If you have made it to Pass-a-Grille beach, you have literally found heaven on earth. This piece of paradise is full of quaint charm and charisma that you will soon be saying this is your favorite beach town.
I’m a local and this is one of my regular go-to places for the perfect day at the beach. Pass-a-Grille is a place for connection to the ocean or to yourself.
I am sharing with you my favorite things to do, and some of the best hotels or Pass-a-Grille rentals you will love!
Why is it called Pass-a-Grille?
One of the old stories is about how this Florida beach town got its name. It is said that Pass-a-Grille got its name from the French words “Passe Aux Grilleurs.” This saying translates to the “Passageway of the Grillers” which officially became Pass-a-Grille. The term was in honor of these fishermen by who settled and grilled fish here.
Where is Pass-a-Grille Beach located?
This quiet Old Florida town is located under 20 minutes from downtown St Petersburg FL. It is the furthest south beach of St. Pete Beach. Pass-a-Grille is on a barrier island that divides the Gulf of Mexico and Boca Ciega Bay. From the Tampa International Airport (TPA) it is a 35-minute drive.
Pass-a-Grille Beach is just south of Maderia Beach which is one of the best small beach towns in Florida.
To get to to Pass-a-Grille Beach from I-275 exit and head west. Follow the signs for St Pete Beach on the Pinellas Bayway. From Pinellas Bayway turn onto Pass-a-grille way heading in the direction of southern tip of St Pete beach. You will pass by the Don CeSar Hotel one of most recognized historic places in the area.
History of Pass-a-Grille Beach
Pass-a-Grille has a long history in Florida dating back to 1528 when the Spanish explorers arrived, and the Native American Indians were already present.
While walking around Pass-a-Grille you will see historic sites and national register markers. It’s home to many interesting houses, boutiques and restaurants throughout the District. There are 97 buildings on this list.
Pass-a-Grille became incorporated with St Pete Beach in 1957. The grand historic site is the beautiful hotel Don CeSar. It has 237 rooms and was designed in 1928 and is operated by Loews Hotels. It’s an amazing historical resort located in Florida’s historic center with outdoor dining, indoor fine dining, outdoor fire pits, luxury rooms, pool and spa.
Where to Stay – Best Hotels & Pass a Grille Rentals
For many people, Pass-a-Grille’s appeal lies primarily on the absence of large apartments or large hotel chains that dominate in most vacation areas. Instead, there are inexpensive motels, boutique hotels, and a historic beach resort all right next to the beach.
Is Pass-a-Grille Beach parking free?
There are plenty of metered parking spots next to the beach (Pass-a-Grille Way) and along the bay (Gulf Way). Parking meters are from 8 am to 8 pm. Metered parking is FREE after hours only.
Parking even during peak times, I have always found a spot without issue by parking further north or on the south end. Central parking near Paradise Grille beach area downtown tends to fill up first. Just make sure you don’t park in permitted spots (they are visibly marked) .
Park further away? Take a FREE ride with the Freebee Shuttle. Simply download the Freebee app, and they will take you around town. While on the app, check out local deals and offers.
14 Fun & Best Things to Do in Pass a Grille
There are so many great things to do in Pass-a-Grille. Here is a list of my top favorites. Pass-a-Grille also has a very helpful website for current events and attractions.
1. Relax at the Beach
This is an obvious first choice, and the most important one too! Discover why locals and visitors love this beach by sitting in the sand and listening to the relaxing waves. Bottlenose dolphins can also be observed swimming or diving along the 35 miles of beaches in Pinellas County.
This beach is one of the most breathtaking pieces of old Florida and it is often missed by tourists coming to St Pete beach. I truly feel this is one of the best kept secrets in Tampa Bay to enjoy a quiet experience with outstanding sunsets.
While on the beach enjoy the sun and swim, but you will want to make sure to plan ahead with beach umbrellas or skin protection. You will find there are also beach rentals located next to Pass-a-Grille Beach for lounge chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, and more.
Looking to do water sports? There are also paddle board rentals located next to Paradise Grille.
2. Eat at The Best Pass a Grille Restaurants.
Head to the elegant Rooftop Bar at The Dewey on 8th Avenue for delicious food and great water views.
For more casual seafood fare, check out Sea Critters Cafe. If you catch it, they will cook it! They also have boat docks and are located near the marina.
Looking for a great place for breakfast? The Seahorse Restaurant is a local favorite with original dishes like grilled shrimp and cheesy rice. They have the usual breakfast dishes too. I really liked the biscuit. This historic restaurant was established in 1938, and originally was a drive-in.
Shadracks located on 8th Avenue is the perfect dive bar for beers, pool, and music. This is a favorite spot for its gritty charm and laid back fun vibe.
The Hurricane is also a great spot on the upper deck to grab a drink and see 360 degree views.
3. Experience Deep Sea Fishing
This area is known for world-class fishing. The charter boat, Miss Pass A Grille awaits your arrival from the Merry Pier, 801 Pass-a-Grille Way. Typically the trip cost varies between $50 and $75. Get in touch by phone at 727-667-9833.
While at the Merry Pier, check out the local fresh fish market and fishing store. They sell bait, rods, tackle, and more.
4. Daytime & Sunset Cruises to Shell Key Preserve
Merry Pier also offers ferry rides to the Shell Key, an authentic Florida barrier island just south of Pass-A-Grille and St Pete Beach. Just a short 10-minute ferry ride boat ride away with plenty of dolphin and bird watching opportunities.
You will love the remoteness of Shell Key with some of the most beautiful Florida beach scenery and undisturbed coastline. You will see sea life and people out shelling from this island. Keep in mind, there are no public restrooms since this island is completely vacant.
Sunset Cruises are also available by reservation only. Parking passes for the meters may be purchased when checking in for the shuttle. See website for full details.
5. Shop On The World’s Smallest Main Street
Pastel-toned historic Eighth Avenue is a cultural oasis anchored by Evander Preston Gallery and A Little Room For Art.
You can’t leave Pass-a-Grille without checking out some of these super cute shops. One of my favorite sweatshirts comes from Dody’s Beach Boutique.
The items on display are quirky, interesting and artsy. They offer hats and t-shirts that commemorate Pass-a-Grille Florida.
During a stroll, stop for some shade on colorful chairs on beachfront streets and admire the view. There are also some unique eclectic shops on Pass-a-Grille Way. Don’t miss these stores which are just a short walk from the Merry Pier.
6. Discover the Amazing Sunset at Paradise Grille
Grab a drink, beach chair or picnic bench at Paradise Grille. Make sure to get a good seat, you won’t want to miss these views. Often Paradise Grille has live music which adds to the ambiance and they also serve food.
A Pass-a-Grille local tradition is the nightly ringing of the bell that celebrates peace, relationships, and more. Jim LeBlanc or designee is out there every night to keep this tradition alive. Contact Jim at (571) 722-9323 if you have interest in participating in this nightly event.
Prefer a sunset rooftop view and restaurant? The Dewey and the Hurricane both have spectacular views from their upper decks.
7. Hop On A Beach Cruiser Bike
Rent a bike by Wheel Fun Rentals and explore the beach on another level. The wind takes you on a ride and to sites that leave a lasting impression. As you pedal down the street check out some of the beautiful homes.
For a longer ride, check out the Pinellas Trail. This 27-mile trail begins as far north as Tarpon Springs and runs south into the city centers and neighborhoods of Dunedin, Clarwater Largo, Pasadena and downtown St Petersburg. There are several uses of the trail: for walkers, cyclists, or rollerskating.
8. Visit The Historical Museum
Gulf Beaches Historical Museum houses many interesting facts and stories. Originally it was a church built in 1917, and later was transformed into a museum. The museum contains various newspapers, postcards, and history related to Pass-a-Grille. See their website for hours and related details.
9. See the Beautiful Sea Shells
I don’t believe I have been to a beach where shells are more plentiful. You will see them everywhere on the Pass-a-Grille beaches, but most especially at the southern tip of the island across from Shell Key.
If shelling is something you enjoy, you don’t want to miss this stretch of sand. I just love to photograph them which makes for memories you can take anywhere.
10. Bring Your Pet to Dog Beach
Pass-a-Grille is a dog friendly community. Off the furthest south tip of the bay side land on 16th Avenue is a designated beach just for your furry friends.
This location is also a favorite spot for fisherman who you will see fishing all along Boca Ciega Bay. Don’t be surprised if you see some dolphins!
11. Day Trip to Fort De Soto
Near Pass-a-Grille, take a day trip to Fort De Soto Park which is only 8 miles away. It has dozens of activities on its five islands and three miles of pristine beaches. Check out the historic fort, rent kayaks, canoes, or a ferry to beautiful Egmont Key.
This is also a very popular camping location. And, look at these wide open white sand beaches! You will be refreshed after a day away from it all.
12. Spend Time at the Public Parks
Pass-a-Grille Florida has several public parks that include tennis courts, shuffleboard, and playgrounds, and more. These are great places to take the kids and its completely FREE.
Lazarillo Park– 224 E Debazan Ave, St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (Neighborhood near Don CeSar)
Vina Del Mar Park – 302 S Isle, Saint Pete Beach, FL 33706 (Vina Del Mar Neighborhood)
13. Relaxation Awaits at the Beautiful Don Cesar Spa
Spa Oceana is an impressive 11,000 square-feet of relaxation. Here you can unwind at the pool or in one of their 16 treatment rooms at have a stunning rooftop terrace view of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Don Cesar Spa also includes whirlpool spas, aroma-infused steam rooms, and private access to the Whisper Lounge. This award-wining spa has been ranked repeatedly ranked as the “best spa” in the St Petersburg area.
You must also fully explore the Don Cesar restaurant options, ice cream shop parlor, and shopping in this all-inclusive beach resort.
14. Pass-a-Grille Beach Art Mart
Year round on Saturday and Sunday, Pass-a-Grille Beach holds a Art Mart at the beach. Come see fine art and handmade crafts by local artists from 9am to 4pm. It is located next to Paradise Grille at 900 Gulf Way, St Pete Beach.
Not able to attend the Art Mart? No worries. Don’t miss the SUNTAN Art Center next to the Don CeSar. This is a super cute gallery, and the perfect place to buy local artwork. I love that the shop is run by artist volunteers that display their art there.
Parking is FREE for those visiting the gallery or taking art classes. They offer a variety of art classes and workshops. Check out their schedule on their website.
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