If you and your friends share an avid appreciation for art, then your next group retreat should be to Clearwater Beach where galleries, museums, and street installations are around every corner.
When it comes to things to do in Clearwater Beach, the art attractions abound. In fact, Pinellas County alone is home to seven art museums, including the iconic Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center and Salvador Dalí Museum. But art vacations here include more than just trips to museums. Street art tours, cafés that double as galleries, even a funky artist community will scratch every art enthusiast’s itch.
Where to Stay
The designs of both Opal Sands Resort and Sandpearl Resort, perched on Clearwater Beach, are centered around original works by local artists. At Opal Sands, glass sculptures and paintings reside in the public spaces, while Sandpearl features a collection highlighting renowned Florida artists Christopher Still and Mark Pulliam. As for the best accommodations for your group, Opal Sands’s Presidential Suite features two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and two-and-a-half baths, while Sandpearl’s Gulf Front Deluxe Suite houses up to eight people with a full kitchen and dining area. And both accommodations have roomy balconies with pristine views of the Gulf sunset painting the sky and ocean – and original work of art by Mother Nature herself.
The St. Pete Mural Tour began as a casual weekly outing by a group of friends and has since grown into a popular regular Saturday morning tour taking locals and visitors to see more than 30 murals punctuating the streets of St. Petersburg, located 25 minutes south of Clearwater Beach. Groups will meet their tour guide, Michael Novilla (a born-and-bred St. Petersburgian), then travel by foot to see pieces like the Nikola Tesla mural by electrical engineer Carrie Jadus and works by Chilean-born, internationally renowned street artist Dasic Fernandez.
One-Day Art Classes
Wine and paint nights have been all the rage lately, but these classes at Art Tryst Studio go further, allowing your group to be entirely in control of what you want to learn. Pick your style (realism, abstract, expressionism), your medium (oils, charcoal, pastels), and finally your choice of subject. Their resident artist, Lorraine Ulen, will go over some of the basics with the whole group, then work with students one on one to create a masterpiece they can be proud of, no matter their skill level.
Take a Walk
For generations, folks have been flocking to the little artist enclave that resides in Gulfport, a small town bordering St. Petersburg. In addition to scores of galleries that line the streets of the Waterfront Arts District, the Gulfport Art Walk takes over six blocks of the town during the first Friday and third Saturday of the month. Spend the evening meeting with the colorful artists who make the city home, while listening to live music performed by some of the area’s favorite musicians.
After wandering among the illuminated blown-glass pieces of the Chihuly Collection, swing across the street to the Glass Studio & Hot Shop at the Morean Arts Center for a more up-close experience, where Morean’s resident artists create one-of-a-kind works while a curator explains the process. Or, sign up for one of the Thursday or Friday workshops, where artists work with guests to teach them basic glass-blowing techniques.
Mario Gutierrez opened Art Smart Coffee Gallery in Dunedin to marry his two passions: art and a great cup of coffee. Spend a morning catching up with your crew while sipping on Tampa Bay’s best iced coffee and looking over Gutierrez’s private art collection, which, according him, features an original Picasso. While the art isn’t for sale, a bag of their beans is – we suggest the Picasso Roast, a blend made specially for the coffee shop by locally run Blazing Bean.