On a Friday afternoon, I was plucked from Sarasota and thrown into Downtown Saint Petersburg for a day of exploring with a dear friend and I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I was about to jump into some fun adventures in a new city!
It started with a lovely latte at Cassis American Brasserie right on Beach Drive. The owner greeted us with a friendly smile and the most delightful accent. I knew that my friend made the right choice about starting our day here. As we sat at the window overlooking the street, I dipped my blueberry scone into my coffee, and observed everyone walking by and realized that the people of St. Pete walk with pep in their step and have a shine about them that you simply don’t see everywhere. They’re happy to be there! (And frankly, I was too!)
Next stop: The 600 Block of Central. We walked into Cozette’s Boutique and I immediately fell in love with the space. The first thing I noticed was the smell. The aroma of handmade soaps, positive vibes, and happiness simply filled the air. The rich fabrics of handmade dresses, scarves, and skirts covered the walls as beaded jewelry glistened in the corners and handcrafted totes and clutches happily surprised me as I walked through the boutique. We spoke with Cozette for a bit and her energy could illuminate any darkness. The passion she expressed about each item and her store was marvelous. I’d go back just to have a conversation with her (and purchase another unique hand stitched clutch of course!)
Across the way, Bijou’s Boutique had one-of-a-kind jewelry and hair ornaments on display. I had my eye on an adorable knit and beaded bracelet made by a Turkish man. The piece was surprisingly affordable for the quality, so we of course bought it! I’ve renamed the piece “The Mermaid Castle” because the coral beads, gold embellishment, and beige knitting reminded me of, well, a mermaid’s luxurious home.
We made a few more stops on the block including Poppyhollow: “handmade for you, by me!” The shop is closing because the owner is relocating to California, but she has an Etsy (check it out, her products are great!). We just had to get some of her soy candles: one coffee and one vanilla cookie – the scents were perfect. Plus, the way she packages her products, just made me happy (a necklace in a vile = genius!) and her dad makes the cute ceramic jewelry holders! Although there were so many more shops to visit just on this block alone, it was time to move on with our day. (My how time truly does fly when you’re having fun!)
Working up an appetite, my friend brought me to The Queens Head Bar. I felt as though I was in a colorful professor’s office at a wizarding school. Okay, the Shepherds’ Pie was to die for, but the atmosphere made me warm and fuzzy inside. It was beautiful, bright, with stars and lanterns hanging from the ceiling, books lining the walls, and there even was a little white horse with two disco balls hanging from his “belly” (I’ll allow your mind to wander on that one).
I had a bit of time to explore by myself, so I checked out a local smoke shop: Peace of Mind. I purchased a cute locally blown pipe with an octopus on it! The rain came tumbling down outside and the power actually went out while I was checking the rest of the store out. The girl working was friendly (just like everyone else I had encountered throughout the day), so we chatted it up until the rain eased a bit.
Meeting back up with my friend, we explored Haslam’s Bookstore. It was massive! Actually, it’s the largest new and used bookstore in Florida established in 1933. Don’t let the outside fool you – go inside and indulge in the plethora of books and novels to enjoy. I could have spent hours in that place, which was multi story and had every type of book you could imagine. The space also included signed novels and older pieces behind a glass cabinet. We left with about 8 books to enjoy this summer (and bananagrams)! I was so thrilled when I got home that I started the first one immediately: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Our final stop of the day was a quirky little (okay, enormous) furniture store: Furnish Me Vintage. The 4-story building had a handsome collection of Mid-Century Modern and Danish pieces. Everything from an oak pipe stand to a high-back settee with chrome legs. Testing the comfortability of almost every chair, we had a blast strolling through all of the levels of the showroom! It was here where I felt the exhaustion of the day hit me and I said to my friend with a sleepy expression on my face, “I don’t really do a lot of things in one day.” Boy did he get a kick out of that statement! In Sarasota, we really don’t do a lot of things in one day. We sit, relax, and drink champagne. The change of pace was foreign and fun, but I was fatigued. It was time to send little Erika back to Sarasota.
On the drive back home to Sarasota in the evening, I had a realization! Downtown Saint Petersburg has everything I could ever ask for. The final consensus of my day of exploring: I love downtown St. Pete. I really do!
Oh heavens, I didn’t get to stop everywhere I wanted to or see everything worth seeing! So, what’s next for this Sarasota girl who’s ready to experience more of a different city? Read my next blog to find out what else there is to do as I frolic around Downtown Saint Petersburg and discover local boutiques, restaurants, bars, galleries, and whatever else I get myself into, as I’m certainly ready for more afternoon adventures in downtown Saint Petersburg. Aren’t you?
-Written by Erika Cain