My family and I have been to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa in Florida but we never saw a good reason to go to St. Petersburg (besides the weather, that is). When the visitor’s bureau called, though, my expert travel companion/critic (my 10-year-old daughter, Sofie) and I decided to find out exactly what St. Petersburg had to offer.
We were surprised and happily entertained.
My favorite part of the weekend was the Salvador Dali Museum. This museum houses Dali’s work from 1914 to 1980. The docent who gave us our tour was an obvious Dali admirer-very knowledgeable and extremely patient with the group’s children.
The most fascinating tour and Sofie’s favorite was the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This is no ordinary aquarium-it’s actually an animal hospital, complete with an ambulance. If the animals are unable to be released, they stay and become part of the education process. This is where we met Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who was caught in a crab trap that caused her to lose her tail fin. The aquarium is currently working with a firm to build her a prosthetic tail.
Next on the list was Busch Gardens, an amusement park and zoo in one. We went out on a guided safari and were able to reach out and feed the giraffes. Sofie’s major thrill was her ride on the floorless roller coaster, SheiKra. The ride goes 200 feet up and then 90 degrees straight down. I stood with my feet firmly on the ground listening to her scream all the way down.
A few other things we loved were Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise, the Great Explorations Children’s Museum and a night at the ballpark with the Tampa Bay Rays. Obviously we missed out on a lot by overlooking St. Petersburg all these years.
• Busch Gardens
• Salvador Dali Museum
• TradeWinds Island Resorts
• Clearwater Marine Aquarium
• Tampa Bay Rays Baseball
• Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise
• Great Explorations:
• The HandsOn Museum
• St. Petersburg/Clearwater