The historic downtown is a vibrant showcase for St. Petersburg’s craft breweries and art galleries.
Beer is being elevated to higher levels of respect at these brewpubs, appealing to a broad spectrum of tastes, and its purveyors are finding offbeat approaches to attract patrons to their taprooms: historic themes, pet-friendly beer gardens, board games, even Pictionary, taking the neighborhood pub a step beyond pool tables and dart boards.
Many of the city’s art galleries are also located here, featuring up-and-coming local artists with stunning works of sculpture, paintings and crafts.
So raise a glass to creativity as you stroll along Central Avenue, especially between 5th and 13th Streets, where everything is local.
Self-guided Arts & Brew Walk along Central Avenue
The Edge and Central Arts districts converge to offer a bustling eight-block showcase of the city’s past, present and future. You won’t be alone. The neighborhood is a hot spot for walkers, and a great introduction to all Central Avenue has to offer.
Start your stroll with lunch at Buya Ramen, 911 Central Ave, for rich Japanese noodle soups, Engine No. 9, at 56 Dr MLK Jr Street N, for the best burger of your life, or the oldie-but-goodie Bodega, at 1180 Central Ave, for a hearty Cuban sandwich that rivals anything Miami can offer.
Next stop, the Green Bench Brewing Co. at 1133 Baum Ave., a block north of Central Ave., off 11th Street in “The Edge.”
Green Bench Brewing Company
Named after the city’s once-iconic green benches, the Green Bench Brewing Company was the first to arrive on St. Pete’s craft brewery scene in 2013, soon followed by the nearby St. Pete and Cycle breweries.
Green benches – some 3,000 of them — lined St. Petersburg’s streets and avenues during the boom years of the 1920s through ’60s. As the city’s population aged and the benches needed maintenance, they were gradually removed, but the image of a city friendly to tourists, visitors and locals is kept alive at the Green Bench Brewery.
Green Bench has a small indoor tap room with a window into the brewhouse and a covered patio and a spacious grassy lawn area for events.
Most of the brewery’s beers are named after local attractions. The Surrealist IPA, offered in rotation, is a nod to the city’s Dali museum. A German wheat beer named “American Stage in the Park Hefeweizen” honored the popular outdoor musical staged by the city’s local professional theater company.
The most popular Green Bench beers are Postcard Pils, a bright Pilsner, and Green Bench IPA, a piney IPA made from Centennial and Simcoe hops with 6.8% ABV. The Coffee Pot Bayou stout (5.2% ABV) is brewed with locally roasted espresso beans from Kahwa Coffee for a smooth better-than-breakfast finish.
Other offerings included Oaty McOatface, a New England style session IPA; Tangerine Creamsicle, a New England style sour with notes of tangerine, vanilla and cream; and Pinellas Peach, a dry-hopped peach cider.
The bartenders are knowledgeable and enthusiastic beer lovers who will be glad to help you choose. Most brews are $5 or $6 for 12 ounces, also available by the pitcher or a take-home 32-ounce growler refill for $11. Try: Green Bench IPA
There’s often a food truck parked next to the patio, or you can order excellent tacos and burritos next door at the Red Mesa Mercado. Brewery tours are offered on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
Green Bench Brewing Company, 1133 Baum Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. Phone: (727) 800-9836. Named after the city’s once-iconic green benches, this was the first to open on St. Petersburg’s craft brewing scene. Closed Mondays; Tues-Sun, Noon–10 pm.
The Morean Galleries & sculptor Jon Hair
From Green Bench, walk east towards the bay about three blocks and duck into the Morean Art Center’s Chihuly Collection in its new space at 720 Central Ave. This small-but-astounding collection contains pieces from each of Chihuly’s signature styles – huge hanging chandeliers, a boat filled with glass balls and the garden of glass delight.
Next to the Chihuly, visit a showroom of work by sculptor Jon D. Hair, (St Petersburg Sculpture Experience, 780 Central Ave.), whose monumental bronzes you’ll probably find familiar. You can sit on a bench next to Mark Twain.
Across the street is the Morean Art Center, where local and student artists show their art. Don’t miss the Morean Glass Art shop, where you can buy art glass at affordable prices and watch local glass artists at work in the adjacent hot shop.
Continue down Central and explore boutiques and shops selling everything from St. Petersburg T-shirts created by local artists, antique and vintage collectibles, boutique clothing and, yes, more art galleries.
Cycle Brewing Company
By the time you reach Cycle Brewing at 534 Central Ave., be ready for some serious beer. This bicycle-themed St. Petersburg brewery has no cider and no fancy tasting flights, but you can order a half-pint of most beers for $3 and enjoy a generous 10-ounce pour.
The small tap room feels like a cave with gray walls decorated with steel cut-outs of bicycle-themed images. Cozy high tops for two are tucked into cubbies along the wall. It’s a nice spot to cool off from the heat, or warm up in winter’s chill.
Most customers go for the Crank IPA (6% ABV), made with citra hops, or the Cream and Sugar Porter, a creamy coffee porter. Cycle also makes a delicious red ale, Ryerish Red (5% ABV), and, for the truly serious, an Imperial stout called Rare Dos with 11% ABV, available only in an 8-ounce pour. Most beers are $5 to $7 for 16 ounces. You can take home most of the Cycle beers in a Crowler – a 32-ounce aluminum can. Try: Ryerish Red
Cycle Brewing, 534 Central, St. Petersburg. Open air bar. Retro pinball machines, air-hockey table (watch your knuckles!) and foosball. Cage’s brewmaster likes to play around with fruity flavors, offering two mango beers. Try: Static IPA
Craft Beer to Craft Art
Across the street from Cycle, at the corner of 5th Street and Central, you’ll find the Florida CraftArt Gallery (501 Central Ave.).
This shop is filled with crafts and artworks by local artisans, many of whom have studios upstairs. The shop is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m; Sunday, Noon – 5 p.m.
Stop in to browse or buy on your way around the corner to St. Pete Brewing Co., 544 First Ave. N.
St. Pete Brewing Company
The favorite beer here is St. Pete Orange Wheat, an American wheat beer that’s fresher but otherwise not too different from Blue Moon or Shocktop.
If you’re there when Put Me In Kolsch is on tap, get it. It has a crisp, clean taste, not too bitter, not too fruity. Also, the McCracken Scottish Ale (6 % ABV) is billed as a “Scottish Heavy,” but don’t let that fool you. It’s creamy and smooth. Grateful Stout, named after the hippie jam band, is lighter than a typical Irish stout.
If you are into American sours, there is a small brew pub a few doors to the west of St. Pete Brewing that only serves sours.
By the time you are done, you’re probably ready to try one of the area’s other restaurants for dinner, or you could head back to Green Bench and get some of those Red Mesa Mercado tacos.
Shopping, art and beer. Heaven on Central.
St. Petersburg Brewing Company, 544 1st Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Phone: (727) 623-4837. Lighter wheat beers and ales are the attraction at this unpretentious brew pub, where dogs enjoy hanging out inside or out, kids play Connect-Four at picnic tables on the sidewalk, and there’s free popcorn from an old-fashioned popper in the back. Open Mon-Fri, 1 pm- 10pm; Sat., Noon-10pm; Sun, Noon-9 pm.
Explore more St. Pete breweries and galleries
3 Daughters Brewery
The owners of St. Petersburg’s 3Daughters Brewing,, like to say they decided to open a brew pub to pay for their three daughters to go to college. This large brewpub is successful enough to easily cover that expense.
On the edge of the growing Warehouse Arts District, south of Central Avenue, 3Daughters has become known as a laid-back place to bring kids, dogs and friends for a beer and a game of … whatever.
You name it. Game tables for Scrabble, chess and checkers, Candyland and Sequence dot the room. There’s a white board for Pictionary, a few sets of dominoes, an entire bookcase filled with board games, three foosball tables, dart boards, table tennis, bar shuffleboard and a stage where local and national bands rock out most weekends.
Outside, where a food truck often parks, there are several corn hole sets, giant Jenga and giant Connect-Four.
3Daughters is a destination, a place to hang out and play. There’s almost always something going on, even on Monday nights the tasting room is packed with people playing live bar trivia.
3Daughters’ most popular brew is the Beach Blonde Ale, which is available at many restaurants in Florida, by the six-pack in stores, and always on tap at the brewery. Beach Blonde (5% ABV) is a clean-finish beer, not too heavy, great for Florida’s heat.
3Daughters’ other regular brews include Bimini Twist IPA (7% ABV), a smooth, not-too-bitter pale ale; Rod Bender Red, a refreshing red ale; and Sternline Stout, a lighter oatmeal stout.
3 Daughters Brewery, 222 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg. Laid-back pub to bring kids, dogs and friends for a beer and a game of whatever strikes your fancy. Board game tables for Scrabble, chess and checkers, a Pictionary white board, dominoes,foosball tables, dart boards, shuffleboard.
The biggest attraction near 3Daughters is the hot shop and garden at the Duncan McClellan Gallery, 2342 Emerson Ave South, a warehouse the nationally recognized glass artist converted into a stunning gallery and work space.
Glass art from respected national and international glass artists are on display. On the second Saturdays, the artists who work at Duncan McClellan’s kilns do demonstrations.
Also open to the public in the Warehouse Arts District on Art Walk Saturdays are three clay centers, the Zen Glass Gallery and the Arts Xchange where local artists demonstrate and discuss their work.
The Cage Brewery
The Cage has an open-air bar next to the caged-in beer brewing equipment. It’s a retro sort of place with pinball machines, an air-hockey table (watch your knuckles!) and foosball.
The popular beer at Cage is the Static IPA (7% ABV). It’s a slightly bitter but satisfying brew. Cage helpfully posts the IBU – international bitterness unit – rating of each of its beers. The Static IPA rates a 50, about midway in the range.
For a less-bitter option, try Cage’s collaboration with Flying Boat Brewing (1776 11th Ave. N., St Petersburg). “Beware the Glob” is an India Pale Lager, smooth and not globby at all.
Cage’s brewmaster likes to play around with fruity flavors, offering two mango beers – a Berliner and a double IPA – plus a strawberry kiwi blonde ale on a recent menu. Another favorite at Cage is the peanut butter stout, which tastes better than you might think. All beers are available by the growler. Cage has live music a couple of times a week, plus fundraisers for local causes.
The Cage, 2001 First Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL. Brewery and open air bar. Retro pinball machines, air-hockey and foosball. The popular beer at Cage is the Static IPA (7% ABV). Cage’s brewmaster likes to play around with fruity flavors. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3-11 PM; Friday and Saturday, 12 PM-12 AM; Sunday, 12 – 8 PM
Pinellas Ale Works
The peanut butter stout is a favorite across the street at Pinellas Ale Works (PAW) too, but don’t let that or the cute doggie theme fool you. PAW is a serious microbrewery run with passion by brewer/owner Dennis Decker.
Dogs are welcome inside or out in a shaded garden. Free popcorn is served in a dog bowl (not used by dogs – they get water in a stainless steel bowl). The beer, sold by knowledgeable beer tenders, will bring you back time and again.
Top of the menu is a beer called “Harold’s” billed as a St. Pete-style lager, a testament to the city’s growing reputation as a beer-centric destination. With 5% ABV and a low 27 IBUs, Harold’s is refreshing, good to quaff when it’s hot outside.
PAW also makes the best milk stout we’ve tasted in St. Petersburg, Milk Bone, which is used as the base for the peanut butter and vanilla stouts also on the menu. Puppy Love, a New England IPA that’s similar to Cage’s Static and Green Bench’s eponymous IPA, is also a favorite of Pinellas Ale Works’ customers.
All of PAW’s brews are available in 32-, 64- and 128-ounce growlers. If you happen by at the right time, Decker might give you a nickel tour of his brewery, but there’s no formal tour. Wednesdays are trivia night with a $30 prize, and the second Thursday each month is a “Yappy Hour” fundraiser for Pet Pals. Bring your dog. Try: Milk Bone stout
Pinellas Ale Works, 1962 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL. Phone: Doggy-themed micro-brewery takes its mission seriously. The peanut butter stout is a favorite. All of PAW’s brews are available in 32-, 64- and 128-ounce growlers. Hours: Monday-Thursday 3–10; Friday-Saturday 12–12; Sunday 12–8
If you need a break from beer and art, Cage and PAW are just down 20th Street from Haslam’s Books, at 2025 Central Ave., a St. Petersburg institution and one of the largest new and used book stores in the state.
The store has been in business more than 60 years. While it devotes much of its space now to new books and best-sellers, there are plenty of treasures to unearth on its shelves.
The blocks of Central Avenue between 20th and 24th streets – known as the Grand Central District — are home to several interesting consignment and vintage shops.
Even more art galleries!
ArtFusion Galleries, 106 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Phone: (727) 827-7195. Offers new and emerging artists a springboard into a prosperous and successful career in art. Founded by artist William Braemer, the gallery integrates the best of emerging and mid-career contemporary artists.
Imagine Museum: Contemporary Glass Art, 1901 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713. Phone: (727) 300-1700. Contemporary gallery showcasing works by American emerging & established studio glass artists. Admission: $15. (Discounts for seniors, military, students). Guided tours: $20.
St. Pete Artworks, 2604 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Phone: (727) 485-8655. A cooperative art gallery run by GCAA located at 2412 Central Avenue, Downtown St. Petersburg. 21 Local Artists are members of the gallery, have designated wall space and share the responsibilities of being open to the public 6 days a week.
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, 150 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Phone: (727) 892-4200. The museum has thousands of pieces from the Tom and Mary James’ collection, including both contemporary and traditional works. Open 10 am-5 pm daily (8 pm on Tuesdays)
Even more breweries!
Avid Brewing Company, 1745 1st Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Phone: (727) 388-6756. Closed Mon-Tues. Wed, 12-8pm; Thurs-Sat., 12-10pm; Sun, 12-6 pm
Bayboro Brewing Company, 2390 5th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Phone: (727) 767-9666. Mon-Thurs, 4-10 pm; Fri., 1-11pm; Sat., 11am-11pm; Sun., 12-9pm.
If I Brewed The World Brewery, 2200 1st Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Phone: (727) 201-4484. A small batch brewery specializing in fun and eclectic flavor profiles. Open Thursday through Sunday.
Overflow Brewing Company, 770 1st Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Phone: (727) 914-0665. Craft beer brewery, taproom and art gallery.
Right Around The Corner, 2244 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Phone: (813) 360-0766. Dog-friendly brewpub featuring vintage arcade games, pool & a patio with outdoor seating. Wed-Thurs, 4-10pm; Fri., 4-midnight; Sat., Noon-Midnight; Sun, 12-10 pm.
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