You want a souvenir of your travels, but perhaps something substantial, useful or beautiful. In St. Pete/Clearwater, the answer to the stylish souvenir is art – to use, wear or display – found at local museum gift shops and gallery stores. When you’re in the market for traditional souvenirs, shopping districts offer coastal-inspired keepsakes and clothing along the water.
The museum store in downtown St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Arts is the kind of place where you can find the perfect gift for a friend, plus a few treats for yourself. Art books and reproductions tie to the permanent collection and exhibits – browse for anthologies on folk art or Georgia O’Keeffe’s Poppy on a postcard. Area artists inform fashion offerings here. Two full cases feature Linda Bever’s jewelry (many of her vintage re-fabrications are chunky with precious stones and gold strands), and the Spathose label imagined by local residents Scott Durfee and George Medeiros is like nothing you’ve seen: Their ties, purses and necklaces hand-crafted of palm flowers constitute wearable, organic art.
A few blocks south, shopping is surreal at the Dali Museum gift store (the building alone is well worth a visit). Salvador Dali designed jewelry in the 1940s and '50s, and the reproductions are available for purchase here. (It’s okay to stare at the Living Flower pin, its petals outstretched arms of cubic zirconia and clear crystals.) During the same period, Dali created fragrances, too. The scents are strong, and the visuals of the sculpted bottles are stronger. The museum store is also a good place to pick up a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine favored by Dali and wife Gala. Take it one step further and stock up on wine glasses and tapas plates bathed in the artist’s Still Life: Sandia.
Isabelle’s Museum Store at Tarpon Springs’ Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is as much about artists Allen Leepa and Abraham Rattner as it is about local artists. Pick up a poster of Leepa’s Homage to Tarpon Springs, then peruse works by hometown artists including Larry Hasiak, who turns out wooden vessels in his studio on Tarpon Springs’ Anclote River.
It doesn’t get any more grassroots than at the gallery gift shop inside the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Center faculty, students and members create the items on sale here, which could be jewelry, carvings or anything else the artists are currently experimenting with.
In downtown St. Pete, Florida Craftsmen is a must-shop for anything from jewelry to furniture.
In Dunedin, it’s The Painted Fish Gallery. Likely you’ll get to chat with artists/owners Bill and Linda Renc, though there’s plenty for sale here from other area artists in an array of media.
When you’re done with fine art, find some fun art (and a shot glass, if you must) at these other souvenir shops around town:
Beach and Shore Boulevards, Gulfport: In the offbeat boutiques of this funky neighborhood, mermaids and tiki men influence art, clothing and home decor.
John's Pass Village & Boardwalk, Madeira Beach: Shop for island wear, surf gear, sea-inspired trinkets and Florida wine in the open air.
Mandalay Avenue, Clearwater Beach: From beach/surf shops to specialty shops, including the Freaky Tiki Surf Shack.