There is an airport in St. Petersburg, but we both found it cheaper to fly into Tampa and drive to St. Petersburg. The drive was pleasant. You drive over W. Howard Frankland Bridge, which is a 4.14-mile bridge.
Before we went over the bridge, while still in Tampa, we went to Soho and had sushi. This restaurant was highly recommended for its fresh fish. It was good. (But, living in New York, you can get better sushi here.)
The Vinoy Renaissance Hotel
Once we got into St. Petersburg, it wasn’t long until we reached our hotel, The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club. This beautiful historic landmark is a wonderful place to stay, but quite pricey.
The rooms were large. We had a room with two queen sized beds, a desk, and two lounge chairs. It also had a huge closet with two robes and a nice sized bathroom. Our room overlooked the courtyard. While we were there, a wedding took place. It was quite lovely.
On Saturday morning, we went to Marchand’s Bar and Grill. They had a lovely brunch for under $30. It included an assortment of cheeses, egg dishes, smoked salmon and more. It also included beverages. While sitting there by a window, we were able to watch part of the Meek & Mighty Triathlon for children ages 7 and up.
Restaurants in St. Petersburg
We had three dinners in St. Petersburg. They included:
The Library –
At first, we had a lot of trouble finding this American cuisine restaurant, which got good reviews on both Google and Open Table. We drove around at least three times. The Library is located inside John Hopkins Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
This restaurant looks just like a law library. Every book was blue. We both enjoyed the ambiance.
The food was okay. We were a little taken aback that they didn’t offer bread for the table. If you wanted it, you had to pay $3 extra for burned sourdough bread. I had a steak dish and Mindy had chicken. It was nothing to “write home about.”
Il Ritorno –
This Italian restaurant was not the traditional Italian restaurant that we thought it would be. They offered an array of Italian influenced flare. We started with mussels with lamb sausage that tasted incredible.
We also ordered an assortment of cheeses, which I ordered a brie-style cheese. It included pickled style vegetables, spicy sauces, and mustard.
I ordered the Braised Lamb Spaghetti as my main dish. It was so hearty and delicious. Mindy ordered the Seared Scallops which came with Purple Potato Froth, Green Garlic, Charred Asparagus, Guanciale and Fava Beans. Both dishes were incredibly tasty! I would definitely recommend this restaurant.
Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro –
The last night, we went to Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro. We took a rickshaw from the hotel to the restaurant. (It was in walking distance but I did a triathlon that day and could barely walk.)
There, we didn’t have a starter, just a cocktail and then the main course. Mindy had a seafood mix with spaghetti. I had the lobster tail with a side of broccoli. It was delicious. The view was awesome. The Bistro overlooked Tampa Bay. The boats there were gorgeous, ranging from yachts to sailboats.
Walking Around St. Petersburg
My cousin and I walked around the shopping area of St. Petersburg and found some beautiful shops along the way. We fell in love with Natural Comfort Footwear, a shoe store on the strip. We also loved a Shapiro’s Fine Arts & Crafts. They had interesting jewelry and gifts. (Of course, I bought myself a necklace and earrings from one of my favorite Israeli designers.)
There were tons of galleries with pop art and unique sculptures. We even saw some interesting paintings by Actor, Jim Carey. (I didn’t realize he was an artist.)
In St. Petersburg, they also had a gelato restaurant and an ice cream parlor on the strip. That’s when we met Alice, a Doberman Pinscher, with her owners. (Most of the people we met in St. Petersburg, who live there, were very friendly.)
The Dali Museum
When Mindy and I were in St. Petersburg, the Dali Museum had a Dali/Magritte Exhibition. I was so excited since my husband and I had been fans of Magritte’s work for many years.
The exhibit had some interesting pieces I had never seen before. Although we didn’t take the audio tour, which comes with admission, we both found the museum quite enjoyable and different.
There was a cloud room. When you entered it, you felt like you were on a cloud. There were clouds surrounding you.
They also had an augmented reality area. When you looked into the mirror, you would see yourself as part of a painting.
But the most interesting part of the museum was the Virtual Reality area. They had three seats for visitors. For three minutes, you had the opportunity to check out Oculus Rift while being inside of a Dali painting. There were 13 different areas you could visit, but since you only had 3 minutes, you could only view a certain amount of places. Alice Cooper was in the video as part of a psychodelic area. The whole experience was quite impressive.
Mindy and I loved the gift store. Boy, did we do damage there! They had unique gifts and jewelry from various artists.
The museum is a must see and experience in St. Petersburg.
St. Anthony’s Triathlon
The main reason why we went to St. Petersburg in the first place was that I participated in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. This is one of the biggest events the area hosts each year. There were three different events — one for the 7 and up group on Saturday and then a sprint and Olympic distance triathlon on Sunday. I participated in the Olympic distance, which consists of a mile swim, 25-mile bike, and a 10K run.
The triathlon took the athlete on a tour of St. Petersburg. We saw all of the neighborhoods, and it was a great experience. Read my blog review on A Triathlete’s Diary blog.
Would I Recommend St. Petersburg?
I loved St. Petersburg. I could see myself spending the winters there. It was that nice. It reminded me of San Jose, a bit upscale, yet approachable.