After you’ve walked and gawked and sunned and surfed, it’s time to eat. And not at the national chains that populate the rest of Florida, hawking their early bird specials (Yes, Denny’s – this means you.). Steve Westphal, owner of gotosteves.com, notes that one of the truly unique aspects of St. Pete is the plethora of independently owned and operated restaurants. Parkshore Grill and Tryst Gastro Lounge (recently selected as one of Urban Spoon’s 250 Most Popular High-End Restaurants in America) are just two of many excellent locations to enjoy a meal.Photo: City of St. Petersburg
Chamber of Commerce President Chris Steinocher encourages visitors to dine outside and enjoy the city’s vibe. “It’s great to sit and listen and watch,” he says. On a Saturday night, the traffic along Beach Drive crawls along, like a ‘50’s cruise down the strip, as people look for parking spots – a problem arising from the city’s new popularity. “We’re an overnight success that took 20 years to achieve,” notes Steinocher.
Evening entertainment options abound. You can catch a professional baseball game at the Trop, home to the Florida Rays, or listen to live music at one of the many venues in downtown, including Jannus Live, an outdoor spot that hosts bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals and holds approximately 2000. If you’re jonesing for a little make-believe, take a carriage ride and wave to the crowd like Cinderella in the Magic Kingdom’s Light Parade.
“Don’t touch that.” “Stop climbing on the nice people.” “He’s going to throw up.” Conversation on family vacations tends to sound like this, particularly while waiting on line at Space Mountain for 2 hours in the Florida sun. When it’s time to put aside childish travel, St. Pete offers a great way to transition into the next stage. While watching a glorious sunset at a restaurant with real napkins and no chicken nuggets, you won’t need to say a thing. Enjoy the quiet. You’ve earned it.