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Jutting out 3,000 feet into the waters of Tampa Bay, the St. Petersburg Pier has been a part of downtown for more than 120 years. Recently rebuilt and modernized, it’s easy to spend the entire day with the family exploring all it has to offer.
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One of the area’s top family-friendly attractions, St. Pete Pier has been a fixture since the city was incorporated in the 19th century. And while it’s always been in the same general location, it hasn’t been the same structure the entire time. In fact, there have been approximately seven different piers over time. The first modern one was known as the Million Dollar Pier, which opened in 1926. With a beach, line of the streetcar, fishing area, ballroom and radio station, the pier was a place to gather in St. Petersburg.
But perhaps the most iconic pier in the city was the Inverted Pyramid Pier that opened in 1973 after the Million Dollar Pier was torn down because of deterioration. It was literally an inverted pyramid structure, housing restaurants, a mini-golf course, and an aquarium over the years. However, eventually, the city decided that the upkeep of the Inverted Pyramid pier cost more than building a new one, and it was demolished in 2015. The current version of the pier was opened in July 2020.
Activities At The Pier
Located on 26 acres, St. Pete Pier has plenty to do for every visitor. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting with friends, on a date or taking the kids out for a day in the sun. There won’t be a lack of activities to explore.
As you enter the pier at the east end of 1st Street S., you’ll find the Marketplace where local artists and vendors sell products out of their kiosks. If you look to your left as you walk towards the water, you’ll find the St. Petersburg Museum of History. While technically not part of St. Pete Pier, the museum is a great place to learn more about the city’s history.
A little further up is a family playground and Spa Beach, where you can lay out and cool down in Tampa Bay. Families with kids shouldn’t miss the splash park next to the beach – there’s also a tilted lawn with permanent lawn umbrellas to take a break or eat some lunch. About halfway down the pier is the Discovery Center. Run by environmental group Tampa Bay Watch, the Discover Center lets you get a hands-on experience to learn how vital the Tampa Bay waters are to the city and area.
As you get to the end of the pier, you’ll find some great views of the bay along with the fishing pier. In addition to watching small planes taking off from Albert Whitted Airport from the fishing pier, you’ll see plenty of sailboats coming and going from the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
Food & Drinks
There’s no need to leave the pier to get a drink or bite to eat. With two quick grab restaurants, three sit-down restaurants and a bar located at the top of the pier, you can find everything from ice cream and hot dogs to crab cakes and steaks. Or feel free to bring a picnic meal to enjoy in one of the seating areas throughout the complex.
St. Petersburg has become a haven for artists and their works, and St. Pete Pier is no exception. There are five large-scale permanent artworks on display in various parts of the pier. Probably the most talked about and photographed is Bending Arc by local artist Janet Echelman. An aerial sculpture constructed of lightweight fiber, Bending Arc is 424 feet across and 72 feet high. Enjoy the lawn below the sculpture and watch the colors of the threads change as you shift your view. The view is even more impressive at night when Bending Arc is lit up in different color lights. Other artwork includes sculptures, murals and a life-sized replica of the first plane flow for commercial flight, which took place in 1914, very close to the pier.