Recently St. Pete finally unveiled their massive, impressive, several-year-long project: the pier.
I usually avoid going to St. Pete as much as possible because of traffic, but this was something I didn't want to pass up, and I'm glad I didn't.
The pier is centrally located on the bay & near other major city attractions including the popular Salvador Dali museum; surprisingly, it's in an area where there's a lot of parking (though, most of it isn't free.)
If you can spare a few dollars for parking, then you're in good shape. Though, you might want to bring some good walking shoes or a bike if you plan on exploring everything the pier has to offer. Or you could jump on the tram... because there's one of those too.
The pier is exceptionally long and has tons of features including eateries, bars, art, a beach, gift shop, several lounging areas, kids play areas, pop-up shops, and it seemed to be a popular spot with the fishermen -- who had access to the on-site bait shop -- to name a few highlights. The blueprints even somehow managed to include a grassy hill to tumble down on and lots of palm trees to line your path.
You can see some of these features in this hyperlapse video of me biking down the pier from the far end to the beach.
Honestly, this place was unreal. When I hear of a "pier" I think of an old rickety boardwalk; not a well-kept multi-million dollar tourist attraction (and sorry Jersey Shore people, the NJ boardwalks pale in comparison.)
This clearly wasn't some shifty quickly-thrown-together little community project. No, this took years, a lot of money and coordination to complete, and it looks like the city plans on keeping it nice. There were plenty of security guards and police officers making sure visitors behaved.
I went on Sunday evening around 4p.m. and it was extremely crowded, which is to be expected especially since it's summer, it's new, it's free and it was a weekend. But it's good to note that if you're trying to avoid crowded places, maybe visiting on a weekday would be better.
Otherwise, if you're fine with crowds then be prepared to people-dodge; and the later it got the more people showed up. Not surprisingly; since not only is it a lot cooler at night, but you can catch some seriously stunning sunsets over the city from the pier.
I managed to capture a beautiful shot of the city from the top of the "hill," obviously placed there for this exact reason.
The attraction stays open into the late hours of the evening, giving tourists ample time to enjoy all the features, including the art installation that truly can only be appreciated in full at night.
In the day it just looks like a massive misplaced fishing net, but once the sun goes down it turns the area into an enchanting neon wonderland.
And then let's not forget my personal favorite part: the beach.
Truth be told the beach is pretty stinky (literally -- welcome to Florida) but if you can get over the smell it's not bad and you can get some gorgeous views of the pier from below.
Waves are pretty much nonexistent and you can find some super amazing shells if you look hard enough.
Personal tip: if you decide to take any shells home, you might want to place them in an air-tight bag so they don't make your car smell fishy.
If exploring all 26-acres of the pier isn't enough to quench your thirst for adventure, you can find several paved walking trails to explore along the bay.
And as if you really need another excuse to check out this latest-and-greatest city addition, apparently the pier will soon host events in the near future too.
So grab bae and bring a cooler, a beach chair and sunscreen -- or don't. No matter how prepared (or unprepared) you come you'll surely be able to find something to suit your needs.
You can check out more about the pier on their website here.