Sunday, February 25, 2018
Things To Do

New York Times writes '36 Hours' on St. Pete Beach. Did they get it right?

You've only got a day and a half to visit the stretch of Pinellas County beaches from Fort De Soto to Madeira Beach. What should you do?

According to the latest entry in the New York Times' "36 Hours" travel series headlined "36 Hours in St. Pete Beach, Fla. (and Environs)," the trails, fishing and "lazing" on the sand at Fort De Soto Park are a must. So is a visit to the John's Pass Village and Boardwalk and the Merry Pier in Pass-a-Grille.

They would recommend a stay the Gatsby-esque Don CeSar, that pink palace that opened in 1928, or the recently opened Hotel Zamora. Both beautiful, solid choices (and both likely to run you at least $259 a night, possibly hundreds more, especially for the Don CeSar, on weekends).

A local, perhaps, might point you toward a less expensive stay at the multitude of less glamorous, but perfectly beach-serviceable lodging nearby (the Thunderbird in Treasure Island, and the St. Pete Beach Suites, aka "the old Dolphin Motel," come to mind).

But there will always be nitpicking from locals when it comes to non-locals writing about their territory.

One online commenter pointed out the omission of the iconic Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish. The story points people toward Sea Critters Cafe in Pass-A-Grille, Sea Porch Cafe in St. Pete Beach and Island Grille & Raw Bar in Tierra Verde.

Sure, the recommendations of blackened grouper and gulf snapper will ring true for locals, but lobster bisque? Where's the stone crab, or gator, or even some local clams?

And where's the beer?

Few will disagree with the writer's assertion that Jimmy B's Beach Bar is a great spot for a ridiculously big, ridiculously-named cocktail of extreme fruitiness and a side of (possibly sloshed) people watching (though no Caddy's? No Undertow? Really?), but Tampa Bay is a paradise of craft beer, even at the beach. What about Mastry's Brewing Co. or Mad Beach Brewing?

Non-local eyes do have their advantages, though. People around here might normally avoid the touristy shops at John's Pass Village altogether, but the story points out the quirky Treehouse Puppets & Treasures hidden among T-shirt spots there.

Sweet Brewnette, the cool, retro, women-owned coffee shop in Madeira Beach that might not be on locals' radar yet also gets a shout out. And did you even know there was a Gulf Beaches Historical Museum in Pass-a-Grille? Now you do.

Did they miss one of your favorite spots by the beach? Let us know in the comments.

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