The buzz is unmistakeable. After many stops and starts and openings and closings, South Tampa’s Hyde Park Village may finally be living its best life. Change began when Boston-based WS Development bought the 262,000-square-foot open-air retail center for $45 million in 2013, keeping the mainstays like Brooks Brothers and CinéBistro but bringing in fresh energy with restaurants like On Swann and Goody Goody, national brands like Sur La Table and Vineyard Vines, and local shops like Ella Bing Haberdashery and Salt Pines. The tree-shaded fountain in Village Circle is a magnet for shoppers and strollers, who can meander easily along Village and Snow without worrying about a parking meter because there are three free parking garages. With a once-a-month Fresh Market on Sundays, family-friendly holiday festivities like the Enchanted Tree Lighting on Nov. 23 and new restaurants like Meat Market and Forbici Modern Italian making an instant splash, the Village seems to have become the gathering place it was always intended to be.
1631 Snow Circle, downtowndogs.com
Amongst the bark-worthy inventory at Downtown Dogs, we found the ideal squeaky toys for the luxury-minded canine — the kind who will only play fetch with designer brands (or, in this case, designer knockoffs). Chewnel Purse Toy, $14; Sniffany & Co Toy, $12; Chewy Vuiton Purse Toy, $15.
The Ella Bing Haberdashery
1607 W. Snow Circle, ellabing.com
From custom-made hats to hand-crafted wooden bowties to just about anything a dapper fellow might need, the merchandise at family-owned and managed Ella Bing is impeccably curated — and even better, a percentage of sales goes to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Wooden bow ties carved by Dave Kraus, father of Ella Bing owner Brent Kraus, $85-$300.
1503 W. Swann Ave., saltpines.com
A lively addition to the Swann Avenue side of the Village, Salt Pines sells sportswear with Tampa Bay in mind, as embodied in its Proper Piracy skull logo and in products like the incredibly soft yet durable Southern Tide shirts whose BRRR° Triple Chill fabric technology is designed to help the wearer keep his cool. Harbor River Brrr Intercoastal Performance Sport Shirt, $125.
Sur La Table
711 S. Dakota Ave., surlatable.com
A trove of kitchen essentials and culinary knowhow, Sur La Table offers the ultimate gift for the foodies in your life: in-store cooking classes in which the store provides all the ingredients and you get the satisfaction of cooking (and tasting) goodies like snowflake macarons and Florentine chicken. Special date night and family fun classes make for particularly good gifting ideas. Classes range from $59 to $79 a person for group classes; the kitchen can also be reserved for private parties for which the customer can set the menu and pick the instructor.
Forbici Italian Kitchen
1602 W. Snow Ave., eatforbici.com
In a space that’s seen multiple tenants, visionary restaurateur Jeff Gigante has found a formula that looks to be a winner: hearty homestyle Italian dishes (including a rectangular Roman-style pizza) in a chic but comfortable atmosphere. Perfect for a cool winter’s night, and hence a tasty choice for a holiday gift certificate. Gift certificates available for purchase in person at the restaurant.