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Although Florida's fourth-largest city has seen a minimal increase in population over the past 30 years, this sunny metropolis on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico has changed a great deal demographically. Once unflatteringly dubbed "God's Waiting Room" for its predominant retirement-age population, the city and surrounding beach towns have become dramatically more youthful and vibrant of late, and this extends to the region's gay community, which has grown significantly. St. Petersburg now hosts the state's largest gay pride march (in late June), and the region is home to dozens of LGBT-owned businesses.
Greater St. Petersburg is made up of numerous distinct neighborhoods and municipalities, from downtown – which fringes Tampa Bay – to the many beach towns that extend south to north some 50 miles from Fort De Soto State Park (which regularly notches awards for having one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the country) to Clearwater, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs. Much of the region's emerging gay scene is focused on downtown, a historic mid-city neighborhood called Kenwood, and the small town of Gulfport, which lies just across lovely Boca Ciega Bay from St. Pete Beach and the Gulf of Mexico. All of these areas have been integral in St. Petersburg's steady renaissance, increased hipster appeal and continued popularity with LGBT visitors.
Downtown St. Petersburg is home to several noteworthy hotels as well as a bumper crop of trendy restaurants and boutiques, many of these located in the upscale, open-air BayWalk shopping center. What's particularly special about downtown is the wealth of internationally renowned arts and cultural attractions. The one receiving the most attention right now is the iconic Salvador Dali Museum, which has been a fixture in St. Petersburg since the early 1980s but is slated to reopen in a dramatic new waterfront space on the south edge of downtown in January 2011 - right beside the impressive Mahaffey Theater performing arts complex.
Another must is the acclaimed Museum of Fine Arts, which has a sterling permanent collection and also mounts important traveling shows. Steps away is the striking Chihuly Collection, opened in summer 2010 and containing works by seminal glass artist Dale Chihuly. Both attractions are along leafy Beach and Bay Shore drives, which straddle a lush park and overlook Tampa Bay. From here it's a short stroll along 2nd Avenue out to St. Petersburg Pier, which is presently anchored by a kitschy-looking inverted-pyramid with touristy shops and an aquarium (it's currently slated to be razed and replaced with a new building in a few years).
Head just a couple of miles west of downtown to reach the Grand Central District, the commercial center of historic Kenwood and home to the highest concentration of gay-owned businesses in the city, not to mention dozens of impressively restored Craftsman bungalows. About four miles southwest, funky and historic Gulfport is notable for its offbeat cafes and galleries, and for hosting a popular Art Walk the first Friday and third Saturday of each month.
Continue west across the Highway 682 causeway to reach the string of barrier islands that hold the region's beach communities – turn left (south) to reach pristine Fort De Soto State Park and the charming town of Pass-A-Grille, or turn right (north) to visit tony St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach. In Treasure Island, you'll find the most gay-identified of the region's beaches, the so-called "Bedrocks Beach." It's a little tricky to find – when you cross the bridge from St. Pete Beach onto Treasure Island, turn left at the 7-Eleven onto West Gulf Boulevard and follow it south for a mile to the parking area just north of the Mansions by the Sea condo tower. Follow the boardwalk over the short span of dunes, and you'll typically find plenty of gays and lesbians tanning their hides along the beautiful beachfront.
Head a bit north up the coast and you'll come to the resort city of Clearwater, which has a lively, somewhat up-market beachfront separated from downtown by a picturesque harbor. And still a bit farther north is the funky little town of Dunedin, which has a charming, gay-friendly cluster of shops, boutiques and restaurants along its historic downtown Main Street.
St. Petersburg has seen an influx of notable restaurants in recent years. One of the city's classics is Marchand's Bar & Grill (http://www.marchandsbarandgrill.com), a refined venue inside the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort – for a special occasion, this is one of the top spots in town, whether for dinner or Sunday brunch. Overlooking the marina at the foot of the pier, Fresco's Waterfront Bistro (http://site.chefjasonesposito.com) pulls in a festive happy-hour crowd, serves mouthwatering haddock po'boys, and provides lovely views of the waterfront.
A relative newcomer, Cassis (http://www.cassisab.com) serves reliably good French bistro fare in an urbane setting – choose a table on the sidewalk when the weather is nice. A few blocks north, Hooker Tea Company (http://hookertea.com) is a cheery option for gelato, pastries and toothsome breakfast fare. Drop by slick and arty Kahwa Coffee (http://www.kahwacoffee.com) for first-rate espresso and drip coffee. Bella Brava (http://www.bellabrava.com) and Ceviche Tapas Bar (http://www.ceviche.com) are two additional downtown notables, each cultivating a fairly trendy crowd. And the see-and-be-seen Independent (http://www.independentbeer.com) attracts a stylish, arty crowd for hard-to-find imported beers, fine wines by the glass and live music.
In Gulfport, head to Habana Cafe (http://www.habanacafe-usa.com) for authentic Cuban fare (including delicious drunken shrimp with garlic and mojo sauce); and La Fogata Churrascaria (http://www.lafogataonline.com) for well-prepared seafood, steaks, tapas and elegant cocktails. MadFish (http://www.madfishonline.com) is a slick spot set inside a shimmering stainless-steel diner in St. Pete Beach – the kitchen here turns out creative contemporary fare. At nearby Wildwood BBQ & Burger
(http://www.brguestrestaurants.com/restaurants/wildwood_bbq) you can feast on tasty comfort food – note the impressive list of small-batch bourbons.
Tiny downtown Dunedin has several good restaurants, including Pan y Vino (http://www.panyvino.com), for brick-oven pizzas and a nice selection of wines by the glass; and the gay-popular Mexican restaurant Casa Tina (http://www.casatinas.com).
St. Petersburg's Grand Central District has a few good restaurants, one of which, the stylish Queen's Head (http://www.thequeensheadbar.com), is also one of the city's top LGBT nightlife options. Sip cocktails in one of the outdoor cabanas or inside the slick bar and dining area, where you might enjoy a dinner of pan-roasted skate with truffle-mash carrots, beetroot-vanilla chutney and lemon oil. A few blocks away is arguably the most gay bar in the city, Georgie's Alibi (http://www.georgiesalibi.com), which pulls in a youthful, see-and-be-seen crowd.
Other good bets along the Grand Central corridor include Gemini Lounge (http://www.myspace.com/gemini_lounge), which books fun live bands; Detour, a laid-back watering hole; quirky Lucky Star Lounge (http://www.myspace.com/luckystarlounge28), which is tucked behind a liquor store; and Beak's Old Florida, an inviting tavern and grill that has a popular following with straights and gays.
You'll find a few other neighborhood bars around the city, such as Haymarket Pub, a low-keyed dive bar on the north side of the city - it's next door to the Hideaway, which bills itself the longest-running lesbian bar in the United States. Gulfport gay lounges include the Oar House Bar and Pepperz Lounge, both of which are a bit down at the heels. You may have a better experience strolling along the community's main drag, Beach Boulevard, and stopping by any of the many gay-friendly bars and eateries - Peg's (http://www.pegscantina.com) is a particular standout, known for terrific hand-crafted ales with a kitchen serving fresh and well-prepared in Mexican food.
In downtown Clearwater, the convivial Pro Shop Pub (http://www.proshoppub.us) is one of the oldest gay bars in the state and has a popular following at happy hour. Just north in downtown Dunedin, the Kelly's/Blur (http://www.kellyschicaboom.com) complex comprises an LGBT-friendly nightclub, showbar, martini lounge and casual American restaurant.
St. Petersburg is home to one of the largest gay resorts in the country, the Flamingo (http://www.flamingofla.com), which in addition to being a popular LGBT nightlife venue has a large central pool, a good restaurant and 130 simply but pleasantly furnished – and reasonably priced – hotel rooms.
The city's grandest and most famous hotel is the swell-elegant Renaissance Vinoy Resort (http://www.marriott.com), which has long been a friend to the gay community. This pink palace overlooks the downtown waterfront, comprising both a historic main building, which opened in 1927, and a newer wing with roomier accommodations but a still-classic color scheme and design. Amenities include an impressive health club and spa, golf at the resort's private course a couple of miles away, and excellent dining at three different restaurants.
There are also several excellent, mid-priced chain properties downtown, including the Courtyard Marriott (http://www.marriott.com), the Hampton Inn and Suites (http://www.stpetehamptonsuites.com) and the hip, lime-hued Hotel Indigo (http://www.hotelindigo.com) – all are just a few minutes' walk from Tampa Bay and major museums. You'll also find few gay-friendly and very charming B&Bs in the Old Northeast Historic District, which flanks downtown and is a pleasant walk from shops and restaurants. Among these, the gay-owned Dickens House (http://www.dickenshouse.com) is a stunning example of Arts and Crafts architecture with plush, beautifully furnished accommodations. Also consider the Mansion House B&B (http://www.mansionbandb.com), with its glorious full-size pool; and the Beach Drive Inn (http://www.beachdriveinn.com), which is across from the famed Renaissance Vinoy Hotel.
The well-priced and popular clothing-optional GayStPete House (http://www.gaystpetehouse.com) is an excellent base for proximity to the bars and restaurants of the Grand Central District, and in Gulfport, consider the marvelous Sea Breeze Manor Bed & Breakfast (http://www.seabreezemanor.com), a historic Tudor-style 1920s house that overlooks Boca Ciega Bay and has spacious, warmly appointed rooms.
Across the bay in St. Pete Beach you'll find the area's other famous grande dame, the Loews Don Cesar Resort (http://www.loewshotels.com), an opulent, pink wedding-cake of a hotel that's hosted countless celebrities and appeared in such prominent films as Health and Once Upon a Time in America. Nearby, the circa-1957 Postcard Inn on the Beach (http://www.postcardinn.com) is a sleek, surfer-chic boutique hotel on the water that's steadily developed a gay following – book a poolside cabana room for optimum swank factor.
For easy access to Clearwater and a location in the heart of charming downtown Dunedin, look no further than the stylish Meranova Guest Inn (http://www.meranova.com), which has eight tastefully furnished rooms, each with private entrances.
Andrew Collins covers gay travel for the New York Times-owned website About.com and is the author of Fodor's Gay Guide to the USA. He can be reached at OutofTown@qsyndicate.com.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
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· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.