“Where do you want to go for your 60th birthday?” asked my daughter A and son D when we were planning our family getaway for my milestone year. Since my birthday falls in January, I knew I wanted to go someplace warm, someplace not too far, and someplace fun. I had so enjoyed my time in Pass-a-Grille in St. Pete Beach, Florida last January, that I decided it was a perfect spot for my 60th celebration weekend.
In July, we booked a large beach house on AirBnb. It had three bedrooms and three baths. My boyfriend L and I stayed upstairs in the master suite and A and D each had their own bedroom on the first level. The kitchen was fully equipped with everything you would need and there were decks off almost every room for soaking up the sun.
It was rather chilly during our stay but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits. Thankfully, the sun was shining more days than not — so we were able to be outside most of the time even if we couldn’t wear our flip flops.
Many Reasons To Love Pass-a-Grille
There are many reasons to love Pass-a-Grille. Nestled between the gulf beaches and the bay, it’s quaint, quiet and a great place to relax. The town has cute shops and seafood cafes. There are no high-rise hotels, except for The Don CeSar, an Historic Hotel at the entrance to the island.
Anywhere you stay, you’re within walking distance to the beach. If you like to collect shells like I do, you’ll be pleased with the selections that the ocean waves bring to shore — just be sure to bring an empty bag for your stash. It’s also an excellent place to go birdwatching. Sit by the bay and you’ll see unique gulls perching near the fishermen. Plus, there are some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.
It’s a short ride from Downtown St. Pete, by car, trolley or Uber, where you’ll find a vibrant city filled with an array of American and ethnic restaurants, museums and galleries, trendy boutiques and shops, and arts and entertainment. There’s also a superb Saturday Morning Market. It’s not as big as the PSU Farmer’s Market in Portland, Oregon, but I’d rank it pretty high.
Taking In The Downtown St Pete Attractions
I was excited to show A and D the hip and cool attractions that Downtown St. Pete has to offer. L and I were glad to go back to some of our favorite places from last year and see what was new.
The nice team at St. Pete Tourism, provided me with complimentary tickets to the Chihuly Collection, a permanent collection of world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork, and the Salvador Dali Museum, featuring the artist’s paintings. Both are located in the city.
Having missed the Chihuly exhibition at The New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx last summer, I was pleased to get a chance to visit the Chihuly Collection in the heart of St. Pete’s Central Arts District. We were all in awe as we walked through the 11,000+ square feet space, which “is dedicated to showcasing Chihuly’s unique installations in intimate settings, each complementing his works of art.” I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story. Definitely go see the Chihuly Collection when in town.
On Saturday, we stopped by the Saturday Morning Market, held downtown at the Al Lang Field parking lot, near the harbor. It’s an outdoor market with local produce, an array of food trucks and eateries, and arts and crafts pavilions. It’s not too far from the Dali Museum, so we walked there afterward.
It was my second time visiting the Salvador Dali Museum. I was happy not to miss the last weekend of the special exhibit Dali & Schiaparelli, a sensational presentation of the creative relationship and works of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and Dali. Being a fashionista, I loved, loved, loved the exhibit. A and D liked the museum too. L isn’t much of a museum person so we let him rest and have a snack in the museum cafe.
Eating Our Way Around St. Pete
Between all the restaurants in Pass-a-Grille and Downtown St. Pete, our tummies were well fed for five days.
On Thursday, we dined at The Mill, voted by Florida Trend Magazine as the “Best New Restaurant” in Florida. We took the waiter’s recommendations and ordered Watermelon Bruschetta and Maple Butternut Squash Hummus appetizers. L and I shared Phyllo Feta Salad and Seared Diver Scallops for our main course, A had her own serving of scallops and D selected the Crispy Roast Duck. We all agreed the service was top-notch and so was the food.
Friday, I took the trio back to my favorite Bodega on Central Avenue for lunch. I was so thrilled to share the best-ever Cuban sandwiches with A and D. L knew how good they were from our last visit in 2017. We shared sandwiches, slaw, and fried plantains. It was all — so good, so good, so good!
For dinner, we made reservations at Acropolis Greek Taverna. On Friday evenings, the waitstaff sings and dances and they break plates, just like a Greek taverna in Greece. There’s even a belly dancer to serenade.
Saturday was my honorary birthday dinner. L and I had eaten at FarmTable Cucina in the Sundial Mall downtown last January and liked it so much that we wanted to return. The delicious Fried Cauliflower starter was like a work of art with finger lime, golden raisins, guanciale, sea urchin aïoli. Equally impressive was the Ragu of Wild Mushrooms and the warm olives. We were so full from our meal that we skipped the dessert menu and instead went downstairs to the Locale Market and bought a few cupcakes to take home.
Other days we stayed in Pass-a-Grille, for casual dining in the town center. We had tasty salads and sandwiches with fresh grouper at Seahorse Restaurant and The Brass Monkey. One afternoon, we went to Uncle Andy’s Parlor in The Don CeSar for ice cream.
A Beautiful Sunset Bids Us Adieu
On our last evening in St. Pete, we drove to the Grand Plaza Hotel, a beachfront resort. “The Level 11 Rooftop Lounge, is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset,” said my friend B, who lives in St. Pete. “It’s atop the hotel.”
It was a lovely way to bid adieu to my glorious 60th birthday weekend retreat with my family. “Did you like St. Pete and Pass-a-Grille?” I asked A and D. They both shook their heads affirmatively. “It was very relaxing,” D said. “I think we’ll have to plan an annual trip here,” A said. “What a wonderful idea,” I replied. “A wonderful idea.”
It’s January 31st and my 60th birthday month has come to an end. Oh, no! I think I need to celebrate all year long. This card from my boyfriend L sums up how I feel about being 60. Are you 60 yet? LMK know if you have any advice to share about this decade.