(Above) © The League Collective
March through May is one of Florida’s most beloved seasons with folks, reading to escape their own winters at home, coming to lounge on the beach to soak up those long-missed rays. But this season has so much more to offer. Monarch butterflies, fresh-caught crab, and MLB are just a few other ways that the locals know spring has sprung.
Activities & Attractions
Experience 100-Year-Old Flora
Clearwater and St. Petersburg are beautiful places, filled with all the palm trees and ocean vistas one could crave in a vacation. But to experience the best of the area’s flora and fauna, you have to pay a visit to the Sunken Gardens. This botanical Eden located in the midst of bustling St. Petersburg is more than 100 years old and home to some of the oldest tropical vegetation in the region. Guided tours of the garden are offered through May, and don’t start up again until the fall, so don’t miss out on your chance to see the plant and animal life through the eyes of a guide who has taken the time to learn all there is to know about this road-side paradise.
Go to a Spring Training Game…or Two
Clearwater is a baseball lover’s dream this time of year thanks to Spring Training. Most people already know the Grapefruit League comes to Florida to prepare for the regular season, but not everyone realizes that the Clearwater area is actually home to two teams. The Philly’s call Clearwater home from February to March while the Toronto Blue Jays set up shop the next town over in Dunedin.
Savor the Last of Stone Crab Season
Florida’s stone crab season ends on May 15, so make sure you get your fill of the crustacean’s popular sweet tender claw meat before it’s gone (the season starts up again in October). On the Gulf, there’s no better place for a fresh-caught stone crab dinner than Frenchy’s. With four locations in Clearwater Beach, Frenchy’s isn’t just a restaurant, but a top stone crab harvest company, employing a range of independent crabbers who harvest daily for them daily. This ensures that the claws are fresh, never frozen.
Go Wade Fishing
The temperature rises steadily this time of year from the low seventies to the high eighties, but mornings are still too chilly for most beach-goers. So instead of sunning yourself, take advantage of the empty sand at sunrise and dusk to do a little wade fishing. In the seagrass fields of Pass-a-Grille Beach and Fort De Soto, there are schools of trout, redfish, and snook making them the best destinations for beach fishing.
Festivals & Events
Firestone Grand Prix, 3/13–3/15
This high-octane three-day event features 13 different races that run the vehicular gambit from IndyCars to Pirelli World Challenge Championships. In between races, there are meet and greet sessions, beer gardens, and interactive games and exhibitions.
PGA Golf Valspar Championship, 3/16–3/21
This week-long competition has more than just the country’s best golfers going for it. On Saturday the 21st, American country music acts Chris Young and Big & Rich will perform on the Osprey Driving Range adjacent to the 14th fairway
St Petersburg Beach Crab & Music Festival, 3/27–29
Held on Corey Avenue, this festival focuses on the beloved 10-legged sea dwellers that are abundant in the waters surrounding St. Pete. Local restaurateurs showcase their best crab dishes and bartenders sling beers and cocktails in the sunshine, while live musicians play everything from rock to jazz to Afro-Caribbean fusion.
Sugar Sand Festival, 4/10–4/26
This annual sand sculpting festival brings in over 115,000 visitors a year. Don’t let the numbers daunt you, though: Go before noon or after 8 p.m. to avoid the majority of crowds. If you do go in the middle of the day, just be sure to sit in on one of the sand-sculpting classes to learn how to make masterpieces of your own.
Mainsail Arts Festival, 4/18–4/19
Considered one of the top arts festivals in the country, this annual event has been going on since 1976. The low-key atmosphere in Vinoy Park comes from a collection of the area’s best visual, musical, and culinary artists.