The area is experiencing a time of unprecedented growth, as record numbers of visitors and recent press accolades affirm its reputation among the trendiest places to vacation. The New York Times just listed St. Petersburg in its ranking of Top 52 Best Places to Visit in 2014—in the company of the world’s most “vibrant cities and spectacular coastlines, unexpected spots and new attractions.”

The global round-up showcased St. Petersburg, a city of boundless energy, as an example of urban reinvention. It noted its “redeveloped waterfront, a stunning Dalí Museum, and sophisticated restaurants in place” and historic Central Avenue’s “downtown energy,” powered by a renaissance of the craft beer scene and funky new dining and accommodations options.
Choosing from St. Pete/Clearwater’s numerous beaches can be as exciting as deciding on a meal—whether it’s a delicious breakfast and mimosa at downtown St. Pete’s hippest new hotel, Birch & Vine at The Birchwood, a hearty Grouper Nugget Basket at Clearwater locals’ favourite beach spot, Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, or a tender steak from St. Pete’s newest restaurant, Rococo, which takes cooking meat to revolutionary and artistic heights.

When it comes to culture, the crown jewel remains St. Pete’s acclaimed Dalí Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of the Spanish surrealist’s work outside Spain. Visit before April 27, and catch the special blockbuster exhibit, “Warhol: Art. Fame. Mortality.” Also, be sure to make time for the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center, which is the only gallery in the U.S. focused on Dale Chihuly’s unique glass artwork—and the Bohemian and avant-garde galleries along St. Pete’s Central Avenue. Still to explore are St. Pete’s Museum of Fine Arts and Dunedin Fine Art Center, recently voted as the top cultural attraction in the area by locals.

For the adventurous, an adrenaline-fueled sky surfing experience is certain to fuel any dinner-party conversations. Before you think it, Sky Surfing in Clearwater Airpark has you soaring like a bird above the beaches and city blocks on a safe and reliable trike nicknamed “the motorcycle of the sky.” As you fly, keep an eye out for dolphins and manatees swimming in the sea below and wonder at the inexhaustible stretch of sunny beaches and clear, blue sky.