If you live in Tampa, or even north Pinellas County, you might not think it's worth your time and effort to drive to St. Petersburg.
Think again. Downtown St. Pete is home to some of Tampa Bay's top attractions. Here are seven reasons to give downtown St. Pete a try.
Beach Drive: The weather always seems fair along this relaxed stretch of near-waterfront pavement, which encompasses historic Al Lang Field, the Museum of Fine Arts, Coffee Pot Bayou, the Renaissance Viony Resort, and restaurants like The Moon Under Water, Parkshore Grill and Paciugo gelateria. See also: Central Avenue, a long row of storefronts, bars and interesting restaurants.
The mint juleps at Savannah's Cafe: Whether you're a retired Kentucky colonel or you just got lost on your way to Churchill Downs, Savannah's is the place to go for the area's best menu of juleps, from drinks made with vodka and tequila to Georgia Peach Julep to Mint Julep Iced Tea. 1113 Central Ave. See also: The beer at the Independent. Oozing cool from its long, sleek tables and stylish brick decor, the Independent is likely to serve you an unknown Belgian beer here for the very first time, and you're likely to love it. 29 Third St. N.
Jannus Live: If you love live music, you have no excuse not to see a show in the newly renovated Jannus courtyard. You're close to the stage, the trees are strung with lights, residents of the Detroit Hotel apartments are relaxing on their decks with a drink — and you're likely to see some of the best artists coming through Tampa Bay. 16 Second St. N; check www.jannuslive.com for shows.
Wig Villa: Have you ever wondered if blondes really have more fun? This massive, funky wig warehouse is the perfect place to find out. 575 Central Ave. See also: Gas Plant Antique Arcade, a multi-story castle loaded of quirky treasures (an egg scale! an antique fireman's hat!) and high-priced home decor.
St. Pete Shuffle: The New York Times and Washington Post have both paid a visit to the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, where young, artsy and trendsetting history aficionados gather to play shuffleboard from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday nights. See stpeteshuffle.com. See also: The St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, one of the best outdoor markets in Florida, with live music, fresh produce and arts and gifts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. October to May.
American Stage: A lively venue for some of Tampa Bay's top theatrical productions, American Stage recently began offering a late-night, pay-what-you-can series for younger adults, featuring events like The Vagina Monologues, Reefer Madness and The SantaLand Diaries. 163 Third St. N, americanstage.org. See also: The Mahaffey Theater, the majestically restored home of the Florida Orchestra and other theatrical, music and comedy events. 400 First St. S, mahaffeytheater.org.
Studio@620: This offbeat art gallery and entertainment venue is renowned for quirky but high-minded cultural offerings, from craft bazaars to foreign films to free coffee Tuesday through Friday afternoons. See also: ARTpool, the new kid on St. Pete's crowded artistic block, which has begun throwing hipster events like Polaroid parties and T-shirt exhibits. 919 First Ave N, artpoolrules.com.
Vinoy Waterfront Park: On many days throughout the year, this long, green park, garden and recreation complex is home to events ranging from barbecue festivals to charity 5Ks to the Warped Tour. But most weekends, it's just a wide swath of some of the most prime picnic turf in Tampa Bay. See also: Straub Park, which sits beside the Museum of Fine Arts and Beach Drive, is home to a few giant banyan trees, making it a common place to snap kooky tourist pictures.
Contributing: tbt* files.