If you’re looking for a relaxing, low key, winter vacation spot with interesting things to do this could be the place for you. St. Petersburg is located on Tampa Bay and because of some very thoughtful planning in the early 1900s most of the waterfront has been reserved for public parks or has access to the waterfront. The Pier, a long concrete structure with a roadway and wide sidewalks, marks the center of town. An unusual upside down triangular building which houses a few restaurants, shops and an aquarium is located at the end. Unfortunately the pier is slated to be demolished in 2013 or 2014. Plans for a new pier are underway though and it looks really cool!
We visited the city for three days and sampled some of the many things that it offers. With bragging rights of 360 days of sunshine a year ,walking or rolling along the seven mile waterfront is always a treat. We started at the Pier with a elevator ride to the deck of the triangle to take in the ocean view and the opposing view of St. Pete’s skyline. Back down on the pier ,a quick stop to watch tourists feeding fish to the pelicans then south on the waterfront past the yacht club. The walkway along the waterfront is just a wide sidewalk but it’s in good condition. Along the way are two small parks, Demens Landing (which has a paved trail that may be a little difficult for wheelchair users because of uneven surfaces) and Albert Whiting. An small airport butts up against Albert Whiting Park making it a good place to watch plane and helicopter traffic. We also watched a couple of men at the park throwing nets off of the retaining walls into the bay and hauling in their catch.
The walkway ends at Whiting Park which is across the street from the Salvador Dali Museum. This is an interesting museum even if you don’t think that you like Dali’s artwork. Admission on Thursday after five o’clock is half price. Be sure to get the free audio tour. The museum is totally accessible with automatic doors and easy to view artwork. The Dali is just one of the many museums and art galleries along the waterfront or within a few blocks of Bay Shore Dr. We also visited the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of History. Both have good wheelchair accessibility. The walkway north of the pier leads to Vinoy Park and South Beach, a park with walkways among the palm trees and a small slice of sandy beach.
The opposite side of Bay Shore Dr is lined with condominiums, galleries and sidewalk cafes for people watching as you eat. All of this along with a good number of hotels and bed and breakfasts makes St. Petersburg an easy place to visit because everything is within a few blocks. Check the Visitors Guide for more attractions including nightclubs, festivals and theater performances.
We stayed south of the city in the campground at Fort De Soto County Park. The campground does not have any specifically accessible sites but all of them will work. The ground is hard packed sand and the tables have long overhangs. The restrooms have accessible toilet stalls and accessible showers but they should be larger. This is very pretty and popular campground so reservations are necessary. A wide paved trail, which leads to an ocean beach, a small museum and remnants of the fort , can be accessed from the campground.
Find more accessible attractions in Florida at my blog.