Last Updated on March 31, 2024

Having a hard time deciding between St Petersburg vs Tampa for your next vacation?  You’re in the right place! 

In this post, we’re going over everything you need to know about St Petersburg and Tampa to help you decide which is better for your next vacation. 

Whether you’re looking for history and nightlife or beaches and bars, let’s take a look at what each of these cities has to offer. 

As a general rule, Tampa is best for travelers looking to explore museums, take advantage of the amusement parks and family-friendly attractions, or catch a sporting event.

St Petersburg is best for visitors who want to lay on the beach, bar hop in a walkable town, and enjoy the watersports and fishing opportunities near the St Pete pier. 



St petersburg and Tampa City skyline

St Petersburg vs Tampa: Which One Is Better For Your Next Vacation?

Tampa and St Petersburg are both great vacation destinations, but which one is better for your next vacation? Tampa is a vibrant city filled with entertainment and nightlife. 

From its iconic Ybor City to the stunning Riverwalk, Tampa offers plenty of activities during the day and night.

Meanwhile, St Pete is known for its rich history, gorgeous beaches, and fishing spots as well as excellent strips of restaurants and bars. 

Additionally, Tampa is known to be more of a touristy spot, with its many attractions and events bringing people in from all over the world.

St Petersburg, on the other hand, is more of a laid-back, local beach hang.  

Overall, for your next vacation, you can’t go wrong with either of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.

Both offer plenty of attractions and activities to explore that will make for a great memory-filled trip no matter which one you choose!

Let’s dive into the nitty gritty of each location. 



Skyline view of Tampa in the Morning

About Tampa

Tampa, Florida is a lively city that captures the essence of a traditional city in the Sunshine State.

The Riverwalk is a must-see for anyone visiting the area, combining waterfront recreation opportunities, historical points of interest, and stunning views. 

Tampa’s nightlife rivals Miami and Fort Lauderdale for entertainment, with a variety of bars and clubs to keep visitors occupied.

Plus, attractions like amusement parks like Busch Gardens or strolling through the aquarium make it a family-friendly destination as well.

To top it off, Tampa is the third most populated city in Florida – if that doesn’t give you a hint of its charms, I don’t know what will! boasts 



view of St. Petersburg Harbor and pier

About St Petersburg

St Petersburg is no exception to the fun and entertainment offered off the gulf coast of Florida.

The downtown area has great walkable nightlife in a congregated area, making it super fun for young adults and singles looking to have a good time on vacation. 

Notably, St Petersburg is a treasure trove for art and history enthusiasts. The stunning Salvador Dali Museum and Museum of Fine Arts feature extensive collections of European and American arts.

For a deeper look into the rich history the city offers, head to St Petersburg Museum of History or the Florida Holocaust Museum showcasing local survivor’s stories. 

St. Petersburg has a chill beach vibe and plenty of waterfront activities like paddleboarding, jet skiing, and fishing.

It’s easy to see why vacationers flock here every year. And one last unique tidbit about St Petersburg, it is one of America’s greenest cities working to run off completely renewable energy! 

With a cool vibe paired with attractions and nightlife, there’s really no better place for your next getaway.



street view in Tampa Downtown

Which City Is Safer?

Tampa and St Petersburg both have a reputation for being safe cities. While St Petersburg has a slightly higher crime rate than Tampa, don’t let that scare you away from choosing the city that most intrigue you. 

There are areas in both that are considered unsafe, as you’ll find in any city. Keep a sharp mind and follow normal safety guidelines as you would anywhere.

Be smart and vigilant – avoid walking around unlit alleys or empty beaches after sunset, and always stick with groups, when possible. 



St Petersburg vs Tampa: Which One Is Better For Nightlife?

If you’re a fan of bar hopping, you’ll definitely want to head to St Petersburg. This beach town has a fantastic selection of bars and is nestled in a conveniently walkable area; no need to worry about the hassle of transportation! 

While Tampa also has some great bars, they’re a bit more spread out throughout the city, which can make it challenging to hit up multiple spots in one night.

So, if you’re looking for a better place to spend the weekend nights out, St Petersburg is the better option.

Aerial view of the beaches in Tampa and St Petersburg

Which One Is Better For Beaches?

If you’re on the hunt for white sand and beautiful Florida waters, St Petersburg is the choice for you.

With over 588 miles of coastline, Pinellas County has some of the most picturesque beaches in Florida.

St Pete’s beaches are filled with show-stopping sunsets and diverse water activities. 

Choose between snorkeling, fishing off the pier or deep into the waters, splashing around on the shoreline, or cruising around for some dolphin spotting.

For an unforgettable beach vacation, there’s no question that St Pete’s beaches are for you! 



St Petersburg vs Tampa: Which Is Better For Couples?

Both cities are great couples vacations, but if you’re in the mood for variety, head to Tampa vs St Petersburg.

Catch a ball at a Tampa Bay Rays game, wander around the historic Ybor City, indulge in dining at the downtown waterfront Riverwalk, or breathe in some fresh air through the trails at Hillsborough River State Park. 

History buffs can take advantage of the many museums offered around this small town, which couples will likely enjoy more than families with small kids. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a simple, laid-back beach vacation, St Pete is the place to be.

With gorgeous beaches like Clearwater and St Pete Beach, plus hidden gems like Weedon Island Preserve and Honeymoon Island State Park, you can bask in the sun and enjoy the cool waters all day long. 

Or, take advantage of the famous St Pete pier (which has been voted the #2 attraction in the US)  for fishing, snorkeling, and watersports.

Then, end your day with a little bar hopping for the perfect romantic escape. 

77th Avenue in Historic area of Ybor City in Tampa Bay

St Pete vs Tampa: Which Is Better For Families?  

When it comes to family-friendly cities, Tampa tops the list in my book. The city has so much to offer in terms of outdoor activities, theme parks, and endless entertainment options.

You can catch exciting live music performances or cheer your favorite team at a sporting event. 

And for those who love the beach, Tampa is conveniently located near St Pete and Clearwater for a quick day trip to soak up some sun.

Plus, with easy access to the airport, you’ll have little transportation logistics to worry about in this family vacation destination. 

Is St Petersburg Or Tampa Cheaper? 

St Petersburg and Tampa are similarly priced, though Tampa has a slightly higher cost of living, on average.

While you may find some premium waterfront dining and hotels in St Petersburg, the cost of visiting each location doesn’t vary too much. 

One big difference is that Tampa is closely located to the airport, so transportation to the city is easier.

However, St Petersburg is a more walkable town, whereas you’ll want a rental car when visiting Tampa.  

Photo credit – Unsplash by Jesse Adair

Sheikra Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Which Is Better For Recreation? 

 If you’re after water recreation, St Petersburg is your go-to spot. You’ll find boating trips, fishing excursions, and of course, plenty of opportunities for beach days. 

On the other hand, Tampa’s plethora of activities cater to a variety of interests. Whether you’re looking to safari through the animal kingdom with a visit to Busch Gardens or get up close and personal with marine life at the local aquarium, Tampa has got you covered. 

Nature lovers and sports fans will also find plenty to enjoy with the many nature walks and sporting events that take place around the city.

So, no matter what kind of recreation you’re after, you’ll find what you’re looking for in St Petersburg or Tampa. 



Photo credit – Unsplash by Marcus Urbenz

St Petersburg Florida pier

Best Things To Do In St Petersburg

  • Get in touch with nature at Fort de Soto Park and the Botanical Sunken Gardens

  • Fish off the new St Petersburg Pier

  • Take in history at the Salvadori Dali Museum or St Petersburg Museum of History 

Best Things To Do In Tampa

  • Catch a sports game

  • Hit the Riverwalk for live music and dinner

  • Kayaking Tour of Shell Key Preserve

  • Visit the Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens 

Icon Park Orlando is a great attraction in Central Florida

Things To Do Near Tampa And St Petersburg

  • Take a day trip to Orlando: visit Disney World or Universal Parks

  • Spend the day on the beach at Clearwater

  • Drive to Everglades National Park

  • Visit the Bok Tower Gardens

  • Have fun at ICON park 

Free Things To Do In Tampa And St Petersburg

  • Stroll through the state parks and reserves 

  • Watch the sunset from Pier 60 

  • Spend the day on any of the beaches in St Pete and Clearwater

  • Walk around Ybor City

Group of people picking out food in a table - Editorial

Which City Is Better For Foodies? 

These two cities offer a diverse and exciting food scene with something for everyone.

Whether you’re in the mood for mouth-watering Italian cuisine, American fusion dishes, or authentic Mediterranean flavors, you won’t be disappointed! 

The biggest difference between dining in St Petersburg vs Tampa is that St Pete is composed of hundreds of restaurants and bars condensed in a pedestrian-friendly, walkable town. 

Best Restaurants in St Petersburg

  • Mio’s Grill and Cafe (Downtown St Pete)

  • Bacchus Wine Bistro 

  • Sola Bistro and Wine Bar (St Pete Beach)

  • Buoys Waterfront Bar and Grill 

Best Restaurants In Tampa 

  • Oak & Ola

  • Amature Works Food Hall on the Riverwalk

  • Chanta

 Photo credit – Wikimedia

large crowd in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida

Which City Has Better Events Throughout The Year? 

Both Tampa and St. Pete have plenty of options to choose from. However, if you’re seeking big-ticket events with large audiences, then Tampa may be your go-to spot. 

With a baseball stadium, football stadium, and convention center, the city is equipped to host a wide variety of events from concerts to sports tournaments. 

St Pete also offers a variety of events, on a slightly smaller scale, from art festivals to music fests.

Ultimately, both cities offer unique event experiences, so it just depends on what you’re looking for.



Aerial view of St Petersburg and Tampa

Final Thoughts: St Petersburg vs Tampa – Which Is Better For Your Next Vacation?

So, St Petersburg vs Tampa, which is better for your next vacation?  Of course, that’s for you to decide.

Hopefully, I’ve given you everything you need to make the best decision and start planning your vacation. 

Tampa is known for its abundance of tourist attractions and a wide variety of activities – perfect for travelers looking to pack their itineraries.

On the other hand, St Petersburg is the ultimate destination for beach lovers looking to relax and explore the rich history through its numerous museums. 

Whether you choose St Petersburg or Tampa, you’re in for a treat.  Attracting visitors from all over the world, neither city will disappoint! 



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Booking a last-minute trip to St Petersburg or Tampa?  

If so, we have you covered.  Here are some top recommended tours and experiences!

Top Tours in St Petersburg

Evening Yacht Cruise (With Optional Dinner In St Petersburg)

St Petersburg Speedboat Adventure (Top Rated Speedboat Sightseeing Tour)

St Petersburg Jungle Prada Site History Tour (Small Group History & Onsite Museum Tour)

Top Tours in Tampa

Tiki Boat – Downtown Tampa – (Authentic Tampa Floating Tiki Bar)

Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise From Tampa – (1.5 Hour Dolphin Watching Cruise)

Tampa History Cruise – (Learn Tampa’s History On A Cruise)

Top Hotels In St Petersburg

Hollander Hotel(Top-Rated Hotel Located In Downtown St Petersburg)

The Birchwood – (Cozy Hotel Near Beach Drive)

Top Hotels In Tampa

Courtyard By Marriott Tampa – (Budget To Mid-Range Stay In Tampa)

AC Hotel By Marriott Tampa Airport – (Top Rated Hotel Near Tampa Airport)

 Looking To Get Around In St Petersburg or Tampa

Check out rental car rates here! 🚗



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