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Grapefruiting 2009: Field Scouting

Other special moments?

When you realize you’ve met the woman (or man) of your dreams. But you’ve already had four Miller Lites, two Jack & Cokes and three shots of Jager. Then you’re all aburrrrrrrrrrr.

Personal aside

My first night did not go too well in the bars. I met my friend — who was covering the NCAA Tournament in St. Petersburg — for drinks at BayWalk in St. Pete. We went to Wet Willies, having a couple drinks right away. But it was the end of a long first day in the sun of Clearwater, and I was ridiculously tired. Not too long after those first drinks I was standing, head nodding, half asleep on the crowded dance floor. My friend got the hint quickly, and we hopped back in the car. I drove. Window down. Radio blaring. Screaming at the top of my lungs to keep awake, I made it home.

The moral? Take it easy that first day, or nap hard in the late afternoon.

But BayWalk is cool

BayWalk is a two-level structure of restaurants, shops and bars. Well, I remember two bars. Wet Willies was one. I suggest doing BayWalk during the evening if your crowd is a little older, late at night if you want a good scene in St. Pete. The venue features stores such as Ann Taylor, White House/Black Market and Starbucks, while offering restaurants such as Johnny Rockets, Tokyo Sushi and Banbu Hibachi.

Personal aside

My second night in Clearwater was much more successful. This time my friend and I hit Clearwater. An initial dinner at a fish establishment turned in fine results (as did watching the second round of the NCAA Tournament). We wanted to hit the bar, but not right away; instead, we blazed through a round of miniature golf. Greatest $7 ever spent. Once that was over, we took to Shephard’s on Clearwater Beach. There I tried to get numbers, failed, then wrestled a free t-shirt from a girl’s hands. Great times.

The bars

Shephard’s Beach Resort, 601 Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach
Boasting three types of bars, Shephard’s is a great place to spend a night drinking and soaking in the atmosphere. A tiki bar sits on the beach, with a stage for live entertainment all weekend. Inside is a nightclub-style bar.

Grind House Bar and Grill, 1500 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater
A little more relaxed — if you want a pint with some fish and chips, this is your establishment. Yes, they get action at night, but it’s not dance-style, and it’s much more conducive to conversation. They plug an English-American menu.

13 Cafe and Lounge, 2475 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater
More of a nightclub, but not as completely crazy, 13 has a Friday ladies night and hip hop DJ. Girls will want girly drinks; guys will get Jack & Coke. If you’re into trying to pick up that lovely lady or handsome man, this might be your spot.

The Freaki Tiki, 28778 Highway 19, Clearwater
With a DJ, outdoor deck and drink specials, this is your classic bar with a warm-weather twist. It’s new, too, so the shine might still be on the ol’ gal when you get there.

Of course, there are plenty more options for partying and scouting out that special partner, but consider this a good primer.

Of course, there’s Tampa …

Tampa is its own big party. One of the best places for 20-somethings, it boasts a slew of nightlife opportunities. Ybor City, a Latino quarter of the city, has a bunch of places to check out. But the place to go? Check out Hyde Park Cafe (, the absolute place to be for young people in Tampa on Friday and Saturday nights. It may cost you a little to get in and buy some drinks, so go with a pack and enjoy the scene.

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