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A Solo Visit to St. Pete’s Sirata Beach Resort

By Holly Rosen Fink, GoGirlfriend Contributor

A solo getaway to Florida’s St. Pete Beach

I’m the first to admit that being the mom of teens isn’t easy: Cooking meals, figuring out their schedules, helping with homework, driving them to school, picking up piles of clothes off the floor, and them jumping on the train to go to work in the city. It’s not just hard work but it’s all time-consuming, thus it’s easy to neglect my own needs.

As a result, I crave time away - not to sound like a selfish mom, that I am most definitely not. I truly feel that a small break does me good, so I am always looking for special places for that much-needed alone time.

Recently, I was invited to Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida, and it turned out to be the ideal getaway for me. Not only is the resort right on the ocean, offering ample opportunities to hit the beach and relax, but it also has onsite dining so I wouldn’t have to venture out very far to eat. In addition, I had heard about the rise of St. Petersburg’s cultural influence, and as a culture vulture, my interest in the destination was heightened.

St. Petersburg as a travel destination

St. Pete's Sirata Beach Resort overlooking the Gulf CoastSt. Petersburg sits on Florida’s west coast along the Gulf of Mexico, the bigger city cousin to the beachy St. Pete’s Beach. While St. Pete’s beach runs for about twenty miles, starting in nearby Clearwater, and offers a plethora of water sports, St. Petersburg’s cultural scene has grown more important, as has its culinary and street art scene, especially the last few years. St. Petersburg is also home to the well-known Salvador Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, The Florida Holocaust Museum, Morean Arts Center, Florida CraftArt, Sunken Gardens, Great Explorations, and the African American Heritage Trail. The city hosts more than 100 independent working artists and their studios and galleries fill the city. In addition, the city offers seven distinct arts districts where artists may live, work and create. There are murals throughout and it’s easy to spot them working along the way. I had heard about the city’s cultural scene and was quite eager to experience it for myself.

A break from my daily routine at the Sirata

the newly renovated Sirata Beach ResortThe Sirata is an easy 35-minute drive from the Tampa airport. As soon as I arrived, I felt right at home.  I was just very ready for the Florida sunshine. Plus, the Sirata recently underwent a $15 million renovation, so the look of the hotel is modern and clean with soothing colors on its exterior that match the sea, which sits adjacent to the resort. The resort hosts a group of murals that were created by local artist, Derek Donnelly: “Swim for the Moon!” and “Luis’s Lagoon” - both boasting a nautical theme.

My beachfront room had a balcony overlooking the white sands of St. Pete Beach. Waking up to a sea view daily and watching the sun set later was just what the doctor ordered for this tired mom of teens. I had my own sitting room with a smart TV (that actually features Netflix and Amazon Prime, perfect for binging) and a kitchenette. Every guestroom offers Wi-Fi access and plenty of space.

Check out their property online at the Sirata Beach Resort, their reviews on TripAdvisor, their Facebook and Twitter feeds. And we recommend you book early to reserve your next getaway opportunity.

Getting cultured while at the Sirata

I started my cultural exploration of St. Petersburg downtown. There the central business district has grown into an artist’s colony of sorts, filled with independent galleries, boutiques,St. Petersburg street art "The Gist" and restaurants.  There’s The Dali, the Chihuly Collection, the Morean Arts Center, and a plethora of museums, but there’s also the street art, known as the city’s outdoor museum.  Derek Donnelly, who designed the murals at the Sirata, led us on a walking tour of the city’s street art in the Central Arts District, where there are more than thirty eclectic and truly original murals in just four short blocks. Even the dumpsters are painted, hence the artistic impact was mind-boggling. There are too many artists and pieces of work to name, so I’ll tell you my favorite: Chad Mize’s “The Gist”: A star-eyed tribute to the legendary model and actress from the 1960's, Twiggy. She was a pop culture icon, so this piece of art struck a chord.

I had been to The Dali thirty years prior and had never forgotten the experience, so going back was special. It’s a wonderful retrospective to the life and work of Salvador Dali, featuring work from the artist’s entire career. The collection includes over 2,100 works from every moment and in every medium of his artistic activity, including oil paintings, many original drawings, book illustrations, artists’ books, prints, sculpture, photos, manuscripts and an extensive archive of documents.

From dining onsite to a farm to table dinner

The beauty of Sirata is that the hotel offers many onsite high-quality dining choices from fish tacos at Harry’s Beach Bartacos at Sirata's Rum Runners to a plate of beautiful fresh fish at either Rum Runners Bar & Grille (outdoors) or Compass Grille (indoors). When the sun sets, head to the Tiki Hut at Rum Runners for a free Sirata Sunset Sixty cocktail hour, during sunset if you can. The sunsets on the beach are stunners.

One night I ventured off property to sample local cuisine at FarmTable Cucina, an Italian-inspired restaurant that focuses on fresh, house-made cuisine influenced by seasonal, regionally sourced and carefully curated ingredients. The restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Michael Mina, makes their own breads and pastas, and its full bar offers handcrafted cocktails, craft beer and wines by the glass. My favorite dishes included the Fried Cauliflower, Little Gem Lettuce, Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, and the Black Truffle Cavatelli.

Flying high in the sky

My days at the Sirata happily consisted of sitting poolside (there are two pool areas) at the fire pit, relaxing in a private cabana on the beach, whirling in the jacuzzi or hanging chair garden, and drinking cocktails at the onsite bars. I also took long walks on the flying high at the Sirata Beach Resortbeach in the mornings before the sun came out which gave me time to reflect. The time to myself gave me a real break from reality. I also took a bike from the hotel and explored south to Pass-a-Grille Beach and north to a unique shopping area along Corey Avenue in downtown St. Pete Beach.

But on my last day, I did the most amazing thing: I joined with two other moms in a parasailing experience with the help of an adventure company called Suncoast Watersports. We rode a speedboat into the Gulf of Mexico and then the parachute lifted us into the sky, taking us up around 400 feet, giving us tremendous views of the sea. It was an exhilarating experience, one for the solo travel memory books.

Where’s your favorite getaway stay in the St. Pete / Clearwater area? We’d love to hear. Drop a comment below and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: Holly was hosted by Sirata Beach Resort but all opinions are her own.

About Holly Rosen Fink

@hollyrosenfinkHolly Rosen Fink is a Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Branding and Social Media expert and writer based in Larchmont, New York. She is a current contributor to Trekaroo, OffMetro, Family Vacation Critic, and Women and Hollywood.


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