The Local’s Survival Guide to The Grand Prix

The fresh Spring air is slowly filling 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 iLovetheBurg, 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 a stones throw from the 9th 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.

A Gala Night with David Garrett

If the sound of revving engines and car fanatics isn’t quite the melodious pur you’re seeking head over to The Palladium to experience world class violinist David Garrett. This prodigy began his musical quest at the humble age of 10 on stage with the Hamburg Philharmonics. On Friday, March 28 at 8pm, come hear the classically inspired, Julliard trained and rock influenced David Garrett. Palladium Theater 253 5th Ave N

Local Longboards Grand Opening

*Photo via Local Longboard Company

Not quite as big as the Grand Prix but definitely as exciting to the ‘Burg is the official opening of Local Longboards on Central Ave. From 6-9pm on March 29, you can view one-of-a-kind graphics designed by local artists and sculptural elements provided by Tampa Bay area mad men. It’s a night to shop, celebrate, appreciate and welcome in the new craftsmen on Central Ave. Officially located at 659 Central Ave.  

Ja Rule’s Throwback Spring Break

Hot 101.5 and Ja Rule are hosting a throwback Saturday at Jannus Live. This event is free and open to the public, 21+, starting at 8:30pm or you can purchase a ticket and get guranteed entry at 7:30pm. Whether you’re on break or celebrating the weekend, this is one way to get loud and lose yourself in the ecstacy of fun music, good drinks and close friends. Jannus Live 200 1st Ave N

Beer Breakfast @ Mandarin Hide

It’s beer and breakfast for Tampa Bay. The proceeds from this event will benefit Tampa Bay Watch, an organization whose purpose is to protect the estuaries and abundant life that exist in the water surrounding Tampa Bay.  Kill the keg and save the bay on Saturday, March 29 from 9am-2pm. Mandarin Hide 231 Central Ave.

The Museums of St. Pete

The Dali might be closing shop for a few days to do some work around the confinement of the Grand Prix 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. 

Cool Off @ Muvico at Sundial 19 + IMAX

Spring here is summer in most places. Avoid the heat, the traffic and the parking madness of downtown and head to the garage by Muvico, they validate, and check out the blockbusters and indie darlings they have showing. Whether you’re in the mood for the daring and epic debut of Noah or the infinite wit of The Muppets, Muvico showcases films to satisfy all patrons.  

Wake up and wind down with Kahwa

*Photo via Kahwa

No matter how you choose to spend your weekend, don’t forget your friendly, neighborhood Kahwa baristas are downtown serving up double lattes, Americanos, fresh tea and vegan banana bread to wake you up, cool you off and bring you down. Tip: Try their red velvet pound cake if you find it stock, they go quickly! 

The Firestone Grand Prix!

*Photo via Motor Sport

However, for the gear heads, automotive enthusiasts, adrenalline 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 competitve race season. Regardless of your proclivity the ‘Burg has full intention of keeping you entertained all weekend.

Article by Andrew Harlan, Writer/Editor for 

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Written by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey is the founder of I Love the Burg and That's So Tampa. In addition to regular contributions to each blog, he's been featured as a commentator to Bay New 9, The Tampa Tribune, The Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Bay Business Journal and The Business Observer as well as national outlets including The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal.