Image Source | Djordje Petrovic
Visiting St. Petersburg, Florida? Home to the number one rated beach in the country, St. Pete attracts people from all walks of life. Its white sandy shores, crystalline waters, and local party scene make it a must-see for many vacationers.
If you're planning a trip to this Florida hot-spot, there are certain places you don't want to miss out on. While lounging on the beach with a cocktail in hand is the ideal vacation for some, St. Petersburg offers far more for those seeking the trip of a lifetime.
Exotic Car Rentals
Image Source | Abdulwahab Alawadhi
Everyone knows that Florida is home to some of the largest collections of exotic and luxury vehicles. If your idea of adventure is high speeds and a loud engine, then you've come to the right city! There are a number of exotic car rental locations throughout St. Petersburg offering Corvettes, BMWs, Maseratis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and more. The added horsepower will enhance any driving experience, whether you're taking the scenic route along Coffee Pot Boulevard or over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge towards St. Pete Beach.
Roller Derby Games
St. Petersburg is home to Florida's only Banked Track Roller Derby venue, rightfully referred to as "The Slayground." They host monthly matches open to the public as well as weekly training sessions for women interested in learning the sport. No experience is necessary!
Note: Unfortunately, they are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Check their website for updates.
A Haunted Hotel
The Don CeSar Hotel | Facebook
The Don CeSar Hotel, more commonly known as "The Pink Palace," is an iconic landmark in St. Petersburg. It can often be seen from the shore, as its grandiose size and bright color makes it easy to spot. While the hotel is known to most tourists, few know that it's said to be haunted by the original owner.
According to the hotel:
In 1925, a heartbroken young man from the East Coast made his way to Florida and began what would be an eternal testament to love. Thomas Rowe spent three years building a tribute to his long-lost love, a Spanish opera star named Lucinda. He met the raven-haired beauty while studying in England when he attended the opera 'Maritana.' The pair quickly fell in love and affectionately referred to one another as Maritana and Don CeSar during clandestine meetings by a secluded fountain. But Lucinda’s parents forbid the relationship, and quickly whisked Lucinda back to Spain. Thomas returned to America heartbroken, and spent years trying to reunite with Lucinda. Countless love letters were returned unopened. In the end the only communication he ever received was a news clipping of her death accompanied by a note addressed to 'My beloved Don Cesar.' The Don CeSar, whose lobby courtyard and fountain are an exact replica of the one where Thomas and Lucinda rendezvoused in London, is Thomas’ tribute to lost love.
After Rowe's death, guests continued to see him walking around the hotel wearing his iconic look of an old-fashioned Panama hat and a white suit. He would even greet guests before disappearing. Guests and employees have reported strange things happening within the hotel's walls such as swinging doors and knocking.
Thomas Rowe, the mastermind behind the Don CeSar Hotel | Facebook
Some have also claimed to see Rowe on the property walking with a dark-haired woman in a Spanish peasant dress, which is believed to be his lost love, Lucinda. It's believed the two have been reunited in death and have chosen to spend eternity at The Don CeSar Hotel.
If you dare to stay in the luxury hotel, you may want to avoid the fifth floor. It's said this is where the most paranormal activities occur as it was where Rowe once lived.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald | Facebook
It's also believed that the hotel is haunted by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who spent a month there in 1932. This was their last vacation before Zelda started experiencing psychotic breakdowns and wound up spending the rest of her life going in and out of psychiatric hospitals. As the last place where they were happy, the couple is said to haunt the first-floor ballroom.
While it has gained popularity in recent years, axe throwing has been around for centuries. The sport has recently become a competitive game popular in bars, including two locations right here in St. Petersburg. Both Hatchet Hangout and Axe & Ale have rave reviews, each offering a unique atmosphere and throwing lanes. It's deemed safe but seems slightly risky, which is every adventure seeker's ideal situation!
Aerial view of Passage Key island | Facebook
While St. Pete Beach is one of the most beautiful in the world, there are a number of islands off the coast that offer unforgettable experiences. Only accessible by private boat or shuttle, some islands to check out include:
- Shell Key Island - A barrier island off the mouth of Tampa Bay, Shell Key Island offers 195 acres of seclusion. Additionally, the Shell Key Preserve on the mainland is a stunning sight along the way offering kayaking, boating, beaches, and camping.
- Egmont Key - At 440 acres, the island of Egmont Key offers both seclusion and a piece of history. The National Wildlife Refuge is a former military base built in the 1890s to protect the Tampa area from an attack during the Spanish-American War. Ruins of what was once a small town can still be found on the island by visitors, however, the original lighthouse is still up and running!
- Passage Key - Also known as "Naked Island," Passage Key is a 64-acre sandbar that acts as a wildlife refuge for local birds. Like its nickname implies, the island attracts many nude boaters despite it not technically being recognized as a nude beach. In fact, visitors aren't allowed on the sands at all. Instead, boaters will anchor nearby and party in the shallow waters.
If you don't have access to a private boat, there are a wide variety of tour options, ferries, and shuttles that take you to these and other local islands. Keep in mind though, most of the islands don't have bathroom facilities or stores, so be sure to bring the necessities.
Know of some other hidden gems in St. Petersburg that adventure seekers will enjoy? Leave the details in the comments!