The St. Pete Pier District is a newly-redesigned (in 2020) waterfront area with tons of things to see and do. There are stunning views of Tampa Bay plus dining options, a beach, fishing, biking, and more. The St. Pete Pier is a great place to hang out and enjoy the Sunshine City.
History of St. Pete Pier
There have been a few different versions of the St. Pete Pier since it was first constructed in 1889. Most recently was The Inverted Pyramid Pier built in 1973. The iconic structure was a tourist attraction and gathering place until 2013 when it was closed to make way for the new pier. The architecture of the new St. Pete Pier pays homage to the unique design of the Inverted Pyramid Pier. Read more history about the pier here.
Getting There & Parking
There are two huge parking lots in the Pier District, the Pelican and Dolphin lots. The fee to park in either of these lots on weekends is $2.50 per hour for the first 4 hours, $3.50 for the 5th hour and $4.50 for the 6th hour, with a 6-hour maximum per day. It might be challenging to find a parking spot on busy weekends. To get to the lots, you’ll have to drive through a couple busy 4-way stop intersections and pedestrian crosswalks.
Right outside the Pier District, you can also find metered parking and parking garages in downtown St. Pete. We chose to park in the Sundial Parking Garage to avoid some of the traffic and crowds. Parking here is significantly cheaper. It will only cost you $2 total for up to 4 hours on the weekend. And it’s about a 0.3 mile walk to the Pier entrance.
You could also take the free St. Pete Downtown Looper Trolley. It stops at the Sundial Garage and Pier entrance approximately every 15 minutes, along with many other destinations in downtown St. Pete.
Note: Once you reach the entrance to the Pier, it’s still about a 1/2 mile walk to the end of the pier, where the main structure is located.
A really cool feature is that the Pier has its own accessible shuttle service. There are 4 shuttle stops along the Pier. This is really convenient if you don’t want to or can’t walk the 1/2 mile down to the end of the pier. The shuttle is free and runs from each stop approximately every 10 minutes.
The St. Pete Pier is bicycle-friendly, so feel free to bring your own or rent from Coast Bike Share. There are several big bike racks at different points along the pier.
And for those looking to come by boat, there are a few boat slips with metered docking located on the south side of the Pelican Parking Lot. They are first come first serve, and reservations cannot be made.
Things To Do at St. Pete Pier
There are a few dining options at the St. Pete Pier. Firstly, the main restaurant at the end of the pier is called Teak. You’ll find lunch and dinner options with a Floridian focus. The modern waterfront restaurant has amazing views plus a bar. You can make advance reservations here through OpenTable. I highly recommend making reservations for the weekends.
There is also a rooftop bar called Pier Teaki featuring tropical cocktails and a classic tiki theme. There’s great views of the water from the rooftop!
There’s also the casual Driftwood Cafe on the Pier Point deck, which serves coffee, drinks and grab-and-go style foods like sandwiches.
In the Pier Plaza you’ll find the quick-service Spa Beach Bistro. This is the closest option to the Splash Pad, playground and Spa Beach. They have pizza, ice cream, grab-and-go snacks and a full bar. And there’s plenty of covered seating to get out of the sun. This is the perfect snack shack to grab an ice cream while the kids play in the splash pad!
Another popular option is Doc Ford’s Rum Bar. They feature fresh seafood and Caribbean flavors, plus a wide selection of premium rums. The indoor and outdoor seating options will give you a great water view while you dine. We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere here.
Lastly, Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro is located near the Pier entrance with views of the water and the nearby marina. Enjoy seafood, steak, pasta and a full bar.
Alcohol is allowed around the Pier District, but must be purchased from the Pier. No outside alcohol allowed.
There are many different spots around the pier to relax and enjoy a drink with friends and family. There are colorful chairs with water views, shady benches, and a nice cool breeze.
Yes, there is an actual beach at St. Pete Pier! It’s called Spa Beach and has been a part of the Pier since it’s early days. However, it has been revamped and now features a natural shoreline on the bay, a cabana and chairs. It’s not the biggest beach, but it’s pretty nice and there seems to be a decent swimming area. There is also a kayak launch point.
Splash Pad & Playground
The fountain/splash pad is a great place for the kids to cool off and burn some energy. There are lots of chairs and umbrellas nearby for parents to watch from the shade. Additionally, the playground is nearby and features different areas for different age groups.
Fishing has been a tradition at the St. Pete Pier since it’s early days in the late 1800’s. There’s a dedicated fishing platform which is built on leftover supports from the Inverted Pyramid Pier. Bring your own fishing gear or purchase it from Gator Jim’s Tackle at the St. Pete Pier.
Operated by the Tampa Bay Watch, a group dedicated to preserving the Tampa Bay Estuary, the Discovery Center is a hands-on space to learn about Tampa Bay’s ecosystems and creatures. There are interactive exhibits, video presentations, touch tanks and more. It costs $5 per person, but it’s a nice way to get out of the heat or weather for a little while and entertain kids.
The St. Pete Pier is full of local art. The largest installation is “Bending Arc” by Janet Echelman. Composed of 180 miles of twine, the massive piece billows and moves in the wind.
Right at the entrance to the Pier you’ll start seeing red pelicans. These are part of Nathan Mabry’s “Myth (Red Pelican)”. The statue itself is over 10-feet tall and designed to look like an origami pelican.
You’ll also see “Morning Stars” by Xenonia Bailey, which is a mosaic piece, and “Olnetopia” by Nick Ervinck which is a sculpture.
Upon walking into the pier district, one of the first things you’ll see is the Marketplace. There are vendors here selling local goods — everything from spices to home decor. However, the Marketplace is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM.
Visiting at Sunset
It’s worth spending sunset at the pier. The views are gorgeous. Although the pier faces East, so you won’t see the sunset over the water, the colors are beautiful. I’ve never caught a sunrise here, but I bet that would be magical too!
Other Things to Do Nearby
Right alongside the Pier you’ll find a couple of other things to do. There’s the Pier Dolphin Cruise if you’d like to go out into the Bay by boat. It’s been operating from the St Petersburg Pier since 1992, and you’re guaranteed to see dolphins.
You’ll also find the St. Petersburg Museum of History on the Pier Approach. See the world’s largest collection of autographed baseballs, a real Egyptian mummy, and learn about the history of St. Petersburg.
The Museum of Fine Arts is right outside the Pier. You can see a variety of art from photography to modern glass sculpture to historic architectural features.
A good portion of downtown St. Petersburg is within walking distance from this area. There are a ton of restaurants and bars just across the street from the Pier on Beach Drive. This is a great area for night life and weekend brunch!
Hours & Info
Location: 600 2nd Avenue NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Hours: Opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes at 11:00 PM
The information in this post was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit any of the sites mentioned in this post, we recommend checking the most up-to-date information on their respective websites.
This post was updated August 2023. It was originally published in August 2020.