107 16th Ave., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
More in this neighborhood: South Pinellas beaches
Located on the southern end of St. Pete Beach, south of the historic Don CeSar Hotel, Pass-a-Grille is but one block wide and 31 blocks long. The village is bordered by the bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
According to legend, it is thought that Pass-a-Grille derives its name from the French Passe aux Grilleurs, which means "the passageway of the grillers" in honor of the fisherman who used to grill their catch of the day on the shore when the island was still a post for pirates. The town of Pass-a-Grille Beach was incorporated into the city of St. Petersburg Beach in 1957 and in 1989 a section of Pass-a-Grille was declared a National Historic District.
Think miles of beach, powdery sand and stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. At the southernmost point of the beach, fisherman hang their poles over the pier. Along the shore, sea shell enthusiasts comb the sand for some of the most unique and exquisite shells in the area. At dusk, watch the pinkish orb of the sun sink into the water. There are restrooms, an outdoor shower to rinse off and a good concession stand that often has beer specials. It's located right on the beach.
The Brass Monkey is a waterfront restaurant that has the best combination of crass and class. Relax on the lounge chairs on the deck, enjoy the Maryland-style crab cakes (called Monkey Balls) and sip a cold beer. The Merry Pier is a great place to people watch, even if you have never been an angler in your life. Don't forget about Eighth Avenue, the downtown area featuring small boutiques, galleries and restaurants, including the massive Hurricane, a local institution).
The area's narrow streets ensure traffic remains at a crawl. Don't come here if you can't deal with driving less than 15 miles per hour. Also, this isn't really a party beach. Everyone is packed in tight, and neighbors won't stand for loud noises after dark. There are no lifeguards.
Parking stations charge $1.25 per hour or $5 per day. Parking, which is free after 5 p.m., is usually plentiful. Be sure you know how to operate the stations (which take credit cards).