With hundreds of thousands of visitors heading to Pinellas County during spring break, this region has more to offer beachgoers than just the sun, sand and surf. Hotel staff members – or anyone who might field questions about the region from tourists – might want to keep info about these arts destinations and organizations on hand in order to direct beach visitors seeking a little culture.
This Indian Rocks Beach non-profit community arts center boasts an art gallery and a full schedule of art classes and workshops, kids camps and programming, and special events. Ongoing workshops include weekly plein air, pencil drawing, pottery, and watercolor, oil, and acrylic painting classes, as well as open studio time. The upcoming Student-Teacher Art Show opens with a reception Friday, March 13, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Housed in St. Pete Beach’s historic Don Vista Building, this 50-year-old nonprofit organization presents monthly art exhibits, and weekly classes in art, exercise and wellness. Ever Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the organization hosts its Suntan Art Mart, featuring fine arts, crafts and area artists, at the Paradise Grille Patio. Other events coming up at the center include a member show reception Wednesday, March 18, 6 to 7:30 p.m., a fused glass workshop on Thursday, March 19, 6 to 9 p.m., and the Suntan Art Splash gala, an evening of art, dancing and food, Friday, March 20.
One of Florida’s best sand sculpture festivals, the Sugar Sand Festival, featuring renowned sand artists from across the globe, runs April 10-26 on Clearwater Beach. Those attending have the opportunity to watch the artists at work as they create their amazing sculptures, enjoy live music and fun family-friendly activities, and hone their own sand sculpting skills through classes and demonstrations.
Clearwater Dolphin Trail
An easy way to engage regional art, this public art pod is comprised of more than 120 colorful, 6-feet tall dolphins. Each dolphin has been designed by a different area artist using a variety of elements, such as glass, ceramic, fiber art, decoupage and paint. The dolphins can be found at different businesses and other locations throughout Pinellas County. An interactive map can be found online here.
Founded in 1960, the Art Guild at Treasure Island meets monthly from September to May. Not only are artists able to freely share creative ideas, but the guild also regularly hosts events, such as lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and a monthly art show and reception.
Sharpie Art Gallery & Water House Water Sports
Meet all of your vacation needs – culture and adventure – in one place. This fresh Treasure Island art gallery is just a quick walk from the beach and features a rotating collection of work by area artists. The space also pulls double duty as a water sports rental center offering stand-up paddle board rentals and sailing lessons.
With the Jolley Trolley and Clearwater Ferry, it’s easy for those staying on the beaches to access downtown Clearwater for a day of art and culture. The historic Bilheimer Capitol Theatre boasts a full schedule of concerts and other performances. Upcoming shows include Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Graham Nash, Killer Queen, Old Crow Medicine Show, Stephen Lynch and Patton Oswalt. Ruth Eckerd Hall, which operates the theater, hosts a free monthly street festival and concert in front of it on the last Friday of each month from January through May. Upcoming concerts include Pablo Cruise on March 27, 10,000 Maniacs on April 24, and regional acts The Greg Billings Band and The Black Honkeys on May 29.
Coachman Park is also a frequent backdrop for concerts and festivals. Meanwhile, the city-run Second Century Studios has hosted numerous art shows and performances in its space since opening in 2017, and downtown area art galleries include Studio 1212 Fine Art, the Marlene Rose Gallery, the Barbaro-Gould Foundation.
Another resource is the Clearwater Arts Alliance, a nonprofit group that advocates for and supports the arts throughout the city by presenting events, exhibits and special projects.