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First Night, St. Petersburg, Florida

The best way to ring in the New Year on Florida's west coast? Hit downtown St. Pete. Just about everybody in the region does, arriving in fancy cars, stretch limos, cabs, and chartered party buses. We followed suit and were not disappointed. Our itinerary for "First Night" was rather ambitious, but we prevailed. We went to:

1. The Mandarin Hide

The Mandarin Hide is an uber chic lounge that is always packed, despite the relatively high cover charge. First Night is, of course, no exception. If you are into things quirky and cool, you will be delighted by the chandelier in the birdcage out front. 

2. Fireworks at the Waterfront

You have got to see these, but let's be clear, this is no Times Square display. Nor does it pretend to be. There is nothing quite like seeing brilliant bursts of light showered upon quivering green palm fronds.

3. Tryst Gastro Lounge

An elegant lounge and restaurant catering to the more sophisticated professional set, Tryst always has an excellent DJ, delicious cocktails, and exquisite fare. Expect the prices to be commensurate with the quality.

4. The Canopy Rooftop Lounge

The Canopy is about as classy and trendy a rooftop lounge as you will find anywhere. The ambience is reminiscent of what you will find at 1Altitude in Singapore, for example. With its sweeping views of the waterfront and glass fire pits nestled among sofas, this still-new spot will take your breath away, even if the new cocktails don't.

5. Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant

Ceviche is where you go to mueve las caderas. But you first have to prize yourself from the delectable tapas and sangria upstairs and descend into the basement, where the energetic live band's salsa and merengue will drive you into a frenzy. Ceviche's guests tend to be as warm as the venue itself is cozy. Spanish art enthusiasts will be amused by the prominent display of Goya's La maja desnud[ita] when the clothed version might have been less risqué. (The Old Master would be proud.)

6. Central Avenue Sports Bar 

Central Avenue Sports Bar was formerly Calypso Rum Bar & Island Grill, and prior to that, The Garden. Despite its apparent identity crisis, the music here is consistently some of the best you will find in St. Pete. The blend of hip-hop, pop, and R&B hits heard on the airwaves today and cult favorites from the last few decades will have you on your feet and heating up the dance floor in no time.

7. McDinton's Irish Pub & Restaurant

McDinton's is the Irish pub that morphs into a Club with a capital "C" by night. This is where you party like your life depends on it and you keep dancing, as the music switches from pop to country to rap. People-watching and McDinton's distinctive decor will keep any wallflower sufficiently entertained.

Seven hot spots were all we could squeeze into one night of communal revelry, and I won't soon forget a single one. We started the year with a veritable bang!

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What are your favorite spots in St. Pete? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

About the Author and Photographer
An inveterate globetrotter and self-professed global citizen, I love to travel the world, embrace new people (as well as old friends!), discover different cultures, savor exquisite fare, and lounge in lovely accommodations. The Cheryl Chez Elle™ blog is my way of encouraging you to "Travel, Dine, Play, and Stay." Like or want what you see here? Feel free to leave me a comment here or privately drop me a line at



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