Sunday, December 17, 2017

Seven quirky wonders of Central Avenue in St. Pete

Some of the most random, unique and incredibly cool places in Florida can be found tucked away on St. Petersburg's Central Avenue. You could spend an entire day sifting through old records, gazing at amazing art and eating the most diverse foods. If vintage is your thing, you will appreciate these seven wonders of Central Avenue that much more. We visited Central and picked out the seven quirkiest, hole-in-the-wall wonders that are perfect for after-school gatherings or weekend wanderings and ranked them on our Quirkiness Scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the quirkiest (in a good way). Even if you don't live in the neighborhood, these wonders are worth a visit.

The Craftsman House

2955 Central Ave. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. (727) 323-2787

This art gallery and cafe features creative and functional art from local artists and a healthy variety of foods that won't kill your good cholesterol (or raise your bad). Set up inside a charming bungalow with only slightly creaky floorboards, the Craftsman House gives such a homey feel that you could sit on the porch swings for ages. Go ahead and study your government homework while sipping a Barack-a-Latte, or enjoy the Florida sun with a pina-colada smoothie.

Rank: 8 As quirky as … the girl with the record player and record collection. Who needs iTunes anyway?

La Creperia Café

2901 Central Ave. Closed Mon.-Tues.; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Weds.-Thurs.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun. (727) 327-7400

Set inside a metal trailer, this yummy spot may at first turn people away, but the amazing food will definitely draw you in. With sweet to savory crepes, there's a little taste of France for everyone. You can sit outdoors with an umbrella or inside a comfortably painted interior. Get super Frenchy with the Marie Antoinette crepe with bananas, Nutella, strawberries and Irish cream liqueur.

Rank: 7 As quirky as … the boy who never leaves the house without oxfords.


1104 Central Ave. 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.; closed Sun. (727) 821-7555

What better wind down from school stress than aromatherapy? Whether you want to make your own soap, or have the professionals do it, you'll be sure to find the right scent. This quaint little place has tons of soaps to suit any person's fancy, with fascinating artistic designs in each bar. The moment you step in the door, we promise you'll be hit with a wave of whatever paradise smells like.

Rank: 6 As quirky as … the kid who always burns incense in his room.

Central Perks

695 Central Ave. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.- Fri.; closed Sat.-Sun. (727) 490-2017

The best place to go with your friends! (Wink, wink.) This cute little cafe is based on the one from the hit TV show Friends. Munch on a Joey Italian sub and eat a legit lunch. It's tiny, cute and colorful with a friendly staff who will call you by name. Even though it's in a hidden location, you'll be sure to search for it again.

Rank: 4 As quirky as … the one who wears fabric headbands and traditional Ray-Bans with high-waisted shorts to every concert .

Art Pool Gallery

2030 Central Ave. Gallery and boutique noon- 6 p.m. Tues.-Sat.; cafe 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Sat. (727) 324-3878

This vintage boutique, gallery, cafe and hive of activity is one of the best finds along Central Avenue. This quirky shop in two sections is home to crazy vintage items, from blue cowboy boots to fur coats, to hundreds of records and antiques of all kinds, including your grandma's kitchenware. You could spend hours wandering the store, finding something new each time you poke through a rack or shelf. Best part? It's got a great cafe and breezy open-air dining space.

On weekends, Art Pool will host parties and small concerts in the courtyard that divides the two spaces, so you have a place to wear your crazy vintage getups.

Rank: 10 As quirky as … the guy who brings his typewriter to Starbucks.

Brew D Licious

667 Central Ave. 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.; closed Sunday (727) 741-2249

This little hidden gem of a coffee shop is definitely high on the list of to-visit hole-in-the-wall places on Central Avenue.

On a pretty day, Brew D Licious, which is set inside a garage, opens its garage door to let the fresh air through to all those sitting on the comfy couches inside. This tiny place doesn't even have a sign except for the little name on the door. On our hunt for cool places, we walked right past it and had to do a double-take to make sure it really was a coffee shop! This is the perfect spot to bring a study group, or a quiet place to do homework or just relax.

Rank: 9 As quirky as … the girl who brings her Polaroid everywhere.

Street art

So the other wonders of Central Avenue will cost you money, but we promise this one won't break the bank. Enjoy street art that can rival that of Detroit all along the avenue. From Iron Man to puppies, a simple stroll down Central and its alleys can have you gasping at all this crazy talent simply spread out on the sides of buildings. (See accompanying story, Page 9.)

Rank: 4 As quirky as … the kid who wears two different long stripey socks as a fashion statement.

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