Destination: Tampa and St. Petersburg
Miles from Naples: 167 (Tampa), 153 (St. Pete)
Tampa and St. Petersburg bring a metropolitan edge to Florida’s west coast. These cities share a love of good food and great art—not to mention a thirst for adventure. The area’s growing young-professional population demands the latest cosmopolitan offerings, meaning there’s something new to explore with every visit. Combine both destinations into one getaway to see how these Old Florida towns have ushered the state into the twenty-first century.
Where to stay: Foodies flock to the Epicurean Hotel, built as a legacy to the late chef Bern Laxer and situated across the street from his iconic steak house in Tampa’s thriving SoHo neighborhood. Culinary imagery permeates the decor, from oversized silverware instead of door handles to a library stocked with cookbooks. Take a class at the hotel’s Epicurean Theatre and pick a prime Pinot at the wine shop in between cocktails at the Edge rooftop bar and macarons at the Chocolate Pi patisserie. Savor breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Élevage, where James Beard–nominated chef Chad Johnson serves recognizable dishes with a Southern spin.
In St. Petersburg, look for the pink hotel on the bay. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club stands as a testament to 1920s grandeur but has modern amenities like a spa and a golf course. Don’t miss The Vinoy’s Sunday brunch in Marchand’s Bar & Grill. A feast worthy of its magnificent setting, this dining extravaganza includes a Bloody Mary bar and multiple stations in addition to a menu of sharable dishes. Rotating options highlight local seasonal ingredients, while craft beer tastings introduce guests to area breweries.
For more bites: Tampa/St. Pete’s vast restaurant scene has everything from eclectic eats at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café to the Spanish flavors of the century-old Columbia Restaurant. For a nightcap, swing by St. Pete’s Central Avenue and The Mandarin Hide, a speakeasy that slings up classic cocktails in a slick setting.
Cultural offerings: In St. Pete, surround yourself with Dale Chihuly’s large-scale glassworks at the Morean Arts Center. The museum is preparing to move its extensive collection to a new location, so stop by in July before then. Down the bay, The Dali Museum contains more than 2,100 works by the famed surrealist and special exhibitions highlighting his contemporaries. Beginning July 2, view the groundbreaking imagery of Horst P. Horst in “Horst: Photographs—Fashion and Surrealism.”
Afterward, catch a film at the Tampa Theatre, a circa-1926 movie house that has to be seen to be believed. Stop by Sundays at 3 p.m. for the Summer Classics movie series with such unforgettable flicks as The Maltese Falcon and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Dive in: At Tampa’s Florida Aquarium, guests can get up close with some of the aquarium’s residents through special experiences like diving with sharks and penguin encounters. Finally, you can cross “pet a penguin” off your bucket list.