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Dalí by day, party by night, in bustling downtown St. Petersburg

Artist Rasta Geary Taylor, owner of 1 of 1 Customs at 659 Central Ave., does a custom paint job on a pair of sneakers for a customer.


Artist Rasta Geary Taylor, owner of 1 of 1 Customs at 659 Central Ave., does a custom paint job on a pair of sneakers for a customer.

If you haven't been to downtown St. Petersburg in the past few years, you probably won't recognize the place. Classy high-rise condos on the waterfront. Restaurants along Beach Drive with plenty of outdoor dining. An entire block of grass roots art spaces and clothing boutiques. Oh, and drinks are served until 3 a.m. � Central Avenue between Second and Third streets is closed to traffic on the first Friday night of every month for a street fair, complete with food, booze and live music. Downtown art galleries and studios are open until 9 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month. And on Saturday mornings from October to May, the perimeter of Progress Energy Park is transformed into a bustling outdoor market, which has become the city's place to be seen with your cloth shopping bags and Eurobaskets. � Though the city's waterfront parks are still the primary venues for outdoor events, including Ribfest in November, Snowfest the following month and any number of fundraising walk-runs, there's a hip late-night vibe. � If your visit to the Salvador Dalí Museum is an overnight affair, don't think the sidewalks roll up when the sun goes down. There are plenty of places to listen to music and toast the scene with a cocktail. Downtown's only quiet time may be during weekend days, and that's when you can explore one of the many art galleries and museums. � The new Dalí Museum is a good reason to stick around and check out funky St. Petersburg. The following are some favorites, new spots and a nod to other activities on the waterfront. For upcoming events and other venue information, check out

Jannus Live. The refurbished Jannus Landing is now called Jannus Live and features acts that run the gamut of contemporary music from hip-hop to country to indie rock. We don't totally love the new electronic marquee, but who can quibble about the slamming sound system and cleaned-up venue? The adjacent Pelican Pub is another cool watering hole on the downtown scene. There's a Starbucks across the street and several late-night dining joints nearby.

16 Second St. N; (727) 565-0550 or

600 block of Central Avenue. This once-blighted block has transformed into the coolest place in town. Stroll along and find unique boutiques and galleries full of local work. This isn't stuffy stuff but grass roots creativity. An antidote to big-box commercialism, for sure.

No bar better exemplifies the resurgence of the 600 block than the Local 662. It serves up local music (and some national acts) on weekends, but on Wednesdays, it's all about St. Pete Soul — delightful old-school funk, boogie and R&B orchestrated by a cadre of local DJs playing music from Earth, Wind & Fire to Rick James to Morris Day to Erykah Badu. The vintage State Theatre across the street still attracts throngs of kids dressed in black to shows by such groups as the Dead Kennedys and Indorphine.

Local 662: 662 Central Ave.; (727) 258-4829 or

State Theatre: 687 Central Ave.; (727) 895-3045 or

Ultra lounges. The late-night scene includes dancing at Push and Vintage, within walking distance of each other. Push offers a rooftop view and yoga on Wednesday nights, presumably to get loosened up for the dance events the rest of the week. Not far from the pulsating stage of Jannus Live is the Vintage Ultra Lounge nightclub. The affordable drinks of Five Dollar Fridays are just one of the regular weekly events that draws customers.

Push: 128 Third St. S; (727) 871-7874 or

Vintage: 16 Second St. N; (727) 898-2222 or

Greek dancing. Tarpon Springs isn't the only place where you can see belly dancers and listen to traditional bouzouki music. Acropolis Greek Taverna grabbed the space left vacant when BellaBrava moved to swanky Beach Drive, and now patrons can hang out late, eat flaming saganaki and be entertained on weekend nights.

515 Central Ave.; (727) 823-1010 or

A spot of cool. It's not a late-night joint, but you can drink tea and regroup until 10 p.m. every day but Sunday (open until 7 p.m.) at Hooker Tea Company on Beach Drive NE. Grab a cushy seat after you select something to sip from the more than 100 loose varieties available. It's an oasis of sanity and calm, with a side of sophistication. Also a good place to grab breakfast or hide out while the rest of your group is sightseeing.

300 Beach Drive NE; (727) 894-4832 or

Information from Times files was included in this report.

Dalí by day, party by night, in bustling downtown St. Petersburg 01/07/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 6:50pm]
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