Sunning itself on a peninsulabetween Florida’s Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico is the city of St Petersburg.
In the 1960s St Peteregistered 768 consecutive days of sunshine, setting a world record it still maintains today, earning it the nickname, Sunshine City.
St Pete has long been viewed as a destination for retirees dreaming of warmer tomorrows.
But more recently, a younger crew has moved in, intent on getting their share of sunshine, today.
A fresh, creative energyis making its mark all over St Pete, especially on the city’s walls.
St Pete’s downtown has fast becomeone of the world’s mural hot spots.
Download the interactive map, join a guided art walk, or just keep turning cornersand let the artwork take you by surprise.
Soaking up all that color underthe Florida sun can be thirsty work, but luckily there’s a placeto rehydrate around every corner.
Pull up a seat at one of St Pete’s many watering holes, and share refreshing ales and conversationwith fellow beer lovers.
And then, keep walking, because there are over70 incredible murals to discover.
And if you see a piece you love, just type in the tag to see even moreof the artist’s work online.
Once you’ve had your mind bent by St Pete’s murals, head inside, to the Dali Museum, and explore the surreal worksby one of the greatest mind-benders of all time.
At the Chihuly Collection, have your mind prised open a little more by the American godfather of glass sculpture.
Then head on over to theMorean Arts Center and feel the heat as master blowers push thiscenturies-old craft toward new horizons.
St Petersburg has becomesomething of a center for glass sculpture since this art formexploded onto the scene in the 1960s.
At the Imagine Museum, experience the newest waveof glass expression from around the globe.
If you like your art a little more old school, check out the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses treasures spanning 5000 years.
Or step from Central Avenue into thesandstone canyon of The James Museum, which brings the Old West to the East Coast.
Of course, Florida’s greatest creator is the sun, whose warm rays bring outnot just the best in us, but in nature too.
A short walk north fromSt Pete’s downtown are the Sunken Gardens, one of Florida’s horticultural jewels.
While just a fifteen-minute drivefurther north is Sawgrass Park, where a mile-long boardwalk crosses one of the largest Maple Swamps on the Gulf Coast.
But leave your towel in the car, this is no place for swimming! When it is time to hit the water, you don’t have to travel far.
St Pete’s Gulf Coast is paralleled by a30-mile chain of sandy barrier islands, each connected to the mainland by bridges.
And it’s here, just a ten-mile ridefrom downtown St Petersburg, that you’ll find some of the best beaches in America.
Cool off in the waters of St Pete’s Beach, whose pure sands are caressedby the same tides as Cancun and Havana.
For something quieter, head south to Fort De Soto Park, a nature sanctuary spread across five island keys.
Explore the ramparts of the 100-year-old fort, where according to historians, the fiercest foes the garrisons ever facedwere the resident mosquitoes! Follow St Pete’s barrier islands north, to Clearwater, whose warm shallow waters and kid-friendly vibes have long made it a favourite with families.
Stop by the Clearwater Aquarium, and meet folks dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured marine reptiles and mammals.
Then head to the marina and sign up for a tour to see these incredible sea creatures in the wild.
But there’s more to Clearwaterthan just its brilliant clear water, the city itself offers plenty of ways to cool your heels when you need a break from the hot sands.
Things are even more chilled-outright next door, in the city of Dunedin.
With an absence of chain storesand an abundance of bike trails, the living here is easy, especially when a cool alefrom Florida’s oldest microbrewery is close at hand.
Whether it’s a sharing a craft beer with locals, leaving your footstepson the ever-changing canvas of the sands, or watching the sun splashits evening mural across the sky, St Petersburg and its neighbourshave mastered the art of living.
And that, as we all know, is the best art of all.