The Beaches of St. Petersburg Florida

by sockii

St. Petersburg is a great destination for beach lovers. There's something for everyone whether you enjoy peace and quiet or a busy scene with lots of activities for kids & adults.

One of the greatest attractions of the St. Petersburg, Florida area is their incredible nearby beaches. There are simply miles upon miles of beaches to choose from, stretching from nearby Clearwater down to the the National Park of Fort De Soto. Each beach area has a unique and different personality as well, making it easy to find the type of beach experience you enjoy best.

I recently had the chance to visit St. Petersburg for a week and to explore several of the different area beaches. Here I'll share my three favorite St. Petersburg beaches, and what makes each of them a unique place to visit and experience for yourself.

Image: Sunset at St. Pete Beach. Photographs on this page are by the author, sockii, unless otherwise indicated.

St. Pete Beach

The main attraction for many visiting St. Petersburg
Hotels and attractions along St. Pete Beach
Hotels and attractions along St. Pete Beach

It should be noted – as it can be confusing to first time visitors – that St. Pete Beach is actually the name of a coastal city distinct from St. Petersburg itself. If you are staying in downtown St. Petersburg, it can take you about 15-20 minutes of driving to get to St. Pete Beach, so if you want a real beach resort vacation you should look at the many hotels in the St. Pete Beach or Treasure Island areas specifically.

But wherever you’re staying, St. Pete Beach is a great place to start exploring the area beaches. You will find miles of clean and beautiful white sand, with plenty of nearby bars, restaurants and activities to keep you entertained and busy – if you wish! Or just spread out your blanket on the sand, relax or go hunting for seashells in the shallow waters. Although there are many hotels in this area, the beach is so wide, and stretches on for so long, that it does not feel “crowded” the way other popular beaches often do. A few hours at St. Pete Beach and you’ll begin to understand the area’s charm and appeal to so many.

To learn more about St. Pete Beach and the surrounding area, be sure to check out these links:


City of St. Pete: Official Website
St Pete Beach – VisitFlorida
St Pete Beach – Pinellas County website (info on public access and parking)

Scenes from St. Pete Beach

Late afternoon with storm clouds rolling in...
Take a dip in the waters at St. Pete Beach!
Take a dip in the waters at St. Pete ...
You'll find lots of coastal birds on the beach here in St. Petersburg
You'll find lots of coastal birds on ...
Clean sand and clear waters make St. Pete Beach a wonderful place to visit.
Clean sand and clear waters make St. ...
St. Pete Beach is great for taking long walks along the shoreline.
St. Pete Beach is great for taking lo...
Getting ready for a dramatic sunset with stormy weather coming in...
Getting ready for a dramatic sunset with stormy weather coming in...

Pass-a-Grille Beach

A historic and charming beach community
Enjoying a little shade at a beach bar in Pass-a-Grille.
Enjoying a little shade at a beach bar in Pass-a-Grille.

Pass-a-Gille Beach is a delightful, quaint beach community at the southernmost tip of St. Pete Beach. It has a unique style all of its own, different from the hotel-and-condo lined areas stretching northward. It is one of Florida’s few historic beachfront communities and its charm will begin to enchant you from the moment you enter it along Gulf Boulevard.

Pass-a-Grille reminded me very much of Cape May in my home state of New Jersey: beautiful beachfront homes, eclectic shops and boutiques, cute restaurants and a laid-back attitude. The beach itself is lovely and not too crowded; there are places to sit and enjoy a drink or a bite right off the beach, but it doesn’t feel overly touristy. In the late afternoon, residents and visitors alike gather to watch the sunset before wandering off for an evening stroll or delicious dinner in one of the neighborhood restaurants.

There is ample public parking just off the beach in Pass-a-Grille, so it is easy to take a drive down from wherever you’re staying in the St. Petersburg area whether for the day or just a few hours.

To learn more about the activities, sites to see and places to stay in Pass-A-Grille, visit the following links:

Visit Pass-a-Grille Beach: Official Website
Pass-a-Grille Florida: Official Beach Site

Sunset a Pass-a-Grille Beach

A nightly ritual and gathering
People gather in one spot at Pass-a-Grille beach for perfect sunset views.
People gather in one spot at Pass-a-Grille beach for perfect sunset views.
Grab a seat on the ledge overlooking the beach for the perfect view.
Grab a seat on the ledge overlooking ...
The sky begins to darken further as the sun continues on its descent.
The sky begins to darken further as t...
Some get out in their boats and kayaks to see the sunset from the water.
Some get out in their boats and kayak...
A bell rings out at the nearby beach bar. Let the evening officially begin!
A bell rings out at the nearby beach ...

St. Petersburg Beach Tip: Tolls Ahead!

Many of the bridges and causeways in the St. Petersburg area are toll roads - and you may need exact change! Don't get caught unprepared for unmanned toll booths that don't give change; keep lots of quarters on-hand or get a SunPass with your rental car.

Fort De Soto Park and Beaches

Perfect for nature lovers, campers and fishing enthusiasts
Blue skies and beautiful vistas at North Beach in Fort De Soto Park.
Blue skies and beautiful vistas at North Beach in Fort De Soto Park.

For those who love to get away from it all, and just enjoy some relaxing time on the beach and exploring nature, then Fort De Soto Park is the perfect destination for you. Located just outside of St. Petersburg proper, the park is made up of five small islands, or keys, interlinked today by bridges and causeways.

There are no restaurants, bars or hotels to be found in Fort De Soto Park: just a simple snack bar and camping grounds, and some basic amenities like restrooms and showers. However, what Fort De Soto Park does have is two incredible beaches – one in fact, the North Beach, is considered one of the best beaches in the United States (it held the number one spot in 2005.)

Fort De Soto Park is also great for those who enjoy hiking, cycling, fishing, boating and exploring historic sites. The waters on North Beach are some of the calmest and clearest I saw in the St. Petersburg beach area, making it a perfect location for those who love to swim, walk and play in the water. The park is so large that while there may be many visitors on any given day, it doesn’t feel crowded, and you can easily find a spot to yourself on the sand to relax and unwind.

For more information on Fort De Soto Park, check out:
Fort De Soro Park: Official Website
Fort De Soto Park – Wikipedia
Fort De Soto Park Florida – Travel and Beach Guide
Fort De Soto Park – Pinellas County Website

Photos from North Beach at Fort De Soto Park

Enjoying a late afternoon visit to the beach
When taking a walk on North Beach, watch out for the sea gulls!
When taking a walk on North Beach, watch out for the sea gulls!
Fort De Soto is perfect for those who love nature and quiet beaches.
Fort De Soto is perfect for those who...
North Beach is great for taking walks, swimming or just taking it easy.
North Beach is great for taking walks...
The waters at North Beach are some of the calmest and clearest in the area.
The waters at North Beach are some of...
Fort De Soto is a great place for bird watching!
Fort De Soto is a great place for bir...

Parking at Fort De Soto

Parking costs $5 daily and there are ample spaces all throughout the park. Annual parking permits are available and there is no parking charge to visitors with a handicap/disabled permit.

Need a break from the beach?

There are plenty of other things to see and do while in St. Petersburg

Maybe it's a rainy day - or you just want to do something other than spend the afternoon in the sun and sand. There are many other great reasons to visit St. Petersburg and the surrounding area, for instance:

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.
The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.
  1. The Dali Museum - the new museum is an architectural wonder, and contains an incredible collection of works by surrealist Salvador Dali.
  2. The St Pete Pier - a fun destination for shopping, dining, even feeding the pelicans in downtown St. Petersburg. The entire waterfront area is a perfect place to take a stroll, go window shopping, or enjoy great food and drink.
  3. The Sunken Gardens - a lush tropical paradise in the middle of downtown St. Pete. A photographer's paradise!
  4. The Ringling Museum - located in nearby Sarasota, the Ringling is an incredible art museum, circus museum, tropical estate and Italian-style villa, all in one! You can easily spend an entire weekend here exploring the beautiful grounds and collections.
  5. St. Armand's Circle - a shopper's paradise in Sarasota, featuring unique boutiques, high-end art and clothing studios, restaurants and of course, lots of people watching.
  6. The Florida Aquarium - nearby Tampa is home to this large aquarium, full of exciting and fun exhibits for everyone.
  7. Baseball Spring Training - Clearwater/St Petersburg becomes baseball-lovers paradise every March, when major league baseball teams come to town for spring training practice and games.
"On the rocks" in St. Petersburg.
"On the rocks" in St. Petersburg.

Do you love a quiet, natural beach with minimal human "presence"? Or do you prefer a busy beach with lots of activities and attractions nearby? What's your favorite beach destination and why? I'd love to hear from you!

Updated: 09/02/2015, sockii
 
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CruiseReady on 09/03/2015

Well done! Thanks for sharing your photos. Although we live on the east coast, we love to visit the Gulf side when we have a chance. The beaches are so pretty there!

blackspanielgallery on 09/02/2015

The beaches look beautiful. we made it to Tampa once, but visited Busch Gardens for that day,

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