Top Ways to Spend Date Night at the Pier
The St. Pete Pier is the perfect spot for a date night with a difference. Actually, it’s more like an entire collection of spots — and that’s exactly what makes the downtown destination a great option for couples looking for a break from the same old routine. You’re able to combine an array of sights, sounds, tastes and other diversions that are sure to make for a fantastic night out.
The entire Pier offers opportunities for date-nighters, from long-married couples to blind-date adventurers. You can plan an entire itinerary or just let the night unfold. Your date can range from absolutely free to a full-on splurge.
Let us get you started with some pointers on how to make sure your Pier date turns out to be one you won’t soon forget.
Dinner for Two
The St. Pete Pier offers three attractive sit-down dining options that provide distinct culinary experiences. On the fourth floor of the Pier Point building is the park’s destination restaurant, Teak, a casual upscale eatery with unimpeded views of the Bay and the skylines of both St. Petersburg and Tampa. Another option is to grab a cocktail and a light bite at the rooftop bar Pier Teaki. The two restaurants, as well as the more casual Driftwood Cafe downstairs, have the same ownership as St. Pete’s popular Birchwood, a boutique hotel on nearby Beach Drive known for its Birch & Vine restaurant and Canopy rooftop lounge.
Date-nighters looking for a more bustling experience can choose Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, a seafood-focused restaurant named after a character in over 20 Florida-themed novels by Randy Wayne White. Doc Ford’s provides 10,000 square feet of eating, drinking and revelry, although a couple can enjoy a quieter dinner for two if they choose. Like a good mojito? Doc Ford’s is famous for them.
Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro, located by the Pier entrance, features a spacious wrap-around deck with views of the open water, boat-filled marinas and the entire Pier District. The restaurant serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, specializing in fresh seafood, steaks, burgers and pastas. With a full bar, Fresco’s is the perfect place to enjoy sunset happy hour in downtown St. Pete. And afterward, you can take a leisurely stroll along the Pier.
Watch the Sun Go Down
Virtually any place on the Pier is ideal for viewing one of St. Pete’s famous sunsets, whether it’s all the way out on the Pier Point Fishing Deck, along the shaded Coastal Thicket or Walking Waterfront, out by the boat slips, or lounging in an Adirondack chair at various inviting spots. Few sights are more memorable than orangey-pink skies behind St. Pete’s skyline.
Check out a Performance
Entertainment and events take place throughout the Pier grounds, but most of the organized events and festivals happen at the Family Park or the large green space just to the west of Spa Beach. In addition, musicians and other performers — magicians, jugglers and the like — set up throughout the Pier and provide absolutely free entertainment (tips appreciated). Stopping to hear a tune or watch a card trick can certainly add a little something to a date.
Take an Art Walk
Public art offers added delight at various points in the Pier park. Foremost is the signature piece, Bending Arc, by Tampa Bay native Janet Echelman. Couples can stake out a spot and be entranced by her massive billowing net sculpture, which moves with the breeze and has extra dazzle when lit up at night. You can also have a seat in an Adirondack chair right underneath it and be mesmerized by its movements.
But Bending Arc is just the beginning. Nathan Mabry’s Myth (Red Pelican), is a 10-foot-high, origami-style, bright-red depiction of the city’s signature bird. Belgian artist Nick Ervinck’s Olnetopia is a daring abstract bronze sculpture sure to stoke the imagination. Xenobia Bailey’s Morning Stars — 23 feet wide and 7-and-a-half feet tall — is a brilliantly colorful fiber mosaic that’s located on a wall adjacent to the Pelican parking lot. And for a touch of history, there’s the homage to St. Pete as the birthplace of commercial aviation: the World’s First Airline Monument, a life-size sculpture of The Benoist, the biplane that aviator Tony Jannus flew from St. Pete to Tampa on Jan. 1, 1914, with St. Pete mayor Abe Pheil as his first passenger.
Intimate Shopping at Marketplace
The Pier is a terrific place to shop local. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., a section of the main promenade showcases a variety of vendors, making up what’s known as The Marketplace. Small businesses sell their wares in kiosks and under 10’x10’ tents. You’ll find Jamaican hot sauces, cookies, Florida-style hats, soaps, lotions, creams and other cool stuff that you probably can’t buy online. Stroll along easily, stopping to peruse the merchandise. Chat up the vendors, buy a little something to take home — it’s sure to enhance your date.
What better way to conclude a lovely date than a hand-in-hand saunter under the stars? Because the Pier is so walkable, any place will do. But if you want to make the experience a little extra special, head over to Spa Beach, kick off your shoes and feel the sand beneath your feet as the Bay laps gently against the shore. Feel free to take your time and enjoy the moment. After all, is there anything more romantic than an after-sunset stroll?