This summer, we’re taking some virtual road trips and exploring the country, courtesy of DCG staffers. Depending on where you live, you’ll travel north, south, east, or west through cyberspace to get inside information on both small towns and larger cities. We hope you learn something new and find inspiration for when you feel comfortable traveling again.
The next blog in our series focuses on St. Pete, Fla. Account Director Kim Van Wyngaardt, recently moved there.
Name: Kim Van Wyngaardt
Hometown: Cape Town, RSA
Where I live now: St. Petersburg, Fla
I moved to St. Pete, Fla., four months ago, and I recently realized how spot-on my timing was.
When I first moved to the U.S. in 1998, I lived in Miami for six years. In February 2004, I moved to McLean, Va., and three months later, the 17-year cicadas appeared. Why had nobody warned me about this? I felt like I was living in an episode of “Fear Factor” for two months.
Fast forward 17 years to February 2021, when I made my big move from Virginia back to Florida to be closer to my daughter (who goes to school in Miami) and became a first-time homeowner. I didn’t realize at the time that the timing of my move meant I was missing the reemergence of the 17-year cicadas. My subconscious is a genius.
Let me share a bit about why I love living in St. Pete.
Everyone who visits says they love it here. They love the beaches, they love the food, they love the architecture and the culture. I feel the same way, and it’s even better experiencing everything as a resident. I get to wake up every morning and take my dog, Carlos, for a walk along the palm tree-lined cobblestone streets in my neighborhood. The 1940s-style bungalow homes have so much character, and I love that no two houses look alike. Some residents have modernized their homes, while others have added mermaids and seahorses to the exterior.
Every morning walk reveals something new. After work, I’ll often drive to the pier to look at the ocean and watch small prop planes fly over into Albert Whitted Airport (Fun Fact: The first recorded commercial flight in history took off from this little airport in 1914.) with my trusty canine friend by my side. He loves to walk and people-watch as much as I do. We see dolphins, watch people kayak and Jet Ski; there’s so much good energy that even after a tough day, this routine of ours can totally turn things around.
Never a dull moment
On the weekends, there is always so much going on. We will go to the beach (yes, Carlos loves the beach, too), farmers markets, or an event featuring local artists or up-and-coming chefs offering delicious food to try. The artist community is huge here, and there’s everything from small, personal pieces to large industrial-type artworks. All of these things breathe so much life into my experience here.
St. Pete is full of wonderful little neighborhoods, like Old Northeast, Historic Kenwood, Snell Isle, and the Grand Central and Central Arts Districts (my favorite), with their mural-covered walls, streets lined with restaurants offering every cuisine you can imagine, bars, unique coffee shops, galleries, and boutiques — no chains, nothing huge. And people are happy and friendly! So, while I love the beautiful beaches, what makes this place for me is downtown, the Central Districts, and the people who frequent these areas. These people are unapologetically themselves, and I enjoy being around them.
Moving here is the best decision I’ve made for myself in a long time. Does Carlos need to be groomed a little more often because it’s hot 90% of the time? Yes. Will l only be able to wear my hair straight in December and January? Probably. But that’s OK. It’s a small price to pay for an endless summer.