The don't-miss list

The 20 top draws in South St. Pete.

 

Events

1. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday. After the annual MLK parade that winds through downtown, Midtown residents begin their own celebration. Restaurants and clubs open, people pour into the streets and tricked-out cars scoop the neighborhoods. Third Monday of January every year.

2. 4th of July in Lassing Park. For those folks who want to skip the traffic and hordes of Independence Day revelers at Vinoy Park, Lassing Park in Old Southeast offers a less crowded, more relaxed, but equally enjoyable place to watch the fireworks show. Beach Drive S.E. between 15th and 22nd avenues S.E.

3. St Pete Times Festival of Reading. An annual event that brings together nationally known authors for panels, book signings, workshops and, of course, readings in and around the USF-St. Petersburg campus. festivalorreading.com.

Attractions

4. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. This award-winning, 245-acre park has three miles of trails through swamps and scrubland, past alligators and gopher tortoises. 1101 Country Club Way S., 727-893-7326.

5. Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum. This 1-year-old museum focuses on local African-American history with exhibits like The Tuskegee Airmen and African-Americans in the Legal Community in Pinellas County. 2240 Ninth Ave. S., 727-323-1104, woodsonmuseum.org.

6. St. Petersburg Tennis Center. Buy a day pass, grab a racquet and play a few rounds on the courts made famous by legendary tennis players like Chris Evert and Jack Kramer. 650 18th Ave. S., 727-823-2225, sptcfirstserve.org.

7. Maximo Beach. Escape the crowds at Fort De Soto by venturing to this archaeologically significant park full of Indian mounds, bike trails, boat ramps, playgrounds and picnic areas. Don't miss the 50-foot observation tower overlooking Tampa Bay or the 18-hole disc golf course. Pinellas Point Drive and 34th St. S.

8. Driftwood. Though not an attraction in the traditional sense, this tiny, jungle-like neighborhood of upscale homes tucked behind lush vegetation is a must for any tour of South St. Pete. 24th Avenue S.E. and Driftwood Road S, from Florida Ave. S. to Beach Drive S.E.

Food & drink

9. Connie's Bar-B-Q. No-frills South Carolina barbecue, served out of a tiny storefront. The rich hardwood smoke hits you the instant you open the door. 1795 16th St. S., 727-894-3258.

10. Skyway Jack's. One of the oldest breakfast joints in the city, Skyway Jack's serves up homestyle meals at reasonable prices. And you can't beat a place that serves hog jowls and scrambled brains. 2795 34th St. S., 727-866-3217.

11. Atwater's Cafeteria. The place for soul food in St. Pete, Atwater's is a family-run business that's been a Midtown institution for decades. 895 22nd Ave. S., 727-823-7018.

12. The Chattaway. At this burger joint, ambiance is key. The outdoor garden, Florida kitsch, odd Brit memorabilia and relaxed atmosphere is almost as much reason to visit as the Chattaburger. 358 22nd Ave. S., 727-823-1594.

13. Lorene's Fish and Crab House. The smell of fried fish constantly wafts from this local favorite on St. Pete's historic 22nd Street. 929 22nd St. S., 727-321-7297.

Cool shops

14. My City Fashions. Eric Atwater (of Atwater's Cafeteria) opened this clothing shop in an empty storefront next to his restaurant. He sells jeans and shorts by Dickies and MFG and several different T-shirt brands at the store. But his signature items are his "R.I.P." shirts, emblazoned with airbrushed portraits of people who have died in gang violence. 881 22nd Ave. S., 727-564-4239.

15. Maxi Mall. If you're looking for urban clothing, jewelry, a new pair of shoes or maybe a shiny grill, this is the shopping center for you. 4301 34th St. S.

16. Zen Glass Studio. This one-of-a-kind lampworking and glass art studio is a favorite of gift-givers citywide. Featuring the work of artists Joshua Poll and David Walker, Zen Glass sells hand-blown wine glasses, vases, glass beads, jewelry, sculptures and more. They also offer supplies, studio rentals and workshops for other glass-blowing artists. 900A Ninth St. S., 727-894-2371, zenglass.com.

17. Twigs and Leaves. Heralded as one of the best new shops to open in Midtown, this gardening center specializes in low-maintenance and environmentally friendly native Florida plants and flowers. 1013 Ninth St. S., 727-822-5400, twigsnleaves.com.

18. Bayboro Books. Located on the USF-St. Pete campus, this tiny, 26-year-old bookstore is a favorite of students and downtown residents looking for cheap textbooks, rare trade books or the latest releases. 121 Seventh Ave. S., 727-821-5477, bayborobooks.com.

19. The Uniquely Original Art Gallery. Your stop for imports, high-end crafts and art from Africa and beyond. 1655 16th St. S., 727-543-7546.

20. Mastry's Bait and Tackle. Run by a trophy-winning family of fishermen, this expansive shop has everything for novice and serious fishermen alike (including fresh seafood, just in case your fishing trip yields no catch). 1700 Fourth St. S., 727-896-8889.

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