C'mon Inner Peace… I Don't Have All Damn Day
As I travel, I tend to forget that I live in a beautiful paradise where people spend thousands of dollars to visit.
I’ve mentioned before, that I am by nature a city girl, so anything Pinellas County Florida had to offer, did not excite me… until recently.
I truly believe the two main things I missed the most about Manhattan, or the North East in particular, were the people… and the food.
St. Petersburg is currently the epicenter of a MAJOR food revolution, and with that comes the people I have been craving. It wasn’t until St. Pete started having this massive transformation that I began to realize… I may never want to live anywhere else.
I am lucky enough to attend the St. Pete campus of the University of South Florida, which enables me to watch the transformation right in front of my eyes. It’s truly astonishing to see a city awaken almost over night, and the growth has no end in sight.
The entire downtown area is lined with beautiful 1920’s style homes, donning giant southern porches and shutters. They had been left dilapidated for decades, but now, they are some of the most desirable homes in Pinellas County.
One by one, as I drive to school, I witness these homes morph into the most charming old fashioned neighborhood. There are bungalows hidden inside lush tropical greenery, and BnB’s that look straight out of a magazine.
These neighborhoods are the kind you only see on old movies where people hang out on their porches and walk to the corner store. Where kids play on the sidewalk, and everyone knows their neighbors.
Mixed between quaint homes are brand new multi-million dollar high-rise condos and apartments. All of a sudden, classy, high-end living is popping up everywhere… the kind with roof-top cabana style pools, and waterfalls overlooking Tampa Bay.
But it’s not just the renovation of the neighborhood drawing crowds, its the artsy scene. A “MUST SEE” on any visit to St. Pete is the Salvador Dali museum. Made with Dali’s nature in mind, this museum is as unique as he was.
The Museum of Fine Arts, and the Chihuly collection are lined along Beach drive, but its the local artisans and musicians which give life to this downtown area.
Walking tours to see the local mural-art have popped up, due to the abundance of artisans working tirelessly to change this downtown in a beautiful and unique destination.
High-end food markets, such as Locale, reek of Manhattan and leave me very satisfied; the culture I have craved is finally within driving distance, and St. Pete is being put on the map in a BIG way.
Just take a walk up Central Avenue and you will see very few chain stores. St. Pete prides itself with everything local. Local beer, local clothing, local live music, LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL… They even have a festival called “Localtopia” for entrepreneurs to celebrate their work.
Beach drive draws the Sunday Brunch crowd, something I dearly missed when I moved down here. There was zero brunch scene other than fried beach food at Crabby Bills, but now cafes line the sidewalk. They even cater to our four-legged friends with their own menus filled with delightful treats such as Ice cream or sirloin steak.
St. Petersburg downtown, or “The Burg” is not located on the Gulf of Mexico, so please don’t confuse it with St. Pete Beach (which, BTW, is having its own moment in the sunshine as well). Downtown St. Pete, has a funky modern vibe with beach access on Tampa Bay.
The extremely popular “Saturday Morning Market” is said to rival Seattle’s famous marketplace. The owner carefully chooses each vendor for its originality, with a focus on food. The long wait-list is a testament to the popularity; each vendor is scrutinized, then groomed… so to speak. The market wants to see its vendors flourish in business outside of the market, and they are nudged in that direction to develop their own marketing strategy.
Any visitor to downtown must make a trip on a Saturday, if only to taste all the samples.
Once a month, the “First Friday St. Pete,” block party is held Bourbon St. style. Streets are closed off and people let loose. This is a major draw for the USF St. Pete campus as opposed to the Tampa campus, the party is within walking distance to school. Keep this in mind when choosing your university kids… just sayin.
It makes me so proud to be a part of this growing community and I felt the need to share it with the world.
You MUST come see what’s happening here in the entire Tampa Bay area, not just St. Petersburg. The city of Tampa itself is coming into its own rather quickly, with the opening of the new Riverwalk, and a connection to the Channelside district.
Trendy restaurants such as Ulele are popping up along the river, and even MOSI, the science museum, is moving to center-city Tampa. There is a new ferry service which will connect downtown St. Pete to Tampa; a very cool idea indeed. Don’t you think?
I have a feeling we wont recognize the Tampa Bay area in the next decade, and it’s all for the better, in my opinion. I no longer feel that I was stranded on some deserted island in the middle of nowhere. No, I feel like I am in on the ground floor of something very exciting.
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