A sunny city in a sunny state....
We check out the "Sunshine City" in America's Sunshine State, Florida.
Looking for sunshine this year? Then St Pete/Clearwater in Florida should be top of your list. "The Sunshine City" is the perfect destination to relax, with some of the top beaches in the US, world class arts and some fantastic bars and restaurants this city has everything you need for the perfect LGBT holiday.
Located on the central West Coast of Florida and only a 2 hour drive from Orlando Airport, St Pete/Clearwater holds the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine (768 days in total). Probably one of the friendliest places to visit, the locals cannot do enough to make you feel welcome and the area was recently voted one of the top 20 best coastal places to live. St Pete/Clearwater hold awards for having 2 of the 10 top beaches in the US and with so many white sand beaches here, you are spoilt for choice. So get your shades and Speedos on and head straight to the beach.
If you can drag yourself away from sunbathing, the city has plenty of great attractions, a foodie scene from heaven, plenty of nightlife and an awesome craft beer scene to check out. St. Pete/Clearwater is one of Florida's most LGBT friendly destinations, there is a variety of gay owned businesses, with LGBT hotspots including the Flamingo Resort & Entertainment Center and Grand Central District. The LGBT Welcome Center is also on hand to provide information and services for when you arrive. If you are looking for the perfect accommodation for your stay, the city has a great selection of gay friendly Hotel, Resorts and B&Bs to make your stay special.
Attractions: With attractions such as the Dali museum, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Chihuly Collection, there is something for everyone. However if you are looking for something special, check out some of the incredible street art on the buildings around Central Avenue. There are over 70 murals that cover the Downtown area, so we recommend joining one of the art tours around the city.
Food and Bar Scene: You are spoilt for choice when it comes to culinary options in St. Petersburg. Whether it is casual or fine dining, the city has something for everyone, so make sure you pack your stretchy pants. With an array of independent restaurants, rooftop lounges, local breweries and quirky bars you will find it hard to know where to start. A couple of recommendations:
FarmTable Kitchen: Located above the LOCALE market on 2nd Ave - (Where casual meets gourmet), FarmTable offers diners fresh seasonal dishes with a selection of mouth watering cocktails to water it down. The restaurant has built a great reputation in the city and has grown from a 4 table wine bar to a 160 cover restaurant in just two years. Looking for something special? Why not pull up a chair and try out their 8 course, tasting menu at The Chefs Table.
Dog Bar: A must for any dog lover, it has to be seen to be believed. Described as an informal version of Crufts with alcohol and located in the Grand Central District of St. Pete, this fun bar is an LGBT hot spot. The Dog Bar is as a mix between a doggie day care and a full bar. There are dogs running around in their very own play area while their owners are able to enjoy a day/night of socialising. The staff are extremely welcoming and friendly and have some of the most generous spirit measures I have ever seen. A must if you visit St. Pete.
Green Bench Brewery: St. Petersburg first craft microbrewery, the name comes from the history of the city which, in the early 1900's, was known as the "City of Green Benches". The idea of the brewery was to create a place where people could come together over a pint and enjoy themselves. A relaxed friendly environment, The Tap Room and Beer Garden are perfect for this.
Enigma Bar & Lounge: Looking for some nightlife? Then look no further. Located in downtown St Pete, Enigma is a gay bar that is equally popular in the afternoon and early evening as it is late at night, where it transforms into a full club.
Events & Festivals: The Block Party in Downtown St. Pete: One not to miss out on, held the first Friday of every month, Central Avenue plays host to a block party filled with people coming together for live music, drinks and great food.
St. Pete Pride: Every June, join 250,000 people for Florida's largest Pride event in the heart of Downtown St. Petersburg. This three day celebration, bringing the LGBT community together, includes a night parade and block party.
Getting There: Virgin Atlantic flies daily from London Gatwick to Orlando and is offering Economy fares from £520 per person. For further information contact www.virginatlantic.com or call 0844 2092 770.
Staying there: A double standard room at The Vinoy Renaissance starts from $169 and can be booked at Marriott.com
More info: For all further information on the destination, activities, excursions and restaurants see visitstpeteclearwater.com
Caroline Dawson, May 2017