Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Novel Way to "Cruise" Downtown St. Petersburg

New York has its subways, and San Francisco has trolleys. Well, check it out...St. Petersburg’s got Segways, and if you’re looking for a super fun easy way to get introduced to the bay side downtown area, riding a Segway may just be for you.

Using computer and gyroscope technology, these two wheel electric vehicles are based on the rider’s balance. They go forward when you lean forward, and reverse when you lean back. Sounds a little tricky, but it’s not.

First, a little bit about downtown St. Pete. Forget that blue hair vision you’ve had all these years. St.Pete is hip.

There are several long time venues that have served as anchors for the LGBT community. The Hideaway (http://www.myspace.com/thehideawaygirls), bills itself as the “oldest lesbian bar in the USA” having celebrated its 40th anniversary this past June. Take it up a notch at A Taste for Wine (http://www.tasteforwine.net/), a sophisticated, yet relaxed spot right on Central Avenue that serves fine wines and beer.

There’s also Georgie’s Alibi (http://www.georgiesalibi.com/stpeteevents.aspx), a café and sports/video bar, another long-time favorite, and the place to be during Pride month, particularly the day of the St. Pete Pride parade (http://www.stpetepride.com/), the largest in Florida, attracting more than 75,000 people this past June.

Other venues include the Gemini Lounge (http://www.myspace.com/gemini_lounge), Club Nautico (http://www.nauticostpete.com/), the Queens Head Restaurant (http://thequeensheadbar.com/home), and Kahwa Coffee Roasting Company (http://www.kahwacoffee.com/about.htm).

Perhaps the best thing to come to St. Pete in the last few months is the Flamingo Resort (http://www.flamingofla.com/), a brand spanking new hotel catering to the LGBT community, and easily accessible to downtown (as well as the beach).

So after you’ve checked into your digs, and before you check out the night scene, cruising the downtown shoreline via Segway is a must (talk about a new way to cruise the streets). David Boston, owner of the guided Segway tours company Gyroglides (http://www.gyroglides.com/) takes groups of up to six people on a several mile tour of Bay Shore Drive, pointing out all the landmarks along the way, with comedy, folklore, gossip and all (no prior experience needed; call ahead for reservations 727-896-3640). After retiring from a 20 year graphics design career with NBC, Boston, 54, moved to Florida with his partner, performer/writer Wilson Loria (http://www.wilsonloria.com/home.htm), five years ago and took over the Segway biz earlier this year.

“It's a new feeling--something you haven't experienced before, like a new sensation for your body to experience,” Boston told us before we took off. “You can be near the water and see a lot of dolphins and boats, and then in just a couple minutes be going through the palm arboretum, and then touring through the old northeast neighborhood looking at great houses.”

It’s all about an adventurous spirit and a little confidence, he told us.

True enough. No one choked, none of us fell, and we all had a blast cruising!

Sheryl Kay is a freelance print and photo journalist, and a contributing editor at CURVE Magazine.

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