St Pete Beach opinions

Jun 17th, 2004, 07:09 PM
  #1  
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St Pete Beach opinions

I've read lots of posts. I've gotten a kick out of some of the threads too. I especially loved the XXX rated one where everybody was exchanging jabs with one another. All of this action while searching for St Pete Beach info too. I've posted before, and have pretty much gotten some vague description of what this place has to offer. Tandoori Girl has been the most helpful, and I thank her for that (not to mention the other entertainment that I have read). But anyway, now to my questions. What's up with the Don Cesar? Is it a resort placed in the middle of mom and pop motels? What kind of people hang out in St Pete? I'm with my wife and 2 children. We're not planning on museums and that sort of stuff either. We love the beach and the water. Is it going to be ridiculously hot next week? I will be there one week from today. Is there anything big going on? We will catch a Devil Ray game (probably when Beckett pitches for the Marlins on tuesday night). We're also heading to Busch Gardens. Is that place even comparable to Universal Studios/IOA in Orlando. My children are 11 and 8. We play tennis too. Are there any courts near the Don. I like to fish fresh water with my son too. He's 8, are there any nice places where we can go and catch a couple of little fish just to say we caught some in Florida? We don't want to get swallowed up by alligators either. We'll be there from the 24th to the 30th. Restauraunt advice is always helpful too. Thanks to everyone in advance.
pete51068 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 07:48 PM
  #2  
 
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My family loves St Pete Beach. We've not stayed at "the Don" but have been in their bar for drinks, and out on the terrace for breakfast. We just prefer to stay in one of the resorts with rooms on the first floor directly on the sandy beach.

St Pete Beach is a family place, IMO. There are mom and pop motels mixed in with high-rise hotels and condos. There are fishing boats, sight seeing boats, shopping, the Pier in St P'burg with its small but interesting aquarium.

St Pete Beach is a great place to relax and swim and watch the waves. The beach is terrific for walking/jogging in the morning/evening. You'll see a number of folks up early for their walk/run.

We have eaten good seafood (Leverocks), the clam chowder at Shells, and pizza (Gigi's, an easy walk north of the Don, but across the street, about a block, maybe two). You can also find great steaks if you want to go into Tampa to Berns. You'll find chains like Bennigans also.

If you like to shop, there is a fairly new outlet mall just a mile or two south of the OTHER end of the Sunshine Skyway bridge that might be of interest.

I visited Busch Gardens about 15 years ago, on a very rainy day, so I didn't stay very long. I think it would be fun to revisit sometime though. I doubt that it is the same size as Universal Studios (I've not been there), but then again... it might be a more manageable size for a day for your family members, especially if it's hot that day.

Another thing I like to do is drive the beach street from Passa Grille (the point south of the Don) all the way to Indian Rocks Beach and Clearwater.

Enjoy your trip to St Pete.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 07:55 PM
  #3  
 
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No gators! What a drag you are. We always advise the tourists to get at least one little nibble so they can show off the teeth marks when they go back home.

The Don is a resort by all it has to offer but it's not a huge place by any means. It has two properties, one is the classic old pink Mediterranean stucco hotel, the other a more contemporary collection of suites, condo-style. Frankly, with your entourage you might be more comfortable at the newer building. There has been some discussion on this board about the rooms at the Don (unfortunately we all live here and barely ever go to the hotels). When I stayed in a junior suite, it was fine for me and hubbie. But add a couple of rugrats and it would be a bit crowded. But then someone else implied their Junior suite was larger so maybe there are a couple of sizes. So you'll need to check with the Don on the room size in the historic building to make sure it would be big enough for you.

The Don is situated at the southern end of St. Pete Beach, which is a hodge-podge of very nice residential homes, high-rise condos and large resorts, and some mom-and-pops. Further south of the Don is a beach town called Passe-A-Grille which has always been a cut above for a beach town but has recently gone back to its glory days (hurrah).

I love Busch Gardens but you have to take it for what it is, a large upscale zoo with rollercoasters and a really great bangup theatre production that your kids will enjoy immensely. Plan to get wet on some of their rides, which will cool you off and get you ready for your free beer!

There are a few fishing piers nearby. The Redington Beach pier is nice. Ask your concierge for directions for the Sunshine Skyway pier where they will have everything you'll need. Some folks surf fish right on the beach if you have the goods to do it. Take a day trip to Ft. DeSoto to check out the old fort, go down to the beach too.

The food at the Don is pricey but wonderful. All of it. The service is really classy. There are also many spots nearby that are beachy fish places (Ooooooh, Joan????). I'm a big fan of Dockside Dave's in Madiera Beach for blackened grouper.

I think the Don has a tennis court. If you need more recreation facilities I hear the Alden is nice. If you're already booked at the Don, you can easily find a city court nearby, I'm just not sure where. The Rays will surely have seats for any game, Tropicana Field is a real ho-hum but thank G it's inside as it's really hot outside. But that Lou Piniella, what a guy, watch him spit and scratch.

You have posted a lot of issues and I've got precious little time unfortunately. I'm sure Joan and Olive and Jayne and LN will all jump in with suggestions on the area. I'm on my way to Savannah tomorrow so I have to go pack and do 100 other things. I'll be gone for a couple of weeks to the sweltering NE, but I'm sure you'll get some help from others on this board.

But as for the Don, it's a sure thing. Go for it. And St. Pete is really going through all sorts of loops and turns, you will enjoy it.

The kids would like the Chattaway, a local outdoor burger joint. And Coney Island hot dog on 9th Street. Be sure to go to Bay Walk. There's a childrens museum at Sunken Gardens, an old tourist spot that the city recently revamped.

Yikes! I have to pack. Have fun!

One last thing. It is HOT. Book a cabana or an umbrella everyday on the beach and use it. Along with sunscreen. And a hat. You will still go home looking commercial for suntan lotion. Not to worry.
Tandoori_Girl is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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I think you'll regret it if you don't stay at The Don...nice hotel, great pool, great beach, etc. Picey by some people's standards but worth it IMO...should make yur stay more unforgettable.

What kinf od people hang out at St. Pete beach you ask? People who are totally confident that they belong there.

Enjoy your stay.
TopMan is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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I love reading EVERYTHING on this forum re St. Pete... the controversy is :-?

We LOVE St. Pete. Our family and extended family enjoy coming here and just enjoying beach living for our stay. You can do a lot or very little depending upon your whims.

On a large family trip one year, my DH brought fishing poles for everyone and we enjoyed hanging out down by the surf every night near sunset just fishing, relaxing and enjoying the show. Also had a few resident great blue herons that enjoyed hanging w/ us too hoping for a hand out.

It's a great place for good family times... don't spend too much time in the car... the beach is incredible and the shelling is a great pastime... we enjoyed daily (sometimes 3-4x) long walks picking up beautiful shells.

People... easy going, love life, can handle the simple things in life and don't have to be entertained or catered to every second of vacation.

I'll always have fond memories of St. Pete and look forward to making many more.
makai1 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 09:05 AM
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Fishing--You and your son will get a huge kick out of fishing on the Skyway Pier--we live on the water on the Manatee side of the bridge but still love going there just for fun. There's a small fee.

They preserved this span after the bridge collapse and you drive out and just pick at spot to park and drop your line.

Check your tides and try to plan to go just before high tide--that's when they bite the best (you can try it with the low tide also). Just watch and when the old salts start switching sides--follow suit! Pick up a couple of cheap rods at Kmart and the tackle shop on the pier will have everything else you need. It's the only one on the pier and bathrooms are scattered around. Get LIVE shrimp and the little oxygen tabs to keep them alive (or a straw and blow into the water every few minutes!). Our last trip out was rewarded us with a great mackerel dinner!

Do use lots of sunscreen and drink fluids--you get burned faster there than on the beach.

Don't go during the peak heat of the day. Try to find tides in the morning or evening. A hint--one of you fish with a bobber and one with a sinker to see what they're hitting best!

I think it was said earlier that Busch Gardens can't compart with WDW, but if all you want are rides you'll be happy with it. Also try Adventure Island (water park) across the street. If you get there first thing in the morning with a plan you can beat the crowds to the best rides.

The Trop has some good restuarants so save dinner for the game ((Columbia, Outback etc.)It all tastes better at a ballgame anyway!
Jayne11159 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 09:09 AM
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Hey Pete. Took the kids there 2 summers ago when they were 8 and 12. Who cares if it's hot and humid- they were in the water constantly! There's a shuttle which goes along the beach all the way to Clearwater if you don't want to drive. I think it's the most family-friendly area in Florida. My kids LOVED Busch Gardens. My poor husband got soaked, I did the log fume where you just got "misted". Do NOT miss the show/production- it was excellent! Also felt good to sit down in the A/C for a while. I can't remember all the places we ate- hubby and i love the Salt Rock Grill, not sure if they have kiddie menu and it's a bit $$$. We found a fun place on the marina where you could feed the fish from your dinner table- great way to entertain kids, trust me. There are lots of fun fish places for families- we never heard any whining, which is a miracle. We didn't stay at Don's, but ate in the casual restaurant downstairs which was GREAT and not too expensive. I think the management there is first-rate; we've been several times. Hope you have a great time!
LLindaC is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Thanks for the great responses to my post. I will be staying at the Don. Junior suite with my Loews platinum membership. The Don was acquired by Loews hotel sometime last year, and I saw the hotel picture on their website and booked it. I've looked at tons of pictures of the Don, and St Pete Beach. Just the fact that it was St Pete (my name is Pete), on the beach, and a Loews hotel sold me on it. Then I read some posts with some bad reviews, so I figured I'd check. I know we are definetely going to Busch Gardens for at least 2 days, and I know we are catching a Devil Rays game. Rocco Baldelli (Devil Rays centerfiedler) is from our state, Rhode Island. I learned alot from all the responses. Even a lesson on how to fish, which was extremely helpful. We will only be there for 6 days, so it's more of a relaxing vacation, although the coasters at Busch Gardens are just too close to not go to. We have a rental car, so I'm sure we'll check out all of the area. I've been to Florida on vacations since I was born, but have never been on the Gulf side. I love South Florida, and the Orlando area is fun, so this one will be new to me. Thanks again for all the very helpful replys.
pete51068 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 03:48 PM
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One more restaurant tip--just over the Skyway Bridge (south) on the right, there is an old seafood place called the Crab Trap 1. It's one of our local favorites and only about 15 minutes from the Don. If you go to the Skyway pier to fish, you'll want to take the others back for the beautiful drive anyway!
Jayne11159 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 04:06 PM
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Since you are staying at the Don, you must go to Ft. DeSoto Park. It has been voted one of the top beaches, and it's right off of the Pinellas Bayway which takes you to and from the Don from I-275.

If you're going to a Rays game (my hubby works there), you ought to try to go several hours early and brouse the streets downtown and check it out (including Baywalk). It's a very cute downtown area (I work down there). On Saturday mornings, there is a "farmers" market on Central right downtown, and more and more vendors are setting up their wares (including some arts & crafts, etc.), and it is slowly growing and becoming a popular place to visit on Saturday mornings.

There are lots of things to do in St. Pete & St. Pete Beach. John's Pass at Madeira Beach is a nice place to visit too.

Linda in St. Pete
Justmom is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 04:55 PM
  #11  
LN
 
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I'll bow to our T Girl when it comes to knowledge on Tampa and St Pete. She knows the area well and gives good advice.

Have a great time at the Don!!
LN is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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I need to ask a question about fishing off of the SS skyway. Last time we drove over, it was about dusk, and all these people were fishing on the East side of the bridge with these incredibly long nets that they dipped down into the water from the bridge. It's been bugging me ever since.
Anyone know what they were trying to catch?
hibiscushouse is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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To clarify, they were long nets on a pole, not cast nets.
hibiscushouse is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 06:46 PM
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hibiscushouse,

I asked my resident fishermen (dh and sons) and they are stumped. They didn't think they could be trolling for bait, but said it's a possibility. They want me to let them know if someone else can answer!
Jayne11159 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 07:07 PM
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Discussed it with my DH and we wondered if it was perhaps blue crabs up along side the pilings??? :-?
hibiscushouse is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 08:27 PM
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BTW Pete,

Just thought of one of my favs... head to the Hurricane in Pass a Grille for an outside table at sunset (VERY casual) and try the grouper sandwich... mmmmmmmm my mouth is watering!

Also, the old "Frenchy's" in Clearwater Beach (not the one on the beach, but in the old section of town) for a grouper reuben... ooohhhhhhhh the grouper in Florida...
makai1 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 08:58 PM
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If you want to find some really nice shells, take the shuttle to Shell Island.
It leaves hourly from the Pass a Grille beach. It is best to take the first one at 10:00AM for the best choice of shells.

They have a web site. Try googling it if you are interested.
Laurie is offline  
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