Art, history, science + arts
St. Petersburg has been ranked No. 1 on the list of Top 25 Arts Destinations for mid-size U.S. cities, for the third year in a row by AmericanStyle Magazine. In the ranking, St. Petersburg topped the list ahead of cities including Savannah, New Orleans and Charleston. So if you're interested in soaking up some culture on your beach vacation, check out one of the many museums St. Petersburg has to offer.
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Chihuly Gallery at the Morean Arts Center - The Gallery houses a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly’s glass, including many pieces created specifically for the Gallery. In addition to the Chihuly Gallery, Morean Arts Center also presents an extensive program of rotating exhibits, art classes and an emerging artist showcase that allows visitors to interact with emerging talent. St. Petersburg, 20 minutes. 727.822.7872
The Dalí Museum – The world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of Salvador Dali's works outside of Spain, including 2,140 paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures. In January 2011, the globally recognized New Dali opened its doors to a brand new museum space, which includes two main galleries, an avant-garden cafe, store, theater, and student gallery. Twice the size of the previous museum, the new building allows for 50% more gallery space. The museum's exterior is itself a work of art, featuring more than 900 triangular-shaped glass panels. This geodesic glass structure - nicknamed the "Glass Enigma" - is the only structure of its kind in North America and has been deemed "one of the top buildings you have to see before you die" in AOL Travel News. Venue rental facilities for up to 775 available. Allow 2-3 hours for art appreciation, orientation film and guided tours, free with admission. Audio guides and wall test also available. St. Petersburg, 20 minutes. 727.823.3767 or www.thedali.org. If you're ready to soak up some sun and culture, be sure to check out the Dali for a Day Package.
Florida Holocaust Museum – The fourth largest Holocaust museum in the country contains a collection of art, photographs and historical artifacts, which include the infamous Auschwitz Boxcar. Visitors may experience an interactive multimedia exhibit, visit the Library and Resource Center or reflect in the Meditation Court. St. Petersburg, 20 minutes. 727.820.0100
Great Explorations Children’s Museum – This hands-on museum with entertaining and challenging exhibits is equally as fun for kids and adults. Exhibits that invite visitors participation include the “Fit4allkidsville,” “Animation Station,” “Orange Grove” and various other touring exhibits. Group facilities for up to 1,000 available. Allow two hours to tour the museum. St. Petersburg, 20 minutes. 727.821.8992
Gulf Beaches Historical Museum – Collections and exhibits outlining the history of the Gulf Coast barrier islands. The museum features photographs from 1901 to the present, a timeline dating back to 1500 and special early pioneer displays. Limited days and hours. Phone ahead for current schedule. Pass-a-Grille, 5 minutes. 727.552.1610
Heritage Village – Part of Pinewood Cultural Center, a 21-acre county historical park featuring a museum, botanical garden and more than 28 historical structures. Largo, 25 minutes.727.582.2123
Museum of Fine Arts – Well known for its collection of French Impressionist paintings, this museum also houses outstanding holdings of ancient, Asian, pre-Columbian and American art as well as two interior gardens. The museum has one of the largest photography collections in Florida. Group facilities for up to 400 available. St. Petersburg, 20 minutes. 727.896.2667
Museum of History – Houses a full-scale replica of the Benoist aircraft that made the nation’s first scheduled commercial flight in 1914, plus many artifacts from area history, including pre-Columbian, early Spanish, pioneer, Victorian and war items. Allow 1-2 hours for the museum. St. Petersburg, 20 minutes. 727.894.1052
Museum of Science and Industry – Largest science center in the southeast and home of an IMAX domed theater. Over 450 hands-on activities, planetarium, space simulator, hurricane chamber and butterfly garden. Allow 4 hours (IMAX tickets additional). Tampa, 45 minutes. 813.987.6000
Ringling Museum – The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art contains one of the world’s most important collections of Baroque art as well as Ruben’s “Triumph of the Eucharist” series. Also here is the Circus Museum’s memorabilia collection from “The Greatest Show on Earth,” and Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling residence and one of America’s few private palaces. Sarasota, 45 minutes. 941.359.5700
Tampa Bay History Center – The History Center offers quality exhibits, programs and research as it seeks to preserve and teach the remarkable history of the Tampa Bay area. Gallery exhibits show the geographical, historical and multicultural influences that have shaped the region through the centuries, from 12,000 years ago to the present. Traveling exhibits highlight Florida and regional histories. Group facilities for up to 50 available. Tampa (Channelside), 40 minutes. 813.228.0097
Tampa Museum of Art/Cornelia Corbett Center – The new Tampa Museum of Art has world-class traveling exhibitions, a growing collection of contemporary and classical art, expanded educational programs and access to scenic outdoor events in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Tampa’s Riverwalk. A docent-led tour can be arranged for any group visit. Group facilities available. Tampa, 40 minutes. 813.274.8130
Performing Arts & Entertainment
Progress Energy Center for the Arts - Mahaffey Theater – 2,030-seat concert hall for Florida Orchestra, Broadway and touring performances. Total seating capacity of arena – 8,400. St. Petersburg, 15 minutes. 727.892.5798
Ruth Eckerd Hall – 2,100-seat center for performance by musical and national attractions. Clearwater, 35 minutes. 727.791.7400
The Straz Center for the Performing Arts – One of the finest performing arts centers in the nation and home to Patel Conservatory and Opera Tampa, the center features five distinct theaters, a Rehearsal Hall, beautiful Riverwalk, boutiques, three onsite restaurants and banquet facilities. Tampa, 35 minutes. 813.222.1000
The Coliseum – 33,000-sq. ft. grand ballroom with facilities to accommodate groups of 25 to 2,000. St. Petersburg, 15 minutes. 727.892.5202
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