Get out there on the water in St. Pete Beach!

The shore in St. Pete Beach, with sugar-white sands and gentle clear waves, brings bliss to our Alden Suites guests every day. But if you only stay on land, you’re missing much of the fun that Florida’s Gulf Coast has to offer. We love to get out on the water, and there are so many cool ways to take a boating excursion here in the St. Pete Beach area.

Luckily, here at the Alden, you just have to step out of your suite to begin your adventure on the water. Suncoast Watersports has a kiosk on our beach, where you can sign up to go paddle boarding, parasailing, and jet-skiing. They even have a Two Island Snorkel and Explore Dolphin tour. This 3.5 hour tour stops at two amazingly unique islands where you can either snorkel or explore. The first island is beautiful Egmont Key Preserve where you can explore the ruins of Fort Dade which was built into the sand dunes during the Spanish American war. Gopher tortoises and other wildlife are the only inhabitants left but at one time the fort housed 200 US soldiers and 300 Seminole Indian prisoners.

Prior to being a fort the island was a strategic ambush point for pirates looking to surprise ships with precious cargo entering Tampa Bay to trade goods with the local population. The second island stop is at “Sand Dollar Island” located just off the coast of famous Fort Desoto and Shell Key preserve. Sand Dollar Island has an abundance of sand dollars and other great shells including horse conchs, shark eye shells and tulip shells to name just a few. You will come back with a bag full of awesome shells you can’t find on any of our vacation beaches.

Dr. Beach, Florida International University professor Dr. Stephen Leatherman, rates Caladesi Island as one of the top five beaches in the entire United States.

For little ones with a love for all things pirate, the Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise in Clearwater Beach can’t be beat. Take a short drive up the coast to the Clearwater Beach Marina, and you can’t miss the red pirate ship. The Captain Memo crew goes all out to give families the full pirate experience, with eye patches, pirate hats and fun seafaring music. The boat sails out into the Gulf, and at one point they pretend the ship is under attack. All the kids get a toy cannon water gun and they fight off the bad pirates and save the day. It’s a classic Florida experience that your kids will always remember.

Who doesn’t love dolphins? Luckily here on the Gulf Coast we have plenty of opportunities to experience the joy of watching dolphins frolic in the surf. Any boat ride you take is likely to encounter some dolphins in the Gulf, and sometimes they’ll even jump and play in your boat’s wake. But for the best dolphin encounter, we recommend a trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This dolphin rescue center is home to Winter the Dolphin, star of her own movie series. When you visit, you can see Winter up close and tour the expansive aquarium. They also offer a sea safari boat tour which takes you out into the gulf to see dolphins in the wild.

If you want to wander the Gulf more freely, why not captain your own ship? Day-long and half-day boat rentals are available just across the street in the Publix plaza at Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center. You can even rent some fishing gear and try your luck at catching your own dinner! We hope you’ll get a chance to get out on the water while you’re here vacationing at the Alden Suites, it’s a wonderful way to see St. Pete Beach at its finest!

St. Petersburg’s Little Italy

Did you know that the St. Petersburg area has a substantial population of Italian immigrants? Drawn to the sunny weather, gorgeous beaches, and friendly, relaxed lifestyle, many Italian families have moved to our town over the years. And they brought some of the best of Italian culture and food along with them! We’d like to share some St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach Italian treasures that will help you live La Dolce Vita here at Alden Suites.

The most famous Italian food destination in the St. Pete area is Mazzaro’s Italian Market. It’s about a 20 minute drive from St. Pete Beach, and you’ll want to time your visit well since Mazzaro’s gets VERY busy on weekends. The market is a festival of everything Italian, with freshly made breads, hand-sliced prosciutto, gelato, handmade cheeses, fresh pasta, and all the spices and sauces you need to make an Italian feast. It’s a perfect place to stock your refrigerator for a week of delicious meals in your suite at the Alden. While you’re there, grab a sandwich to eat on the outside patio, and check out the cool shop next door full of Italian imports.

Downtown St. Pete has an upscale Italian restaurant that many Alden guests enjoy for a romantic night out. It’s called BellaBrava, and they offer some unique, modern twists on Italian food. All of their pastas are homemade, which makes even something as simple as cacio e pepe, fresh spaghetti with cheese and pepper, truly delicious. Foodies rave about their squid ink pasta, calamari and inventive appetizers. It’s a cool place to hang out too, with live music in the bar most evenings.

Closer to home, just a few blocks north of Alden Suites, we have our own Italian Market called La Casa del Pane. They have a small market with Italian candies, sauces, and pastas, but the real star is the fresh-baked bread. Pick up a fresh baguette, ciabatta, or a soft focaccia to make a delicious meal. La Casa del Pane is also a great place to grab a delicious fresh-made sandwich for a picnic on the beach. Who knew you could eat so well while enjoying a blissful beach day?

And speaking of Italian, we have some Italian restaurants here in town that you won’t want to miss. Just a couple of blocks south of the Alden, you’ll find Buona Pizza, the perfect place to pop in for a slice at lunchtime. This waterfront gem offers way more than pizza, with seafood and pasta specials that change every day, and their garlic knots are to die for! Verducci’s Pizzeria and Trattoria is another romantic spot for a classic Italian meal. Famed for their gnocchi and osso bucco, the chefs at Verducci’s have been delighting visitors to St. Pete Beach since 1976!

You never have to worry about depriving your tastebuds of Italian deliciousness when you’re staying at the Alden. Arrividerci for now, and let us know how you enjoy our Italian foodie favorites!