The City of St. Petersburg has one of the most delightful waterfronts in the State of Florida. The Port St. Petersburg beaches, tall palm trees, and Mediterranean architecture make the downtown waterfront a wonderful place to relax, shop, and enjoy the Florida sun. Port St. Petersburg is the perfect place to enjoy Florida's golden sunshine. With water on three sides, Port St. Petersburg offers the best of water-related recreation, local arts and culture, and history.
Port St. Petersburg has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and mild winters. The last hurricane that struck the city was in 1921. Temperatures range from an average high of 33°C (92°F) in July and August to an average low of 12°C (54°F) in January. The rainy season lasts from June through September, and the area is occasionally hit by tropical storms.
Visitors to Port St. Petersburg will want to check out the Salvador Dali Museum, home of the biggest Dali collection in the country. In a 1.8 thousand square meter (20 thousand square foot) state-of-the-art gallery, visitors view all 96 of the oil paintings in the collection as well as watercolors, drawings, photographs, fine prints, videos, and objects created by the master. The works on display spans the artist's career and include his Impressionist and Cubist periods as well, of course, as his Surrealism.
Port St. Petersburg's Sunken Gardens is a living museum, a garden with paths creating a maze through dense vegetation. The 100-year-old garden has some of the region's oldest tropical plants accompanied by exotic plants from around the world and beautiful waterfalls. Built on an ancient drained lake, the soils are rich and fertile.
Fort DeSoto Park is a popular Port St. Petersburg location for recreation, camping, fishing, and enjoying miles of undeveloped beaches. The biggest park in the Pinellas County Park System, Fort DeSoto Park covers over 1.1 thousand acres on five inter-connected islands that support mangroves, wetlands, beach plants, and wetlands.
The amazing ecosystems of the park support over 290 species of bird. The beaches are refuge to the endangered loggerhead sea turtles that nest there from April through September. The beach at Port St. Petersburg's Fort DeSoto Park has been recognized as one of the country's best beaches, with more than 2.7 million visitors coming to the park each year.
Port St. Petersburg's DeSoto Park offers more than 11 kilometers (7 miles) of waterfront, including almost five kilometers (3 miles) of white sandy beach. The 244-meter (800-foot) boat launch has 11 floating docks. The family camping area has 238 sites with facilities, and there is a primitive camping area for youth groups. Visitors can reserve the 15 picnic shelters online.
The North Beach Swim Center has a food concession area, and a lifeguard is on duty daily from March through September. Two fishing piers, one on the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Bay, have bait and food concessions. An almost 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) paved recreation trail connects the North and East Beach Swim Centers with the historic Fort DeSoto. Additional nature trails offer interpretive information on the ecosystems within the park, and the dog park is the only area on the beach where dogs are allowed.
Fort DeSoto was active in protecting Port St. Petersburg during the American Civil War when Union troops were stationed there from 1861 until 1865 to support the Union blockade of Tampa Bay. Abandoned until 1882, the US government established military reservations on two keys. Permanent construction of Fort DeSoto began in response to the Spanish-American War. In 1889, a quarantine station was established which became part of the Marine Hospital Service in 1901 as a base for inspecting aliens as they arrived from foreign ports. By 1925, there were 15 buildings at the station, and it continued to operate until 1937. Visitors will enjoy learning about the history of this military installation as they follow the Historic Trail.
The Morean Arts Center in Port St. Petersburg houses the Chihuly Collection of glass art created by world-famous artist Dale Chihuly. Located on the Port St. Petersburg's busy downtown waterfront, the collection includes the artist's Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier and other popular glass art works like Macchia, Niijima Floats, Ikebana, Tumbleweeds, and Persians. The 30-seat theater and retail store in this Port St. Petersburg Center complement the collection with information and merchandise reflecting the artist's work. In the Center, visitors can watch glassblowers create unique pieces or try some glass blowing themselves.
While enjoying Port St. Petersburg's popular Pier, visitors can board the Dolphin Queen and cruise Tampa Bay's waters. The 13.4-by-5.5-meter (44-by-18-foot) catamaran can carry as many as 70 people per cruise. The only sight-seeing cruise in Port St. Petersburg, the 90-minute cruise covers dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat, the hundreds of pelicans living at Pelican Island, and a wide range of native birds. The cruise also treats visitors to Port St. Petersburg's historic waterfront, the multi-million dollar homes of Old Northeast and Snell Isle, and the US Coast Guard Base at Port St. Petersburg. Weather permitting, visitors enjoy relaxing sunset cruises aboard the Dolphin Queen.
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