Nov 5, 2023 - News

What to do and eat in Largo, Florida

A sign in silver lettering that reads "LARGO." To the right, a flag that reads "DOWNTOWN LARGO" hangs on a light pole.

A sign marking the start of Largo's downtown corridor. Photo: Kathryn Varn/Axios

For years, the city of Largo has worked to breathe life into its downtown district along West Bay Drive. On a recent afternoon, it appeared that effort had started to materialize.

I spent the day in Tampa Bay's fourth-largest city of about 84,000 people to continue our series exploring the region's lesser-known enclaves.

The big picture: While the city's burgeoning downtown remains hampered by Pinellas County's car-first culture, the district's businesses kept me busy enough to hang around for several hours, and the area felt more connected to the park and adjoining performing arts center and library.

Why it matters: The city has put a lot of taxpayer money and effort into bolstering its reputation beyond a drive-through community between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

  • Plus, as Yacob eloquently put it, it's fun to be a tourist in your own backyard — and this venture was especially meaningful for this former Largo beat reporter. It was my first job out of college eight years ago.
The metal frame of City Hall and retail complex in the process of construction.
The Horizon West Bay City Hall and retail complex under construction. Photo: Kathryn Varn/Axios

My drive on a recent morning from my home in south St. Pete to the downtown corridor took about half an hour. The route will only get easier when state transportation officials finish the Gateway Expressway project connecting Interstate 275 and U.S. 19.

  • The Pinellas Trail crosses West Bay east of Clearwater-Largo Road, so visiting by bike is also doable.

Zoom in: I started my day at Coffé Amor Largo with an iced pumpkin maple shaken espresso ($5.10) and a house-made orange-coconut scone ($3). Owner Cadisyn Hess told me the name will soon change to The Kingdom Coffee House & Bakery to embody the shop's Christian theme.

  • After getting some work done in the shop's quiet, minimalist environment (with free WiFi and plenty of seating), I walked two doors down to ReLoved Clothing Exchange for my favorite activity: thrifting.
  • This part-consignment, part-resale shop had an amazing, size-inclusive selection. I added a jumpsuit and a vintage set ($77 altogether) to my ever-expanding wardrobe.

Next up: Lunch. At about 2:30 p.m., admittedly a late lunchtime, Indian and Italian restaurants in the strip were closed, but Puerto Rican eatery Wepaa boasted great reviews and a $12.99 lunch special across the street.

  • A city commissioner once told me that downtown Largo would forever be impaired by the road that runs through it.
  • It's true: West Bay Drive's four lanes are no Central Avenue or Main Street, but two crosswalks with flashing lights made the trek much easier, and safer, than it once was.
  • And it was well worth it for Wepaa's mouth-watering carne guisa (stewed beef), maduros (sweet plantains) and yuca al ajillo (yuca with garlic, which I added as an extra side for $5.99).
A meal of yuca, stewed beef, white rice and sweet plantains on white plates. Sticking out of the rise and yuca are toothpicks adorned with miniature Puerto Rican flags.
I'm still thinking about the yuca (left). Photo: Kathryn Varn/Axios

I walked off the heavy meal with a visit to Central Park, a stroll that would have taken me just a few minutes if not for the massive intersection of West Bay and Seminole Boulevard. That remains a major barrier to connecting downtown and the park.

  • Still, Central Park quickly swallowed me up in its lush greenery, and I forgot about the busy intersection.

I finished the day with a 2-mile drive east to Arkane Aleworks, one of my favorite Tampa Bay breweries. The Creamsicle Clouds double IPA ($8) was a delicious end to my adventure.

If you go: Here's a roundup of some more fun spots in Largo:

What to do

🐢 Stroll the trail and spot turtles from the boardwalk at George C. McGough Nature Park.

🎭 Catch a show at the Central Park Performing Arts Center.

🛤️ Admire Central Park by miniature train on the Largo Central Railroad, and be sure to check out the renowned holiday lights display starting Nov. 23.

⛳️ Play an 18-hole round at the Largo Golf Course.

🌺 Bring the kids to the new Majeed Discovery Garden at the Florida Botanical Gardens.

Where to eat and drink

🥪 Order a giant sandwich at Largo Subs.

🍝 Indulge in home-style Italian food at Sages West Bay Bistro.

🧑‍🌾 Eat like the Pennsylvania Dutch at The Amish Country Store.

🍷 Grab a coffee in the morning or beer or wine in the evening at The Haus Coffee Shop.

💃 Dance the night away at Florida's only lesbian bar, The Lady's Room.

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