The don't-miss list

The top 20 draws in Northeast St. Pete.

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Events & attractions

1. North Shore Park/North Shore Beach. A waterfront hotspot that draws locals for its lovely, picture-ready views and the ease of access to its small stretch of beach. North Shore Park also boasts a huge public pool, lighted tennis courts, playgrounds, a dog park and the palm arboretum. Seventh Avenue and North Shore Drive N.E., 727-893-7335.

2. Sunken Gardens. Paths wind through a lush tropical paradise replete with flowing ponds and waterfalls. The 100-year-old four-acre garden also features a Butterfly Aviary, exotic flowering and fruit trees and frequent wildlife and gardening programs. 1825 Fourth St. N., 727-551-3100,

3. Vinoy Park. The huge waterside park hosts a slew of festivals on its wide expanse of green. The worthiest include Taste of Pinellas (June, all the area's best restaurants in one place paired with great music, like Peter Frampton, the Neville Brothers, Ziggy Marley and .38 Special); Mainsail Arts Festival (April, one of the area's biggest juried art fests, 33 years and counting); Tampa Bay Blues Festival (April, performers include The Robert Cray Band, Los Lonely Boys, Robben Ford, Trombone Shorty and Tab Benoit); and Ribfest (November, classic rock + ribs = dirt-rockin' good time). 901 North Shore Drive N.E., 727-893-7335.

Arts & entertainment

4. Palladium Theater. The majestic 880-seat nonprofit former church was built in 1925 and received its $575,000 theater makeover in 1998. The Palladium currently serves as an important cultural institution and hosts live music of all types, fundraisers, special events, and theater and dance productions, with a special emphasis on local performers, composers and writers. 253 Fifth Ave. N., 727-822-3590,

5. Nova 535 Art Lounge. St. Pete's new posh art lounge is 7,000 square feet of exposed brick show space for local artists and hang-out space for local scensters. The current exhibit of female portraiture, Heavenly Creatures, is on display through March 30. 535 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., 727-821-6682,

Food & drink

6. Dairy Inn. This old-school fast-food joint's longstanding reputation for cheap and tasty soft-serve ice cream, juicy all-beef hot dogs and root beer floats has people lined up outside at all times of day. 1201 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. N., 727-822-6971.

7. El Cap. Three words: El Cap Burger. It's legendary. 3500 Fourth St. N., 727-521-1314.

8. Fray's Donut House. Homer Simpson would totally pass up Dunkin' Donuts in favor of Fray's, a busy neighborhood favorite and purveyor of high-quality doughnuts. 5236 16th St. N, 727-528-1410.

9. Hook's Sushi. Hook's makes a mean $1 sushi on Wednesday nights. Reasonable prices the rest of the week, too. 1210 Dr. Martin Luther King, 727-898-4665.

10. Limey's Pub & Eatery. Located in a big old converted house with a wraparound porch, this popular watering hole serves up cheap pints and bar bites and hosts live local music nearly every day of the week. 1492 Fourth St. N., 727-895-2049,

11. Mickey's Snell Isle Market. A neighborhood mainstay, Mickey's is a fully-stocked grocery that also carries gourmet meats, coffee, wine and a range of prepared foods like coleslaw, crab salad, stuffed mushrooms and loaded potato skins. 1337 Snell Isle Blvd. N.E., 727-894-7751.

12. Old Northeast Tavern. This neighborhood haunt is tucked into the heart of Historic Old Northeast. Tables are set up in front of tall picture windows that open onto the sidewalk, and locals can be seen sipping brewskies, chowing down on pizza and paninis, and enjoying some easy people-watching. 201 Seventh Ave N., 727-821-8070,

13. Red Mesa. People come from all over to dine at Red Mesa, which offers a contemporary take on Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, like chicken quesadillas made with gouda cheese and Southwest tuna sashimi. 4912 Fourth St. N., 727-527-8728,

14. Rolling Oats Market & Café. Northeast St. Pete's sole natural market is small but well-stocked with organic and whole foods, fresh fruits and veggies, bulk grains, vitamins, natural remedies and plenty else, with a daily-changing menu of hot, ready-to-eat meals served from the café in the back. 2842 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. St. N., 727-821-6825.

15. Siam Garden. A multi "Best of the Bay" title holder and 18-year-old purveyor of delicious, authentic Thai cuisine; try the Red Curry Snapper, a whole, crispy fried fish smothered in coconut milk and veggies. 3125 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., 727-822-0613,

Cool shops

16. The Garage Sale Store. Heavy vintage coats, hand-thrown ceramic mugs, a 1970s-style rattan TV stand and various other used goods are purchased in bulk from area estate sales and sold here at super discounted (garage sale) prices. 3011 16th St. N., 727-898-7182.

17. If and Only If. A cute boutique carrying hip women's wear and unique gift items. You'll find anything from BCBG dresses to moleskin journals and cat playing cards. 4336 Fourth St. N., 727-528-9490,

18. Reno Beach Surf Shop. You will know it by the giant surfboards leaning against the exterior walls and the racks of discounted swimwear lined up on the curb. Skimboards, surfing equipment and accessories, wetsuits, sandals, sunglasses and other beach gear are also on hand. 1031 Fourth St. N., 727-896-7873,

19. Uncorked Fine Wines & Accessories. "I found more wines I've written up in Corkscrew in this postage-stamp-sized shop than anywhere else I visited," CL wine columnist Taylor Eason once wrote about this locally owned wine boutique. 2706 Fourth St. N., 727-892-9463.

20. Wilson's Bookworld. A cozy, multi-room shop with more than 200,000 used books, comic books and rare and vintage tomes, and a scatter of comfortable chairs for lounging and catching some 'graphs. 2394 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., 727-896-3700.

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