Visit Florida’s sun-drenched Gulf Coast in the company of Bluegreen Resorts, and you’ll find all the state’s opportunities for outdoor fun within easy reach of your Bluegreen at TradeWinds resort in St. Pete Beach. Take a day trip to enjoy the spirit of Africa at Busch Gardens in nearby Tampa, drive up to Orlando for a magical experience at Walt Disney World, or go swimming, sailing, or water-skiing at any of the area’s sparkling beaches. The Tampa Bay area also offers you numerous one-of-a-kind shops and stores. One that you may not have heard about will be a favorite destination for any bookworm in your family: Haslam’s Book Store in St. Petersburg.
Haslam’s is Florida’s biggest bookstore, with hundreds of thousands of titles lining its avenues of brightly lit shelves. New and used books include both popular and esoteric works, as well as rare books and collectible editions. Children’s books get plenty of shelf space, as do titles about Florida and those by Florida writers. The store, which invites hours – or even an entire day – of browsing, sprawls over most of a city block in St. Petersburg’s downtown.
Haslam’s got its start during the Great Depression, when John and Mary Haslam opened it as a magazine exchange and rental library. Still family-owned and operated, the store has become a beloved community institution and a hang-out for local book lovers of all ages.
Book-signings and other events have brought a wide range of Florida authors, educators, and political figures to the store, including former governor Charlie Crist, and local historians, travel writers, and writers on the state’s natural history. Nationally popular authors who have visited Haslam’s include Diana Gabaldon, James W. Hall, and Robert Macomber.
Perhaps the most famous author associated with Haslam’s is Beat poet and novelist Jack Kerouac, who grew up in Central Florida and was a frequent visitor. Kerouac’s ghost is reputed to still haunt the store, regularly shifting his own books to more prominent locations.