It’s easy to shop merrily in Belleair Bluffs.
Start your day at Antique Alley (596 Indian Rocks Road N.) and make your first stop Petal & Vine Garden and Marketplace. You will likely be welcomed by sisters Jennifer Andersen and Niki Bouchard and immediately enchanted by the fresh flowers and decor. Great gifts for men, women and children — and never underestimate the gift of a bouquet, perfect for co-workers, teachers, hosts and yourself. My favorite? The O-venture keychain — life-changing! Next stop: Astoria Pastry Shop for a quick sweet-and-espresso break, and you’re ready to wander the rest of Antique Alley’s shops, artisans and decorators. (Be sure to look at the artwork at Mango!)
Walk or drive a block south to Provence Art and Antiques (2620 Jewell Rd.) where Andrea mixes well-made, well-designed antiques with locally sourced artisanal work. The creative vibe and inviting atmosphere won’t disappoint. This off-the-beaten-path gem is a personal favorite.
Take a quick turn to The Flying Needles (432 N. Indian Rocks Rd.). Inside you’ll likely find a group of friends around a table stitching away — the staff teaching a lesson and the customers feeling all the colors of various fibers. It’s happy hour, minus the cocktails. Dianne Colitz leads the tribe through their projects, helping them create stunning keepsakes. The regulars are fixtures who have stitched each other through life’s lowest moments and highest celebrations; the camaraderie is palpable.
Now you might want to get in the car and head to Plaza 100 (100 Indian Rocks Rd N.) with its larger parking area and larger crowd. There you’ll find a row of retailers and restaurants designed to please.
AAA has what you need for holiday travel: luggage, guidebooks, and discount tickets. Pay a visit to Belleair Opticians, where you’ll get a kick out of the Bocca frames — these glasses have legs (on my Santa List). Harold Freeman is that neighborhood jeweler I fondly recall from childhood; they have all you need to celebrate every milestone. Pop into Shoes By Beverly for your latest holiday footwear and Cassi & Co. to grab your mother-in-law her favorite new outfit (always a big hit with mine. )
Now you’re likely getting hungry and thirsty. Belleair Coffee Company is the perfect stop for a quick bite of freshly made quiche and a coffee, or ask for a hot tea made with lemonade — tell them Molly sent you! You will likely see many friends and entrepreneurs grabbing a table for a chat.
Lala’s is next on the list. Brand new location and WOW! Art by Laura, sophisticated home décor, gorgeous colored acrylic ponchos — a perfect shade for every bestie on your list!
Bella Vino Wine & Cheese Market & Wine Bar is the perfect spot for a little wine, cheese and even a sip of bubbly — plus great gifts for that office gift exchange or the hostess who has everything. Brian Franzese ensures a smart selection of premium wine at the lowest prices in town along with local delivery and shipping. You can send beautiful gift baskets, enjoy artisan cheeses and meats, even purchase premium cigars and craft beers.
If you are ready to take a longer pause, sit down for lunch at E & E Stakeout Grill. The Kokopelli salad (grilled chicken breast, bacon, buttermilk blue cheese, tomatoes, guacamole and lots more in a gazpacho vinaigrette) will fill you with all the nutrients you need to continue your day.
Once you’re well-fed, head to Galleria Misto, where you’ll find art to suit all ages and budgets. The del Bassos and their staff have extensive art knowledge (and talent) and can help you select a gift for anyone on your list. A new series by Scott Suits featuring local landmarks will please the lucky recipient. (Hint, hint…I love the one of Frenchy’s.)
Are you tired yet? Hit Radiance Medspa (2894 W Bay Dr.) just one more street over. You can rest while your skin rejuvenates. You owe yourself the Fire & Ice facial, a unique and popular treatment that is a an experience for all senses. Warm, tingling and then incredibly cooling, this treatment results in a complexion that is dramatically refined and ready to go out on the town!
If you are staying in Belleair Bluffs for dinner, Seaweed (2819 W Bay Dr.) is the newest member of Frank Chivas’s Baystar Restaurant Group, and it’s already a hit. The popularity is deserved: try the Sunshine on the Bluffs cocktail (grapefruit vodka, triple sec and cranberry) and the black pearl chicken (the prettiest mashed potato and watermelon salad ever, plus fancy and fun scissors to cut your chicken). And as always, the freshest sushi and raw bar!