Escape to St. Petersburg
- Marcea Cazel
I needed a break. With work, family, some health issues and life in general working my nerves I decided a one day staycation was due. I decided to escape to St. Petersburg.
Once a sleepy town, St. Pete (as it’s known) has in the past 10 years grown in entertainment, culture and food & drink, especially in the downtown area. With a population of almost 260,000 St. Petersburg is a great place to find plenty to do without it being too big to navigate in a few days.
My original plan was to rent a bike from Coast Bike Share which is an easy way to get around the city. I was going to ride along the waterfront and make my way to the Museum of Fine Arts, grab some lunch and visit one of the local breweries. After checking into the Airbnb where I was spending the night, tI would head back out to enjoy the evening downtown and grab some dinner before heading back to my rented room.
I should have known better than to make plans in Florida during the rainy season. The weather report for the day I was headed to St. Pete said it would rain like cats and dogs. But I had made my reservation so off I went!
To replace the bike riding I decided to go to Sunken Gardens. Housed on 4 acres in the middle of downtown St. Pete, Sunken Gardens has been around for over 80 years but was an attraction I hadn’t ever visited. When I lived in the area over 15 years ago I vaguely remember hearing it was slightly run down. I’m not sure how true that was but in 1999 the attraction was purchased by the City of St. Petersburg which has helped to bring it new life.
I took in my umbrella, just in case, and was mesmerized how peaceful it was once you entered the gardens. There are hundreds of species of flora which makes it feel like you’re in a jungle setting. There are also parrots and flamingos who live there.
About 15 minutes after I entered though it started to rain. Hard. I continued to walk since I had an umbrella but wasn’t able to enjoy it for as long as I wanted. I’ll absolutely return on a drier day so I can fully experience the beauty that is Sunken Gardens.
After eating lunch I drove several blocks south and went to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, or MOFA. They had an exhibit called Dorothy Height’s Hats that I was very interested in seeing. A civil rights icon, Dorothy Height wore hats as did other women of her era. However Ms. Height continued the tradition until her death several years ago and the elaborate hats she wore while defending civil rights were beautiful to see. Her quotes that were highlighted on the walls of the exhibit were also inspirational and encouraged me to learn more about this strong woman.
After that exhibit I viewed the local contemporary art that was on display along with the museum’s collection of art and furniture throughout the ages. This museum was far larger than I imagined. The amount of artwork that was featured was incredible. While some of it wasn’t to my taste there was enough that everyone would find something that appealed to them.
After enjoying the museum I spent some time on the waterfront enjoying the solitude. I had thought I wanted to go out that evening to have some dinner but ended up picking up sushi on the way to my apartment for the night and did some writing. It was a perfect day for me to decompress, enjoy my own company and re-energize. I love St. Petersburg and will definitely return for more adventures.
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