ever visit.
Accessible only by boat, Caladesi Island is a stunner. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the US. The white-sand strip of Caladesi Island offers tons of activities for the fun-loving beach bum. Paddleboarding, swimming, and a nature trail for hiking are all here. It also has facilities and other features such as food stands, rentals, bathrooms, and barbecue grills.
The cultural and cosmopolitan heart of St. Petersburg, the EDGE District is perhaps the most interesting point in the city. It offers art, culture, shopping, dining, and more. The famed district sports the city’s edgy sides with a diverse mix of draws and a modern vibe.
The area was originally just a sleepy part of the city a decade ago. Now it is a district filled with the best shopping and nightlife spots, and a favorite among the younger crowd. It has kept on reinventing itself over the years, making it the most happening and relevant area in St. Petersburg.
The best restaurants and shopping malls in the region are located here. The 30 restaurants, taverns, and pubs in the area offer a variety of tastes and entertainment. And the area has a vast range of options if you want to shop.
You can also find a variety of artworks, from fine to folk art. These pieces are even open for sale. However, the choices here are perfect for the fashion-forward. You can choose from high-end designer items to local and homegrown pieces.
With the city’s constant reception of visitors and local migrants, the demands for cosmopolitan charms have increased. The number of shopping, drinking, and dining spots also doubled due to the need for development. The influx of investors and new residents has caused a real estate boom in the area as well.
The eclectic charms of the EDGE District offer a cultural yet modern flavor to St. Petersburg’s bursting local scene. The area offers a perfect contrast offering a varied yet balanced scene. On one point the EDGE District is vibrant and trendy thanks to a slew of local independent businesses and some chains as well. It also has vintage charms thanks to rows of old buildings still preserved around.
Arts and Culture Center
If you take a closer look at a lot of Florida’s cities, you might notice that there is always a strong appreciation and preservation of the arts and culture. St. Petersburg, just like the rest of southern Florida isn’t an exception. The city has established a heap of museums and cultural centers that everyone can visit. Thanks to its rich history and cultural background.
St. Petersburg’s arts and culture soul has become one of its strongest foundations, and also one of its best tourist draws. The city boasts its seven art districts, and art and music festivals, making it one of the best places to visit if you’re a big culture buff.
Its long roster of museums and cultural centers might confuse you, each offering a different niche than the other. To narrow down your choices, here are some of the most recommended spots:
The Dali Museum
The Dali Museum showcases thousands of artworks by its namesake, Salvador Dali. The Spanish artist is famous for his iconic art that combines his technical skills and unique style. He practically revolutionized the way many recognize art thanks to his vibrant and surrealist pieces.
The museum houses a collection of Dali’s works which includes 96 paintings he created from 1918 to 1970. Visiting the Dali Museum is one of the must-dos in the city. It doesn’t only exclusively features Dali’s world, you can also find a few more other galleries inside.
Museum of Fine Arts
A city icon in itself, the Museum of Fine Arts is an important cultural institution in St. Petersburg. The artworks featured in the museum represent the last 5,000 years of human history. The center features artworks that demonstrate human development.
Showcasing history along with the art world’s timeline, the museum also features art from different cultures. Imagine traveling back in time, across various cultures inside, it is definitely worth visiting. Other notable displays are handcrafted pieces such as porcelains and ceramics. You can also find a large collection of folk art, indigenous art, and ancient ceremonial pieces.
Morean Arts Center
If you’re up for more youthful energy, head to the modern Morean Arts Center. It offers a dynamic scene for creative individuals. Staying true to its younger vigor, Morean even hosts parties and other events almost every day.
One of its most interesting points is an area that houses a quirky collection by American Artist Dale Chihuly. He is notable for his geometric and vibrant glass artworks. His trademark style has contributed to a slew of unique techniques. They all help in creating intricate glass artworks for the art community.
Despite being modest and unassuming, Clearwater is home to numerous adventures. Clearwater offers eccentric and enjoyable adventures around the outdoors. You can have pleasure in its upscaled cosmopolitan areas and adventures near its beaches. The city can seem like a straightforward, enjoyable escape from the noise and rowdiness of a much larger city.
What Makes Clearwater Unique?
By its name, Clearwater Beach is the city’s main beach and is also its most popular strip. The beach is also a local favorite where many meet and have some fun in its jam-packed strip. It is the best place to meet locals and have at least a glimpse of the locals’ life.
On top of its many activities and features, Clearwater Beach is also one of the most picturesque beaches in the region. It has even garnered a spot on the list of the US’ best beaches. You can’t however get a quiet relaxing time at the beach because it is highly saturated and is perhaps the most touristy place in the city.
Everyone, even every type of traveler will find something to enjoy at the beach. There are several activities you can do right around Clearwater Beach. Apart from swimming, you can also fish or stroll. During spring break, huge crowds may be more frequent than ever. This makes it less than ideal to stay around the beach if you’re looking to have less noise.
Further inshore, you have various spots to grab food or drinks from. Beyond the sand, you can find restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels, and resorts just nearby. There are also heaps of rental shops around where you can get beach chairs, umbrellas, and other equipment from.
Clearwater Beach also offers gorgeous sunset views along with its crystal clear blue waters, and gleaming white sand. Plus, if you come at the right season you just might catch playing dolphins nearby.
One of the city’s famous landmarks is the fun and quirky Pier 60. The spot starts as a usual fishing pier during the day with a few other interesting activities. But the real fun starts as soon as the sun sets. Filled with fun and interesting charms, Pier 60 offers a whole other level of experience in Clearwater’s waterfront scene.
One of Pier 60’s interesting events is the famous Sunset Festival. The event features performers, artists, and craftsmen at their best along the vibrant 1800-foot (549 m) pier. The so-called festival was originally a seasonal event and has now become a nightly activity all year round.
This further provides more excitement around Clearwater Beach. It lures both locals and tourists alike every night. What’s even more exciting is that most musical performances and other entertainment are free.
Apart from its many food stands and performance spaces, Pier 60 also provides fun for kids and families. It has a playground, a castle tower, and many other kid-friendly features. There is also a family-friendly movie night experience every weekend.
If you want to catch the pier with lesser crowds and a more serene vibe, try visiting earlier in the day. The pier is more peaceful and fishing good catches such as mackerel, redfish, and sheepshead is a famous activity as well. The pier still stays true to its name.
Clearwater may not be as big as Miami but it sure does have its quirks when it comes to exploring. You can experience a different take on a tour with Clearwater’s helicopter tours. The quirky service provides an exciting view of the city just overhead. As you fly over the area, you’ll see notable landmarks such as Clearwater Beach, the Sunshine Skyway, and visible marine animals. Make sure you have your camera with you.
A boat excursion with a twist. The famous Captain Nemo’s Pirate Cruise is an even more entertaining wist to a regular boat tour around the sea of Clearwater. You will be exploring the water alongside swashbuckling pirates and Captain Nemo himself.
This activity is perfect for families with little kids. Role-playing, water-gun fights, face painting, and treasure hunting are all available for kids to participate in.
This has to be the most unique mode of touring in the city. Skysurfing is perfect for adrenaline junkies and adventurous types. This involves riding a hang glider in the air that resembles a trike. It is a unique way of seeing the city and its surroundings in the air, even more, unique and fun than simply riding a helicopter.
But before you take to the skies, first you have to go through a crash course in skysurfing. After which, you will be flying and operating with an expert instructor who will be with you as you fly around and descend. The tour includes passing through various landmarks not just in Clearwater but around the Gulf of Mexico as well.
Some notable landmarks include Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater Marina, and Pier 60. You might even be able to spot dolphins, sharks, and turtles as you fly overhead.
Cleveland Street District
Despite its beachside reputation, the city is more than just the beach and waterfront fun. Further, the interiors of the city also boast a thriving cosmopolitan scene.
The Cleveland Street District is one of the city’s most famous institutions. Located mere two miles away (3.2 km), it is perched on top of a cliff providing amazing views of the harbor. The area is especially popular among cosmopolitan denizens. It houses the best shopping, dining, and entertainment spots in the city.
Plus, the nearby downtown also recently went through a redevelopment phase, further upscaling the already well-developed area. Investments and foreign businesses are also setting up shops in the area. This is making it another happening place in the city, on top of the Cleveland District. The downtown area boasts a mix of residential, commercial, and entertainment areas.
Sand Key Park
Accessible either by boat or connecting bridges from Clearwater, Sand Key Park is yet another famous itinerary entry. It has everything you’ll ever need in a day’s worth of a beach trip. You can have a spectacular beach complete with cabanas. The beach completes your Clearwater experience.
The park also features a dog park and a playground, making it ideal for families with pets. You can also enjoy swimming here without worry thanks to the availability of lifeguards. Other amenities and services include wheelchairs for the disabled, showers, and beach umbrellas.
You can also rent kayaks and bikes from the many shops around. They offer an interesting adventure around the key itself. Plus, Sand Key Park also offers one of the most beautiful views in all of Clearwater.
And to make it more interesting, loggerhead turtles also lay their eggs in Sand Key Park during certain seasons. You can look up online at the perfect time to witness these magnificent creatures in person.
Is St. Petersburg or Clearwater Better?
If you’re looking for more of a splash of excitement and interesting charms, St. Petersburg is the best option. The city pretty much offers almost the same draws as Clearwater, but it offers way more than that. Not to mention, it is perfect for a wider range of travelers. It is ideal for families, singles, couples, and even students on a gap year,
Which Beach Is Better – Clearwater or St. Petersburg?
When it comes to both the appeal and the amenities, Clearwater beach is the winner. St. Petersburg has all the necessary things to make it worth the trip, but Clearwater has all that and more. From the nearby facilities to the views and quality, Clearwater has among the best beaches in the US.
Is Clearwater in St. Petersburg?
Due to their proximity and mostly similar draws, Clearwater and St. Petersburg may be mistaken to be the same. They’re both separate cities located in the same region, making them very closely related. Clearwater is located 18 miles (28.9 km) northwest of St. Petersburg. They have separate local governments and function as separate entities.