On a recent trip, I went out of my way to spend a couple of days in St. Pete to see what it was like. I had heard some good things about it several years ago. I decided to stay in the Pier area near downtown St. Pete. It has an interesting mix of a downtown feel with immediate access to the water, Marinas, and a nice park along the waterfront. A beautiful, clear, evening seemed to add to the relaxing night I was hoping for. I picked a restaurant along Beach Dr. and settled in for dinner at an outside table. The first thing I noticed was that most of the spaces along the waterfront were empty and for lease. They few that were open were pretty busy. As more people flowed in the service started to slow down. After a while I asked for the check since my parking meter was running out of time. It was then that I noticed no fewer than 4 ""metermaids"" (old men and women) within a block of where I had parked. Sure enough, I was a few minutes late and already had a ticket! I noticed that they were swarming this area where there is no free parking anywhere I could find, and a 2 hr. limit on the meters. Vultures! If this city preys on customers this way, I am scratching it off my list. No wonder most of the restaurant/shop spaces were empty. Now they are asking for late fees on the parking ticket because I did not get home in time to mail payment, and have it arrive within 15 days. Seriously?! I guess my info on this area was very dated. I suggest you avoid it.
Pros: view of the water, seems safer than other areas nearby
Cons: many closed shops, parking tickets