Florida's Historic St. Petersburg
I read recently that there are 16 states in the US that are considered “Southern” so I decided to see how many I’ve covered for Rathbone. The count comes in at six: Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina (a few are still on the launch pad).
That means I have 10 to go. Have I visited all sixteen Southern states? No, I haven’t but I’ve visited enough of them to realize they have a number of things in common. The folks in the South know how to have a good time, serve great food and are open and friendly. In short: c’mon down. Just hop in your car or get on a plane and give yourself + family/friends a real treat.
In Florida, my husband and I visited Orlando, Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove, Miami, Islamorada and Key West – one of my all-time favorite spots on the planet.
For this blog I’d like to take a look at Florida’s historic St. Petersburg because I came across a fascinating article about it titled “The Jewel of the Coast” in the February 2019 issue of Southern Living (a mag that I highly recommend for fun and informative reading).
The author of this piece, Jennifer Chappell Smith begins by saying, “Once a sleepy coastal city, St. Pete has been reinvigorated by lots of Gen-Xers and millennials who have relocated there. One resident who is in love with St. Pete says, ”We have a downtown where one can stroll plus funky old buildings and access to the arts, parks and recreation areas. Best of all, we still have front porch neighborhoods where people say ‘hello’ and stop for a chat.”
WHERE IS THE BOOM LOCATED?
According to locals it’s centered along Beach Drive (facing the bay) and Central Avenue – lined with bars, boutiques and galleries. In fact, St. Petersburg has such a commitment to art and arts education that a gallery owner and multimedia artist Chad Mize designed a T-shirt that names this city as one of the world’s cultural hubs. It reads: Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Pete (New Yorkers will howl when they read this). “Originally, it was tongue-in-cheek, but we actually are kind of in that league,” says Mize, who has sold more than 60,000 items with his World Tour design. “We are definitely an arts city in terms of culture and desirability.”
Like Central Avenue, Beach Drive has done its part to spur the city’s renaissance. The Museum of Fine Arts that anchors the thoroughfare celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2015.
SUNKEN GARDENS DOWNTOWN
Only a few blocks away you’ll find the Sunken Gardens in the middle of downtown. It offers a maze of paths through towering palms, pink bougainvillea and manicured gardens.
Last, but not least, is the Dali Museum that overlooks the marina and invites visitors to climb an elegant spiral stairway to view masterworks on the third floor or to enjoy sky views through an undulating window.
The Spanish artist, Salvador Dali is known for his striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. He is perhaps best known for his 1931 painting titled “The Persistence of Memory” that showed melting clocks in a landscape setting. The outspoken Dali was also widely quoted, for example: “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
I’d say that a melting clock should feel right at home with an undulating window. Wouldn’t you?
A THOUGHT: St. Petersburg, Florida is only a 10-hour-or-so trip to New Orleans by car following the I-10 W route. Do drop by for a stay at the Rathbone Mansions. And, by the way, NOLA puts on a spectacular July Fourth celebration – come see – you’ll love it!