St. Pete – Edgy, Diverse, Creative
And that’s precisely what St. Pete is. There’s an immensely appealing edginess to this small but perfectly formed city. It’s expressed by the plethora of art galleries, the diversity of its inhabitants, the vast range of restaurants and the fact that it feels more West Coast than Florida — more Carmel or Monterey than Orlando or Miami.
You certainly get this feeling at The Dali, a stunning art museum that hosts over 2,400 works by the Spanish surrealist. When the collectors, A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, decided to donate their growing collection in the mid 70s, St. Petersburg, Florida was first to say “yes, please.” The museum opened in 1982 and in January 2011, moved to a dedicated, purpose-built space designed by architect Yann Weymouth.
We were taken around The Dali by a wonderfully entertaining docent who helped us deep-dive into Dali’s exceedingly weird and very wonderful world, while wearing a navy blue wedge shoe on her head. She was the perfect embodiment of surrealism that’s all about placing familiar objects in unfamiliar, unexpected places.
After a short walk around the James, another top-class St. Pete art institution depicting the peoples, landscapes, and history of the American West, we decamped to the Warehouse district to visit 3 Daughters Brewing, one of a number of craft breweries in St. Pete. With tasty flights, pretzels and great live music, we could have settled in there for the evening — except we had further gastronomic duties to fulfil…
Great Restaurants of St. Pete
The culinary scene in St. Pete is as eclectic and diverse as the local residents, and Tracy and the team at Visit St. Pete Clearwater had us experience some wonderful locations — Cassis, Sea Salt, The Library and Park Shore Grill.
At Sea Salt, we uncovered a great Slovenian wine to accompany the oyster feast with which we started. After dinner we gathered at Pier Teaki for desserts, drinks and a memorable sunset on the magnificent St. Pete Pier.
Designed by Rogers Partners, ASD | SKY, and Ken Smith Workshop, the Pier is a $56 million investment, co-created with St. Pete residents — the architectural designs that won the initial competition having been rejected by the locals! The pier typifies the newly emerging St. Pete with its perfect mix of brilliant design and great civic, recreational and commercial spaces.
Fond & Fitting Farewell
Given the topography of St. Pete, it was fitting that we spent our final evening on the water. We were joined onboard the Yacht Starship III by many local destination partners and experienced a magical evening with the sun on our faces, a light breeze in the air, and many yacht rock melodies blowing through the jasmine in my mind, bringing me back to that life-changing summer of ‘79.