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St. Petersburg, FL

About St. PetersburgThe American Medical Association was on to the bay area's bounty of recreational riches back in 1885, when it named St. Petersburg as an ideal destination for a “world health city.” Near year-round warmth, broad beaches, a varied system of waterways and some 400 public parks and playgrounds make the region a true haven for adventure travel enthusiasts.

The Pinellas Trail, built along an abandoned railroad corridor, stretches 34 miles from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg. It provides opportunities for walking, jogging, bicycling and in-line skating. Many entry and exit points exist along the trail, with spurs going to Clearwater Beach and Honeymoon Island State Park. For information on things to do in St. Petersburg, contact the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources, 12520 Ulmerton Rd. in Largo; phone (727) 582-2100.

One picturesque place to go is the St. Pete Pier. The 26-acre waterfront complex features local restaurants, shops and recreational things to do, such as swimming, biking and strolling. Phone ahead to confirm schedule and fees.

Boasting an average 361 days of sunshine annually, St. Pete also allows for year-round golfing. The city's public and semiprivate courses include Baypointe, 9399 Commodore Dr., (850) 235-6950; Mainlands, 9445 Mainlands Blvd. W., (727) 577-4847; Mangrove Bay, 875 62nd Ave. N.E., (727) 893-7800; and Twin Brooks, 3800 22nd Ave. S., (727) 893-7445.

For racket pros, the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, 650 18th Ave. S., features 16 clay and four hard-surface courts; phone (727) 823-2225. For additional information phone the St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department at (727) 893-7441.

One of the world's largest shuffleboard clubs is at Mirror Lake Recreation Park in downtown St. Petersburg. Daily guest membership is available. The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, next to Mirror Lake Recreation Park, open its shuffleboard lanes every Friday night and is among the fun things to do with friends in the area; phone (727) 822-2083.

If you'd rather exercise gray matter than muscles, try the St. Petersburg Chess Club on select days at 540 Fourth Ave. N. in Mirror Lake Recreation Park; phone (727) 822-1171. Or, contemplate at the First United Methodist Church , 212 Third. St. N., which houses a 10- by 18-foot stained-glass window of Da Vinci's masterpiece “The Last Supper”; phone (727) 894-4661.

A full season of symphonic presentations is brought to the area by the Florida Orchestra and by local dance companies. Performances take place at the Mahaffey Theater; (727) 893-7832 or (800) 874-9020 for ticket and schedule information.

Those seeking Broadway and off-Broadway plays should check out the American Stage Theater Company, the area's oldest professional theater at 163 Third St. N., for classical and contemporary plays in an intimate setting at the Raymond James Theatre that's ; phone (727) 823-7529. The St. Petersburg City Theatre, 4025 31st St. S., stages six major productions September through May; phone (727) 866-1973.

Get Downtown First Friday, a free street party offered in downtown on the first Friday of every month from 5:30-10 p.m, offers budget-friendly things for couples to do. The event features live jazz as well as arts and crafts.

Throughout the year, a number of other special events keep visitors busy. Williams Park; South Straub Park, next to the Museum of Fine Arts overlooking the inner harbor; and bayside Vinoy Park, near Straub Park, are settings for many St. Petersburg events and offer fun things to do with kids.

In late April or early May St. Petersburg hosts the St. Anthony's Triathlon. American Stage in the Park offers several weeks of professional theatrical productions under the stars mid-April to mid-May; phone (727) 823-7529. In late October or early November the city recognizes its ethnic groups during the International Folk Fair; offerings include folk dances and food places. To round out the year, the holiday Lighted Boat Parade takes place downtown at the waterfront in mid-December.

Sports fans flock to St. Pete to watch Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays of the American League. The team plays April through September at Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Dr.; phone (727) 825-3137. The Rays' spring training games take place at Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd. in Port Charlotte; phone (941) 235-5010 for ticket information. The minor-league Charlotte Stone Crabs of Port Charlotte also play at the sports park; phone (941) 206-3511 or (941) 206-4487.

The Downtown Looper trolley circles downtown St. Petersburg and affords visitors access to a variety of museums, shops and local restaurants. The trolleys operate Sun.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri.-Sat. 10-11:40; closed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fare is 50c; 25c (ages 65+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5), and exact change is required.

St. Petersburg ShoppingFor splendid views of Tampa Bay and a bounty of delightful keepsakes, wander along the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront. Head to Beach Drive and peruse its upscale shopping establishments. Art showrooms, boutiques and long-established jewelers intermingle with cozy cafés and high-rise condos on this palm tree-lined thoroughfare, a lovely milieu prized by sightseeing pedestrians and gallivanting locals.

While you’re prowling Beach Drive for things to see, stop in at Sundial, a collection of upscale shops and eateries at 153 Second Ave. N. between First and Second streets. Track down some new threads at its fashionable boutiques, including Chico's, Tommy Bahama and White House Black Market, take a load off in the courtyard beside a 30-foot-tall working solar sundial, or catch a flick at the 19-screen movie theater.

West of downtown St. Petersburg at Tyrone Boulevard and 22nd Avenue North, Tyrone Square Mall entices those stalking brand names. Fashion mavens can gather an impressive array of bulging bags from such tenants as Dillard’s, JCPenney and Macy’s at the shopping center, which also houses more than 170 specialty stores and is the focal point of a retail hub embracing several national chains.

With the sweet-and-salty scent of kettle corn hanging in the air, more than 100 vendors showcase their wares to the tune of funky jazz beats and energetic pop vocals at the Saturday Morning Market and offer fun things to do with kids. Drawn in by persuasive chalk signs (“World’s Best Pineapple—2 for $5!”), sandaled browsers weave in and out of white tents sheltering delicate orchids, floppy sunhats, handmade jewelry and robust organic coffees. The downtown St. Petersburg event takes place in the Al Lang Stadium parking lot at First Avenue Southeast and First Street Southeast from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., early October to late May; phone (727) 455-4921. The Saturday Morning Market also operates on a smaller scale at Williams Park, First Avenue North and Third Street North, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., June through August.

Drive along Central Avenue between the waterfront and 31st Street to discover pockets of retail space where merchants hawk everything from antique wardrobes to contemporary paintings to emo skateboarding accessories. Smell the roses at Green Bench Flowers, in business for more than 25 years, then satisfy your sweet tooth with a boxful of handmade truffles from the adjacent Schakolad Chocolate Factory, on the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street North. Though the decadent nibbles are likely to be gone by the time you reach Daddy Kool Records, 666 Central Ave., take care not to leave any chocolaty fingerprints on the indie store’s selection of hard-to-find vinyl albums, CDs and music DVDs.

If you're searching for a vintage toy, mid-century modern chair or 19th-century chandelier, plant yourself inside Antique Galleries of St. Petersburg at 450 34th St. N. Nostalgic shoppers roam the marketplace, salivating over restored furniture, unusual knick-knacks, glitzy jewelry and other distinctive finds offered by more than 80 vendors.

Even if you’re not a bookworm, you’ll have a tough time overlooking Tombolo Books, 2153 1st Ave. S. in the Grand Central District. The indie bookstore offers a curated selection of new fiction and nonfiction titles from Florida and around the world as well as fun programs, such as book clubs and children's storytime. Phone (727) 755-9456.

St. Petersburg NightlifeThings to do with kids include cheering on the Tampa Bay Rays alongside tenured patrons at family-operated Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill. You’ll find the rambling patchwork structure sprouting out from a former gas station on Central Avenue, just north of Tropicana Field. Order the Ahi tuna nachos, or devour Ferg’s scrumptious half-pound burger topped with honey barbecue sauce and allied cheeses (American and Swiss); phone (727) 822-4562.

For live riffs, catch a show at Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N., said to be Florida’s oldest outdoor concert venue. After jamming to the likes of such varied musical talents as Bleachers, Phantogram and Social Distortion, hit up a local restaurant or one of St. Petersburg’s many dive bars for a few longnecks. About 3 blocks west of Jannus Live on Central Avenue, the Emerald Bar presents the requisite mishmash of bad bar décor (i.e., chintzy wood wall panels, linoleum and tired neon beer signs) complemented by loud jukebox music, occasional live music and cheap drinks. On Second Street North, the Ringside Café—an unusual St. Petersburg institution that once operated as a boarding house and boxing club—packs in down-to-earth blues aficionados with wailing performances by local bands, stiff libations and tasty bar grub. Phone (727) 565-0550 for Jannus Live box office, (727) 898-6054 for the Emerald Bar or (727) 894-8465 for the Ringside Café.

While daytime sightseers enjoy al fresco lunches, farmers markets, and arts and crafts tent sales along Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg, exuberant beer drinkers and wine connoisseurs swing by after dark. Survey incoming night owls from your perch on the wrought iron balcony of A Taste for Wine, a romantic establishment occupying the second floor of the bygone St. Charles Hotel, which offer plenty of things for couples to do. Nibble on artisan cheeses, bacon-wrapped scallops, and puff pastries filled with beef and mushrooms inside the comfy art-adorned lounge, where jazz, pop and folk artists often entertain laid-back weekenders; phone (727) 895-1623.

Of course, a trip to sun-kissed St. Petersburg isn’t complete until you’ve slurped fruity beverages with bronzed, sandaled natives at Kahuna’s Bar & Grill, 10515 N. Gandy Blvd. Though you can stop by this cozy tiki hut any day of the week for a casual game of pool or a few rounds of foosball, you’ll often find aging Hawaiian shirt-wearing beach bums going up against college kids in fierce Hula-Hoop contests and fun-loving volleyball tournaments; phone (727) 576-7800.

Visitor Centers St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce 100 Second Ave. N. Suite 150 St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Phone:(727)821-4069

Things to Do Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Lake Maggiore Park

Chihuly Collection

The Dalí Museum

Egmont Key State Park

The Florida Holocaust Museum

Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto

Ghost Tour of St. Petersburg

Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum

Great Explorations Children's Museum

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art

Morean Arts Center

Museum of Fine Arts

The Pier District

St. Petersburg Museum of History

Starlite Sapphire Dining Yacht

Sunken Gardens

Sunshine Skyway

Weedon Island Preserve

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St. Petersburg, FL

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