POWERED BY FORD VIP BLOGGER PROGRAM: This is the sixth piece in a brand new series of columns that we will be sharing in partnership with our friends at Mullinax Ford of Orlando and Ford Corporate to share some of our new favorite day trips in the Orlando area.
The downtown “bungalow” neighborhoods are undoubtedly the best places to live in The City Beautiful, but sometimes you need to just get away. We straight trippin’, boo.
This week’s Ford-fueled trip took the team to St. Pete Beach, a 112-mile jaunt to the Gulf Coast along I-4 which takes roughly 2 hours to make. We timed it so that we could skip the morning and evening rush hours and managed to squeak by without any major delays along the route.
For this trip, we optioned for a fancy new Ford Escape so we could have lots of legroom and trunk space as we planned for an overnight on the coast and needed all the room we could get for our coolers and inflatables.
CITY OF ST. PETE BEACH
The City of St. Pete Beach sits on a barrier island just off Saint Petersburg on the Pinellas County mainland, only 20-miles away from Clearwater Beach. It has miles of white sandy beaches, tons of restaurants, and a quaint small-town vibe that’ll have you reminiscing on childhood vacations with your aunts and uncles.
About 10,000 people live here but that can increase by about 30 percent in the winter when all the snowbirds hop on back to skip the winter.
WHERE TO STAY
There are roughly 3,000 vacation options for you in St. Pete Beach, including big-name hotel and resorts condominiums, small-scale motels, and itty-bitty bed and breakfasts.
The Bungalower crew were invited to check out the Alden Suites and their new bungalows for a couple of nights as part of their 50-year anniversary celebrations along with a whole gaggle of travel bloggers. So, obviously we said yes.
ALDEN SUITES – website
The Alden Suites (Facebook | Website) property features 140 suites so it’s on an intimate scale and all of their rooms were recently updated. They also have some recently-opened beach bungalow options (which is where we stayed) if you want to take advantage of a kitchenette in your suite. The hotel has a relationship with the nearby Publix too so you can have groceries delivered straight to your room.
They have heated outdoor pools, tennis courts, concierge services, and a hopping beachfront bar with the hottest bartenders ever. We were totally crushing. During our stay the hotel had a mermaid come and go swimming with the kiddies but we were right there dangling our toes in the water and singing about dinglehoppers and snarfblats.
Their private beachfront also features a beach volleyball court and a clutch of striking yellow cabanas that are fetch as hell. Located right by the cabanas you’ll find the Suncoast Watersports outpost where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, Jet Skis, and more. They also do bookings for their sunset dolphin cruise from there so be sure to grab a ticket.
Alden Suites is having some major discounts right now in the off-season including 20 percent off for Florida residents, a senior discount, a fourth night free if you book a three-night stay, and they’ve even extended a special promo code offer to our Bungalower readers.
We’re also giving away a two-night stay on our Instagram so keep your eyes peeled on our feed to see how to win!
Our favorite part of our stay with Alden Suites was when they brought in this local donut van to help us break our fast one morning during the Blogger Bash we were attending. More on that HERE.
PLACES TO STUFF YOUR FACE
SKIDDER’S RESTAURANT – website
This is a super-fun, chilled-out Greek restaurant on the drive that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They catered a couple of our blogger events while we were there and even though half of our staff was on a diet, everyone couldn’t stop eating their spinach pies.
SNAPPER’S SEA GRILL – website
This spot has been owned by the same fisherman for the past 30 years and features fresh local fish, stone crab, steaks, and more. It’s got plenty of Florida traditional favorites but served up with some sass.
Our pal Kendra Lott, owner/publisher at Edible Orlando, was spotted enjoying some fish and chips here so we know it’s got to be cool, right?
SPINNERS ROOFTOP REVOLVING BISTRO – website
Fine dining with a 360-degree view of the beach and surrounding island. The 12th-floor Spinners should be on your list of places to pop into while visiting St. Pete Beach. They’re open daily for lunch and dinner and while they focus mainly on seafood they have plenty of other options, including strong cocktails for prime sunset magic time.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
St. Pete Beach is all about, well, the beach. There are plenty of little shops around but if you’re planning to stick around for more than a day or two, then you really need to plan for a drive into Saint Petersburg on the mainland. Their downtown is one of the hottest retail spots in the region and don’t even get us started on the art scene.
GO FISHING AT THE PIER – website
St. Petersburg has one of the longest fishing piers in the world. The Skyway Fishing Pier State Park was created when the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge was put in, which made the old bridge obsolete. So it was made into a pier! It’s full of people fishing all day and the lights on the pier bring the fish to you. You can catch anything from snapper to sheepshead, to grouper. There’s even a bait and snack shop that’s open 24-hours a day.
THE ART SCENE
Saint Petersburg has museums out the wazoo, including the Salvador Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection presented by Morean Arts Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, the Florida Holocaust Museum, Florida CraftArt, SUnken Gardens, Great Explorations, the African American Heritage Trail, and more than we can continue typing here. Because, lazy.
Outside of those institutions, there are oodles of indie working artists with private studios and galleries peppered across the city’s seven arts districts, and an annual event called SHINE Mural Festival that brings some of the best street artists and muralists to town to literally paint the town. So whether you like art or you’re totally just pretending for the ‘Gram, this downtown has a lot to offer.
Downtown Saint Pete has more shopping than you can shake a credit card at. But here are some of our favorite spots.
- Haslam’s Book Store (Website) – This shop opened in 1944 during the Depression by John and Mary Haslam. And not much has changed since then. It’s a sprawling complex of books, books, and more books. There’s even a sarcophagus in there somewhere.
- ARTpool Gallery (Facebook | Website) – We can’t say enough about this shop and the people who work here. It has, without a doubt, some of the best vintage we’ve seen in years. The staff is knowledgable and engaged and they just want you to look your best in whatever piece you find. It’s curated, quirky, and special and we can’t wait to go back.
- Brutique (Facebook) – This hip and chic shop is actually a bar too and is usually filled with the coolest cats in town. Pop in and grab a drink while thumbing through some really interesting pieces you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
- Indie Flea (Website) – This is a monthly market of local makers and artists that pulls some of the best peeps all together in one place so you don’t have go hunting them down yourself. The next one is on December 7 at Green Bench Brewing Co.
- Daddy Kool Records (Instagram | Website) – Killer collection of vinyl.