The Local’s Survival Guide to The Grand Prix

It’s Grand Prix weekend! From March 8 to 10, the fresh spring air slowly fills with the scents of burnt rubber and exhaust. The crowds are forming on the Beach Drive strip and around the parks. Heads are peeking over rooftops and wrought iron balconies. For a moment it seems there truly ain’t enough air for all of us in the ‘Burg. When you’re elbow to elbow with snowbirds, gearheads, and tall humans in neon jumpsuits and checkered flags ornament every corner and storefront in the downtown area, you know the Grand Prix isn’t far away. While we enjoy us a little vroom vroom at I Love the Burg, we also know there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this weekend in the ‘Burg if you’re going to the races or not, even if a chunk of it is sectioned off by concrete dividers and chain link fences.


The beach is that way and it is open



You’re just a stone’s throw from the 4th best beach in the country. Don’t get suffocated by the Beach Drive crowds and Indy car exhaust. Enjoy a relaxing day with an artisan cocktail on the white sands of St. Pete Beach.


Vertical Ventures

Ready to climb? No experience is required for this fun and adventurous activity. You can do auto belay and bouldering without a class (a brief safety demo will be provided). If you’re feeling ambitious, we recommend doing their introductory class for $25 (gets you all equipment rentals, belay instruction, and a free 2 week membership). You can also just climb for the day at $18/person, $12/kid’s price.

Pro tip: They have a 2-for-1 admission price special available from 8pm to midnight on Friday and 6pm to 10pm on Saturday.

Gasparilla Music Festival across the Bay

If you’re really trying to get away, take a trip to Tampa for the Gasparilla Music Festival. If you don’t feel like driving or there are some adult beverages in your future, take the Crossbay Ferry over and then use The Downtowner to get to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. You can pick up tickets for the festival here.

 

Beer Breakfast @ Mandarin Hide

It’s beer and breakfast for Tampa Bay. The proceeds from this event will benefit The Kind Mouse, a local charity with a mission to assist families in transition and their chronically hungry children while developing the next generation of volunteers to carry on the mission. Kill the keg and support a great cause on Saturday, March 9 from 9am-2pm. Mandarin Hide 231 Central Ave.

 

The Museums of St. Pete 

The Dali will be closed during race weekend, but the Florida Holocaust Museum, the MFA, the Chihuly Collection and other exhibits around the ‘Burg will be alive and open for your cultural entertainment. The MFA is currently showing Jewels of the Imagination, the largest public collection of master jeweler Jean Schlumberger’s work.

This is also a great chance to check out the massive collection of western and wildlife art at the James Museum or the captivating contemporary American Studio Glass at the new Imagine Museum.

 

Wake up and wind down with Kahwa

No matter how you choose to spend your weekend, don’t forget your friendly, neighborhood Kahwa baristas are downtown serving up double lattés, Americanos, fresh tea and vegan banana bread to wake you up, cool you off, and wind you down.

The Firestone Grand Prix!


*Photo via City of St. Pete

However, for the gear heads, automotive enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies and exhaust addicts, there’s no better way to spend a weekend than appreciating the skill and beauty that occurs behind the wheel of a man-made machine as powerful as an Indy car at the Firestone Grand Prix. All weekend you can be delighted by the cerebral capacity and audacious maneuvering of professional drivers risking life and limb for the honor of placing first in the opening circuit of a competitive race season. Regardless of your proclivity, the ‘Burg has full intention of keeping you entertained all weekend.

Written by Brien Neal

Brien Neal

Brien Neal is the Manager of Digital Strategy for RKC.me and a contributor for That’s So Tampa and I Love the Burg. He graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015 with a B.S. in Advertising.