Welcome to The Short List. Each week, we pick a topic and share our favorite – or, in some cases, maybe our least favorite – things about the Bay area.
It's that time of year again. Our Northern family members are on spring break, and they want to go where it's warm, of course. No matter where they end up in Florida, they somehow manage to squeeze in a visit. In honor of our visitors, we rate the best places to buy Bay area souvenirs.
The Shell Store, 348 Corey Ave., St. Petersburg: Any first-time visitor to the Sunshine State is practically required to return home with samples from our local sandy shores. Stock up on sea shells in the raw or fashioned into home décor at this natural-specimen warehouse.
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Dodecanese Boulevard, Tarpon Springs: No visit to the Bay area is complete without a stop at the Sponge Docks. This Greek settlement was established around a thriving natural sea-sponge harvesting industry. Bringing home a few of these for bathing is a must. Kids will want baby sharks in a jar or preserved alligator heads.
Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Tampa: Treat all your friends back home to unusual wines ($12.99) from the "Napa Valley of Tampa Bay." Each locally produced bottle features favorite Florida fruits, such as blueberry, strawberry, tangerine and Key lime.
Tampa Bay History Museum, 801 Old Water St., Tampa: The museum store stocks dozens of commemorative items, including a popular line of tea towels ($18.95) featuring either a vintage or contemporary design that incorporates images of such icons as Channelside, the pirate ship and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Pick up a copy of "Cool Things Every Kid Should Know About Tampa" ($9.95) for your favorite child.
Tampa Tobacco Company, 1704 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City: Cigars have been hand-rolled by Cuban immigrants in Tampa's Latin district, Ybor City, since the late 1800s. What more iconic souvenir for visitors to take home to friends?