By Cristina Silva
Published September 30, 2007
Geography: Located on the southern end of St. Pete Beach, south of the historic Don CeSar Hotel, Pass-a-Grille is but one block wide and 31 blocks long. The village is bordered by the bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
A little history: According to legend, it is thought that Pass-a-Grille derives its name from the French Passe aux Grilleurs, which means "the passageway of the grillers" in honor of the fisherman who used to grill their catch of the day on the shore when the island was still a post for pirates. The town of Pass-a-Grille Beach was incorporated into the city of St. Petersburg Beach in 1957 and in 1989 a section of Pass-a-Grille was declared a National Historic District.
The beach: Think miles of beach, powdery sand and stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. At the southernmost point of the beach, fisherman hang their poles over the pier. Along the shore, sea shell enthusiasts comb the sand for some of the most unique and exquisite shells in the area. At dusk, watch the pinkish orb of the sun sink into the water.
Amenities: The Brass Monkey is a waterfront restaurant that has the best combination of crass and class. Relax on the lounge chairs on the deck, enjoy the Maryland-style crab cakes (called Monkey Balls) and sip a cold beer. Down the street, Comfort and Joy provides treats such as homemade strawberry jam and honey and locally grown fruits and vegetables. The Merry Pier is a great place to people watch, even if you have never been an angler in your life. Don't forget about Eighth Avenue, the downtown area featuring small boutiques, galleries and restaurants (the massive Hurricane is a local institution). At sundown, revelers head to the Seaside Grille, where anyone in the area can ring a bell on the beach as the sun slips into the horizon.
Some drawbacks: The area's narrow streets ensure traffic remains at a crawl. Don't come here if you can't deal with driving less than 15 miles per hour. Also, this isn't really a party beach. Everyone is packed in tight, and neighbors won't stand for loud noises after dark. There are no lifeguards.
Parking: Metered parking costs $1.25 per hour or $5 per day. Parking, which is free after 5 p.m., is usually plentiful.
Bottom line: Pass-a-Grille is perfect for those who couldn't care less about tanning or swimming. Explore the quaint shops, eat at the many popular restaurants, or just walk around and take in the variety of architectural styles showcased throughout the island. But go somewhere else if you want a wild time. Pass-a-Grille is for low-key types.