A.M. Get a surreal start to the day at St. Petersburg?s bayside Salvador Dal? Museum (1000 Third St. South; 727-823-3767), containing the largest collection of the artist?s works outside of Spain. Continue the artistic immersion with a ride on the Looper trolley (only 25 cents!) to the impressive Museum of Fine Arts (255 Beach Dr. N.E.; 727-896-2667), which houses a permanent collection of heavy hitters (Monet, O?Keeffe, Warhol) laid out in the style of New York?s Frick Collection, plus rotating exhibitions in its 39,000-square-foot modern wing, opened March 2008.
Lunch on Med-inspired artisanal salad or fresh fish in the museum?s MFA Caf?, positioned in a dramatic glass-front conservatory overlooking Tampa Bay. Then take a road trip about 20 miles north to the ?ber-gay-friendly town of Dunedin, site of the annual Miss Mardi Gras Pageant, where local notables, gay and straight, bestow royal honors on a drag queen. It?s the jumping-off point for a trip to ferry-access-only Caladesi Island State Park (727-469-5918), an unspoiled barrier isle that?s home to 2008?s number 1 beach in America -- based on criteria including natural beauty and water quality -- according to the Florida International University coastal research lab.
P.M. Stroll along Dunedin?s Main Street, taking in the quaint, franchise-free shops, before veering down oak-lined Victoria Drive for a Deep South?style sunset walk along St. Joseph Sound. While away the evening at Kelly?s, For Just About?Anything (319?325 Main St.; 727-736-0206), the gay-friendly triple threat: Kelly?s restaurant (don?t miss the Kaffir lime?glazed scallops), the Chic-a-Boom Room martini bar, and Blur dance club (featuring drag on Fridays).
?If you?re in the mood for a walk or run, definitely check out [Tampa?s] Bayshore Boulevard, site of the world?s longest unbroken sidewalk. It?s a great place to enjoy the bay, look at the mansions, and check out all the pretty people.?
--Tony LaColla, Tampa, Fla.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three