St. Pete / Clearwater

This Florida locale is renowned for its easy access from major U.S. destinations, beautiful beaches and incredible meetings offerings.

Why Here?

Thirty-five miles of white-sugar sand beaches — ranked among the world's very best — underscore the meeting-destination celebrity of Florida's St.Pete/Clearwater. This locale is also renowned for its easy access from major U.S. destinations, hip Old Florida vibe, lively walkability, acclaimed public transportation and magical sunsets.

Good to Know
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:
35,000 guest rooms in Pinellas County, which is made up of 24 communities including Clearwater Beach, St. Pete, St. Pete Beach and Dunedin
 
Convention Center:
Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center; exhibit space, 30,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 14; (855) 318-4768

Only in St. Pete/Clearwater

St. Pete/Clearwater is regarded as the "Grouper Capital of the World," so much so that the wickedly tasty and flaky white fish has earned its own festival. Enjoined every July, St. Pete Grouper Week is highlighted by local restaurant happenings, chartered fishing adventures and — the topper — a food-truck rally featuring succulent grouper-inspired recipes, live music and endless libations.

Getting Here and There

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 and Allegiant airlines, as well as several charter airlines. Transfer cost by taxi, $50; by Uber, about $20

Meeting Venues

Coming Soon

• TradeWinds Island Resorts is currently upgrading its two properties, the  211-room TradeWinds Guy Harvey Outpost 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. Even more is in store at the Guy Harvey Outpost, which is being further upgraded with new beachfront balconies, railings, exterior paint and new seating area club chairs. The Guy Harvey refurbishment will be completed by Feb. 2019; half of the rooms at the Island Grand have already been refreshed; the rest will be completed by late 2020. Read more here.

• Marriott International Autograph Collection's flag will soon fly over Dunedin's Fenway Hotel. Neglected and shuttered for years, the historic property has undergone a $30 million salvage, restoration and reconstruction that in November will debut 83 luxe-level rooms, a new HEW Parlor and Chophouse, a rooftop bar that overlooks the St. Joseph Sound, and 11,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

• In St. Pete Beach, a $15 million renovation is nearing completion at the 13-acre Sirata Beach Resort. Scheduled to premier in late 2018, the major makeover includes all 382 guest rooms and suites, the three signature restaurants, enhancements to the 30,000 square feet of function space, a complete rebuild of the beachfront swimming complex and the addition of a full-time activities staff.

• The iconic St. Pete Pier, which backdrops the 34-acre St. Petersburg Pier District, is under construction. When completed in early 2019, it will anchor the third largest waterfront park system in North America and will further enhance St. Pete's vibrant downtown and treasured waterfront.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the Tailless Dolphin, has begun an expansion that will allow the marine hospital to care for more injured sealife, including turtles and dolphins. In addition to its mission to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife as well as being a must-see family attraction, the aquarium is ideally suited and equipped for small meetings, group outings, team building and corporate events.

Venues

• 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 Dali Museum — ranked among the top museums in the U.S. by TripAdvisor — offers 20,000 square feet of gallery space that's almost entirely dedicated to the works of Salvador Dalí. Additionally, the inspiring venue features 3,000 square feet of meeting space and picturesque views of Tampa Bay

• 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.

Recent Additions

• In celebration of its 90th anniversary, the 277-room Don CeSar has completed a multi-phase renovation of the public areas of both the main resort and its sister property, the 70-room Beach House Suites by The Don CeSar. Since 1928, the award-winning "Pink Palace" has welcomed the world's elite — from gangsters to movie stars to U.S. presidents. Meeting planners can reserve nearly 33,000 square feet in multi-function venues, including two expansive ballrooms.

• 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.

After an extensive renovation, the 34-room Avalon has reopened in downtown St. Petersburg with retro interiors, a restaurant and a 21 craft-beer bar.

• Paying homage to an era of easygoing coastal comfort, the Postcard Inn on the Beach has been restyled with individually decorated rooms and nostalgia-themed art that further define this 196-room casual St. Pete Beach property. Amenities include two restaurants, a beach bar, and multiple interior and exterior event spaces including a 2,280-square-foot ballroom.

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.

• In downtown St. Pete, the new James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art has opened with a singular assortment of premium works from the personal collection of Tom and Mary James. Emeritus chairman of Raymond James Financial, Tom James has invested nearly $50 million into the 84,000-square-foot museum, which includes 30,000 square feet of gallery space, 9,300 square feet of meeting space and a 129-seat auditorium.

• Two years ago, USA Today ranked St. Pete/Clearwater as one of the five most underrated food cities of the East Coast. Helping lead that epicurean breakthrough are the home-cooked, handcrafted delicacies offered at The Mill; the new eatery has private event space for up to 60 guests.

Things to Do

Get Active

• 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.

Stay Another Day

• 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.

Good Sports

• 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.

• Meeting planners are advised to highlight early February 2021 on their calendars. That is when nearby Tampa will host the National Football League's Super Bowl LV. The city also hosted the pigskin championship in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.

Beer Here!

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.