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St. Petersburg Museum of History

Innovative displays and numerous artifacts keep local history alive and point out the influence this city has had on commercial aviation.

St. Petersburg was founded in the late 19th century. In just a few centuries, much has happened on the Pinellas Peninsula, and this is reflected in the St. Petersburg Museum of History’s collections. The space itself may be small, but there are over 30,000 artifacts to be viewed. This is an ideal place to explore early on during your St. Petersburg vacation to learn about the local background before seeing the sights.

A permanent display explores the roots of St. Petersburg. Through historic photos and artifacts you’ll learn how the area was once inhabited by Native Americans. The city was co-founded by John C. Williams from Detroit and Peter Demens, a Russian. The two men set out to lay the foundations and railway connection of modern-day St. Pete. Keep an eye out for the Tocobaga-crafted canoe, and the replica parlor car from the Orange Belt Railway.

The museum also informs visitors about St. Petersburg’s major achievements in the history of the United States. You’ll learn, for example, how the city was home to one of the world’s first airlines, Benoist Airlines. It was the first aviation company that didn’t have a fleet of Zeppelins, but instead used winged aircraft. Stare up at a full-size working replica of the Benoist Airboat, the museum’s star attraction.

St. Petersburg Museum of History has constantly changing exhibitions, which often focus on St. Petersburg itself, but also touch on Florida and the wider world. Check the museum’s website to find out what’s on during your visit.

Aside from exhibitions, there are a number of events to keep visitors engaged. A regular slot, “Happy Hour with the Historian,” invites people in for wine, food and discussion with a local historian. It’s a great way to learn more and get to know the locals. The admission fee is a suggested donation and there is a cash bar. Check the museum’s website for a schedule of topics and dates.

St. Petersburg Museum of History charges an admission fee. It is closed on Mondays and Sunday mornings. The museum overlooks the marina in a building that was once an aquarium, located just east of Bay Shore Drive on a spit in Tampa Bay. There is free parking behind the museum. The Downtown Looper trolley stops at the museum and other major attractions in central St. Petersburg.


Guide to Exploring around St. Petersburg Museum of History


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Hyatt Place St. Petersburg / Downtown $135
Hyatt Place St. Petersburg / Downtown

Hyatt Place St. Petersburg / Downtown

25 2nd Street North, St. Petersburg, FL
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, this hotel is steps from The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art and Jannus Live. Salvador Dali Museum and Mahaffey Theater are also within 15 minutes.

    Hollander Boutique Hotel $80
    Hollander Boutique Hotel

    Hollander Boutique Hotel

    421 4th Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of The Coliseum and Jannus Live. Vinoy Park and Tropicana Field are also within 1 mi (2 km).

      The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club $199
      The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

      The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

      501 5th Ave Ne, St. Petersburg, FL
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Historic Old Northeast, this spa resort is within a 10-minute walk of Chihuly Collection and Tampa Bay. Vinoy Park and Jannus Live are also within 15 minutes.

        Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
        Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront

        Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront

        333 1st St S, St. Petersburg, FL
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Al Lang Stadium and Mahaffey Theater. University of South Florida-St. Petersburg and Demens Landing Park are also within 10 minutes.

          Ponce De Leon Hotel $80
          Ponce De Leon Hotel

          Ponce De Leon Hotel

          95 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Museum of Fine Arts, Salvador Dali Museum, and Palladium Theater. University of South Florida-St. Petersburg and Vinoy Park are also within 1 mi (2 km).

            The Birchwood $198
            The Birchwood

            The Birchwood

            340 Beach Dr Ne, St. Petersburg, FL
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, this hotel is steps from Chihuly Collection and Museum of Fine Arts. St. Petersburg Museum of History and Sundial St. Pete are also within 10 minutes.

              Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg/Downtown $139
              Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg/Downtown

              Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg/Downtown

              80 Beach Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL
                 
                2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in the entertainment district, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Jannus Live, Sundial St. Pete, and Museum of Fine Arts. Al Lang Stadium and Chihuly Collection are also within 10 minutes.

                Avalon Hotel Downtown St. Petersburg $76
                Avalon Hotel Downtown St. Petersburg

                Avalon Hotel Downtown St. Petersburg

                443 4th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL
                   
                  2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of The Coliseum and Jannus Live. Vinoy Park and Tropicana Field are also within 1 mi (2 km).