Florida: coast by coast VII – St. Petersburg

The many faces of Florida VII – St. Petersburg


St. Petersburg, Florida will dazzle the world with its fantasy museum dedicated to the life and works of Salvador Dali. Fittingly, the museum’s directors have chosen 1/11/11 for the Grand Opening to honor Dali, perhaps best known for his introduction of Soft Watches, or The Persistence of Time in 1931.

New York’s Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956, set the standard for inspirational art museums. Until now, when HOK+Beck Group unveiled this new level of amazing architecture, both in the unique complexity of the design and the manner in which concrete and glass forms embody the spirit of Salvador Dali.

Dali Museum

Dali Museum

A basic, monumental concrete block, poured on site to withstand the strongest hurricanes, it protects the largest Dali collection outside of Spain. Eerily, a sweeping wave of triangular glass panels wraps itself around and up over the block structure, appearing like a giant amorphous being – much like Dali would have envisioned in his more bizarre periods.

Reluctantly, I admit I cannot do it justice, and encourage you to take an in-depth look at the new museum as reviewed in Karen Cilento’s article In Progress: Salvador Dali Museum/HOK + Beck Group in ArchDaily.

The Tampa Bay Rays


Tampa Rays ball park at night

Tampa Bay Rays field at night


Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg is home to the Tampa Bay Rays – once known as the Devil Rays – but they seem to have dropped the classifier after much local banter. When built in 1986, the building, christened The Florida Suncoast Dome, was not universally admired and failed to attract a big-name sports team. Eventually they did, and in 1998 the Rays played their first game in this imaginatively renovated amphitheater with a roof.

The facts and figures about attending events at Tropicana Field.

The St. Petersburg Pier

A walk out to the end of the Pier will help work up an appetite for lunch or dinner at one of bay front restaurants there. Don’t worry about getting logy; take the trolley back to the parking lots on shore.

Here are your dining choices – all recommended.

The pier has so much more to offer. Regularly scheduled events include Horse and Buggy Rides, and various band concerts. On Saturdays and Sundays, take a free boat ride around the lagoon. On the second Saturday of each month, The Downtown Arts Association sponsors a Gallery Walk – 25 galleries are open to the public from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Pier Information

All photos courtesy of the city of St. Petersburg.                Boutiques for strolling

Resort Hotels

The Marriott Renaissance Vinoy Hotel on Tampa Bay is an elegant mixture of old Florida, Spanish design, resort luxury, classic golf course, and a first class marina. Even if you can’t afford to stay there, at least plan on treating yourself to a memorable Sunday Brunch; unquestionably the best I can remember.

Vinoy and marina

Upon entering the romantic, Mexican tiled lobby with its high beamed ceiling, and hearing strains of music drifting from the dining room, you know you’ve made a good choice. Although the dining room is large, a reservation is essential.

The buffet is divided into sections, so you can wander around gathering tidbits from every quarter to bring to your table. The plates are cleared regularly, making you feel like less of a gourmand. Having enjoyed the feast with a Mimosa(s), it’s time to repair to a rocking chair on the terrace overlooking the harbor and sheltered from the sun; time for your postprandial nap.  The Vinoy

The Don Cesar in St. Petersburg Beach is equally as luxurious as the Vinoy, but projects contemporary, sparkling waterfront atmosphere. With bright, sizable rooms overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, and amenities on the grand scale, this AAA four-diamond Loew’s resort will satisfy your every wish, right down to the couples spa experience. Be sure to check the gamut of stunning photos under their “hotel overview” – then pack your bags.

For the Florida: coast by coast series, start at Pensacola Part I, and move forward


Banyan Tree…It started with one trunk, but as the branches spread horizontally, shoots dropped down to the ground and became rooted. One of the largest examples is in Fort Myers, at Thomas Edison’s house. In Gasparilla, a road is completely arched by banyans. – the ultimate canopy road.


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