Embark on a tour of St. Pete’s idiosyncratic architecture, full of design hits and misses from the last 90 years. Start with a retro plate of S.O.S. (cream-chipped beef on toast, $6) at fifties roadside Biff Burger, a fifteen-minute drive northwest of downtown and the last remaining branch of the once-widespread chain known for its uniform Googie-style lines and upswept canopy roofs. Head ten minutes east to Sunken Gardens, a Depression-era roadside attraction stuffed with fountains and flowers that’s been recently updated with the addition of yoga and hoop-dancing classes ($12 to $15). Meander back downtown to the iconic 1973 inverted pyramid that is the St. Pete Pier, constructed with a tubular steel framework built to last forever but that is now sadly under review for demolition. The nearby 600 Block, home to the historic 1926 Crislip Arcade, received a critical renovation in 2010 after almost being razed by condo developers and is now filled with galleries, studios, shops, and design firms. Head to neighboring Pasadena, twenty minutes away on the beach, for an old-school lunch at open-air fish shack Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish (1530 Pasadena Ave; 727-381-7931). Next, faux house-hunt amid emerging Kenwood’s low-priced bungalows and split-level ranches before moving on to sunset drinks on the revolving rooftop lounge at Spinners, where you can sip strawberry-and-whipped-cream-topped Bahama Mamas ($7) while taking in the 360-degree view of the city formerly known as “God’s Waiting Room.” End the day at Queens Head, a gas station turned alfresco gastropub where you can nibble on toasted baguette slices with pumpkin hummus ($8) and sautéed mussels with bacon in clove-and-chablis cream ($18), followed by generous pours of chardonnay by the outdoor fire pit.
5. Oddball Day
Published on Feb 3, 2011 as a web exclusive.