Treasure Hunt - Hidden Shopping & Dining Gems Only The Locals KnowBy Merle Rosenstein
Taking time out from the beach to refuel and recharge is essential. Nothing energizes a shopaholic more than a standout session of retail therapy and fantastic food.
Credit: Visit St Petersburg/Clearwater
The top shopping treasures come from the sea in Tarpon Springs, but youâll also find great Greek food and unique antiques.
Whether it’s picking the perfect bikini for the beach or selecting souvenirs for folks back home, visitors will find it all in St Pete/Clearwater. The variety of malls, flea markets, souvenir shops, antique and specialty stores and boutiques will impress even the most seasoned shopper. Here are a handful of shopping hot spots:
• Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg is a diamond and pearl shopping destination with old and new jewelry stores.
• The Crislip Arcade, built in 1926, has eight galleries. The architecturally interesting arcade features Cuban floor tiles, tall ceilings with iron chandeliers and a huge iron gate.
• Gulfport features art from recycled glass, hand-made goat’s milk soap, elaborate painted kites – on offer in this colourful waterfront district.
• Historic Corey Avenue, St Pete Beach’s main street, has an eclectic assortment of independent stores offering everything from beads to Christmas ornaments to top-notch cigars and custom jewelry.
• Tarpon Springs’ top treasures come from the sea. In the historic downtown area, visitors will find gourmet delights and antiques stores.
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Many local restaurants line The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant offer sensational views and amazing seafood.
Whether it’s a mid-afternoon snack on the waterfront or a full-course meal at a high-end restaurant, dining in St Pete/Clearwater is a real treat. Will it be seafood on the beach or ethnic eats downtown? Here are some tempting suggestions:
You can’t say you’ve been to St Pete/Clearwater without trying a grouper sandwich. Locals stand by Frenchy’s family of restaurants. The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, on Pass-a-Grille Beach, offers sensational views of the Gulf, live music and dancing in a casual atmosphere. On nearby Tierra Verde, Billy’s Stone Crab Restaurant features sweet scallops, Gulf Stream mahi mahi, fresh Florida flounder and stone crabs fresh from the ocean. Relax and listen to live music at the rooftop bar. The Island Way Grill on Clearwater Beach serves up Rim/continental/island cuisine including lollipop conch fritters and bamboo salmon. Over at the Palm Pavilion Bar & Grill they have been serving up free sunsets along with steaks, seafood and chicken since 1926. And locals swear by their great kids’ menu.
St Pete/Clearwater has a myriad of ethnic restaurants started by immigrants to the area. Three restaurants stand out among the mix. Both locations of the Columbia Restaurant (on the fourth floor of The Pier in downtown St Petersburg; Sand Key in Clearwater Beach) prepare traditional Spanish dishes. (Insider tip: The 1905 salad is amazing.) Mykonos Restaurant, a family-run establishment in Tarpon Springs is known as an authentic Greek dining spot. Moon Under Water, a mix of Indian and British foods is a pub-style restaurant overlooking the busy downtown area and Straub Park. The restaurant offers curry dishes, salads and shepherd's pie.
For more information, go to www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com