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Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

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Canada
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Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

My fiance and I are in our early 30's with no children and will be visiting my parents (March 6th - 11th, 2010) who has a condo rented for the winter at Isla del Sol. We are flying into Orlando and spending 5 days there before coming to SP, taking in some of the parks. We visited Orlando in 2007 and am looking forward to returning, but are really looking forward to our days in St. Pete's.

My fiance has never been to St. Pete's and I haven't been there since 1991 when I was a young teenager. I would really like to have some ideas on what items are a must see for the area. We will have a rental car so everything within the region is fair game. Clearwater, Tampa, maybe even Sarasota could be a possibility.

For instance:

1.)We would like to see an NHL hockey game as well while in the area (although I haven't yet checked their schedule), a good location for good tickets would be appreciated.

2.)What are the best beaches for walking and finding shells?

3.)We both ride motorcycles at home. Is there anywhere local to rent a scooter/motorcycle for the day? I think a cruise adjacent to the Gulf Coast on a scooter would be great way to spend an afternoon together. Obviously being tourists we would like to stay away from the busy sections of the city, and would prefer a slower paced gulf street drive. Something scenic and adjacent to the coast would be great.

4.) Other must see's in the area - open to ideas.

Thanks in advance!

Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

Will you be in St. Petersburg, the city on the bay or at St. Pete Beach (notice no 's), the beach town on the Gulf of Mexico? Sorry, it has become a pet peeve of mine that people call it St. Pete's, only tourists refer to it that way.

You might want to spend a day in Tampa, to see either Busch Gardens or the Florida Aquarium or Ybor City for a little history or H. B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa, Plant Hall (formerly a grand railroad hotel, built in the 1890's).

Never been to a hockey game but go to the Tampa Bay Lighning web site for more info (http://lightning.nhl.com/).

Finding shells is a hit or miss thing. At the beginning of December I was at Indian Rocks Beach and there were few interesting shells on the beach, in my opinion.

I google mapped where you will be. That is an excellent spot to ride to Ft. De Soto Park. You might find some good shelling there. You are also near Pass-a-Grille, a historic beach community.

http://www.best-of-st-pete-beach.com/

The City of St. Petersburg, on the bay, has an interesting 4-story "pier" with shops, restaurants and an observation deck - http://www.stpete-pier.com/.

if you want to go to Sarasota there are some sights to see inlcuding the Ringling Art Museum, the Ringling Home and the Ringling Circus Museum, and also Selby Botonical Garden. It is nice to drive along the beach from Anna Maria (near Bradenton) down Long Boat Key to St. Armand's Key then get to the mainland at Sarasota.

SPB, FL
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2. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

Hi ForTech,

I think you'll enjoy this area very much, after the busy-ness of the Orlando parks :)

1) Tampa Bay Lightning tickets are most easily purchased through www.ticketmaster.com

2) Best, closest beach for walking would be St Pete Beach. It's over four miles long, with public access at both the north and south ends, as well as a public park in the middle, across from Dolphin Village shopping area.

There can sometimes be good shelling at Fort DeSoto, particularly at the Dog Beach. Depends on recent tides and weather. A more reliable spot to find shells is on Shell Key, accessible only by boat. There is a shuttle that runs several times a day from Merry Pier in Pass-a-Grille. www.shellkeyshuttle.com

3) I don't know of anywhere that rents motorcycles, but Finish Line Scooters on Gulf Blvd in SPB has a variety of different sizes/types of scooters available. From there, you could take a relaxing drive all the way up Gulf Blvd to Clearwater, stopping at various beaches along the way, as well as a stop at John's Pass. This is a small fishing village with a waterfront boardwalk, with lots of shops, restaurants, and watersports opportunities (like parasailing, jet ski rentals, etc.).

4) I would suggest a boat ride of some kind - a dolphin watch, sunset cruise, or whatever strikes your fancy. There are many options.

Also, the previously mentioned Fort DeSoto has a lot of fun things to do. North Beach is a beautiful, pristine award-winning beach. There are also bike rentals with dedicated bike paths, and kayak rentals with marked trails through the mangroves.

Downtown St Pete has several great museums. The Museum of Fine Art and the Salvador Dali are both worth a visit.

Do you play golf? Isla Del Sol has a very nice private course. I'm not sure if renting a condo will give your parents access to the course, but I'm sure they will know!

Canada
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3. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

Some very good ideas there indeed - thank you very much.

My fiance is really into bicycling so I may surprise her with an afternoon. I know this is relative to each individual, but what bicycle rental/pathway area is considered the best in the area? Scenic, marked trails, etc. Trails do not necessarily need to be paved/boardwalk. Mountain bike dirt trails would be suitable also.

SPB, FL
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4. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

The bike trails in Fort DeSoto are all paved and can be completed in about an hour, even allowing time for a few stops to look around, so I"m not sure they would be of great interest to an avid cyclist. But it's still a great way to see the park.

You might want to check out the Pinellas Trail. This is a bike path that crosses the whole county. There are many different spots to jump on and off the Trail. I would caution you, though, not to ride the southernmost portion of the trail (That would be anywhere south of Central Ave in St Petersburg, to put it in the simplest terms.). It goes through a not-so-desirable neighborhood where there have been some incidences of crime. You would most likely be fine, but no sense taking chances on vacation.

No mountain bike trails. (We are notably short on mountains. Or even hills! LOL) Can't think of any dirt trails at all. This is a very built-up city lacking in a lot of wooded, undeveloped areas, except for parks.

SPB, FL
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5. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

I meant to include a website www.pinellascounty.org

This has info about the Pinellas Trail, as well as Fort DeSoto and other local parks. Just check out the "Visitors" section.

Midwest
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6. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

If you do rent scooters, you may enjoy a ride through Pass-A-Grille. It's a small, old-Florida type community at the very sourthern tip of St. Pete Beach. From Isla Del Sol, take the Pinellas Bayway west to Gulf Blvd (at the big, pink, Don Cesar hotel). Then go left (south). The street will turn into Pass-A-Grille Way. Follow it along south and it turns at the end of the island, where it turns into Gulf Way. You can stay on it until you wind up back at the Don Cesar. There are many small restaurant/bars, shops, etc. all along the way (check out the side streets). Two of the first you would see are Sea Critters and The Wharf. Both great for casual, outdoor dining and drinks. The Wharf has a great spiced shrimp appetizer and happy hour. After the turn when you're heading back north, you'll see The Brass Monkey and The Hurricane (in a huge, old, victorian house). Those are two of my favorites.

Tampa, Florida
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7. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

If you want to rent bicycles you might want to try Trail Sports. They now have two locations. The Seminole location is right next to the Pinellas Trail and the Coquina Key location is closer to were you are staying. There are rental rates listed on the web page.

http://www.trailsportbicycles.com/

St. Petersburg...
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8. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

Jim's Harley Davidson will rent motorcycles; I think it's around $140 per day.

www.jimshd.com

Hockey tickets can be purchased on line or at the Forum. Next to the Forum is Channelside; an entertainment venue with some restaurants, bars, outside entertainment, etc. Can park at one and walk to the other. Great to hang out before and after a game.

The Dali Museum in downtown is a great "rain" day activity.

There should also be spring training for the Rays in St Pete, the Yankees in Tampa and the Phillies in Clearwater.

Just be advised that March is spring break time down here so we're kind of busy on the roads, activities and restaurants. Just take everything slowly and expect the crowds.

St. Pete Beach...
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9. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

We live on Isla del Sol (right near St. Pete Beach), and I wanted to let you know about a couple of restaurants. Billy's on Tierra Verde is a great place for food and atmosphere. Skidder's is a family style restaurant where we have never been disappointed and they serve all day. They are on Gulf Blvd. Snapper's is great for fish! Have fun on your visit!

SPB, FL
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10. Re: Five Days in St. Pete's - Want some Ideas

A second for all of compassquest's excellent suggestions!