Next Great Neighborhood: St. Pete's Grand Central District
With Downtown St. Petersburg hemmed in by Tampa Bay to the east, the city's revitalization can only head west. This shines the spotlight on the Grand Central District—a pedestrian-friendly area that is also a designated Main Street by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The district's main thoroughfare, Central Avenue, features both double-wide sidewalks and street parking. Here are some of our favorite spots.
This European-inspired gastropub features dishes like malt vinegar fish and chips ($15), crispy chickpeas ($5), and sticky toffee pudding with butter-pecan ice cream and a homemade toffee sauce ($8). In the evening, kick back in the outdoor lounge complete with canopy beds and padded benches.
Opened in late 2012, this shop houses an ever-changing handpicked collection of quirky retro treasures and mid-century modern furnishings. Some of our favorite finds include pinball machines ($850), authentic James Bond movie posters ($40), and fun wall art made from bits of old jukeboxes ($200).
This indie-art headquarters (in a former auto-repair shop) boasts 7,500 square feet of vintage clothing, vinyl records, and rotating works by local artists. Regular fashion shows and craft fests here support St. Petersburg artists.
Kitschy Florida lives on at Beak's (think plastic pink flamingos and paintings of tropical beauties). The menu goes beyond the obvious with a weekend brunch that includes a breakfast burger ($12) on an English muffin with a fried egg, bacon, onion jam, and house-made maple aïoli.
This new, casual joint celebrates the art of 'cue with items such as slow-smoked pulled pork ($10) and tender smoked brisket ($11). Don't miss the sides including collard greens made with pork stock ($2.50) and skillet mac-and-cheese with prosciutto ($5). On tap, choose from 18 craft brews, including ones from local Rapp Brewing Company.
Florida's largest independent bookstore has endured since 1933. For years Haslam's was Grand Central's only retail anchor. Now with 30,000 square feet and more than 300,000 new and used books, it's the perfect spot to spend hours escaping a rainy (or too-hot) day. Frequent book signings, a large selection of Florida titles, and an impressive collection of first editions make this a must-visit.
One of Florida's first all-native plant nurseries, Twigs & Leaves, relocated to Grand Central in 2012. The shop sells drought-tolerant, wind-resistant plants such as the purple-flowered blue-eyed grass and the peppy, yellow black-eyed Susan (both $4.95 per gallon plant). Don't know where to get started to create a lawn with more color and less hassle? Sign up for one of the nursery's frequent workshops or landscape seminars.
8. Roco Traders
This colorful shop houses unique finds from designers south of the border. Look for the one-of-a-kind jewelry brought back from annual buying trips to the sterling silver capital of the world—Taxco, Mexico. More of an indoor type? Don't miss RoCo's selection of artisan-made home decor, including dishware, reclaimed-wood furniture, and chimineas.