By Rick & Sandi Griffin & McKenna, on May 7, 2013

Maxing out on St. Petersburg museums

It's hot year-round in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Rick and I agree that one great way to beat the heat is to step inside and check out some of the city's world-class museums

Perhaps my favorite museum: The Morean Arts Center. Here, the Chihuly Collection of glass art is breathtaking and larger than life. Chandeliers and installations hang effortlessly from the walls and ceiling, presenting a truly unique experience. The Azulde Medianoche Chandelier, an imposing piece, appears to cascade from the ceiling. As I stood in awe and took it all in, I couldn’t help but think if Rick were here he would have surely knocked it over.

Viewfinder Tip: Apply sunscreen numerous times a day in Florida; the sun can burn!

Sitting on the waterfront, just a stones throw from the Morean, is the city's oldest museum, the St. Petersburg Museum of History. One of the exhibits here features hundreds of historic photos and artifacts that tell the story of St. Petersburg and lower Pinellas County from Native American settlers through today. Another exhibit revolves around a full-size working replica of the Benoist Airboat, the first commercial airliner. The museum also soon will house the largest private collection of autographed baseballs in the world. This is only fitting since St. Pete has been a Mecca for spring training since the early 1920s. 


Next on my list is the Salvador Dali Museum. The building is a work of art in and of itself; hurricane-proof rectangular walls are 18 inches thick and the geodesic glass bubble is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass. Inside, works from legendary surrealist Salvador Dali include almost 96 oil paintings, a selection of drawings, fine prints, photos, and videos. The Museum Store at this museum has the largest collection of Dali-inspired merchandise in the world. Then there’s Café Gala, an on-site restaurant that serves up a Spanish-themed tapas type menu, traditional pastries, gazpacho, and traditional dishes such as the Tortilla Española. 


The fourth and final museum I'd recommend is the Florida Holocaust Museum. Thought-provoking and even gut wrenching at times I was moved by the stories that emerged through these exhibits.  Aptly named “History, Heritage and Hope,” historical photos, letters, and original artifacts weave together authentically and powerfully the history of the Holocaust. The museum is home to one of the last remaining railroad boxcars, which was used by the Nazis to transport Jews and other prisoners to places like Auschwitz. 


There is so much more to do in St. Petersburg; next time I think I’ll make it a long weekend, and bring comfy shoes.


How do you like to explore a new city when you’re flying solo?