St. Petersburg In A Day: What to See & Do

August 12, 2019

I've been all over Florida (& to Disney/Orlando more times than I can count!), but one city that my husband & I both fell in love with is St. Petersburg. We daytripped during our weeklong stay in Clearwater Beach, since it wasn't far from where we were. One thing that struck me when we were visiting was how eclectic the city seemed - it had a really cool vibe to it, and tons of murals and art everywhere we looked!

If you're looking for something other than the usual theme park or beach day, St. Pete is definitely worth the drive over to spend the day. We were able to see & do so much in just the several hours we spent here (& we even got a late start to our morning because we had to drive an hour back to our hotel for some important baby items we had left), so it's 100% do-able in a few hours, depending on just how much you want to see/do.

W h e r e   T o   E a t   &   D r i n k

Y'all - I am half Cuban, so I know good Cuban food when I taste it, and let me tell you, Bodega is an absolute must  if you like Cuban cuisine. This is legit some of the most authentic Cuban food I have ever tasted (outside of my abuela's cooking, that is)!

Location: 1120 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL
Bodega is a tiny little stop in an artsy part of town. They had a walk-up window and some cute patio tables set up outside. We arrived early, because we could tell this place got busy (& it did - fast!), so I suggest scoping it out ahead of peak lunch times if you don't want to wait too long. But even if there's a line, it's totally worth it.

We started off with a Cortadito (cuban coffee with milk) in what was quite possibly the world's tiniest (and cutest) coffee cup. If you've had Cuban coffee before, you know the tiny cups are standard. These coffees pack a punch, so not much is needed to get your adrenaline pumping. So basically, this is the definition of "mom fuel." For lunch, my husband & I opted for different items so we could try each other's (I always pick the better ones & he always wants to steal it). I chose the lechon plate: slow roasted mojo pork with onions, and black beans & rice, and he chose the classic Cuban sandwich. The lechon was literally melt-in-your-mouth good, and basically made me go weak in the knees. The Cuban was good & a lot better than some of the other Cubans I've had, but the lechon was the clear winner.

With our tummies full, it was imbibe-time. Lucky for us, St. Pete has no shortage of breweries and double win: Green Bench Brewery was across the street from Bodega! So we could walk across the street, burn approximately 2 calories, and then go ingest another 1200 in beer. Sounds about right.

Located at: 1133 Baum Ave N, St. Petersburg FL
Some breweries are not baby/kid friendly, but Green Bench is not one of them. Not only were there a lot of other kids here, they have a whole "my backyard" vibe going on with the outdoor space, which is a giant grassy area, perfect for kids to basically run amok while hippie childless millenials look down upon you with disgust. And to those onlookers, I say, "Yes, that is my child with her pants on her head, running full force towards the poor dog tied to your table. I've earned this beer."

We got a flight because I am the most indecisive person you will ever meet, and simply can't commit to a single 8oz beer before I know it's something I will like. So yes, please, I would like 22 samples of your finest sours, hefes, and everything fruit-flavored, please, before I can make an informed decision. I think they had an apple pie one in rotation, but as I'm writing this blog post approximately 3 months after our trip, my brain is a little fuzzy on the deets. Just trust me when I say, this place was good y'all. Put it on your list.

Also this: cute photo ops. Lilly & I had a girl talk sesh in the chairs. She jibber jabbered and I responded in kind. I can only imagine she must have been throwing some harsh shade at me for taking her to a brewery when she would much rather have had a chocolate milk in the safe confines of Chuck E. Cheese. To which I replied in baby-banter: Hey girl, just wait until you have kids one day.

But the fun doesn't stop there. We popped over to Beans & Barlour because my instagram rabbit-hole travels had led me to their feed, where I discovered the boozy dole whip. Hold the phone - I could have an alcoholic version of the beloved pineapple Disney treat without paying Disney prices? I'm in. Also this: more cute photo ops.

Located at: 538 1st Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 
Beans & Barlour is the first coffee & dessert lounge in St. Pete, and also the first to feature alcohol-infused ice cream in the Tampa area (so says their website). With menu items like a Key Lime Pie Martini and Cinnamon Whiskey Pumpkin Pie, it was hard to choose. But being the huge DisNerd that I am, I had to get the Pineapple Dole Whip Float (rum, pineapple soft serve, cream of coconut & pineapple juice). Barry fully committed and ordered the Whiskey Berry Cheesecake. Both were good, but I dare say...maybe a bit too heavy handed with the alcohol. At least we know we got our money's worth!

W h a t   t o   D o
There is so much to do in St. Pete that it was hard to choose. We stopped in the St. Petersburg Museum of History, but honestly it was kind of disappointing, so I would say skip it. However, the part of town we were in (near the Pier & North Yacht Basin) was also home to the famous & historic Vinoy Hotel. So I would say this one is a must do. I was getting some serious Don Cesar vibes because much like the Don, this hotel is also pink! So basically, the Barbie Dream House of hotels.
Located at: 501 5th Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 
 The Vinoy was built in 1925 and started as a season hotel, meaning it was open from December to March. At the time, hotel rooms were going for $20 a night, the highest in the area back then. During WWII, the army took possession of the hotel and used it for training. Post-war era, the hotel was sold and returned to an operational hotel, but by the end of the 60s, it was in a grave state of disrepair. In 1974, the hotel closed and most of its contents were sold, and sat vacant until the 90s. A cool $93 million and a few years later, the hotel reopened in all its grandeur we know & love today.

While the interior of the hotel has been completely redone, it's still cool to walk through and envision what it must have been like in its heydey. There is a little area near the entrance to the outside courtyard that had lots of information, photos, and several artifacts of how the hotel used to be.

The courtyard and grounds itself are gorgeous and we enjoyed spending some time out here, just relaxing and wandering around.

I fit right in with the hotel aesthetic with my palm leaf off the shoulder top (another great SheIn find), lace shorts, and pink tassel earrings. It was a casual and comfortable outfit that definitely kept me cool in the intensely muggy FL air. Palm prints seriously never go out of style, and I would wear this stuff year round. You know, minus the whole living-in-TN-thing where we actually have seasons. A palm print sleeveless mini dress might be just a bit chilly when the temps here dip below thirty in February.

Other notables I had on my to-do list (but didn't get to) were the Dali Museum and Sunken Gardens. We spent too much time eating and drinking (I mean, priorities) to make it to either, but I will absolutely be making a stop to both on my next visit.

W h e r e   t o   P h o t o   S e s h
There is no shortage of great murals and wall art in St. Petersburg. Literally every where we drove, I noticed a new mural on the side of some building, or tucked up behind a parking lot. But anyone with a baby or toddler knows, your time is not your own on vacation - you're on toddler time. So stopping at every photo-worthy spot was not an option, but we did make it to one (which was the one I most wanted to see anyway)!

Located at: 719 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL (on the side of the Morean Arts Center building)
Want to see some of St. Peter's amazing art for yourself? You've got options, babe.
  • Browse Instagram or google for your favorites & put together a must-sees (search "Space Rainbows" and "Twiggy" for some of my favs)
  • Check out this pretty full guide, complete with addresses
  • Take an official walking tour of St. Pete's best murals

So there you have it: a literal snapshot of just a very small sampling of the myriad of must-sees in St. Petersburg. Happy travels!

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