It used to be that this coast of Florida was a sleepy place, one where snowbirds played shuffleboard. And while some heated shuffleboard games still go on here, the area has evolved into a more metropolitan hub, where young professionals sip craft cocktails on rooftop lounges.
A short 25-minute drive gets you back and forth between these two cities, and you can experience the best of both in just a few days. April is the perfect time to visit, with warm temperatures beckoning visitors to stroll by the water or enjoy a Cuban sandwich on a patio. Pack your bags and prepare to load up on culture, cocktails, and plenty of rays in one of our favorite parts of the Sunshine State.
Steal: Epicurean Hotel
In addition to posh rooms, a luxe pool, and great on-site dining, the new hotel also houses a wine shop, rooftop bar, culinary center with cooking classes, and bikes. Rooms from $219.
Splurge: The Birchwood
Each of the 18 rooms is appointed with four-poster beds and one-of-a-kind art. (All but two have soaking tubs too.) Visit the rooftop lounge (pictures above) to catch a sunset. Rooms from $250.
The area, rich in the Latin island’s history and culture, takes its Cuban sandwiches seriously. Bodega delivers one of the best for $7.50, made with bread from Ybor City’s Casino Bakery. Try the fresh fruit juices spiced with ingredients like ginger and chili. Or check out the new rum bar.
An extension of legendary steak house Bern’s, the restaurant features dishes such as a lamb shank-ravioli starter ($15) and elk striploin ($42). Pair with a glass of wine—the restaurant has more than 530 varieties to choose from.
Steal: Green Bench Brewing Co.
Try the flight ($6) to find your favorite of the 10 styles, each named after a local landmark, such as Skyway Wheat.
Splurge: Ciro’s Speakeasy & Supper Club
Drinks such as the Tampa Stomp (rum, Bulleit, house-made orgeat, and Tiki bitters; $12) are the main draw at this dimly lit lounge hidden in the chic Hyde Park neighborhood.
Cruise the racks for vintage threads and retro-inspired new pieces starting at $5. On the home decor side, find mid-century modern items and psychedelic prints.
Splurge: Oxford Exchange
Housed in what’s believed to be a 19th-century horse stable, Oxford Exchange hosts a coffee shop, tea parlor run by local TeBella Tea Company, a restaurant, bookstore, and a chic home shop with treasures from all over the world and by Florida artisans such as Rifle Paper Co. and MAKR.
Steal: The great outdoors
No trip to the coast is complete without a dip in the ocean. Try Pass-A-Grille Beach near Fort DeSoto Park for a secluded spot, or stroll along Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park if you prefer dry land.
Splurge: The Dalí Museum
Tickets are pricey—$21 per person—but it’s well worth it to see the nearly 2,000 Salvador Dalí works at this architectural gem in downtown St. Pete.