City Life

Critics' Choice


The lounge at Armani's

A bit more upscale than a quick stroll down to the beach with a plastic cup of draft beer in your hand, the view from this restaurant atop the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is a panoramic vista of Old Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond Pinellas County. Save dinner here (Mobil Four Star and pricey) for another night; order up an ice-cold vodka martini, sit back in the small but comfortable lounge and watch as the sun sinks slowly in the west. Armani's, 6200 Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa, 813-207-6800.



Sure, there are some obvious choices. Atop the parking garage at Tampa International Airport. Or from a boat in Tampa Bay. But we say, the hell with the idea of getting up before the sun. Stay in bed until at least 11 a.m., and then roll out of the rack, pop in a DVD and watch sunrise at a civilized hour of the morning. Try the sunrise over a black-sand beach in Hawaii on the Hawaiian Dreams relaxation video. $19.95, available online at


Downtown St. Pete on the water between The St. Pete Yacht Club and The Vinoy

A nighttime stroll can be a very relaxing way to release the stress built up throughout the day. With winding sidewalks, great views of both a growing skyline and the sparkling waterfront, and a nice breeze coming in off the water that slices through the raging humidity, downtown St. Pete offers one hell of a walk after work. Start at the pretty-in-pink Vinoy and walk south, through the park, past shops selling ice cream, coffee or even adult beverages, and finish up at the St. Pete Yacht Club, which anchors the southern end of the path. Turn around and repeat. Your body will thank you.


The Kapok at The Museum of Fine Arts

Downtown St. Pete is booming — every high-rise shooting up is taking property values with it — and cheap places to hang out are getting harder and harder to find. But chilling at the kapok, on the corner of Second Avenue N. and Beach Drive, is still free. A gorgeous tree with long thick limbs that grow just feet from the ground, the kapok draws a diverse array of St. Pete contingents: The punk kids there on Saturday nights, mingling at the tree instead of at BayWalk a few blocks away; protective mothers happy to let their kids climb just above the grass. And with its level limbs, the kapok is an ideal place to take a nap — check it out after midnight and you're bound to see someone using it as a motel. 225 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg.


Lassing Park, St. Pete

This under-used (but we like it that way) treasure is the perfect waterfront park: wide stretch of green lawn, nice patch of white-sand beach, pretty but not overbearing homes across the street and a view of the St. Pete skyline in the distance. There's a mellow vibe here that extends even to the Fourth of July, when carloads come to watch the fireworks over the bay. Though the big finale fizzled out at this year's display, the crowd remained quiet and unruffled — perfectly happy to continue lazing around Lassing. Beach Drive S.E. between 15th and 22nd avenues S.E., St. Petersburg.


Ford Amphitheatre

You've had several beers and, because Tom Petty has launched into "Don't Come Around Here No More," you've decided to hold off your very, very necessary men's room run. With the song over, you dash there, only to discover that the queue is very, very long. You get that moment of panic. You start eyeing nearby bushes and crannies. But then your realize that the line, maybe 50 yards long, is moving rather briskly. Twenty-five yards to go and you start thinking, "I just might make it." Within a few minutes, you're inside the hallowed walls. You can hear the flushes and the chatter, smell that men's room smell. It smells good — because it means you're close. There are rows and rows of urinals, and men filing orderly by like in some futuristic movie about clones. You reach porcelain and let it go. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... Ahhhhhhhh. You don't know exactly how or why the line moved so quickly, but you are grateful and, in some way, you are astonished. You stop for another beer on the way back to your seat. 4802 U.S. 301 N., Tampa, 813-740-2446,


Captain Kosmakos Restaurant

The bold and the beautiful under-35s have plenty of pickup joints, both straight and gay. The 55-and-over crowd deserves a place to shake its booty and hook up a lil' sump'm sump'm, too, and the lounge at Captain Kosmakos is it. Live Top 40 bands provide the music for the small dance floor on weekends in this second-story restaurant with its trademark smoky dark windows. 9610 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-367-3743.

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