. St. Pete/Clearwater | Northstar Meetings Group

Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

St. Pete/Clearwater

Learn why you should host your next meeting, event or conference in St. Pete/Clearwater.

Why St. Pete/Clearwater for Your Next Meeting or Event?

Thirty-five miles of sugar-sand beaches - ranked among the world’s very best - create a stunning backdrop for this sunny meetings and events destination. St. Pete/Clearwater is also celebrated for its world-class museums, hundreds of street murals, and a thriving culinary and craft beer scene. Public transportation is plentiful and this destination has easy access from major U.S. cities.

Travel Essentials
Taxes: Pinellas County room tax, 6%; state and local tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

CVB: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, (727) 464-7200
 
Total Number of Hotel Rooms:
25,000 guest rooms in Pinellas County, which is made up of 24 communities including Clearwater Beach, St. Pete, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island
 
Convention Center:
Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center; exhibit space, 30,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 9; (855) 318-4768

Only in St. Pete/Clearwater

With the jewel-colored waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the sparkling blue of Tampa Bay to the east, St. Pete/Clearwater is one of the few coastal destinations where event attendees can see sunrise each morning and sunset at night. North Shore Park in St. Pete is a perfect location to watch the sunrise. In the evening, attend the nightly Pier 60 sunset celebration in Clearwater Beach or choose a quiet spot.

Area Transportation

Tampa International Airport, about 18 miles east of Clearwater and 20 miles northeast of St. Pete. Transfer cost by taxi, $50; by Uber, about $20
 
St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, about 19 miles from downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Clearwater, which is served by low-cost Allegiant Airlines, as well as several charter airlines. Transfer cost by taxi, $50; by Uber, about $20

2019 Stella Award Winners

2018 Stella Awards Winners


PARTNER CONTENT

 

 

Meeting and Event Venues

New & Coming Soon to St. Pete/Clearwater

The destination’s new “Rise to Shine” campaign was launched to let visitors know what hotels, attractions, restaurants and destinations are doing to keep the public safe in the destination. The messaging is being spread through a variety of marketing outlets, including broadcast advertising, signage at both the St. Pete/Clearwater and Tampa international airports and outdoor billboards. According to Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s president and CEO Steve Hayes, “It’s more important than ever for our destination to demonstrate that you can travel responsibly, and we’re here to support the county face covering ordinance and other safety measures.”

St. Pete Beach’s landmark Grand Plaza and The Beachcomber hotels will soon will undergo a combined $30 million in improvements. Changes to the 1974-circa Grand Plaza Hotel include enhancements to its 156 guest rooms, public spaces, its four F&B outlets, as well as to the resort’s 8,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces. 

The Beachcomber has similar plans, including floor-to-ceiling upgrades to its 102 guest rooms, main lobby, courtyard and pool deck, plus the addition of a new game room. 

• The 91-room Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club Hotel, a five-story, marine-life themed property has debuted in Clearwater Beach near the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The property, part of Choice Hotels’ Ascend Collection, features two restaurants, an outdoor heated pool and a sundeck. Guests can rest easy at the eco-friendly, marine-themed hotel, which has banned single-use plastics and installed sea turtle–safe lighting as part of its sustainability initiatives. In partnership with the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the hotel charges a daily conservation fee of $9.95 per guest room to fund the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured marine life.

• The 132-room Tru by Hilton St. Petersburg has opened in the Grand Central District, near Tropicana Field and the Dali Museum. The boutique property offers an outdoor terrace, a fitness center, complimentary WiFi and 500 square feet of meeting space. Enhanced cleaning and safety standards under Hilton’s new Event­Ready With CleanStay program give planners and attendees a safe event experience from start to finish.

• Southeast Florida’s newest waterfront attraction has opened in St. Petersburg. Located adjacent to the city’s vibrant downtown, the 26-acre St. Pete Pier and its impressive cultural and recreational offerings serve as a $92 million investment and major extension to the city’s burgeoning amenities. The wide-open space already hosts several public art installations from internationally renowned artists and is well positioned for recreational and cultural activities including beach sports, events, concerts, pop-up performances and markets. The pier itself offers five stories of shops, balconies and restaurants.

• A $44 million rapid transit project that will link downtown St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach has taken another step forward. The newly dubbed "SunRunner" bus line will convey passengers via speedy signal-priority lanes, making the trip from the city’s downtown to its beaches in less than 35 minutes. Completion of the project is expected in 2022. 

• A revival of St. Pete Beach’s historic Don CeSar Hotel is more than two-thirds complete. Phase two of the refresh included updates to the lobby bar, meetings facilities, retail space, Uncle Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor and the award-wining Maritana restaurant. The National Historic Landmark property is now in its third and final phase of work, which is expected to finish in the fall, transforming the hotel’s 277 guest rooms, and revamping the Sea Porch Café and the Beachcomber Bar & Grill.

• The 123-room Karol Hotel debuted in February with a rooftop bar overlooking Tampa Bay, a signature lobby bar and restaurant, an outside pool and fitness center, and a combined 7,340 square feet of event space including a ballroom and executive conference rooms. The Marriott Tribute Portfolio-flagged property is located 12 minutes from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

• St. Pete’s development review commission has green-lighted plans for a new $300 million mixed-use tower. Slated for a downtown 2.3-acre site with sweeping views of Tampa Bay, the project will include a 225-room, Marriott-branded hotel with a rooftop pool, casual dining and more than 15,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The 45-story skyscraper will also include 300 luxury condominiums plus 25,000 square feet of retail shopping and restaurants. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2020. 

• A 161-room, Marriott-flagged Moxy Hotel, is coming to St. Pete’s burgeoning Edge District. Amenities will include a rooftop pool and bar, plus an outdoor wellness and meditation space. The property is scheduled to open in 2022.

The rooftop Dewey Beach Bar & Grill offers three gathering areas, a horseshoe-shaped bar that seats 21 and "elevated beach cuisine." The venue is available for private groups of 200 guests. 

• A 200-room Marriott Autograph Collection hotel is also being planned in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. The 50-story mixed-used tower also calls for 325 condominiums, dining and retail space. At press time, details on other offerings — including meeting and event space — as well as a projected opening date have not yet been announced. Stay tuned.

• TradeWinds Island Resorts is currently upgrading its two properties, the  211-room RumFish Beach Resort and 585-room sister property TradeWinds Island Grand, at a cost of $13 million. Both TradeWinds venues are being refreshed with new bedding, draperies, upholstery, sofa beds, carpeting and reappointed bathrooms. Half of the rooms at the Island Grand have already been refreshed; the rest will be completed by late 2020. Read more here.

• Who doesn't love dolphins? Generations of marine enthusiasts will be going all in when the Clearwater Marine Aquarium completes a $70 million expansion specially designed to rescue and rehabilitate dolphins, whales and other distressed aquatic life found on coastal beaches and waterways. The new facilities include a 7,200-square-foot event space that will accommodate 440 guests, a theater that will accommodate 275 attendees and a 1.5-million-gallon dolphin habitat that also will showcase the aquarium's most celebrated residents, Winter and Hope and its newest high-profile resident. Hemingway, a 700-pound Atlantic bottlenose male dolphin. The new meeting space is slated for completion in fall 2020 along with a new dolphin habitat.

• North Clearwater Beach's Hotel Cabana is sporting a lavish new look following a total refresh and renovation. Accented by 29 Key West-inspired guest rooms and suites, property perks include a heated pool, complimentary Kahwa-branded coffee and WiFi, a landscaped courtyard, a sun deck and easy access to nearby restaurants, bars and beaches.

•  St. Pete Beach’s Postcard Inn on the Beach has revealed a trio of new dining options. Leading off is P.S. Grind, an open-air coffee bar;  Stamps, a bistro with signature dishes, cocktails; and the expansive new Tiki Bar that serves beach-inspired delicacies.

The Inn on the Beach has completed an all-encompassing redesign and renovation of its 14 guest rooms. The property is in laid-back Pass-a-Grille near the historic 8th Avenue shopping district.

More Event Venues

• The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg offers several event and meeting spaces, including a 250-guest ballroom and a 500-guest conservatory that overlooks Tampa Bay. 

•   The James Museum features 30,000 square feet of gallery space housing an extensive collection of western and wildlife art from the private collection of Tom and Mary James, who invested nearly $50 million to create the museum. The venue offers 6,000 square feet of event space that can accommodate groups ranging from 20 to 750 guests. In addition, there is a 129-seat auditorium as well as a museum shop & cafe that can host gatherings.

•  Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, slated to open this year, will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s extensive collection of furniture, pottery, photography, metalwork and other decorative arts from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Group meeting and event options include a100-seat auditorium and an event and banquet hall adorned with 16 period chandeliers that can accommodate around 200 people.

• Underscored by a nine-gallery, eye-candy collection of more than 500 pieces of American Studio Glass, the Imagine Museum has recently opened in St. Petersburg. The three-story downtown property is the latest of a series of regional, privately funded facilities that are turning the St.Petersburg/Clearwater area into a must-see art experience. The new venue accommodates private events for up to 150 people.

• The Florida Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Pete accommodates groups and events in a 200-guest dining room and an intimate 30-guest meeting space. A critically acclaimed exhibit detailing Anne Frank’s tragic experiences is currently on display through January 2021. 

• The St. Petersburg Museum of History offers an array of iconic exhibits, ranging from the world’s first commercial flight to the world’s largest collection of baseballs autographed by the game’s foremost names. The museum is nearing the completion of a three-phase, $7 million renovation and expansion project that will add 8,000 square feet of new space, including a new visitor’s center, a new rooftop terrace and a new exhibit gallery, that will showcase the history of the city and Florida.

• St. Pete's NOVA 535 is a meticulously renovated historic 1920 building with 7,000 square feet of event space, convenient interstate access, multiple full-service bars, VIP areas plus a private 4,000-square-foot brick and bamboo courtyard.

• Stay, meet and play at 362-room Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. Located in the vibrant downtown district, guest perks include three restaurants, a spa, a health club, Ron Garl-designed golf and 60,500 square feet of total event space.

St. Pete / Clearwater Meeting Hotels

Things to Do in St. Pete/Clearwater

Getting Active & Outdoors

• A tropical oasis awaits in the heart of St. Petersburg. Growing in the 100-year-old Sunken Gardens are more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers, and the park is home to flamingos and other bird species. 

• Just seven miles south of Clear­water is the Florida Botanical Gardens, the state’s largest. Among the areas are gardens for tropical fruit, succulents, palm trees and butterflies. 

• Why settle for pedestrian experiences when you can literally take your event to the clouds in a historic biplane originally owned by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst? BiPlane Rides offers Nikon-prompting, open-cockpit tours of downtown St. Pete, St. Pete Beach and a thrilling Ultimate Tour that features dazzling Egmont Key and more.

• Take a late-day stroll or jog along the waterfront park and Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach to catch the spectacular sunsets. Clearwater Beach is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the U.S. by TripAdvisor; it took the spot in their 2018 and 2019 annual rankings.

• One of the best ways to experience the destination is via the famed Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, a 40-mile-long walking/jogging/skating/cycling greenway built atop an abandoned railroad corridor that meanders across rivers and creeks, and through picturesque small towns. Bike rentals are available at different locations near the trail.

Extending Your Trip in St. Pete/Clearwater

 

St. Pete’s eclectic Grand Central District is an ultra-hip area that distinguishes downtown Central Avenue and neighboring streets with cafes and restaurants, breweries and bars, museums and art galleries, trendy stores and salons and more. Start at the epicenter — the 600 block of Central Avenue — and uncover a trove of independent treasures. Among them:

  • The Cider House Press Café, which specializes in award-winning vegan cuisine
  • The Floridian Social Club, a Beaux-Arts styled former bank that has been a rousing concert venue since 1924
  • Misred Outfitters, which headlines a stretch of irresistible, specialty-item boutiques
  • Salt-Light Art, handmade jewelry that anchors a slew of sophisticated shops known collectively as the Crislip Arcade
  • The Lure, a laid-back eatery famous for its exceptional sushi, tapas, tacos, flatbreads and medal-winning brews

Tarpon Springs is just 20 minutes north of St. Pete/Clearwater, but the experience feels like you've been transported to a coastal village in Greece. Head for riverfront Dodecanese Boulevard to shop for specialty gifts like natural sponges and olive oil soap. Then wander over to Tarpon Avenue, celebrated for its authentic Greek restaurants like Mama's Greek Cuisine (don't miss the live belly dancing show every Saturday night), Hellas, Parthenon and Mykonos.
 
• Take a tour on your own or with a guide of the more than 600 murals throughout St. Pete. Visitors. Travelers can use the the PixelStix app to read about each vibrant work of art.

Local Sports Scene

• The St. Pete/Clearwater area has been hosting Major League Baseball spring training since 1914, when the St. Louis Browns lost to the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Coffee Pot Park. This generational tradition continues every season, beginning in February, with Grapefruit League matchups between 15 MLB teams including the Philadelphia Phillies, the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees. The season runs from February through opening day of the regular season.

• St. Pete/Clearwater has a prestigious sporting events coming up: the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg,  tentatively rescheduled for early October 2020.

Best Breweries

In nearby Dunedin is Florida's oldest microbrewery, Dunedin Brewery, producer of the aromatic and scrumptious Apricot Peach Wheat Ale. Launched in 1996, the popular watering hole hosts group tours four days a week and headlines an anthology of 40 area craft breweries that collectively define the renowned St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail. Among the breweries that can host large groups are Green Bench and Webb’s City Cellar and 3 Daughters.

Top 10 Restaurants in Clearwater

  1. Cafe Ponte - American
  2. Marina Cantina - Mexican
  3. Salty's Island Bar & Grille - American, Seafood
  4. Cristino's Coal Oven Pizza - Italian
  5. Rumba Island Bar & Grill - Caribbean 
  6. Sandbar Restaurant - American
  7. Wildflower Cafe - American
  8. Bait House - American
  9. Sea-Guini - Italian, Seafood
  10. Blinkers Beachside Steakhouse & Lounge - American Steakhouse

F&B Hotspots in St. Pete

New restaurants are all the rage in St. Pete, with locally owned concepts popping up at a dizzying pace. Following are three to try:

• The Brass Bowl Kitchen & Juicery: Eating healthy has never tasted so good. The Brass Bowl serves a chef-driven, fully organic menu featuring fresh gluten-free food bowls that burst with flavor.

• German Knodle: Open from breakfast to late night, the Knodle offers everything from bratwurst to paninis, but don’t leave without sampling one of its succulent knodles (small German dumplings).

• No Vacancy St. Pete: Once you check in, you might never want to check out of the retro Florida-themed No Vacancy. Its “everyday vacay” décor is a sweet complement to the dynamite tropical cocktails and island-style bites.