St Pete Is About to Open a Giant Waterfront Playground

St Pete Pier
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St Petersburg, Florida got its first pier in the late 1800’s. For a long time, the St. Pete Pier consisted of a long road and an inverted building. Inside you could visit restaurants and a shop or two.  It was the kind of place that attracted tourists while residents mostly visited the pier to entertain visitors.  

Bids to redo the pier started about 10 years ago. The final rendition will cover 26 acres and cost $80 million. This makes it the largest waterfront park in the Southeast.  

Vendors & Visuals

The St Pete Pier will feature 17 local vendor booths, shaded by solar panels, offering a variety of local products made in “The Burg”. 

The Pier will also feature a beautiful park, chocked full of greenery, oceanside seating and a stage for free entertainment events.

Bending Arc, an aerial art installation, will waft in the breeze above the structure. This fantastic feast for the eyes moves organically in the wind, constantly changing shape.  

“I think this is going to be our new Millennial Park, our new Central Park. and we’re a city of parks,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “This new iteration is completely different … from the moment you make that turn off of Bayshore into the pier district, you’re gonna have different experiences that take you along the way before you ever get to the pier head itself.”

St Pete Pier
The newSt Pete Pier makes a big statement on the Gulf Coast. Image courtesy of St Pete Pier

Food & Entertainment

The St Pete Pier will showcase two primary restaurants, a pavilion for hot dogs and burgers, and a station for snacks. A tiki bar nestled on the roof promises views of burgeoning downtown unrivaled anywhere.  

Kids will be psyched about the new LED musical splash pad and a state of the art playground.  

Mayor Kriseman said it’s “unlike any playground that I’ve seen in the state of Florida,” 

There’s also an open-air Wet Classroom and discovery center for anyone who wants to learn more about local ecology.  

Kriseman explained the renewed focus on local resources at the new pier.  “That was one of the things that was really important to us in this new pier iteration, we wanted something that was not only for our tourists who are coming to visit us, but we wanted locals and families to really take advantage of this district. That wasn’t something we’ve ever really seen before; as active and thriving as our downtown is, if you’ve got young kids or grandkids there hasn’t been as much for them to do. There will be now.”

Economic Impact

The St Pete Pier is expected to draw 1.5 million visitors every year, five times more than ever before.  Weekend festivals and concerts will pull in much of the traffic and most events will be free of charge. “Whether you have $5 of $500,000 you can go out there and enjoy it; if you don’t want to spend any money, you don’t have to,” Kriseman said. “It’s like, wind me up and let me go, here! We’re incredibly excited about this pier.”

The St Pete Pier expects to be ready for visitors late Spring in 2020

Read more about the Pier’s opening on Thrillist.

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