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Fort De Soto Park
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There’s no better place to kick off your shoes and unwind than this cozy island community just outside Tampa.

The Florida Keys are a great vacation destination, but they aren’t the only game in town when it comes to island escapes in the Sunshine State. St. Pete Beach, a waterfront community on Long Key — part of a chain of islands located 30 minutes from Tampa — is another favorite getaway spot for baseball fans headed to spring training, fishing enthusiasts and beach bums alike. Established in 1957 as St. Petersburg Beach, the town was officially renamed St. Pete Beach, a long-used and fittingly less-formal nickname, in 1994. No matter what brings you here, we’ve got the best the seaside village has to offer.
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the Loews Don CeSar Hotel

Sleep: Located at the entrance of town and painted ­Pepto-Bismol pink, the Loews Don CeSar Hotel is hard to miss. Built in 1928, it still holds court as the most luxurious lodging in St. Pete Beach. If you’re looking for something a little cozier (and easier on the wallet), check out the Postcard Inn, a retrofitted motel with the hip traveler in mind. Their pool, ringed in oversize lounge chairs, is one of the best on the island.

Eat: For dinner with a view, head to the Spinners Rooftop ­Revolving Bistro atop the Grand Plaza Hotel. It is what the name implies: a rotating restaurant with unparalleled 360-­degree views of the island. Looking for a more casual nosh? Try Crabby Bill’s, a seafood joint that serves staples like conch fritters alongside not-so-common dishes like alligator bites.

Drink: Take a trip to another well-known St. Petersburg for an evening at St. Petersburg Nights, an authentic Russian bar and restaurant located a block from the beach. Here, you can enjoy a belly-dancing performance while sampling more than 25 types of vodka. If you prefer a brewski, skip your usual light beer and instead order an Evander, which is brewed just a few hours away in Melbourne, Fla. Don’t be intimidated by the menacing, long-bearded face on the label; it’s merely the likeness of local artist Evander Preston, who drinks it daily (and whose work you can see at Evander Preston Contemporary Jewelry­ Design studio). Our top spot to swig one? The
Brass Monkey bar and restaurant.
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Crabby Bill’s

Do: Adventure-seeking souls should head straight for the Surf Shack. Not only can you pick up a board and gear, but you can glean tips from the staff, who live and breathe surfing. Want to know the best places to hang ten or how to keep from falling? The friendly folks at this family shop are the only resource you’ll need. If you’re the exploring type, head to Fort De Soto Park, a 1,136-acre park comprising five interconnected islands with seven miles of waterfront. Well worth the half-hour drive from St. Pete Beach, this immaculate reserve has no residences or proper restaurants — just a variety of outdoor recreation options, including trails, a dog park, picnic areas, kayaking and three miles of pristine white beaches. And of course, there’s Fort De Soto, which was built in 1899 and still stands today.

If You Go

Loews Don CeSar Hotel
3400 Gulf Blvd.
(800) 235-6397

Postcard Inn
6300 Gulf Blvd.
(800) 237-8918

Spinners Rooftop Revolving Bistro
5250 Gulf Blvd.
(727) 360-1811

Crabby Bill’s
5100 Gulf Blvd.
(727) 360-8858

St. Petersburg Nights
6800 Sunset Way
(727) 363-3832
Evander Preston Contemporary Jewelry Design
106 8th Ave.
(727) 367-7894

Brass Monkey
709 Gulf Way, Suite 200
(727) 367-7620

Surf Shack
5210 Gulf Blvd.
(727) 367-9898

Fort De Soto Park
3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde
(727) 552-1862