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These Gulf Beach neighborhoods are both funky and fantastic fun

For those who like a tiki party, these Gulf Beach neighborhoods heat up at sunset. During the lazy days, you’ll find beachy pastimes like swimming, sunning and swimwear shopping with the occasional iced latte in the morning replaced by a creamy dreamy boat drink when the sun goes down. It’s 5:00 somewhere here all day, all night.


Waking up to Coffee Grounds’ Kahwa cold brew or smoothie is nothing short of miraculous. The alfresco patio next to Middle Grounds gives you a Gulf glimpse and there’s a full liquor bar to spike that caramel latte. The Sweet Brewnette’s kitschy décor, fresh squeezed OJ and veggie breakfast is a healthy start. Craft Café just opened on Central Avenue near O’Bistro, and the coffeehouse’s gluten-free fare, especially the peach turnover and chicken breast avocado cream sandwich will make you swoon.


For some of the best sandwiches, burgers and Bloody Mary’s, stop in at the sporty Brown Boxer Pub & Grille with live music, pool and specials. For a special occasion, enjoy upscale Italian at Mario’s Ristorante. Best spots for seafood are Dockside Dave’s, known for its grouper and the Conch Republic Grill. Slyce Madeira Beach’s gourmet pizza and bruschetta and Angry Pepper Waterside’s craft beers, Sunday Bloody Mary bar and smoked brisket or chicken accessed by car or boat make every Sunday funday.


From gourmet burgers to old world Italian, it’s a diner’s delight. BRGR Kitchen & Bar serves up designer grub and hand-crafted cocktails as does Middle Grounds Grill. For old world Italian pasta and veal manga at Gigi’s. The Pearl’s sushi and Mediterranean specials, enhanced by a boutique wine list, is a favorite as is the margarita and fajitas at VIP Lounge and Mexican Restaurant. Other good choices as you round the bend past Sunset Beach are The Taco Bus and Sea Hag’s, whose view, outdoor patio, sports bar action and evening live music can’t be beat.


As you drive off the beach from Treasure Island and down Central Avenue into St. Pete, you’ll encounter Mexican joints, pizza pubs, organic markets, vintage shops (home décor/fashion) and the eclectic freeFall Theatre, now showing E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” thru May 27. Next door is the garden and The Reading Room’s vegan, charcuterie, seafood and artisan dishes served up in an intimate, modern setting with a plethora of boutique beers and local crafts, inspired and exquisite.


The ultimate beach party is at Caddy’s on Treasure Island’s Sunset Beach, a hippie dippie peninsula that also features Ka’ Tiki, one of the best live blues music joints in town. Enjoy a cabana for two, a strawberry daiquiri and for singles, meet your new squeeze. For a craft beer, stop in at Treasure Island’s local dive the R Bar, famous for it’s all-you-can-eat crab night and strong drinks. The tiki huts at the Bilmar Resort and Thunderbird often feature music, served with loopy tropical drinks and local people-watching as folks cruise on their bikes or skateboards along the boardwalk to Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill.


Mad Beach Craft Brewing upstairs in John’s Pass serves some of the best local beers, from stouts to key lime cider brewed onsite as well as other local crafts. It’s family-friendly with lots to do (dartboards, pool tables, air hockey, large-screen TVs) and amazing food (tater tots poutine, pulled-pork sliders). Sea Dog Brewing Company near Sunset Beach features their award-winning Shipyard crafts, best paired with their pub burger, lobster bisque or BLT chopped salad.


In addition to many of the restaurants and hotels that feature live music and dancing, you can always count on a raucous night out when you visit Ricki T’s, Captain Bill’s, Daiquiri Shak Raw Bar & Grill or Gator’s. For jazz and sophisticated music, count on Middle Grounds Grill.


There are some eclectic shops in both Madeira Beach and Treasure Island (for wicker, shells, vintage, swimwear and surf gear) but the best shopping is here. You can enjoy a meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Hooters, Waltz Fish Shack or The Hut, nibble ice cream, grab the ferry, play video/arcade games, buy cigars and sample beef jerky. For jewelry and fashion favorites, The Bronze Lady and The Landing are spectacular, especially BL’s Pandora and flip flop collectibles. Lori’s Soaps and Sponges, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Windworks’ kites and the multiple t-shirt and beachwear apparel shops up and down the wooden boardwalk make this a fun half-day jaunt.


In addition to biking the boardwalk, boat ramps, marinas, fishing and watersports, the Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis Center is one of the neighborhood’s best kept secrets. Five Dollar Mondays are back this May; you can play a 9-hole round of golfthe course is open 8 am to 8 pm Friday-Sunday There’s a Pirate Ship Playground, eight clay tennis courts and good golf overlooking Boca Ciega Bay.

At Roselli Park in Treasure Island’s Isle of Capri, large shady oaks surround the playground and the Bill Lyons Little League Ball Field. There are free tennis courts, shuffleboard courts, a horseshoe pit, a basketball hoop, picnic tables and more. In Madeira Beach near the Library and City Hall, there are softball fields, fitness classes and summer concerts, plus amazing views.


Treasure Island

Madeira Beach

John’s Pass

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