Pubcrawling around town

Ybor/ Channelside; Downtown Dunedin; St. Pete pub crawls; Hyde Park

click to enlarge Splitsville - Dawn Morgan
Dawn Morgan

A New Take on an Old Crawl: Ybor/ Channelside

If you've lived in Tampa for any length of time, you've done some version of the Ybor City bar crawl at least once. And many drinkers, bored of Seventh Avenue's string of clubs, have turned to Channelside as a swankier option.

But have you done them together?

Ybor City's historic trolley line makes hitting both party districts an easy and more comfortable option on a sultry summer night than walking for blocks. Of course, with over 70 restaurants, bars and nightclubs between these two nightspots, you can't hit every establishment. So, for the purposes of this bar crawl, we'll focus on watering holes off of congested Seventh Avenue with no clubs and no cover.

Begin at Channelside (615 Channelside Drive) with Margarita Mama's. Wait for the rest of your party on the outdoor deck overlooking the courtyard, and sip on the bar's signature drink — the Patron Silver-based Mamarita. The combination of sugar and alcohol should pump you up for a few hours of bowling and billiards at Splitsville. Pool your money for the Super Bowl, a grape vodka and grain alcohol drink that is Splitsville's strongest.

When you're ready to tackle Ybor City, catch the trolley by Hooters ($2 one way, $4 unlimited rides) to the stop in front of Centro Ybor. A few steps away is the Tampa Bay Brewing Company (1600 E. Eighth Ave.), which recently moved to Ybor from its previous 15th Street location. Whether you like ales, porters or I.P.A.s, one of the homebrewed selections is bound to quench your thirst (personal favorite: the Moosekiller, a hopped-out ale with 9.8 percent alcohol content). Once you've quaffed a few brews, head to the intimate Fuma Bella (1318 E. Eighth Ave.) for a cigar and double-malt scotch. End your night at every hipster's favorite Ybor spot — New World Brewery (1313 E. Eighth Ave.). Built around a lush courtyard, New World offers several different imports and brews on tap, including the hard-to-find Delirium Tremens. Before 2 a.m., take the 13th Street trolley back to Channelside and make plans for a safe taxi ride home. —Alex Pickett

Night Into Day: Downtown Dunedin

Downtown Dunedin's quaint charm and variety of alcohol-serving establishments — all located within a few blocks of each other — make it the ideal setting for a Saturday evening crawl (followed by a crawl into bed). Park on Main Street for free and begin at Flanagan's Irish Pub (465 Main St.), where you'll find beers like Guinness and Killian's on tap, with a 2-for-1 happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. daily.

A few steps takes you to the next stop, Stirling Winery (461 Main St.), which offers free tastes of its array of tropical fruit wines. Try a sample (or two) and pick up a bottle of Strawberry Blush or Blueberry Blue to enjoy later. Continue heading east to Casa Tina's (369 Main St.), a quality Mexican restaurant that serves delicious frozen mango and lime margaritas.

Take a three-block detour to Dunedin Brewery (937 Douglas Ave.) and knock back a few of its homemade brews: Razzbeery Wheat Ale, the award-winning Pipers Pale Ale, or the seasonal Summer Buzz. Swing back to Main Street and continue east toward the Gulf and Kelly's Chic-a-Boom Room (319 Main St.), where you should drop in for a "Martooni"; we suggest the Slippery Finger or the Caramel Apple.

When you're good and toasty, make your way down Main Street until it dead-ends at the Dunedin Marina and the Gulfside Best Western Yacht Harbor Inn (150 Marina Plaza). Grab a room, crack open that bottle of fruit wine and polish it off while watching reruns of Magnum P.I. Nurse your hangover the following morning at the hotel's Bon Appetit & Marina Café, where you can enjoy a mimosa or Bloody Mary with your Sunday brunch. Your car will be waiting for you on Main Street. —Leilani Polk

Choose Your Path: St. Pete Pub Crawls

The beauty of the St. Pete pub crawl is that it offers the crawler options. Depending upon where you align yourself on the hipster index (complete indie freak, young urbanite condo dweller, student) St. Pete offers an inebriated stroll that's suited to your style.

But no matter who you are, Mastry's (233 Central Ave.) offers the ideal starting point to a night on the town. This Central Avenue institution is just divey enough for the most grizzled boozehound, but with a great location that appeals to Urbos and USF kids as well. Get there around 9:30 p.m., before all the breathable air is gone, order a few cheapo Vodka and Red Bulls ($3.75 ... really!) and get energized for the long night ahead.

The pub-crawl road forks after Mastry's. Hardcore hipsters should march straight up Central to The Uptown Bar (658 Central Ave.), where the music is as deafening as the Pabst Blue Ribbon is cold. Hold out until your eardrums threaten to explode, crush a few empties on your forehead and head to either the relatively new concert venue The Garage (662 Central Ave.) or the relatively new pool hall Central Billiards (670 Central Ave.), both of which are right next door. The Garage only serves beer and wine, but that sad-sack drink selection is often made up for by a good slate of live acts playing the roomy stage. If you'd prefer a rest from the high-volume guitar assault, stop in at Central Billiards instead, rack 'em and shoot a few games. No matter which of the neighboring bars you choose, the night must close at St. Pete's legendary The Emerald Bar (550 Central Ave. N.). Its hipster clientele can be spotted downing whiskey shots with Bud Light chasers until close (cash only, please), all the while bitching about how bad the band currently banging away onstage is.


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