Dear New York Times,
I think we should have a chat. St. Petersburg, Florida is where I found myself. It’s where I found a place to call home. It’s where I found the beauty of local business, art, and culture. It’s where I found running, diversity, truth, happiness, love and heartbreak.
When I saw you put our humble city at number 49 in the 52 Places to Go in 2014 lineup, I was pretty stoked. We’re listed among The Vatican, Switzerland and Brazil. But after a brief mention of “a redeveloped waterfront, a stunning Dali Museum, and sophisticated restaurants”, the journalist moves right into what makes St. Pete great: craft beer.
It’s true that downtown St. Pete is buzzing with culture, but not because we’ve all had a few to drink. Our city embraces local business, entrepreneurs and risk-takers. If the streets of downtown are buzzing it’s because a grassroots movement has encouraged us to support our city.
In the New York Times article, you’d think the only viable activity in St. Petersburg is a pub crawl. Trust me, those are fun, but there is so much more to the city.
The website Keep Saint Petersburg Local is the voice of our city’s locally owned, independent businesses. In fact, their stickers can be found on car windows, bicycles, backpacks, and skateboards. The Saturday Morning Market in downtown is a hub of culture and a grand display of local, organic, sustainable, green businesses.
The Market has become the heart-beat of the city, and brings local music, restaurants, and stores to life. Since its opening in 2002, residents have reported an increase in quality of life. Many families, couples and friends make The Market part of their weekly routine. Our city is becoming a beautiful melting pot for healthy living, with an inspiring indulgence in local ventures.
Businesses like The Body Electric Yoga Company, Rollin’ Oats, Banyan Café & Catering, Central Café and Organics, and Squeeze Juice Works are all examples of thriving locally owned businesses that promote a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking to get active, live a more fulfilling life and have a great support system, Saint Petersburg is waiting for you.
But how could NYT fail to mention our expansive culture? Mentioned in passing like an awkward uncle you’d rather forget, the journalist only pays homage to the Dali, which is great by the way.
What about The Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Glass Museum and the St. Petersburg Museum of History? In downtown, the Vinoy Hotel holds heritage, history and prestige. The Banyan trees growing in our parks are centuries old. Our waterways are world-renowned and our infamous inverted-pyramid Pier has wreaked havoc on our city for months.
Yes, there’s beer. In fact, our city boasts hordes of craft beer and small bars. The Ale and The Witch, for example, is one of my favorite craft beer locations. But the truth is, craft beer is just a piece of the puzzle that makes our city so great.
It’s disappointing that with all our culture, heritage, and enthusiasm for local business, we are recognized for beer. If you want to know what St. Petersburg is really like, stop by on February 1 for Localtopia, “A Community Celebration of All Things Local”. And yes, there will be craft beer.