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Travel and Beaches

St. Pete Beach: Heaven For Tourists

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 01:08 PM

A magical pink castle appears in the horizon while driving across the Pinellas Bayway drawbridge. If St. Pete Beach has a defining landmark, this is it: The Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa.

Guest rooms here can be pricey, but you don't have to spend a dime to bask on the beach near the ritzy resort. Wear your swanky sunglasses and set your monogrammed beach towel on the white sand and soak in the atmosphere.

Lucky beachgoers may even catch the filming of a commercial or movie. In 1999, Ray Liotta, Gretchen Mol and Joseph Fiennes were here filming scenes for ''Forever Mine.''

St. Pete Beach is a tourist haven. Gulf Boulevard is lined with hotels, motels, restaurants and tacky beach shops lit up in neon colors.

A public parking lot is located across from the Dolphin Village shopping center. Visitors can also park along residential side streets and slide in between hotels to get to the beach.

The plethora of hotels may scream ''tourists'' to locals, but they can serve as an advantage.

Hungry for lunch or a sunset meal? It's an easy walk to a hotel tiki bar, many of which include entertainment - Jimmy Buffett-style.

Other fun offerings at St. Pete Beach include putt-putt golf and a movie theater. The Beach Theater on Corey Avenue is a hidden treasure for area film buffs. A historic landmark built in 1939, the theater shows mostly foreign and independent films.

Corey Avenue is also home to gifts shops, a country arts-and-crafts shop and restaurants.

Fishing fans flock to Sunset Park, 7300 Sunset Way, a small waterfront parcel with free parking in designated areas. If the fish aren't biting, you can enjoy one of the seafood restaurants located next to the fishing area.

The beach alternatives don't wane at night. This beach doesn't go to sleep early, especially during tourist season. Many bars and restaurants are hopping when the sun goes down.

The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant is a popular night spot on Pass-a-Grille Beach, just south of St. Pete Beach. The eatery, located right on the beach, is ideal for a sunset dinner. Many locals tout the grouper sandwiches as the best in the Bay.

After hours, kick up your heels as the top floor gets rocking at Stormy's, a beach nightclub. Or head just a bit north of the Don CeSar for a nightcap at the Undertow.

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