Considering a vacation in St. Pete/Clearwater? Visit St. Pete/Clearwater has compiled helpful, up-to-date information on visiting responsibly, local regulations and what’s open.
With miles of pristine white beaches, trendy bars and unconventional breweries, St. Pete/Clearwater is laden with eternal sunshine and buzzing artsy neighborhoods. While California has a wine country and Kentucky has bourbon, St. Pete is the epicenter of craft beer, boasting a boozy trail known as the Gulp Coast, which offers both innovative brews and culinary pursuits. Choose a designated driver and see what it’s all about.
With more than 35 local craft breweries and a bevy of mouthwatering eateries, it’s well worth sipping and snacking your way through St. Pete/Clearwater on a balmy Florida afternoon – or a few sunny days, for that matter. From bike-themed breweries to the tiniest, tastiest taco stands, the Gulp Coast shows just how diverse, and delicious, the region’s expansive beer scene and culinary culture can be.
The Gulp Coast comprises not just St. Petersburg and Clearwater but also other cities in the region, including Dunedin and Seminole. A few hours of meandering through these communities will set you (and your designated driver) on a bubbly journey from the area’s biggest, best-known breweries to unusual hideaways off the scenic route.
Splashy experiences in Dunedin
One popular spot is Florida’s oldest microbrewery, Dunedin Brewery. This laid-back joint offers handcrafted beers with a Scottish touch, all brewed in small batches of just 14 barrels at a time. The Biére de Café, a brown ale with notes of chocolate and Joffrey's Coffee – another regional favorite – has an excellent reputation. Don’t forget to take advantage of Dunedin’s brewhouse tour in addition to sampling their menu.
For a hidden gem, make sure you get brunch at The Little Red House, a quaint French café tucked just off Main Street. There you can refresh your palate with gluten-free and vegetarian menus in an eclectic atmosphere. A Parisian omelet or a classic crepe will transport you to a French village – albeit one where cappuccinos happily coexist with Cuban coffee.
For those who prefer a lunch menu, Taco Baby is Florida’s tiniest taqueria, serving up $3 tacos at a former ATM. Despite the small size, Taco Baby is hard to miss – the colorful, splashy exterior of this Dunedin favorite is true to the area’s artsy vibe.
Another can’t-miss classic is situated right on the bay. Bon Appetit offers a waterfront dining experience with stunning views to relax after your beer tour – ideal for orange-sunset watching next to St. Joseph Sound.
Dining on the beach
Clearwater is the home of sugar sand beaches. It’s also home to Sandbar, a restaurant directly over the Gulf and featuring unbeatable sunsets. It’s located just outside the Opal Sands Resorts – visit during April to enjoy massive, if fleeting, works of art at the annual sand sculpting festival while you’re enjoying the waterfront dining.
No Gulp Coast expedition would be complete without a stop at Big Storm Brewery, which features eccentric brews named after storms that have made landfall along Florida’s gulf coast. The pretty, hibiscus-tinged Tropic Pressure Florida Ale might become your new favorite drink for storm-watching parties and sunny afternoons alike.
A 20-minute drive from Clearwater is Seminole, where you’ll find the Rapp Brewing Company. Beer lovers can sample award-winning ales and lagers from 40 ever-changing taps – Rapp prides itself on maintaining constant variety and exploring everything a brewer can do with yeast, malt and hops.
St. Petersburg’s culinary delights
In St. Petersburg proper, idiosyncratic beers are brewed right in the middle of all the action. Cruise to bike-themed Cycle Brewing where you can find barrel-aged stouts on tap. Or stretch your beer knowledge with treats like an Irish Strawberry Cheesecake Stout at St. Pete Beach’s first craft brewery, Mastry’s Brewing Co. If you’re getting ready for the St. Pete nightlife, energize for the evening with a locally-made cold brew coffee.
St. Pete’s downtown district is as packed with delicious restaurants as it is with great breweries. Brick & Mortar was established by a husband-and-wife catering team in 2015, and the New American restaurant experiment has dominated in the face of outstanding competition. Try their divine house carpaccio.
For a more rustic experience, visit The Mills Restaurant for distinctive cornbread waffles and a Southern favorite – fried green tomatoes. Or have a hidden adventure in the secret basement den of Ichicoro Ane, whose Japanese-inspired cuisine goes beyond miso soup with creative bowls of ramen and savory appetizers.
Back to the brews
Before ending your Gulp Coast tour, you won’t want to miss the most popular breweries in the city. Green Bench was named for the colorful seats that once lined the streets of St. Pete. Today you can stop by its cozy tap room, stocked with an array of their own craft beers, mead, and ciders, as well as visiting selections from other area brewers.
Less than a mile away, you’ll find Cage Brewing, a microbrewery with two taprooms, a dog-friendly area, and old-school video games to keep you entertained while you relish IPA’s like Golden Buddha or Pinball Porter. Or try Sea Dog Brew Pub, which incorporates its craft beer into a Gulf-inspired menu.
If you want to get a little funky, head to Inoculum Ale Works, which boasts an all-sour beer menu. Try inventive concoctions such as the Black Gos, brewed with watermelon, basil, sea salt, and black malt. Last but certainly not least, enrich your taste buds at If I Brewed The World Craft Brewery, home to even more eclectic flavor profiles from brewers who literally wrote the book on making great beer.
Finishing on a sweet note
Every food and drink tour needs to end with dessert, and Swah-Rey is the ideal last stop for creative desserts. The mini cakes, sitting atop a shot glass, are especially tempting when paired with your favorite beer.
Between the sun, the beach, and the bubbles, there’s a lot of ground to cover in St. Pete/Clearwater. But by the end of your Gulp Coast tour, you’ll know firsthand why this destination has earned such a reputation with craft beer aficionados – and which are your new favorite Florida breweries.
Editor’s note: As always, make sure to check opening and closing hours of each location before heading out on your tour of the Gulp Coast’s greatest hits
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