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For those not inclined to party in South Beach, Florida's Gulf Coast offers leisurely relaxation in St. Pete Beach. Downtown St. Petersburg offers museums, dining and nightlife, while the intracoastal is perfect for kayaking or other outdoor activities. Here are our five essentials for a grown-up getaway in Southern Florida.
(Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater)
Life's A Barrier Island Beach
Named after the Spanish city and province of Zamora, the Hotel Zamora offers a fresh destination on St. Pete Beach, a barrier island community just west of the mainland. It's the first new property to open in St. Pete Beach in more than 20 years and a splendid homage to contemporary Spanish style. The oversized rooms feature Mediterranean touches, a warm color palette with vibrant pops of orange and turquoise, and high-end finishes like a deep soaking tub to indulge in after a day at the beach.
(Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater)
Head to the roof for 360-degree views and be sure to imbibe in the over-the-top Bloody Mary bar as well as indulge in a destination-worthy meal at Castile, where the lobster fries with citrus remoulade are worth the trip alone.
A Surreal Good Time
The Dali Museum began as a private collection held by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse and has grown into the preeminent display of the surrealist painter's work. Architect Yann Weymouth designed the museum's current home, which opened in 2011 and features a base of 18-inch thick hurricane proof walls intersected by a geodesic glass bubble known as the "enigma." But it's what's inside that will have you really scratching your head in wonder.
The Dali Museum (Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater)
The curators are known for wildly creative juxtapositions of Dali's work against the work of his contemporaries and other artistic forms. The wonderful Frida Kahlo at the Dali show is on display until April. Make sure to see it if you book a trip in the next few months.
When You're Over Dining On Your Feet
Locale Market (Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater)
Head to Locale Market, a bi-level foodie's paradise created by restaurateurs Michael Mina and Don Pintabona. From cheese and salumi to local seafood (raw, semi-prepped, or ready to eat), you could eat every meal of your vacation here and never get bored. Craft beer fans will be impressed with the 100-plus varieties, including many sourced from Florida's burgeoning brewery scene.
The Morean Art Center holds the only purpose-built space for a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly's magnificent glass sculptures in a purpose-built space. Large-scale installations include the Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, as well as Niijima Floats, Tumbleweeds, and more.
Chihuly Museum (Matthew Wexler)
Time your visit to tag along on a free docent tour, which lasts approximately 45 minutes and offers further insights into the artist's work. (Then you can follow it up back home with Chihuly's much-anticipated New York Botanical Garden show, opening in April.)
Parks and Recreation
The beach is an obvious choice, but consider exploring Fort De Soto Park, where you're more likely to find locals than swarms of tourists. The fort was originally built for the Spanish-American War, and named after Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto.
Fort De Soto Park (Matthew Wexler)
The 1,136-acre area is comprised of five interconnected islands and offers calm waterways for kayaking, where you can discover manatees, egrets, and pelicans—a far cry from the usual pigeons at Coney Island.
Travel was arranged in cooperation with The Hotel Zamora and Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.
Matthew Wexler is the national travel editor for EDGE Media Network and has contributed to more than 20 media outlets. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @roodeloo.