Signature City St. Petersburg

From the Salvador Dalí Museum to the collections of glass and clay art, from historic architecture to the beautiful Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg delights the eye and soul.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 20429RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Beautiful Tampa Bay, colorful Florida landscapes and buildings, world class museums and galleries and a bustling cultural scene beckon you to this lively city. Learn about the city’s history which began before Spanish Conquistador, Panfilo de Narvaez landed in 1528. Visit a historic hotel that offers a feast to the eyes as well as the palate and tells of the city’s boom, bust and renaissance through its own history. Visit the magnificent Salvador Dalí Museum, a beacon of the downtown arts scene, and enjoy public art, that has earned St. Pete a reputation as one of the best arts and cultural communities in the country. Encounter a botanical paradise at Sunken Gardens and stroll in the third-largest downtown waterfront park in North America, behind only Chicago and Vancouver. Gain a new appreciation for St. Pete’s rich history and culture.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one mile daily.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • An expert in historic preservation leads a motor coach introduction that tells the city’s unique story.
  • At The Dali Museum a docent enlightens you both about the breathtaking building and the largest collection of the surrealist’s work outside Spain.
  • Learn about Studio Art Glass, then visit the beautiful Chihuly Collection.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Mary Falwell
Born in New York City, Group Leader Mary Falwell grew up in a suburb of Boston as the oldest of 11 children. In 2008, she retired from her position as vice president of marketing personal lines for Travelers Insurance, culminating her 30-year career in the insurance industry. Mary divides her year by living in Chatham, Mass. and St. Petersburg, Florida, where she enjoys sharing her love for the region with Road Scholar participants.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Mary Falwell
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida
by Klinkenberg, Jeff
Florida is a civilized place with eighteen million residents and all of the modern amenities one might expect: fine universities, art museums, world-class restaurants, and luxury accommodations. It is also home to panthers, bears, rattlesnakes, and alligators. In this collection of essays about Florida culture—the things that make Florida “Florida”— Jeff Klinkenberg sets his sights on the contradictions that comprise the Sunshine State. With a keen eye for detail and a lyrical style, Klinkenberg takes us meandering through the swamps and back roads of Florida, stopping to acquaint us with the curious and kooky characters he meets along the way. These sometimes hilarious, sometimes reminiscent stories are as strange and mesmerizing as the people inhabiting this wacky peninsula. Klinkenberg is a journalist who conveys a deep fondness for his state and the curiosity behind his ongoing explorations in each story. Who else would engage a symphony orchestra tuba player to determine if bull gators will thunderously bellow back in a low B-flat during mating season (they do, but they only respond to that pitch). Readers will join Klinkenberg as he roams through the twisted roots of past and present, describing a beautifully swampy place that is becoming increasingly endangered. The traditional ways of the scallop shuckers, moss weavers, and cane grinders in his stories are now threatened by corporate greed, environmental degradation, and mass construction. From fishing camps and country stores to museums and libraries, Klinkenberg is forever unearthing the magic that makes Florida a place worth celebrating. Jeff Klinkenberg grew up in Miami, began working in newspapers at age sixteen, and has been writing for the Tampa Bay Times since 1977. He is a two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, the highest honor given by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors.
Moon Tampa & St. Petersburg
by Reiley, Laura and Bob Jenkins
Tampa resident Laura Reiley and St. Petersburg resident Bob Jenkins offer their unique perspectives on Tampa and St. Petersburg, from exploring the Salvador Dali Museum to enjoying the quirky Gasparilla Pirate Fest. They include trip strategies for a variety of travelers, such as a "Nature Lovers Tour" and "Tampa Sports," covering the Yankees spring training. Including expert advice on the Museum of Science and Industry, Busch Gardens, and nightlife in historic Ybor City, Moon Tampa & St. Petersburg gives travelers the tools they need to create a more personal and memorable experience.
St. Petersburg (Then and Now)
by O'Brien, Sara
As the "Sunshine City" of St. Petersburg forges onward with new and exciting developments, a legacy of landmarks still remains. The founding fathers envisioned St. Petersburg as a city with great potential for progress and growth. Over the past century, St. Petersburg has far exceeded these vast expectations.
VOices of America/St. Petersburg: An Oral History
by Hartzell, Scott T.
Voices of America: St. Petersburg is peppered with anecdotes, documented histories, and journalistic accounts. Revealed inside is the impact that Swedish immigrant Josef Henschen had in birthing and naming the city. Readers will experience the coming of the Orange Belt Railroad and delve into the lives of pioneers, including postmaster Roy Hanna, cowboy Jay Starkey, and mayor and builder A.C. Pheil. They will travel to the day the 1921 hurricane struck and revel in the antics of mayors Noel Mitchell and Frank Fortune Pulver. Historic photographs, including scenes from Williams Park and the Princess Martha Hotel, abound in this book. C. Perry Snell's rise as a local developer is documented. George Gandy's bridge, once the nation's largest over-water span, is featured, as is the Coliseum, once the nation's most celebrated dance hall. Recognized also is the valor of the Rev. Enoch Davis and Chester James Sr., local civil rights leaders.
St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950
by Arsneault, Raymond
St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950 chronicles the early history of St. Petersburg and the lower Pinellas Peninsula. From the precolumbian culture of the Tocobaga mound-builders to the arrival of the railroad, from the St. Petersburg-Havana yacht races to the tin-can tourists to the first stirrings of the Sunbelt phenomenon following World War II, Raymond Arsenault's history presents a rich tapestry of the area. A forerunner of the modern Sunbelt city, early St. Petersburg successfully mixed southern and northern cultures and used vigorous public relations and advertising to promote itself. By the mid-20th century, the "Sunshine City" had developed into one of the most important resort communities in the United States, a self-styled subtropical playground that stood tantalizingly apart from the mainstream of urban America. Before the age of expressways, heat pumps, fast-food restaurants, and suburban shopping malls, local life revolved around institutions and traditions long associated with the Florida Dream--the centuries-old promise of perpetual warmth, health, comfort, and leisure. Arsenault describes these institutions and many of the personalities that enlivened them--Doc Webb, William Straub, Al Lang, Frank Davis, Handsome Jack Taylor, Katherine Bell Tippetts, and others, whose activities contributed to the distinctive and colorful history of St. Petersburg. Raymond Arsenault is professor of history at the University of South Florida. He is the author of The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics and the editor of Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights.
The Making of St. Petersburg
by Michaels, Will
The Making of St. Petersburg captures the character of this bay city through the telling of significant events, from the Spanish clash with indigenous peoples to the creation of the downtown waterfront parks and grand hotels. Take a journey with local historian Will Michaels as he chronicles St. Petersburg’s storied history, including the world’s first airline, the birth of Pinellas County and the good old American pastime, Major League Baseball. The people and events in this work paint a beautiful portrait of a coastal Florida city and reveal St. Petersburg’s sense of place.
Mangroves to Major League: A Timeline of St. Petersburg, Florida
by Baker, Rick
MANGROVES TO MAJOR LEAGUE provides readers with insights on the ten eras of the country's newest major league city, and provides detailed timelines linking local events to important events in Florida, United States and world history. Includes hundreds of photographs, charts and maps, many never published before.
Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition
by de Vaca, Alvar Nunez Cabeza
This riveting true story is the first major narrative detailing the exploration of North America by Spanish conquistadors (1528-1536). The author, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, was a fortune-seeking Spanish nobleman and the treasurer of an expedition sent to claim for Spain a vast area of today's southern United States. In simple, straightforward prose, Cabeza de Vaca chronicles the nine-year odyssey endured by the men after a shipwreck forced them to make a westward journey on foot from present-day Florida through Louisiana and Texas into California. In thirty-eight brief chapters, Cabeza de Vaca describes the scores of natural and human obstacles they encountered as they made their way across an unknown land. Cabeza de Vaca's gripping account offers a trove of ethnographic information, including descriptions and interpretations of native cultures, making it a powerful precursor to modern anthropology.
St. Petersburg, Florida: Past and Present
by Deese, Alma Wynelle
As early as 1905, the city of St. Petersburg began creating postcards to attract not only tourists, but also business-minded individuals seeking an opportunity to take part in the area's growth. Depicting beloved beaches and other sources of natural beauty, as well as a number of local businesses, these surviving postcards offer a glimpse of the Sunshine City in a golden age that is often forgotten.
Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida
by Mormino, Gary
Florida is a story of astonishing growth, a state swelling from 500,000 residents at the outset of the 20th century to some 16 million at the end. As recently as mid-century, on the eve of Pearl Harbor, Florida was the smallest state in the South. At the dawn of the millennium, it is the fourth largest in the country, a megastate that was among those introducing new words into the American vernacular: space coast, climate control, growth management, retirement community, theme park, edge cities, shopping mall, boomburbs, beach renourishment, Interstate, and Internet. Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams attempts to understand the firestorm of change that erupted into modern Florida by examining the great social, cultural, and economic forces driving its transformation. Gary Mormino ranges far and wide across the landscape and boundaries of a place that is at once America's southernmost state and the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean. From the capital, Tallahassee--a day's walk from the Georgia border--to Miami--a city distant but tantalizingly close to Cuba and Haiti--Mormino traces the themes of Florida's transformation: the echoes of old Dixie and a vanishing Florida; land booms and tourist empires; revolutions in agriculture, technology, and demographics; the seductions of the beach and the dynamics of a graying population; and the enduring but changing meanings of a dreamstate. Beneath the iconography of popular culture is revealed a complex and complicated social framework that reflects a dizzying passage from New Spain to Old South, New South to Sunbelt.

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