March through May is Florida’s busiest seasons with most of the country – from college students on spring break to families sick of snow – clamoring to escape the last few cool-weather months of winter. Most visitors look to lounging 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
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.
See the Butterfly Migration
Owed to the oil industry in the Gulf, Florida has become a part of the monarch migration, with the little butterflies using rigs as stopovers. They start landing on the shores of Florida from mid-March to mid-May. One of the best places to find them is the Bayside Bridge Wetlands Conservatory, which is filled with milkweed, the butterfly’s favorite snack.
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 sea grass 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.
Geek Out over Star Wars
March is the last month that St. Pete’s Museum of Fine Arts will be displaying its Star Wars & The Power of Costume exhibit, where fans of all ages can see 60 original costumes up close and personal from George Lucas’ famous film franchise, including Queen Amidala’s gorgeous gowns, Vader’s cape and mask, and the full body suits of Chewbacca and C3PO. One of the museum’s most popular exhibits ever, they highly suggest getting tickets ahead of time (and to look for earlier times of day) to assure a chance to get to see this iconic collection of SciFi memorabilia.
Festivals & Events
Sugar Sand Festival, 4/13–4/22
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.
Firestone Grand Prix, 3/9–3/11
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.
St Petersburg Seafood & Music Festival, 3/3–3/4
Held at Vinoy Park, this festival is only in its second year but is growing rapidly. Local restaurateurs came together to showcase their best seafood dishes and bartenders sling beers and cocktails in the sunshine while live musicians play everything from rock to jazz to afro-Caribbean fusion.
Mainsail Arts Festival, 4/21–4/22
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.
PGA Golf Valspar Championship, 3/5–3/11
This week-long competition has more than just the country’s best golfers going for it. On the night of the 10th, American country music stars, Jake Owen and Dustin Lynch, will take over the driving range for a wild night of music chart toppers.