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Recent updates for the new St. Pete Pier! We have been without our iconic pier since May 2013. The St. Petersburg Pier was a 5 story inverted pyramid and a destination for both tourists & locals since it was constructed in 1973. It stretched from downtown St. Petersburg out into the the Tampa Bay. We had restaurants, local shops, fishing, pelican feeding, dolphin boat tours, pirate boat rides, boat rentals, the Pier Aquarium, a floating wedding chapel & a fantastic view from the glass elevators & the fifth floor of downtown & the Tampa Bay. It was always a nice walk with lots of activities going on. I miss it & I miss being able to take friends & family to THE PIER when they visited.

The original pier was built in 1889 by the Orange Belt Railway. It was extremely popular immediately. In 1906 the Electric Pier was a place for the trolley & steamships. So HOPEFULLY, we will soon have a pier here in St Pete again.

Here’s the latest video: ‘St. Pete In Progress’, featuring Mayor Rick Kriseman and author and city expert Peter Kageyama, is a monthly look at exciting projects and plans that are in-progress.

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There is always a special kind of excitement in the weeks leading up to the race. Our city’s streets are turned into a 1.8 mile racetrack along the waterfront. The track has 14 turns and goes past the Dali Museum, Mahaffey Theatre, around Pioneer Park, along the waterfront past the St Petersburg Harbor & Marina and onto the runways of Albert Whitted Airport. The races include Verizon IndyCar Series, Pirelli World Challenge, Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks, Indy Lights & Pro Mazda. It has been fun to walk down the middle of the downtown city streets with partial track walls closing in on both streets. I have lived here for 11 years now & I still find all of this so cool.

People come from all over the world to see this race. Some watch from the track stands, others watch from their boats, and some watch from their condos balconies. Of course, it will also be shown on national TV. I will go into the grounds on Friday where one can see the cars up close & sometimes even meet the drivers before or after their practice & qualifying runs.  On Sunday, I will be on the top floor of my parents’ condo building watching with great glee as the race speeds past the building on 2 sides with 2 hairpin turns. Yes, it IS noisy but oh, so awesome!

You can purchase tickets & get more info at  http://gpstpete.com/  in advance or at the gate.

 

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Le Louvre photo by Annalisa Weller, 2009

 

The following museums were found on several lists as the most visited in 2015 around the world. I was quite surprised to find out that I have visited 7 of the 10. My travels have not brought me to Asia yet so that removes Numbers 2, 8 & 10 for me. Better get to work on that! My daughter just returned from China so “we” could use the familial visits to check off  another one on the list-not really.

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National Gallery of Art, photo by Annalisa Weller, 2015

 

I would, however, like to add the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which opened in 1937. As I a child I was lucky to live close to DC & so we visited it quite often. Last year while in Washington, DC for business, I spent the afternoon in the National Gallery of Art with my family. As I turned the corners, I would get a glimpse of some of my favorite works of art & felt like I was seeing dear old friends-Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, Cassatt, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, Fragonard, da Vinci and more. They make me so happy & speak to my soul. Another wonderful museum is the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida which houses the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of Spain. Not only are the paintings & sculptures fascinating but so is the building. Stanford University in Palo Alto, California has a wonderful collection of Rodin sculptures in a garden setting that is definitely worth checking out.

So get out there and appreciate the beautiful things in life! Tell me which are your favorites.

1. The Louvre in Paris

8.7 million visitors in 2015.

2. The National Museum of China in Beijing

7.3 million visitors in 2015.

3. National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

6.9 million visitors in 2015.

4. National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

6.9 million visitors in 2015.

5. British Museum in London

6.8 million visitors in 2015.

6. Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

6.3 million visitors in 2015.

7. Vatican Museum

6 million visitors in 2015.

8. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

5.9 million visitors in 2015.

9. National Gallery in London

5.9 million visitors in 2015.

10. National Palace Museum in Taiwan

5.3 million visitors in 2015.

 

Check this out-St Petersburg made it in the top 10 & Tampa is NUMBER ONE for coastal cities!! -Annalisa

Florida is the best place in America for tying the knot, according to personal finance website WalletHub, which just released (in time for Valentine’s Day!) its 2016 ranking of Best and Worst Cities to Get Married.

Heart shaped glasses on the beach

By Tracey Minkin in Coastal Living

The Sunshine State is home to 3 of the top 10 cities in WalletHub’s brand-new ranking: Orlando (which topped the list at #1), followed by Florida’s coastal cities of Tampa, which came in at #4, and Miami, which came in at #8.

To arrive at its nuptials numbers, WalletHub researchers compared the 150 largest cities in America in search of the cheapest and most convenient wedding destinations that also promised what WalletHub called “a memorable occasion.”  Researchers used 18 key indicators to judge each city, including number of venues, flower, and bridal shops per capita, hotel availability, and average cost of a wedding in that city.

While many of the cities were inland, we collected the coastal winners for getting the best bang for your bridal buck . . . at the beach. Because really: who would want it any other way?

Here’s how the top coastal cities fared:

#1 Coastal/#4 Overall: TAMPA, FLORIDA

Tampa, Florida, skyline

Bridal 411: One of Tampa’s greatest strengths overall was its diversity of attractions and activities, according to WalletHub.

(See which coastal cities were named the best places to retire in America, right here.)

 

#2 Coastal/#8 Overall: MIAMI, FLORIDA

Miami, Florida's Collins Avenue

Bridal 411: Miami, the city where every event is a party, scored in the top 5 overall as having the most bridal shops per capita and scored #1 for the most flower shops per capita. (See why Miami made our 2016 list of top luxury beach destinations, here.)

 

#3 Coastal/#18 Overall: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Riverboat in New Orleans, Louisiana

Bridal 411: Like Tampa, this romantic Delta city (hey, that’s coastal in our books) scored big in activities and attractions. (Check out how a trip to New Orleans can change your life, here.)

 

#4 Coastal/#18 Overall: FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Bridal 411: This true beach town scored highest on its overall wedding facilities and services ranking–20th among 150 cities. (Find out what more there is to love about Fort Lauderdale, here.)

 

#5 Coastal/#27 Overall: MOBILE, ALABAMA

Waterfront of Mobile, Alabama

Bridal 411: Talk about bang for your buck… this lively port city on the Gulf of Mexico was #5 out of 150 in most affordable wedding cost ranking. (You’ll never believe what this creative city drops from one of its highest buildings on New Year’s Eve!)

 

The other top coastal cities in WalletHub’s ranking were:

#6 Coastal/#32 Overall: Portland, Oregon

***#7 Coastal/#39 Overall: St. Petersburg, Florida ***

#8 Coastal/#46 Overall: San Diego, California

#9 Coastal/#53 Overall: Los Angeles, California

#10 Coastal/#73 Overall: Corpus Christi, Texas

– See more at: http://dailycatch.coastalliving.com/2016/02/09/best-wedding-cities-florida/?xid=socialflow_facebook#sthash.vynsS6MU.dpuf

By Tracey Minkin in Coastal Living

I think that not only will this help hotel owners and investors, as it states in the article,  but also all the restaurants, shops, museums, airports, rental cars, etc. and eventually the real estate market. The entire Florida economy will benefit from this..

By Michael Gerrity | January 13, 2014

The State of Florida’s official tourism arm will receive a record $100 million in annual funding to increase marketing to domestic and international visitors, a move that could prove beneficial to hotel owners and investors.

Florida-Gov-Rick-Scott.jpgFlorida Governor Rick Scott

Last week Governor Rick Scott announced VISIT FLORIDA will receive the record funding in the 2014-15 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” for the marketing efforts.
“Last year, we secured more than $63 million in our ‘Florida Families First Budget,’ for VISIT FLORIDA and we made record gains in tourism,” Governor Scott announced at Orlando International Airport. “We are on track for another record year, and we hope to build on this incredible momentum and make the Sunshine State the number one travel destination in the world.”
Since every 85 visitors supports one Florida job, a growing tourism industry is important to the state.
Tourism is the states’ number one industry, providing the state with revenue from hotel stays and travel expenditures. In the first three quarters of 2013, Florida welcomed 72.6 million visitors, increasing 3.4 percent from the same period in 2012, according to the state’s government website.
Between January and August 2013 (last reported month) visitor spending in Florida totaled $51.8 billion, marking a 5.8 percent yearly increase from the same period in 2012.
The first three quarters of 2013 were the largest nine-month period in state’s tourism industry history.
“On behalf of the statewide tourism industry, I am grateful to Governor Scott for his recognition of VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to provide a significant return on the state’s investment in tourism marketing,” Will Seccombe, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said on the announcement. “[This] puts us in a position to make 2014 another record year for visitation.”

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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