I Heart My City: Rebecca’s St. Pete

Rebecca Davis is a St. Petersburg—locals call it St. Pete—native through and through. A recent transplant to Washington, D.C., she now delights in visiting what she describes as a “tropical, art-conscious city with a laid-back beach vibe.” Rebecca gets to explore the world by way of photographs and stories as an associate producer at Nat Geo Travel, but she’ll always be proud of her Florida roots. Here are a few of her favorite things about the “other” St. Petersburg.

Follow Rebecca’s story on Instagram @BeckyDavis1234 and Twitter @Beckylane123.

St. Petersburg Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is the front porch of the Vinoy Renaissance Resort for a tropical drink accompanied by a view of Tampa Bay.

March is the best time to visit my city because while most people are shoveling snow, the people of St. Pete are applying sunscreen and enjoying the no-air-conditioning-needed weather.

You can see my city best from the top of the Birchwood hotel in downtown St. Pete.

Locals know to skip chain restaurants and check out locally owned ones like 4th Street Shrimp Store and Red Mesa instead. St. Pete has really started to take off as a foodie city.

Craftsman House is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like author Dennis Lehane, legendary baseballer Babe Ruth, and the late British racing driver Dan Wheldon have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Salvador Dalí Museum because it houses the largest collection of the Catalan surrealist artist’s work outside of Europe. Plus, the 2011 reveal of the museum’s upgraded digs on the St. Pete waterfront elevated the exterior to a work of art.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that St. Pete is extremely biker-friendly. 

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is anywhere along the water. Straub Park, the iconic St. Pete Pier, and Crescent Lake Park are some of my favorites (and all welcome dogs).

My city really knows how to celebrate the arts. There’s a plethora of museums to enjoy like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Chihuly Collection. Local artists put their work on display in places like the Craftsman House Gallery and the Saturday Morning Market, too.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they wear flip-flops year round.

For a fancy night out, I grab dinner at BellaBrava with some friends, and then we venture over to the Canopy Rooftop Lounge for cocktails and a beautiful view of the water.

Just outside my city, you can visit Pass-A-Grille Beach or go camping at historic Fort Desoto Park

My city is known for being full of the elderly and retired, but it’s really a family-friendly, up-and-coming foodie town with a slight hipster vibe.

The best outdoor market in my city is the Saturday Morning Market, a friendly conglomeration of local vendors, artisans, and performers.

 Banyan Café is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Fortunato’s Italian Market is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Creative Loafing magazine.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I bike or walk the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, a 47-mile trail that snakes along an abandoned railroad corridor.

To escape the crowds, I head south to Fort Desoto to lounge on the less crowded white-sand beaches.

The dish that represents my city best is a grouper sandwich, and Beach Blonde Ale is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Harvey’s 4th Street Grill and 3 Daughters Brewing, respectively.

Jannus Live is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Suite Six Lounge.

Wearing shorts to meet “Santa” in the park could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should marvel at the blooming jacaranda trees.

In the summer you should cool off in a pool (try the North Shore Aquatic Complex) because the city gets extremely hot and humid.

In the fall you should explore Weedon Island Preserve and note the subtle change of season.

In the winter you should embrace Florida’s green side and visit Sunken Gardens, four acres of beautiful botanical gardens.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Great Explorations Children’s Museum.

Comments

  1. janeen wallace
    United States
    January 13, 2015, 8:15 pm

    Wow another article about St. Pete, that doesnt include the issues of blight, gentrification or all the other social ills that come along with moving into communities. Good job, Im assuming the place I grew up and was educated in can become worse in education, job opportunities, and community outreach because most people who move here could care less about those things. Right?! Just so you know, it is not a street but a diverse city that is owed more respect than a place to buy cheap houses and invest nothing into.

  2. Andrew
    St Pete
    December 30, 2014, 8:39 am

    Very good overview, but sadly the pier is no longer open.

  3. Susan Rebillot
    St. Petersburg
    December 29, 2014, 6:48 pm

    Thanks for mentioning Sunken Gardens– it is a gorgeous tropical oasis any time of the year, but during winter, the camellias and azaleas are blooming and awesome!

  4. Krystal
    St. Petersburg, FL
    December 29, 2014, 4:52 pm

    This is an awesome perspective of the city, but I feel like there was very little about Downtown St. Pete and to me that’s a HUGE part of what makes St. Pete so awesome. First Friday (to anyone who isn’t a local at least haha) and the local bars and restaurants on Central and 1st Ave N are some of my favorite places in St. Pete!

  5. Jeff Schorr
    United States
    December 26, 2014, 5:05 pm

    Thanks for mentioning Craftsman House Gallery. We love St. Petersburg. But don’t tell too many people how great St. Pete is :)

  6. David Beck
    St. Petersburg, FL
    December 26, 2014, 7:51 am

    Ms. Davis succinctly captures the essence of St. Pete very well. It is also a very pet-friendly city — seems like everyone has at least one dog.

  7. Chuck Winters
    December 25, 2014, 9:58 pm

    I spent a wonderful week plus in St. Pete last March. My stay in an Air BnB hosted home in old town was excellent. I explored the whole area and took in the season inaugural IndyCar race at the waterside airport. It’s everything Rebecca loves and I’ll definitely return as often as I can!