Couched in a sprawling urban area in Pinellas County, this town of 5,000 shares a boundary with St. Petersburg.
Kenneth City is purely residential, apart from a commercial area along SR 693. There’s no doubt that the location is a big asset, with St. Petersburg’s super cultural attractions a few minutes away.
Some of my favorite locations on the Gulf Coast are also a stone’s throw from the town. There are parks close by with romantic vistas over Boca Ciega Bay, while the white sands of St Pete Beach and Madeira Beach can be reached in under 15 minutes.
The multi-use Pinellas Trail passes by Kenneth City and spans the length of the peninsula, serving beach communities and major visitor attractions, from aquariums to art museums.
1. Sunken Gardens
One of St. Petersburg’s iconic spots is a few minutes east of Kenneth City. Sunken Gardens is a mature botanical garden landscaped at the turn of the 20th century.
There are more than 1,000 species of native and exotic plants growing here, with a dense canopy of palms and venerable live oaks. Many of these are the oldest specimens of their kind in Florida.
Paths curl past ponds and cascading waterfalls, with a surprising amount of wildlife to catch your eye. I was captivated by the flock of flamingos, while there’s a sanctuary here for rescued exotic birds, including cockatoos and macaws.
2. St Pete Beach
Another thing going for Kenneth City is its proximity to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf Shore. The closest beach community to the town is St Pete Beach, less than 15 minutes to the south, depending on traffic.
There are public beach access points all along the shoreline here. The closest to St Pete Beach’s downtown area is Upham Beach Park.
Head south along the barrier island, and you get to Pass-a-Grille, a laid-back coastal village with nothing but dunes on the foreshore.
Another way to get to the shore is by heading west on US 19. This will bring you to Madeira Beach, and the generous swath of perfect white sand at Archibald Beach Park.
3. Thai Orchid Restaurant
Visitors looking for a cozy place to enjoy authentic Thai cuisine don’t need to look any further than Thai Orchid Restaurant. Friendly staff serve up delicious and expertly-prepared dishes using the freshest ingredients possible.
The prices are very reasonable, and there’s so much to choose from, including a varied lunch menu and a superb dinner menu with various entrees such as sauteed bamboo shoot and pepper steak.
There is also an extensive sushi menu available, with a wide choice of nigiri and sushi rolls (cooked or uncooked).
4. Pinellas Trail
A 75-mile multi-use trail passes by Kenneth City to the south. Running from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, with spurs serving several Gulf communities, the Pinellas Trail makes it easy to get around without a car.
The trail uses the railbed of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, and connects numerous public parks, and nearby attractions like Tyrone Square Mall.
Not far west of Kenneth City there’s a magnificent section where the trail crosses the lower reaches of Long Bayou. Heading south, you could use the trail to get to the picturesque bayfront community of Gulfport. Or you could head into downtown St. Petersburg.
5. Abercrombie Park
With palms and beautiful crooked live oaks, one of St. Petersburg’s prettiest waterfront parks is moments from Kenneth City.
Abercrombie Park is on a long and narrow plot culminating in waterfront where Long Bayou meets Boca Ciega Bay.
The best part for me is the boardwalk in the park’s northwest corner. This branches off into two forks along the lush banks of a creek. Needless to say, the scenery is absolutely astonishing around sunset at this west-facing park.
Finally, look out for the park’s changes in elevation. These are in fact man-made, as Native American middens composed of shells and other refuse.
6. Mazzaro’s Italian Market
Open seven days a week, this nearby specialty food market is my idea of paradise. The enticing sights and smells of traditional Italian fare await you on every aisle.
Bread and pastries are freshly-baked every day; the meat market is arguably the finest in Pinellas; the sauces and pasta are homemade; there’s a trove of gourmet foods brought in from Italy, and the coffee is roasted on site.
A wide variety of cheeses is available, and if you’re in the mood for a sandwich, you can have one custom-made right in front of you. My one piece of advice is to be prepared for crowds if you come at lunch.
7. Tyrone Square Mall
With more than 150 stores, the largest enclosed mall in St. Petersburg is just five minutes from Kenneth City. Tyrone Square Mall has been around for more than half a century, and had total occupancy when I shopped here.
This included all seven anchors, among them Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney and Dillard’s
For an idea of what to expect, a few of Tyrone Square’s other retailers include G by Guess, Francesca’s, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, LOFT, Yankee Candle, Foot Locker and Hollister.
The food court was also doing well on my visit, with the likes of Chick-fil-A and the local chain, Perry’s BBQ.
8. Sawgrass Lake Park
One of the biggest maple swamps on the Gulf Coast awaits you at this Pinellas County park. These 400 acres of pristine parkland are home to a wide variety of birds, including egrets, wood storks, and herons.
The park is also on the migration corridor for a variety of other bird species, including the likes of yellow-throated warblers and red-eyed vireos in fall.
I had a fun time exploring the mile-long boardwalk looping through the swamp, while there’s an observation tower with a bird’s eye view of Sawgrass Lake. From up here you’re sure to see plenty of alligators and turtles.
9. Walter Fuller Park
Something that really appeals to me about the Pinellas peninsula is the ample green public space. Next to Tyrone Square Mall, Walter Fuller Park is designed for active as well as passive recreation.
The sports amenities are on the south and east side of the park, with four football fields, four lighted baseball fields, a pool and tennis/pickleball courts.
There’s also a large lake at the heart of the property, with waterside observation areas and picnic pavilions close by. Like any body of water in the area, the lake is a magnet for wildlife, and I saw a flock of ibises here.
Every April, Walter Fuller Park plays host to the Green Thumb Festival, a large event with horticulture and environmental protection as its core.
10. Azalea Park
This nearby park is one of many along the Pinellas Trail. The prime attraction at Azalea Park is a 9-hole disc golf course that was built in 2011. Ideal for newcomers to the sport, this has a straightforward layout around the park’s northern half.
Another thing that impressed me about Azalea Park was the large and well-kept fitness zone, an outdoor gym in the shade of the trees.
Other elements include several athletic fields, as well as three large picnic shelters and abundant open green space for relaxation and games.
11. St. Petersburg
Something I can’t ignore about Kenneth City is the presence of St. Petersburg, making up the eastern and southern parts of the Pinellas peninsula.
The fifth most populous city in Florida is a dazzling center for culture, glass art in particular. Along those lines, do not pass on a visit to The Dalí, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Collection, the exhibits at Fairgrounds St. Pete, Duncan McClellan Gallery, or the Imagine Museum.
There are many other facets to St. Pete’s allure. An important one is the fabulous location on Tampa Bay. Here, check out the extraordinary St. Pete Pier, newly reopened as a world-class lifestyle district when I was in town.
12. Jungle Prada & DeNarvaez Park
This waterfront park looks out over Boca Ciega Bay, and is set around a little cove with a boat ramp and fishing pier.
There are two shelters at Jungle Prada & DeNarvaez Park, and the big draw is the view over the water to Treasure Island, John’s Pass and Madeira Beach.
The name comes from the Spanish Narváez expedition of 1527, which landed around Tampa Bay. This is believed to have been the place where they came ashore.
Once again, there’s significant Native American evidence at this site. This is thought to have been the location of an ancient Tocobaga village, and you can learn more at the neighboring Sacred Lands Preservation.
There’s a museum displaying artifacts from digs, as well as a ten-foot-deep test pit, complemented by a rich lineup of programs, from talks to drum circles and meditation.
13. Sample Craft Beer at Rapp Brewing Company
Situated in nearby Seminole, the Rapp Brewing Company is a nanobrewery with something for every taste.
Launched in 2012, this operation is housed in a converted warehouse. Despite the small scale they are able to produce a wide range of beers with the help of a yeast bank with 25 strains, and more than 50 fermentation vessels.
So I wasn’t surprised to see that the taproom has more than 30 options on draft. Faced with such a choice, it’s worth opting for a flight (four or six) to sample a few beers.
Food trucks are located on-site almost every day of the week, so you can enjoy anything from pizza to burgers or Caribbean specialties with your brew.
14. James P. Ernst Park
Kenneth City’s largest public park was given a few updates in the late 2010s. The highlight of these was the playground, with soft rubberized paving and a small splash park.
Also at the park are an adult fitness area, tennis court, basketball court, softball field, table tennis, lawn bowling area, and shuffleboard court.
Picnic pavilions, one of which has a charging station, are dotted around the park. These are purposely situated next to the park’s main features, including the children’s playground.
I was here on a blazing hot day and appreciated how much shade there was, either under canopies, trees or those pavilions.
15. CMX Cinemas Tyrone Luxury 10
Next to the namesake mall along US 19 is the nearest movie theater to Kenneth City. About five minutes away, CMX Cinemas Tyrone Luxury 10 opened in 2016 as a Cobb Theatres location.
As this is a relatively new location, it comes with all of the modern comforts we’ve come to expect. The game changer is of course cozy leather reclining seats in all of the auditoriums.
There are tray tables on each seat if you order something fresh from the in-house kitchen. This is also one of that new breed of movie theaters that allows you to enjoy alcoholic beverages, with a menu of beer, wine and cocktails.