Retiring in St. Pete- The “Sunshine City”

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So you’ve dedicated your life to a career, a family and success. Now it is finally time to reap the rewards of all that hard work. Where to spend your golden years is the BIG QUESTION! Have you considered St. Pete, Fl? The sunshine city, as it is often referred to, because of its average 361 days a year of sunshine, is a truly over-looked gem. According to WalletHub, St. Pete came in No. 11 as one of the best places in the United States to retire. In this study, they looked at affordability and things to do, and found St. Pete budget friendly and brimming with a wealth of opportunities to stay active and involved.

No matter what your tastes, or pace of life, the Sunshine City has a little something for literally everybody. In this article, I’ll try to highlight a myriad of features that you will find here, sure to appeal to everyone from the cultural sophisticate to the active adventurer.

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For those seeking art, culture and history let’s start with a brief overview of St. Pete’s rich history. St. Petersburg, Florida was founded in 1888 by John C Williams. As a part of a coin toss bet, Peter Demens, the winner, named the land after Saint Petersburg, Russia. In 1916, Mayor Al Lang, held a town hall where it was decided to implement the green benches that St. Petersburg is known for. More than 7,000 benches were produced and St. Pete was called the “City of Green Benches”, which were meant to symbolize the city’s hospitality. Although these iconic benches have mostly disappeared, they have been reinstalled in some areas and If you wander through the city you will find relics of these benches in the names of businesses such as Green Bench Brewing Co. and Green Bench Flowers.

 

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If you love a good story and delving into the reminiscing’s of the past, then you won’t want to pass up checking out Friday night at the Shuffleboard Courts. In my preconceived ideas of shuffle board (if I ever even bothered to THINK about shuffleboard ), I envisioned a snail-paced puttering, around a long boring court with lots of walkers and canes littering the sidelines. This is absolutely opposite of what the St Petersburg Shuffleboard Club offers! Construction on the courts began in the mid 1920’s and it is the oldest club of its kind in the world. Every Friday night from 7p.m. to 11 p.m. they have a free night of shuffleboard. With twinkle lights over- head, 70-plus shuffleboard courts (once the backdrop for the movie Cocoon), bring your own beer and picnic environment; this weekly event draws college-age friends, couples on date-night, young families, bungalow-dwelling neighbors and octogenarians alike. It is such a vibrant and unique experience that even the most skeptical will likely be charmed.

 

 

For the culturally savvy, St. Pete offers world renowned museums that rank up there with major metropolitan cities such as New York and Paris. With the Dali Museum, the Dave Chihuly Museum, The Morean Art Center and more, your artistic and cultural leanings are sure to be more than satisfied.

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The Dali Museum (Pictured above) This awe-inspiring building that houses more than 2,000 works of art in 20,000 square feet of space, holds its own in the world of top museums. The building was designed by high-profile architect Yann Weymouth (who worked with I.M. Pei on the Louvre’s glass pyramid). Outside of Europe this is the largest collection of Dali’s works.

 

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The Chihuly Collection (Pictured Above)

The Chihuly Collection is a stunning collection of the world-famous artist Dave Chihuly. Dave is considered the pioneer of the studio glass movement and his work is displayed from Montreal and San Francisco to Jerusalem and Venice. The lucky residents of the Sunshine City are privy to his work in our back yard!

 

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The Morean Art Center (Pictured Above)

The Morean Art Center is located in the heart of St. Pete and is a staunch supporter of the large art community that calls St. Pete home. With roots dating back to 1917, as the Art Club of St. Petersburg, this center focuses on innovative and community-oriented approaches to art. With glass blowing classes, clay, painting and more; everybody’s inner artist can find an outlet here. The building itself is also a renovated space at the Historic Train Station, which only adds to its appeal and charm.

While I have only touched on a few of our cities cultural highlights, you will want to look into the Holocaust Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Great Explorations- Children’s Museum and Florida International Museum to name a few.

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Once a year St. Pete hosts a free museum day and 20 museums across the bay offer free admission for local residents. The festival like atmosphere is a sure-fire way to have fun on a budget. You will also want to take advantage of The Sunshine City St. Petersburg Trolley! The fare is only $0.50 ($0.25 for seniors!) and runs all through central St. Pete from 10 am to 5 pm daily. The drivers of these charming trolleys are incredibly knowledgeable and you can relax and learn while you get to your next destination.

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For the sports fanatic, St. Pete hasn’t forgotten you. The St. Pete/Clearwater area has been hosting Baseball Spring Training since 1914 and hosts such teams as the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin and the New York Yankees in Tampa. (Not to be out done 9 other big league teams play their spring games within a 2 hour drive of St. Pete: Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista), Boston Red Sox (Fort Myers), Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota), Detroit Tigers (Lakeland), Houston Astros (Kissimmee), Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers), Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte), New York Yankees (Tampa) and Pittsburgh Pirates (Brandenton).

Baseball isn’t the only sport you can catch here in St. Pete (though certainly it is one of the most beloved). With our world famous sports facility; Tropicana Field; St Pete has been home to the St. Petersburg Bowl since 2008. The St. Petersburg Bowl is an annual postseason football bowl game.

If music and shows are more in line with your interests, then you can move into the 400 block of First Street South and you will find The Mahaffey Theater. In 2004 this building was put through a $20 million dollar renovation and the results are stunning. It has housed everything from Political Primary Debates, to the Florida Orchestra and the Miss Florida Pageant. There is always something to do at this elegant venue!

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While the Mahaffey is elegant and posh, some may crave a more intimate venue with a laid-back ambiance. Janus Live would be that in a nutshell. This is the “oldest concert venue in Florida” and was built around the original location and the building that was the Hotel Detroit. Janus Live was names after the aviator, Tony Jannus, who piloted the Benois Model 14 for the first commercial, heavier-than-air flight, that flew from St. Pete to Tampa on January 1st, 1914. This site has seen Jim Morrison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth and Will Rogers to name a few. You certainly will have to catch a show or just wander through at some point!

SP_320458_cerr_jannus_1 of 5 (3/25/2010, St. Petersburg) Patrons trickle in to the newly renovated Jannus Live Thursday for free concerts. The renovations include new restrooms, balcony seating, a new bar, new color schemes, and new VIP suites. [LARA CERRI Times]

This article only highlights some of St. Pete’s charms, but there is no denying that this city has something to offer for everyone. And it is no wonder that it was named one of the top cities to retire in. It’s also good to know that Florida has no income tax, which is a boon for retirees living mostly off their savings or retirement accounts. Home prices are still relatively modest and the lifestyle truly can’t be beat!