“I really like your blog, and wondered if you would care to come and visit us at Inn on the Beach for a two-night stay. To tell you a little about ourselves, we’re a complex of recently refurbished self-catering cottages and rooms situated on St Pete Beach, many of them offering beautiful views out over the gulf,” said the invitation from D.*
Having never explored the west coast of Florida, I was excited to visit. My boyfriend L was also glad to get away. So when the cold winds roared last week, we packed our bags and headed for a long weekend in sunny St. Pete. We added a few extra nights to lengthen our stay giving us time for a pleasant winter retreat at the Inn on the Beach in Pass-a-Grille.
The Inn on the Beach is a little bit of paradise
We arrived after a short flight from Philadelphia to Tampa International Airport, rented a car, and were at the Inn on the Beach in about 30 minutes. The Inn is located on 14th Street and Gulf Way in the historic Pass-a-Grille area,
We rented the Blue Heron room on the second floor with a terrace overlooking the beach. The room had a king size bed, open closet to hang our clothes, renovated bathroom and little efficiency kitchen. There is onsite parking, daily maid service, daily coffee, and continental breakfast is served in the courtyard on the weekend.
The weather was a perfect 75 degrees and the sun was shining. The beach was just a few steps away. On went our shorts and flip flops and before we could snap our fingers we were walking on the narrow sand paths, dipping our feet in the cool water, and watching the pelicans and Royal Tern gulls and other sun coast birds. It was absolutely glorious!
Pass-a-Grille is a charming town
Pass-a-Grille is a small neighborhood located on the south end of St. Pete Beach. According to Wikipedia, “local legend states that it was named from the French phrase Passe Aux Grilleurs (the passageway of the grillers) in honor of the fisherman who used to camp there.”
The 8th Avenue Shopping District is a short walk from the Inn, with clothing boutiques and shops, an art gallery where you can buy local arts and crafts, and casual restaurants where you can dine outdoors.
We ate lots of grouper, a favorite Florida fish. The Brass Monkey has good salads with blackened grouper. We liked the blackened shrimp and scallops with homemade coleslaw at the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant. The Paradise Grille overlooking the beach and the Seahorse Restaurant on the bay are popular breakfast and lunch spots. We sampled the Grille’s egg sandwiches a few mornings and grouper sandwiches at noon. We enjoyed salads with Cajun seasoned grilled grouper for lunch at Seahorse. L liked their New England clam chowder too.
For dessert, I highly recommend Paradise Sweets. Once the door is opened and the scent of homemade waffle cones and ice cream flows out, your tastebuds will be captured. “I have to reward myself for all those steps on my Fitbit,” I told L as I ordered a sugar cone with a scoop of cappuccino chocolate chip ice cream. Being a nice girlfriend, I shared my ice cream with L. Yum, yum, yum. The ice cream was so good I had to go back for a second serving the next day!
Spectacular sunsets and walks on the beach
Each day was sunny and warm. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Even when the clouds came, they only stayed an hour or two. Each morning L and I took long walks on the beach, navigating our way around thousands of tiny shells, some broken, some whole. I collected a bunch to take back home. We don’t have sun coast shells at the Jersey shore.
Early evening we sat on our balcony and watched the spectacular sunsets over the gulf. It was beautiful, peaceful and so relaxing.
Sunday is a fun day
On Sunday there was an arts and crafts fair next to The Paradise Grille. There were vendors selling gems, paintings, housewares and handmade goods. L and I ate our grouper sandwiches and watched the town folks sing and dance. It was nice to sit and savor the simple life in Pass-a-Grille. (Note you can also rent bicycles, kayaks, boats and more on the bay side of town.)
We took time to explore the vibrant downtown St. Pete — which I’ll share with you in another blog post. It is quite hip and cool with a growing foodie community and cultural scene. However, we were glad to return each evening to Pass-a-Grille and the Inn on the Beach with its quiet and calm.
I was sad to leave sunny St Pete and return to rainy New Jersey. My muscles and joints move better in warmer weather. Maybe some day during my life after 50 I’ll get to extend my stay in Flo-ree-da during the winter months. “Shall we book another trip to Pass-a-Grille for 2018?” I asked L. He smiled and nodded his head. “I take that as a yes – right L?”
P.S. – Coming up I’ll share our outings to downtown St. Pete including trend-setting restaurants, a best-ever Cuban sandwich at Bodega, the famous Saturday Farmer’s Market, and a tour of the magnificent Dali Museum.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: The Inn on the Beach provided me with two nights complimentary stay. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.