One of the attributes that makes downtown Saint Petersburg, Florida, such an attractive downtown is the string of parks that run along the water, preserving views and access for everyone. The highrise condos that are growing along Beach Drive, have great water view for the condo owners, but are set behind the park, so that they don't wall off the water from everyone else. There is a string of parks, running from the Albert Whitted Airport, past the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel, along Northshore Drive, and nearly to Snell Isle. Some parks are directly on the water, and others have a road between them and the water. Demens Landing, an island park connected by a small bridge, has picnic areas, a marina, and hosts American Stage for Shakespeare in the Park each spring. Northshore Park has a public swimming pool which hosts many Masters Swimming competitions, and is now finishing a second adjacent pool. Straub Park has the Museum of Fine Arts. Throughout the parks there are art shows, music festivals, food festivals, and many other interesting events.
A major factor in enjoying these parks is that when they were given to the city of St. Petersburg, they came with strings. The city is not allowed to sell any portion of these, or even give a long-term lease on any portion, whichout public approval through a referendum. In the past, only two proposals received public approval - a land swap, gaining waterfront land in exchange for land across the street from the water for the Vinoy Place condominiums; and approving construction of a conference center for the historic Renaissance Vinoy Hotel to be build behind the hotel where no views were obstructed.