A Day Trip in St Petersburg Florida

Dali Museum at St Petersburg FL

It was Veteran’s Day weekend, and Peter had the day off that Friday. I didn’t have a day off so what’s a better compromise than agreeing to travel – sort of. We decided to go to Sarasota, where Peter’s parents are, so he can enjoy the long weekend while I worked from home. During the weekend, we had to decide where to go. Originally we had planned to go to Tarpon Springs, Florida, but on Friday night, I saw a great deal on Groupon for several attractions in St Petersburg, Florida!

Here’s what we did on a day trip in St Petersburg Florida

The logistics

St Petersburg is around a 45 minute drive north from Sarasota – and is a quick and convenient drive from Tampa. Driving up north from Sarasota is quite scenic – you actually go through the Sunshine Skyway (a toll road, $1.25 per vehicle), and you see the water on both sides and fishing piers. I read a few pages of my book when we were on I-75 but I quickly put it down as soon as we exited to I-275.

Melting Clock Bench - Dali Museum
Melting Clock Bench – Dali Museum

Where we went

Thanks to Groupon, we quickly plotted two attractions for the day. For those of you who love to travel, always check Groupon deals – you’ll never know what you’ll find. If you’re new to the site, look for a coupon code that gives you 25% off or a certain dollar denomination off and you can get a bigger discount! Sign up for Groupon here!

Our deals took us to:

The Dali Museum

A genius painting by Dali
A genius painting by Dali – What do you see in this painting?

Pretty much the most famous tourist site in St Petersburg, this museum is full of Dali paintings that were acquired by just one family. This is the biggest Dali collection outside of Spain, which is a pretty impressive feat. The ticket costs $24 normally, but with Groupon, we managed to get it for $18. Not so bad. Note that you’ll have to pay for parking. Instead of parking at the Dali compound (it costs $10), go to the metered parking spots near the park instead. It costs $1 an hour – which can save you up to 70% compared to the normal parking spot!

Anyway, once inside, do take the guided docent tour. It is free – and you’ll get to know more about the paintings than if you just walk randomly through the museum. There is a free audio guide as well that you can use, but Peter and I aren’t really fans of that. We tend to zone out and forget most of the information in there.

The gift shop is big, but it is quite pricey. Luckily I found a Disney magnet for $2, so I was a happy camper. There is also a small garden with the biggest mustache in the world, as well as  a wishing tree and a bench featuring a melting clock.

While the most famous Dali painting is not in St Petersburg (The Melting Clocks is in the MoMa in New York City), the twin painting of it is located in St Petersburg. You’ll also see how Dali’s style actually refined itself over the years.

Sunken Gardens Minions
Sunken Gardens Minions

Sunken Gardens

After the Dali museum, we headed for lunch at the Outback Steakhouse, which is just across the street from the Sunken Gardens. We opted to go to the Sunken Gardens next because there was another deal from Groupon! Normal price to go in is $10 per person, but we got entrance for two for $9.60.

The Sunken Gardens is considered a roadside attraction, and one of the oldest ones at that! The site used to be a lake that was below sea level, which was drained and the tropical plants have been planted in by its previous owner. Now, the plants remained and they included other bird species and even turtles in the attraction.

The plants reminded me a bit of home (the Philippines) – and one tree caught the eye of Peter and his brother – it was a smooth barked tree that we saw a lot at home and has a few different colors in its bark.

My favorite part was seeing the alligator snapping turtle at the lower pond and also the birds – there were flamingos, kookaburras, parrots, macaws, and a cockatoo. The flamingos were so fun to watch – hearing them make their noises and flying about!

While at the Sunken Gardens, we came across an information shelf which had plenty of flyers about where else to go. Since we finished around 4:30PM, we were looking for one more thing to do before heading back to Sarasota by nightfall.

Haslams Bookstore Archie Comics Haul
Haslams Bookstore Archie Comics Haul

Haslam’s Book Store

Their flyer says it’s the largest bookstore in Florida with over 300,000 new and used books and they’re probably right! There are tons of books – shelves upon shelves of them. I got too overwhelmed looking for titles to bring home that I forgot to take photos of the inside and the outside of the store! It is a locally owned business, and the people are friendly. The shelves are organized by genre, so it’s easier for you to look for the book you want.

While they don’t have the non-fiction and travel books that I was looking for, I found a thousand page Archie comic – which I promptly bought. I know that if I bought it online, it would probably have been cheaper but buying books from independent bookstores as souvenirs has become a sort of tradition for me. You get the thrill of looking for something on the shelves, instead of browsing through various pages online and clicking buy, and it arrives in a package on your doorstep a few days later.

 Dali Museum at St Petersburg FL

Dali Museum at St Petersburg FL

A fun-filled weekend

Weekends should not be boring – through the use of coupons and a little bit of research online, you can make your supposedly boring weekend into a productive and fun one!

While we missed out on the St John’s Town Center tree lighting back in Jacksonville and Y’all fest in Charleston, we definitely made up for it by going to St Petersburg.

Below are our costs if you are interested in replicating our trip too:

Activity Cash Paid Comments
Tolls $2.50 $1.25 per way
Dali Museum Parking $10 We could've parked at the metered lots for $1/hour
Dali Museum $18 per person
$36 for two people
Groupon deal
Dali Museum Magnet $2.05 Also a souvenir
Lunch at Outback Steakhouse $34 for two people
Sunken Garden $9.60 for two people Groupon deal
Book from Haslam's Book Store $16.04 Souvenir
Total (without the Haslam's Book which could have been skipped) $99.65 for two people
(around $50 per person)
*We did not include gas, toll & Dali Museum parking in the totals: we paid for Peter's brother's Dali Ticket to offset instead.

So for the total cost of around $50 per person this will be a great day trip to do. You’ll spend almost as much as watching a movie in the theater, and having lunch and dessert/coffee at your local joint. Oh, and you get to see a new place too for almost the same price as those things you normally do!


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