As temperatures rise in St. Pete, it’s imperative you find ways to cool down — especially at an outdoor attraction like the St. Pete Pier. As we approach the summer months, here are a few suggestions on how to beat the heat during a visit to downtown St. Pete’s premier waterfront attraction.
Make a Splash
About midway up the Pier walk, you’ll find a large space that showcases a state of the art Splash Pad. On warm days, little ones squeal and come running at the sight of water shooting into the air. It’s a delight to watch kids frolicking amid the jets — but there’s nothing that says adults can’t join in and cool off as well. The Pier splash pad includes 40 “Splashlights” that include two programmable spray effects. At night, the splash pad becomes a light show, with the jets joining together for a dance. And just so you know, the facility uses the latest sterilization technology to ensure a safe environment for water play.
Take a Dip in the Bay
As part of the Pier’s remake, Spa Beach, which extends northward from the Pier structure, was expanded and given a naturalized shoreline. The sand is now soft and white. It’s the perfect spot for a refreshing dip into the calm waters of Tampa Bay. Lounge on a beach blanket and soak up some sun. Then slip on those flip-flops and walk a few steps back to the Pier, cooled off and rejuvenated. If you want to rinse off the saltwater, outdoor showers are located right off the beach!
Who Wants Ice Cream, Iced Tea, or Something Else Cool?
Out at Pier Point you’ll find Driftwood Cafe, where a cold treat awaits. The restaurant serves seasonal selections of homemade ice cream. That’s right, homemade. Choose from scoops, waffle cones or milkshakes, with a variety of toppings. But that’s not all. Driftwood Cafe also has an impressive selection of shaved ice, including such signature flavors as Banana Split, Key Lime Pie and Guava Goddess, along with basics like cherry and blackberry. You can also get flavored iced teas, iced coffees and smoothies. In all, the restaurant has a vast array of ways to cool you down and give you an energy boost for your exPIERience.
Time Out For an Adult Beverage
It doesn’t get much better than sipping a craft cocktail at Pier Teaki, the rooftop bar on the building at Pier Point. Stake out a cozy chair under a canopy, and look out over Tampa Bay or back toward the St. Pete skyline. The bar’s wraparound balcony offers 360-degree views. Choose your libation from their impressive menu: four frozen drinks — Frozé (Stoli and Rosé), Piña Colada, Frozen Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri — as well as signature cocktails and a generous selection of wine (by the glass or bottle) and draft or bottle beer. Pair your drink with a tasty selection from the restaurant’s Bar Bites. And when it comes to downtown St. Pete sunsets, this is the place to be.
We highly recommend that you stay hydrated during your exPIERience. Floridians rarely go anywhere outdoors without a trusty water bottle, especially during the warmest months. And that should go for visitors, too. That’s why the Pier has strategically placed stations throughout the park where people can refill their bottles with fresh, chilled H2O.
Go For a Paddle
Here’s an idea for a terrific side trip: Take a kayak cruise in Tampa Bay and paddle around the Pier for a water’s-eye view. You can also venture off into other areas along St. Pete’s beautiful coastline. A convenient place to launch is a couple of blocks south at lovely Demens Landing, which has a boat ramp allowing kayakers to shove off into calm waters. After your trek is done, stroll on over to the Pier, where more fun beckons.
The Bending Arc
Interesting facts per the Piers website
Janet Echelman’s newest permanent work, Bending Arc, is composed of 1,662,528 knots and 180 miles of twine, the aerial sculpture spans 424 feet and measures 72 feet at its tallest point.
Echelman’s art embraces change. The monumental sculpture gently billows above the Pier District, allowing the wind to create a choreography of constantly changing shape in the sculpture’s soft surface. The sculpture’s color also transforms at every moment while its surface interplays with natural and projected light. In the daytime, the sculpture casts shadow drawings on the park and people below, and at night it transforms into a glowing beacon of magenta and violet light.
The internationally-renowned artist, born and raised along the shores of Tampa Bay, was inspired by historical postcards depicting blue and white striped beach parasols together with the geometric forms made by colonies of barnacles growing on the underside of the pier itself. The sculpture’s design in aerial view can be read as three barnacle-like parasols nestled together.
Photo Joe Sale courtesy Studio Echelman
As she continued her design process, she learned of the site’s important Civil Rights Movement significance, as the place where local citizens began peacefully challenging racial barriers, leading to the 1957 US Supreme Court case ruling which upheld the rights of all citizens to enjoy use of the municipal beach and swimming pool without discrimination. The sculpture’s geometry in the section is composed of multiple arcs, which gently billow in the wind. The artist titled the sculpture Bending Arc in reference to MLK’s words: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
A public-private partnership, the fiber sculpture was funded entirely by private donors, and the cost of its related infrastructure and park was covered within the city’s $92 million Pier District project. Made entirely of lightweight fiber, the monumental sculpture is engineered to withstand 150 mph winds, and the maximum force applied to its masts is 65 tons. The rope is made of fiber 15 times stronger than steel by weight and was used by NASA to tether the Mars Rover. The net in the plan covers 47,500 square feet. The net and ropes weigh a total of 5,330 pounds.
Echelman’s artwork offers visitors an oasis where they can seek a moment of calm sensory experience and heightened awareness of nature and our place within it. “The sky is the canvas for my artwork,” says Echelman.
“Bending Arc” is an aerial sculpture that responds to wind and light