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New list touts St. Petersburg's charms

The online travel site EscapeHere recognizes that few places can rival the vistas along St. Petersburg’s waterfront. Above are the Mahaffey Theatre, in the foreground, and the Dalí Museum.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The online travel site EscapeHere recognizes that few places can rival the vistas along St. Petersburg’s waterfront. Above are the Mahaffey Theatre, in the foreground, and the Dalí Museum.

The Sunshine City appears to be making strides in shedding its sad, old image.

More than a year after being dubbed one of the saddest cities in America by Men's Health magazine, it's good to know there are outfits out there that know better.

The publishers at EscapeHere, an online travel site, have named St. Petersburg one of seven of the most beautiful and underrated cities and towns in the United States.

The folks at escapehere.com have figured out what locals have known all along — few places can rival the sweeping vistas along the waterfront or the steady stream of visitors to downtown shops and galleries.

The site touts the city's weather, beautiful beaches and the Salvador Dalí Museum.

St. Petersburg was rated fourth behind Tunica, Miss.; Charleston, S.C. (my hometown); and Virginia Beach, Va. Rounding out the list were Newport, R.I.; Perdido Key and Lincoln, Neb.

To check out the listing, visit escapehere.com.

• • •

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

More than a year ago, the Sunshine City completed a three-peat by landing the top spot on the list of Top Arts Destinations for midsized cities by AmericanStyle magazine.

At that time, the city's cultural affairs manager expressed concern that it would be difficult to keep the streak going, given that larger metropolitan cities, including Atlanta and Miami, were competing in the same category as St. Petersburg.

It's safe to say city officials and the arts community can put those concerns to rest: AmericanStyle, launched in 1994 by the Rosen Group in Baltimore, suspended publication in October.

The magazine also suspended its e-newsletter, but maintains its articles archive on the website at americanstyle.com.

Not to worry, I'm certain city officials will find a host of other lists to conquer.

• • •

A Pinellas County organization will mark two milestones next week.

In celebrating 35 years of service, the Friends of Strays is hosting a Big Birthday Pawty from 1 to 4 p.m. July 28.

The festive event will also honor Friends of Strays co-founder Jean Bomonti, who will celebrate her 90th birthday, by creating a fund in her name.

The goal of the fund is to carry out Bomonti's vision to stop the overpopulation of homeless animals by providing spay and neuter services.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held at the Friends of Strays Thrift Shoppe, 3660 Gandy Blvd.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at sgadsden@tampabay.com or at (727) 893-8874 and on Twitter at @StPeteSandi.

New list touts St. Petersburg's charms 07/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 19, 2013 5:06pm]
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