Getting Active & Outdoors
This destination celebrates the cooler months with a litany of al fresco events and festivals. Among activities on tap:
• Tarpon Springs Boat Parade (Dec. 6): This bucket-list spectacle is a magical, horn-tooting gathering of dozens of illuminated vessels that regularly attract up to 20,000 wide-eyed revelers to Tarpon Springs’ Anclote River.
• Enchant Christmas (Nov. 22-Dec. 29): The world’s largest Christmas maze debuts in St. Pete this year, taking over Tropicana Field with a winter wonderland that includes a Christmas market, an ice-skating trail and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
• Outback Bowl Beach Day and the 2020 Outback Bowl (Dec. 30 and Jan. 1): Before two of the nation’s better college football teams go head-to-head on game day, the schools’ marching bands, cheerleaders and players compete on Clearwater Beach in several raucouscontests including tug-o-war and pie eating.
• Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival (Feb. 22-23): This event is a dynamic weekend of seafood and dance with live blues music staged at Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater.
• 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, the Beach and Bay, and a thrilling Ultimate Tour that features dazzling Egmont Key and more.
• To explore some of Clearwater's prettiest parks, take a bike ride along the Ream Wilson Clearwater Trail, an off-road course connecting the Gulf of Mexico at Clearwater Beach to Tampa Bay at Safety Harbor. Be sure to take a break to look for wildlife around Alligator Creek!
• Take a late-day stroll or jog along the waterfront park and Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach to catch the spectacular, iridescent sunsets. Clearwater Beach recently took top honors in TripAdvisor’s “2019 Best Beaches in the U.S.”
• 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. Start in downtown St. Pete and end with a calorie-replenishing reward at one of Tarpon Springs’ premier Greek restaurants.
Extending Your Trip in St. Pete/Clearwater
• An underwater exhibit of 12 life-size concrete statues representing men and women serving in the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy has opened near Clearwater, Fla. The 100-foot Circle of Heroes, the nation’s first underwater memorial, is located 10 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico at a depth of 40 feet, offering a momentous ecotourism attraction that in 2020 will be expanded to 24 statues to further honor those who have fought for America.
• 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. Currently on display is a a major collection of intricate paper sculptures crafted by visionary master folders from around the world. “Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami” will be on view through Sept. 22.
• In nearby Bradenton, add to your must-see bucket list the Bradenton Riverwalk. Spanning 1.5 miles along the sparkling Manatee River, the Riverwalk is a great way to spend an few hours on Florida's Gulf Coast. After, replenish your spent calories with a sweet treat from Corwin's Ice Cream and Smoothies.
• Also in Bradenton, spend some quality time at the South Florida Museum. The intimate and highly esteemed facility features natural history artifacts, a second-stage rehabilitation aquarium for injured manatees, a 70-seat planetarium and a Spanish Plaza Courtyard with room for 225 guests.
• 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.
• SHINE St. Pete Mural Festival is a showcase for the vibrant, creative and inspiring murals crafted by artists from down the block and around the world, transforming walls and even entire street intersections.
• On Treasure Island, masterpieces are crafted from piles of sand, buckets of water and tons of imagination during the Sanding Ovations Master’s Cup. Competitors from throughout North America, Europe and Asia vie for the annual title and $12,000 in cash prizes, the contest bookended by live music, arts and crafts, fireworks, sculpting lessons and more..
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.
• Festival time: The Clearwater Super Boat National Championship, a mega-fueled race attracts over 50,000 fans who line the shoreline of the 2.5-mile-long Clearwater Beach course, be it for VIP watch parties or the thrills-a-minute competition of offshore power boats capable of producing more than 6,000 horsepower and speeds up to 180 mph.
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. Other on-tap brewpubs worthy of a crawl:
• Dunedin's intimate and dog-friendly 7venth Sun Brewery has a stellar reputation for small-batch IPAs, oak-aged sour beer and spirit barrel-aged beers. Start your stop with a Graffiti Orange Creamsicle Wheat, a 5.9-percent crowd pleaser.
• An outpost of New England's award-winning Sea Dog Brewing Co. has emerged in Clearwater. Featuring more than a dozen specialty drafts from Maine, the facility furthers its celebrity with a 125-guest-capacity private event space where aficionados are regaled with palate pleasers like the Blood Orange Belgian Wit.
• Downtown St. Pete's own Cycle Brewing has earned cult-following celebrity with barrel-aged stouts that regularly earn listings on world's best beers listings. Request a sample flight, or go all in with a Cream and Sugar Coffee Porter, which — red-flag warning — has an eye-popping 6-percent alcohol kick.
• Craving something light and refreshing? Order a pint of Berliner Weisse at De Bine Brewing Co. in Palm Harbor. The industrial-style tasting room features a generous bar and communal tables for gathering with friends and colleagues.
• On the north end of the Trail in Tarpon Springs is Two Frogs Brewing Co., housed in a circa-1895 former drug store that specializes in all-American ales. Saddle into the saloon-like setting and order up the Snowmass, a chocolate-coconut brown ale with a heady 5.8-percent kick.
Top 10 Restaurants in Clearwater
- Cafe Ponte - American
- Marina Cantina - Mexican
- Salty's Island Bar & Grille - American, Seafood
- Cristino's Coal Oven Pizza - Italian
- Rumba Island Bar & Grill - Caribbean
- Sandbar Restaurant - American
- Wildflower Cafe - American
- Bait House - American
- Sea-Guini - Italian, Seafood
- 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.
• 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. Read more about it here.
• 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 Petersburg, Florida
Guest Rooms - 333
Meeting Rooms - 26
Largest Conference Room - 7,055 sq. ft.
Total event space - 32,000 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $137-$304
St Petersburg, Florida
Guest Rooms - 197
Meeting Rooms - 7
Largest Conference Room - 3,485 sq. ft.
Total event space - 14,748 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $144-$218
St Petersburg, Florida
Guest Rooms - 227
Meeting Rooms - 10
Largest Conference Room - 9,265 sq. ft.
Total event space - 12,794 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $120