Grand Central District St. Petersburg – Downtown St. Pete Shops, Galleries and Nightlife
Written October 11, 2017
While St. Pete Beach offers an incredible island experience for guests across the globe, the St. Petersburg area is becoming well known for much more than just its endless shoreline and pristine sugary sands. Even the most enthusiastic beach bum needs a break from all that sun, sand and surf every once in a while and St. Petersburg offers solace for sunbathers in the form of ample shopping, unique restaurants and exciting nightlife. Grand Central Street St. Petersburg and the restaurants on Central Avenue St. Petersburg Florida are the ultimate destinations for foodies and fashionistas alike, and coincidentally a quick ten minute drive from award-winning St. Pete Beach.
The easiest way to get back and forth between downtown St. Pete and St. Pete Beach would be arranging a quick shuttle through resort transportation or any number of services like Lyft or Uber. Street parking around the Grand Central district can be at a premium during peak hours, and many parking spots do have two hour time limits. To be able to truly enjoy the day, parking in one of the local parking garages would be the best way to go. There are 3 main Public Parking Garages that be found close to Central Avenue: The Sundial Parking Garage, SouthCore Parking Garage and the Al Lange Parking Surface Lot. Another useful resource when parking for a big day in downtown St. Petersburg is the ParkMobile app. It makes paying to park in metered parking spots scattered throughout the city both easy and convenient.
The diverse shopping opportunities available all up and down Grand Central Street are the perfect place to pick up any St. Pete souvenirs. The Grand Central district is home to a plethora of antique shops ranging in everything from home décor to clothing, art and epicurean specialties. One of the area’s best hidden treasures full of gems itself is a little shop by the name of Strands of Sunshine. The perfect soy candle, art piece, letterpress cards, pretty pots, homemade jewelry and more can all be found here. Daddy Kool Records is also a popular destination for anyone seeking a vintage souvenir in the form of their favorite sounds.
For anyone interested in looking at priceless art without the price tag, there are a number of galleries located throughout downtown St. Pete. Those with a modern eye for sculpture will likely find the Morean Arts Center to be a perfect way to spend an afternoon. The Morean Arts Center is home to the Chihuly collection, and happens to be the first installation of Chihuly art in a building designed specifically for that purpose. There are also plenty of other exhibits to hold any art lover’s interest, as well as a glass studio and the Morean Center for Clay. If you’re looking for a craftier experience, Florida Craft Art exhibits its member’s work in the Central Arts District in downtown St. Pete. What’s the best part about craft art? You can purchase many of your favorite pieces! If you’re looking to stay outside and enjoy some local art, don’t forget to look up! Downtown St. Pete shops and businesses happen to have some of the biggest and best murals you will ever see covering their walls. From dinosaurs to giant fish and local heroes, inspiration can be seen on practically every street corner. The local street art movement in St. Pete’s Grand Central district has even spawned some very interesting events like the St. Pete Mural Tour, where you can embark on a guided tour of St. Petersburg’s largest gallery – its streets.
Central Avenue is a true foodie’s paradise, with so many diverse dining options and craft breweries it’ll make anyone’s head spin. The best way to make any vacation a hoppy one is by starting off on St. Pete’s incredible craft brewery trail. Who knew St. Petersburg was home to over 27 fantastic breweries and growing? Forbes Magazine even dubbed the area “God’s tasting room”, stating that “St. Petersburg now rivals Portland and other top craft beer destinations.” With options like Cycle Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, 3 Daughters Brewing and St. Pete Brewing Companies in the ranks and all just off Central Avenue, it’s not hard to see why. Cycle Brewing is the perfect place to start with their award-winning Crème and Sugar Please Coffee Porter. Whether you are looking to wet your whistle or not, no St. Pete brewery tour would be complete without a stop at 3 Daughters Brewing. Truly the toast of the town, 3 Daughters is known for having not only an incredible array of craft beer all brewed in house but an incredibly wide array of fun board games to play while you sip. Some of the most popular brews like Beach Blonde Ale, Bimini Twist IPA and Key Lime Cider can be found on draft in local restaurants throughout the area. 3 Daughters also has an awesome stage area where they frequently offer live music and entertainment. Their themed trivia nights are also a big hit, with days dedicated to anything from 90’s Trivia to Game of Thrones. You’ll also want to be sure to step in and admire their giant Christmas village!
Once you’ve worked your way through downtown St. Pete shops, art galleries and breweries you’ve probably worked up quite a hunger as well. Good thing Downtown St. Pete nightlife is full of excellent and diverse dining options as well. If you’re looking for something quick and light, Bodega on Central cannot be beat. A true taste of the area and self-described as “latin street food with fresh ingredients”, this spot is known for their interesting selection of sandwiches, salads and platters. Some of their most popular orders include the Pollo Asado sandwich made with coconut marinated chicken, mango mayo and avocado and the Lechon made with Cuban-style roast pork, garlic mojo and grilled onions. Urban Brew and BBQ ushers in a new wave of fast casual restaurants in the area, with food made fresh from scratch. They specialize in providing the ultimate craft BBQ and craft beer experiences.
Searching for a more upscale downtown St. Pete dining experience? It’s not hard to find extraordinary cuisine on every corner of the city. No culinary quest could begin without a stop at The Oyster Bar, which offers an array of fresh half shell oysters served in an array of different flavor combinations like Ole’ Chipotle with a flavorful combination of chipotle, chorizo and dusting of parmesan cheese, or the Three Cheese Jalapeno featuring homemade BBQ sauce, honey and soy sauce. Located just off of Central Avenue, the Red Mesa Cantina is another local favorite. You can easily lose track of time in this beautiful space sampling a variety of ceviche and shared appetizers, plus some excellent craft cocktails. Another awesome option for anyone searching for atmosphere, assortment and action is The Lure. This laid-back spot is located directly on Central Avenue and adorned in enough murals to make you feel like you never left the street. The menu features anything from sushi to loaded tater-tots, but The Lure may be most well-known for their array of whimsical cocktails (some are even served in Tikis)! Pool sharks will love this place, as two billiards tables are located in the front of house as well.
For all the night owls circling downtown St. Pete, the fun certainly doesn’t end when the sun goes down! When it comes to things to do late night, downtown St. Pete nightlife is rich with possibilities. For a truly elevated experience, get dressed up and visit our favorite rooftop lounge, The Canopy at Birchwood. Sprawling with personal cabanas and intimate couches surrounding fire tables, The Canopy is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of downtown St. Pete’s sparkling skyline. If a more relaxed environment is on the agenda, join locals at Five Bucks Drinkery and experience their legendary drink specials. A St. Petersburg institution, Ferg’s is the perfect sports bar to watch any game (it was even named one of the top 101 Sports Bars in the country by CNN!) but it’s definitely the place to be when the Tampa Bay Rays are in town. Catching a game at Ferg’s is always a good time, but when it’s time to get in on the action there’s no better spot than Park and Rec. It’s not hard to find fun with ski ball, corn hole, giant beer pong and other classic games all on hand. Finish the night by heading back for a St. Pete Beach nightcap to wind down at one of the chill beach bars scattered across the shoreline.
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