Don’t miss out on a trip to St. Pete/Clearwater while in Orlando

The theme parks and attractions of Orlando are often top of the list for travellers booking a holiday to Florida.  But just 90 minutes from this well-trodden locale – and 30 minutes from Tampa airport – is another gorgeous Sunshine State city that shouldn’t be missed: St. Pete/Clearwater.

To find the best Florida has to offer, St. Pete/Clearwater pairs perfectly with an Orlando holiday. Daily direct flights to Tampa International Airport from London Gatwick with British Airways and from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic make getting there a cinch – just one of the reasons the area welcomes some 15 million visitors every year.

With year-round sunshine, white-sand beaches, interactive art exhibits, boutique shops, family attractions, craft breweries and more, St. Pete/Clearwater has endless options for all ages.

Family-friendly fun

Adding laid-back St. Pete/Clearwater on to a bustling Orlando holiday offers the ideal complement for travelling families, perhaps rounding out a theme park trip with salty breezes and ice cream on St. Pete Pier.

Opened in 2020, the 26-acre pier is a popular gathering spot for friends and families, who come to cool down at the splash pad, cycle leisurely alongside Gulf of Mexico views, grab a bite at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, drop a line from the fishing deck and browse the marketplace filled with independent sellers. The pier is also home to art installations, the St. Petersburg Museum of History (don’t miss the 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy) and Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Centre, where kids can learn about local marine species and touch creatures such as sea stars and hermit crabs.

And that’s just on the pier. In fact, for families, St. Pete/Clearwater has everything from pirate cruises to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rescue and rehabilitation centre for marine animals, botanical gardens and the 15,000 sq ft immersive art and technology Fairgrounds St. Pete exhibit.

Picture pier-fect: there’s food, fishing and shopping to be had at this 26-acre pier

A bold arts and culture landscape

When it comes to art, culture-vultures will thrive in St. Pete/Clearwater, which is home to a number of unique museums, interactive art spaces and vibrant street art. Surrealists will enjoy The Dali Museum, which holds the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s artwork outside Spain, while DIY enthusiasts will love the Museum of the American Arts & Crafts Movement, the only museum in the world of its kind. The 26,000 sq ft James Museum, meanwhile, displays more than 400 works of art depicting the peoples, landscape and history of the American West.

Join a Walking Mural Tour (or a cycling one) to discover insights into the colourful street art in downtown St. Pete’s Central Arts District and learn more about the city’s forward-thinking relationship with local artists.

A surreal experience: the Salvador Dali museum is a multi-sensory delight for art lovers

Toes in the sand, drink in hand

Of course, the biggest draw of St. Pete/Clearwater is its warm Gulf waters, swaying palm trees and soft white sands – 35 miles of award-winning beaches, to be exact. Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach are both consistently listed among the top five beaches in the US in TripAdvisor’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards, and the relaxed vibes set the stage for collecting shells and sand dollars, snorkelling and scuba diving, sun-basking and sunset picnics with sundowners.

Sparkling sands: the award-winning beach has regularly been voted the best in America

Credit: Getty

Fabulous brews to choose

Speaking of a drink in hand, St. Pete/Clearwater is home to a craft beer trail that showcases suds from some 40 local breweries. Running from Tarpon Springs to Treasure Island, the “Gulp Coast” trail lets visitors taste artisanal beer from the best local brewmasters, who run operations out of venues including large warehouses, pharmacy buildings and even a 1909 fire station. Then dig into locally sourced fresh seafood, and raise a hand-crafted cocktail at one of the area’s many locally owned eateries.

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