Pass-a-Grille Beach Hotels, Rentals & 14 Best Things to Do

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.

pass-a-grille huttle easily takes you to your car
No driving needed around town with the Pass a Grille Shuttle!

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

Best Resort Hotel: Don CeSar Hotel
Best Beach Inn on Pass-a-Grille: Inn on the Beach
Best Budget Friendly Hotel: Sabal Palms Inn
Best VRBO Beach Rental: Beach Front Condo Rental

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.

pass-a-grille VRBO provided image of rental

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

pass-a-grille beach photo of gorgeous water with don cesar in the distance and st pete beach
Pass a Grille beach is known for it’s incredibly beautiful 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.

Shadracks outside on eight avenue in pass-a-grille florida

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.

paradise grille picture of the bright yellow building and charming location in downtown

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.

photo of a beautiful white beach home overlooking the sea in pass-a-grille beach

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.

historical museum in pass-a-grille beach

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.

fort de soto beaches with mounds of white sand - photo taken from deep water
Views of Fort De Soto Beach

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)

pass-a-grille beach parks - shuffleboard courts are plentiful in downtown
Play Shuffleboard at Pass a Grille Beach

13. Relaxation Awaits at the Beautiful Don Cesar Spa

Untitled design84 pass-a-grille beach
Don Cesar Spa (Spa Oceana)

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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    April 23, 2022

    That is so nice that they have a dog beach as well.

  • KarlaTypes
    April 23, 2022

    The beaches are lovely, and the hotel looks so nice! Thanks for sharing!

  • simplyjolayne
    April 23, 2022

    I have never heard of this amazing beach side town before. It looks like so much fun to explore and spend a couple of nights.

  • katie
    April 23, 2022

    My first question when I read this was “hmmm why is it called pass-a-grill?” love that I got to learn so much about history on your posts! Also the water looks so BLUE! I didn’t know Florida looked like that

  • Natalie
    April 23, 2022

    The beach looks so pretty! And it seems like there is so much to do besides the beach, which I always look for since I easily get bored just lying on a beach all day. You’re so lucky to live near somewhere so pretty 🙂

  • Lasma
    April 23, 2022

    So many cool and interesting activities to make! Water in Fort De Soto looks incredible! would love to try the beach cruiser bike! Thanks for letting us discover this! well done!

  • Melissa
    April 23, 2022

    This looks like such a fun and relaxing place to go. The beach looks so clean and I love the color of the water!

  • Joanna
    April 24, 2022

    A detailed guide to what sounds like a delightful beach with much to offer. I particularly like the idea of a sunset cruise to Shell Key.

  • Catherine
    April 24, 2022

    I’ve never heard of Pass-a-Grille but it looks like a lovely place to visit. I love how dog-friendly it is, and I’d absolutely rent a beach cruiser. I love bike riding!

  • Pia
    April 24, 2022

    Haven´t heard about this town yet, but it looks awesome! Florida in general is pretty awesome. Seems. I found a place to put on my list for my next trip to Florida. 😀

  • Anita
    April 24, 2022

    Pass-a-Grille beach seems to be an excellent place for relaxation. I would love to watch the sunset there and do a sunset cruise, Also collecting some seashells would be great! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jasmina
    April 24, 2022

    So many amazing tips on what to do! You inspired me to visit this dreamy place! Thank you for sharing this amazing guide!

  • Mayi
    April 24, 2022

    This is the first time I hear about Pass-a-Grille beach. I like the name and the little history about it. I like the fact that there are lots to do in and around it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle
    April 24, 2022

    Thank you for introducing me to a new place to visit! I do agree with you when you say “you have arrived at a little piece of heaven on Earth!”

  • Terri
    April 24, 2022

    I wish I had saved one final day after I checked out of my Clearwater AirBnb to stay at Don Cesar hotel. I want to hobnob with F Scott Gerald’s ghost!

  • Yvonne
    April 24, 2022

    Pass-a-Grille looks like a lovely place to relax. The beaches look heavenly and the dog beach sounds like a lot of fun!

  • Jenny
    April 24, 2022

    Ooh that Sea Critters Cafe sounds goooood!!

  • Lisa
    April 24, 2022

    I’m exhausted just thinking about a 27-mile bike ride– but I’d be willing to tackle a smaller portion of it. I’m sure the views are fantastic.

  • Michele
    April 25, 2022

    I’ve never heard of Pass-a-Grille before, but it sounds like a place I would love to visit. The water and beach is beautiful!

  • Kelly
    April 25, 2022

    I’ve been to St Pete’s and love it but I’ve never heard of this beach. Next time I’ll check it out as I prefer smaller quieter beaches. I also love the idea of boutique hotels rather than chain hotels

  • Rhonda
    April 25, 2022

    With the origins of the town’s name, it sounds like I would be in heaven and trying out all the seafood restaurants. I love the color of the water there. The beaches must be fabulous.

  • Jan
    April 25, 2022

    Pass-a-grille beach truly looks like heaven on earth! I l love the choice of things to do here especially visiting the shops in the narrowest main street as well as visiting the fort. Looks like great place to relax and feast your eyes! 🙂

  • Elyse
    April 25, 2022

    I love the outdoors so this area looks perfect for me. Thank so much for sharing

  • Sarah
    April 25, 2022

    What a cute looking town. I only saw Orlando in Florida which wasn’t really my cup of tea – Pass-a-Grille is much more me. Ah well, next time!

  • Leah
    April 25, 2022

    Looks absolutely beautiful! I’d love to go seashell spotting there, one of my favourite things to do on a beach. Great post!

  • Brittany
    April 25, 2022

    I’ve never heard of Pass-a-Grille before, but it sounds like a great place to visit! The beach looks gorgeous. I’d also love to check out Main Street and take my dog to the dog beach. Thanks for sharing!

  • Chelsea Messina
    April 25, 2022

    I would spend so much time outside at the beach and just walking around the cute town. The name is too funny

  • Ildiko
    April 25, 2022

    This looks like such beautiful beach. I’ve been wanting to visit the Tampa/St Pete area. I will definitely keep this in mind. The sunset cruise would be right up my alley!

  • Megan
    April 25, 2022

    This looks like such a cute place! I love the beach vibes everywhere, especially PAradise grill.

  • Marianne
    April 26, 2022

    I honestly have not heard of this town before, but boy is the beach breathtaking! The town looks quaint… somewhere I wouldn’t mind exploring!

  • Krista
    April 28, 2022

    From the name I thought it was somewhere on a French island! It looks like a beautiful part of Florida to visit with a lot of things to do which is always great. Thanks for sharing all of these tips!

  • sammi
    May 8, 2022

    OMG the beach is BEAUTIFUL, this part of Florida has to go on my bucket list, I wasn’t aware of it before so thank you!

  • A Capone Connection
    May 11, 2022

    This looks stunning! Definitely need to save it for later now that I moved South!

  • Nikki Wilder
    May 11, 2022

    I have to visit here! Beautiful! Thanks for all the info.

  • Paige
    May 11, 2022

    What a beautiful beach town! I hadn’t heard of Pass-a-Grille beach before, but now I want to check it out!

  • Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)
    May 12, 2022

    What a lovely post. Sounds like a beautiful place to visit. Enjoying relaxing on the beach is one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing. I would love to visit one day for sure. ☺️

    Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)

    • ett
      May 12, 2022

      Thank you so much for the kind comment. I hope you visit one day.

  • Carolyn M
    May 12, 2022

    What a thorough post! If I ever get that way I’ll be sure to visit you’ve piqued my curiousity!

  • DeShena
    May 14, 2022

    Okay, now you’ve given me another beautiful and tempting location to add to my “to-visit” list! Thanks a lot, lol!

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