St. Pete Clearwater Attractions

St. Pete Clearwater Attractions

fun things to do

Attractions

A world-class aquarium with a world-changing mission. A mind-bending geodesic art museum overlooking a tranquil bay. Expansive gardens bursting with vivid blooms. The Southeast’s largest waterfront playground in downtown St. Pete. When it comes to attractions, St. Pete/Clearwater has it all. 
 


We know it can be tough to step away from those gorgeous, award-winning beaches. But we promise that doing so will reward you with fun, often enlightening vacation experiences – and Instagram posts that will make your followers green with envy. Here’s the scoop on the top attractions in St. Pete/Clearwater.

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Waterfront Attractions

With miles of coastline comes tons of must-see waterfront attractions. The new St. Pete Pier offers hours of fun for all ages, including a splash pad, playground, walking paths, an open-air market, a nature discovery center, Spa Beach and tons of dining options. Situated right on Tampa Bay, the Pier has been a destination for sunseekers for more than a century – even if the attraction itself has changed greatly over the years. This exciting new iteration (which opened in summer 2020) was recently named the #2 new attraction in the country by USA Today.

Situated on the Intracoastal Waterway in Madeira Beach, John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk is a rustic collection of fun shops, restaurants and bars that embrace their coastal roots – from fresh seafood to beachy fashions. This is a great place to find jet-ski rentals, sunset cruises, dolphin-watching tours and a pirate-themed cruise the kids will love. 

The new St. Pete Pier was recently named the #2 New Attraction in the U.S. by USA Today.

An exterior image of the Museum of Fine Arts building

A short walk from the St. Pete Pier, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete's Waterfront Museum District has collections going back millennia as well as compelling contemporary exhibits.

A woman seeing a painting of a person floating in a pool.

Thought-provoking contemporary art exhibits are just steps away from ancient works at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete.

Marvelous Museums

With beautiful backdrops, amazing architecture and even outdoor programming, many museums in St. Pete/Clearwater boast amazing photo ops even before you enter the building. The Salvador Dalí Museum’s stunning geodesic structure and hedge maze sit along the beautiful waterfront in downtown St. Pete. Then there’s the inside: a massive collection of the surrealist’s famous works as well as major traveling exhibitions. 

You’ll be captivated by the giant kapok tree outside St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, especially if you’re here in March, when its scarlet blossoms burst with beauty that would’ve inspired the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe (whose work you can see inside the museum). Also on the inside, you’ll find a permanent art collection spanning thousands of years as well as thought-provoking temporary exhibits. The towering amethyst sculpture outside the Chihuly Collection is just a taste of the other-worldly and fantastical art you’ll find within this space, which features the gorgeously-hued, intricate works of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

One of the newest museums in the destination is also one of the most unique: the Fairgrounds St. Pete is a immersive art and technology exhibition inviting visitors to explore original Florida stories. Other museums in the area include the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of History and the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. Read more about museums here.
 

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Lush Gardens & Pristine Parks

Whether it’s meticulously landscaped or wonderfully wild, green spaces abound in St. Pete/Clearwater. Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo shows off expertly tended orchids, roses and fruit trees. Just north of downtown St. Pete, Sunken Gardens is a 100-year-old attraction where visitors can stroll through an ever-changing landscape of blooming trees and plants. From downtown St. Pete to our beachfront communities, waterfront parks are a huge draw. Often referred to as the crown jewel of St. Pete/Clearwater, Fort De Soto Park is a pristine beachfront treasure you’ll want to explore more than once, from its award-winning North Beach section to the rare waterfront camping it offers.

Curated Adventures & Guided Tours 

Embark on a tour of St. Pete/Clearwater by boat, bus or by foot. Tours are a great way to get a taste of the destination and discover some of the best shops, attractions, restaurants and breweries of the destination. Enjoy food and drink tastings on the St. Pete Beach Drive & Wine Tours, hosted by Tampa Bay Food Tours, or the Eat St. Pete Food Tour. Art fanatics can explore the St. Pete Walking Mural Tour, or for adventures out on the water there are endless boat tours and cruises!

Attractions & Theme Parks Near St. Pete/Clearwater

Bonus: When you’re here, you’re only an hour or two away from bucket-list attractions. Drive just 90 minutes to Orlando and you’ll find Disney parks (such as Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom) as well as Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and LEGOLAND Florida. Even closer to St. Pete/Clearwater, neighboring Tampa offers Busch Gardens Tampa Bay,  Adventure Island and the ZooTampa at Lowry Park. You can even ride the Cross Bay Ferry from downtown St. Pete to downtown Tampa, where you can explore RiverWalk Tampa and Sparkman Wharf, watch the Lightning vie for yet another Stanley Cup win or take the trolley to Ybor City, a historic Cuban neighborhood turned dining and nightlife hub. 

Two trolleys parked in front of a movie theater in Ybor City

Just across Tampa Bay from St. Pete is Ybor City, an early Cuban cigar-making enclave in Tampa that's now a thriving shopping, dining and nightlife district.

A roller coaster going down at Busch Gardens

Across the bay in Tampa, find exhilarating rides at Busch Gardens, like Cheetah Hunt, thrilling launch coaster that passes over a cheetah habitat.

But wait, there’s more: Less than an hour north of Clearwater, snorkel or kayak among the manatees in Crystal River, an aquatic wildlife sanctuary that’s the only place in the world where you can experience swimming with these majestic creatures. And in nearby Weeki Wachee, you’ll find real, live mermaids (yes, it’s time for a little “suspension of disbelief”) hanging out in the springs. 

A lady dressed as a mermaid swimming with fish in Weeki Wachee Springs.

At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a team of mermaids performs daily in the natural spring – sometimes aquatic life joins the show.