One of the best times of year for fine dining is during the holiday season. A sumptuous dinner in the company of close friends and family, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the holidays, is one of the best ways to celebrate the season. Here are some restaurants who offer fine dining and are located in areas brimming with holiday spirit.

There is no better place to start than on Beach Drive in Downtown St. Petersburg. Here you will find a great mix of shopping, dining, and galleries. Right across the street is Straub Park where the city strings thousands of lights through the trees to create a holiday wonderland. There is no better place to enjoy a wonderful dinner than at the Birch and Vine in the Birchwood Hotel. Here the ribeye carpaccio gets elevated to star status by using Wagyu Beef, a cherry aspic, and cocoa-chili sauce. Lobster is the perfect celebration entrée and at the Birch and Vine, they gently fold it into creamy risotto made from arborio rice and sweet corn. Forget the sugarplums, you'll want Lobster Risotto dancing in your head after this dinner. 

Clearwater Beach, the epicenter of the Pinellas County Gold Coast, gets all decked out for the holidays. With so many luxury hotels and public parks taking holiday decorations to the next level, this area will get your inner-Santa in a festive mood the second you spy the powdery white... sand on one of America’s best beaches. For a great holiday dinner head to Caretta on the Gulf on the Gulf at the Sand Pearl Resort. The seafood plateau is big enough to share with your entire party and features Blue Point oysters, wild shrimp, Maine lobster, Dutch Harbor king crab legs and green lip mussels. From there order the veal medallions. Tender veal, pink peppercorns, and dark green fried sage is a holiday on a plate!   

Strolling down Main Street in Dunedin will transport you to a little Scottish Village with charming shops and restaurants. And for fine dining in this neighborhood, the place to go is The Black Pearl Restaurant. Start your holiday dinner here with the pate of foie gras. The port braised figs and walnut brittle pair perfectly with this pate, and will make you rethink your holiday wish list! The rack of lamb with citrus mustard and brandy demiglace delivers great taste and holiday sophistication.

There are many other options for a special night out during the holiday season. The Beachcomber, Marchand's Bar & Grill , Bon Appetit RestaurantVilla Bellini Restaurant & Lounge and the Maritana Grill at the Don CeSar are all great choices as well.  Put together a mix of special people, a festive holiday cocktail, and any one of these restaurants for a holiday evening to remember.

For more info on Restaurants, or the holiday season in Pinellas, check out And you can register to get updates on all the things happening, and it's all free!

Photo from Birch and Vine Facebook page