Category Archives: Gulf Coast Insider

Clearwater Beach aerial 2

Accommodations or Flight, Which to Book First

Booking Your Flight First

passenger jetBooking an airline flight first is a good idea. Why? Because if you book your accommodations first you might not find a flight to match it. With airlines running their flights tighter than ever, you need to know that you can get to your destination. Plus, your flight needs to be booked well ahead of time in order to save money.

Does booking a flight first come with risks? Yes it does. You can pay for your flight and wind up not finding the rental you want during the time period allowed for by your round trip tickets. That’s not good. You could wind up far away from the beach or other attraction you intended to enjoy.

 

Booking Your Accommodations First

beach accommodationsBooking accommodations first is also a plan that can work. If you book far enough ahead, it will be easier to get a flight to match. Since popular destinations often take reservations a year or more in advance, you might find airfare tickets with greater ease, given a long enough lead time.

Does booking accommodations first carry a risk? Of course it does. You might wind up with reservations and no flight to go with them. If you get a flight that doesn’t match your reservations, your vacation can be thrown out of sync, forcing you to purchase extra nights where you didn’t intend to stay. Worse still, you might have a shorter flight than your paid accommodations, forcing you to pay for nights you don’t get to enjoy.

 

Make Vacation Flight Plans and Accommodations Match

beach vacationThe solution to synchronizing your flight plan with your accommodations might be easier than you think. You see, popular destinations often set availability on a Saturday to Saturday schedule. During high season especially, vacation rentals in our personal favorite destination, Clearwater Beach, will often only book beach cottages, homes, or condos on a one week, Saturday to Saturday, basis. The majority of problems with booking during peak seasons comes when travelers do not know about the one week restrictions. While you can book hotels for any nights you want, vacation rental homes and condos stick rather rigidly to their weekly schedules, at least during peak times. In case you don’t know, booking a vacation rental for a week is much less expensive than staying at a hotel for seven nights. That means staying in a hotel that was not part of your plans can take a heavy toll on your expenses. As with any hotel or vacation rental, check ins are in the afternoon and check outs are in the morning, so plan your flight accordingly. Put this all together and you might find making your flight and accommodations match much easier.

  • Plan ahead
  • Book your accommodations at least six months to one year before your vacation
  • Have in mind that your vacation accommodations might need to be Saturday to Saturday
  • Book your flight on a Saturday to Saturday schedule
  • Have a plan to fill the hours where flight schedule doesn’t match check in and check out times, especially for families with young children

Clearwater Beach accommodationsIf you schedule your flight and accommodations to match a standard one week stay, and you book far enough into the future, your job becomes easier. Even here in our vacation rental office, we had to agree that booking a flight first is probably the best plan of action, due to the sometimes-volatile nature of flight reservations. Understanding the vacation rental field before you book is advantageous. Call ahead or use the Internet to get a feel for the accommodations at your destination. We suggest Clearwater Beach!

Study your destination, understand booking dates, and plan ahead. With your research done, you can book your flight and accommodations like a pro.

 

Other posts you might enjoy;

To Drive or Not to Drive on your Clearwater Beach Vacation

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Where the Heck is Pinellas County and Why Should I Care?

 

white beach sand

Remarkable Origin of Clearwater Beach Sand

Geological History of Florida

Florida Below Sea Level

Clearwater BeachWhile walking the beaches in Florida, you might take a moment to reflect on how the beaches came to be. Underneath the beautiful soft sands is a marine legacy that reaches back millions of years.

Florida has spent much of its long life below sea level. Millions of years ago, North America and South America had not yet connected and the Gulf of Mexico did not yet exist in its present form. Florida was merely sea floor, part of the continental shelf of North America.

Florida Rising out of the Sea

Florida bayouSea animals lived and died over millions of years, depositing their skeletons and shells on the sea floor. That happened in such volume that the marine animal remains became a sediment that eventually formed into limestone. The limestone build up became the foundation for more sediment, bringing Florida closer to the surface. The sea level fluctuated with the coming and going of the ice ages. Each time Florida rose above the water, only to be covered by the seas once again.

Prehistoric Florida

Giant slothsWhen the land was above sea level, vegetation and land animals moved into Florida. The animal life of early Florida included elephants, sloths, saber-tooth tigers, and giant beavers. When North America and South America joined together, the Gulf of Mexico was born.

Modern Florida

beach sandFlorida subsequently rose and fell beneath the waves until, finally, portions of it remained above sea level permanently. The Florida we recognize formed at the end of the last ice age when sea levels matched those we know in present time.

 

Origin of Clearwater Beach and Gulf Coast Sands

Quartz stoneThe powdery white sands of Clearwater Beach are part of the legacy of Florida. With the talk of sea beds and millions of sea creatures creating a limestone bedrock, it might seem logical to assume that the seashore was created from fragmented shells. In fact, the soft, white sands of Clearwater Beach came from the Appalachian Mountains. Clearwater Beach sands are made of quarts rather than sea shells. This light colored rock is responsible for the brilliant color of Gulf Coast sands. In ages past, rivers that are now long gone, carried the eroded stone of the Appalachian Mountains southward. Appelachian MountainsGeologists have said that the mountain range was once as tall and jagged as the Rocky Mountains. The Appalachians are actually a much older mountain chain, eroded, over the millennia, into rolling peaks at lower elevations. All that rock traveled southward, ground eventually into tiny grains. Those beautiful bits of stone now form the sands of Clearwater Beach and the Florida Gulf Coast on which we walk today.

Florida Gulf Coast

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

A Beach Less Traveled

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Best Beaches in America

 

references: http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/student/barr1/report.htm    https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pangaea    http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/land/land.htm    http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/geohist-2.htm     http://practical-microscopy.blogspot.com/2011/06/where-is-best-beach-sand.html

 

Sea turtle

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Sea Turtles

Out of the 7 species of sea turtles on Earth, 4 of them lay their eggs on the Florida coastline.

    • Loggerhead sea turtleLoggerheads are large sea turtles that are named for their wide heads, sometimes 10 inches in width. Loggerheads are the most common turtle to nest on the beaches of Florida.

 

    • Green sea turtleGreen Turtles are known for their beautiful green shells, that are also, unfortunately, one of the reasons the species was hunted into an endangered condition. They range in warm waters across the globe and, when nesting in Florida, usually lay their eggs on the east coast.

 

    • Leatherback sea turtleLeatherback turtles are the largest of the sea turtles, some weighing as much as a compact car. The trademark shell is leathery with ridges running from front to back. These turtles can inhabit colder waters and dive over 3000 feet deep. They range worldwide, a small number of them laying eggs on Florida beaches.

 

  • Hawksbill sea turtleHawksbill turtles are named for their beak-like mouths. This turtle uses its sharp beak for eating sponges and invertebrates, common species in the Gulf of Mexico. In Florida, these turtles most often lay eggs on the east coast between Canaveral National Sea Shore and the Florida Keys.

Kemp’s Ridley is a rare turtle that swims the Gulf of Mexico but nests on the Gulf Coast shores of Mexico. Two other species of sea turtle are the Flatback, which lives in the waters north of Australia, and the Olive Ridley, which ranges in equatorial waters.

 

Turtle Hatching Season on the Florida Gulf Coast

Loggerhead turtle hatchlingsTurtle hatching season on the Florida Gulf Coast lasts from May through October. On the east coast of Florida, the season starts as early as March. While four species nest in Florida, only loggerhead turtles nest commonly on the Gulf Coast. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, turtles create 3-8 nests per kilometer on the shores of Pinellas County, where you will find Clearwater Beach and other popular destinations like St Pete Beach, Treasure Island Beach, Madeira Beach and Indian Shores. While Pinellas County is not the most prolific site for turtle nests, you should still keep an eye out for them while you are here.

 

Turtle Egg Laying on the Beach

Sea turtle eggsSea turtles do not return to land once hatched. Only the females will pull themselves ashore to lay eggs. The life cycle of sea turtles keeps the young ones in shallows or in areas with growth where they can take cover. When larger they move to the shallows, and then later, into open water. Loggerheads live approximately 50 years but do not begin mating until they are around 35 years old. Females will mate every two to three years, laying an average of four nests. Florida has groups that help to protect the sea turtles, volunteers locating nests and marking them off so that beach-goers to not dig or set up umbrellas or towels on top of the nests. When walking the beach, be on the lookout for stakes bearing orange or pink tape. Disturbing the nests is illegal. Many nests have cameras trained on them to deter anyone from vandalizing them.

 

Turtle Season Guidelines for Beach-goers

Sea turtle nestYou can play your part in protecting the sea turtles. Always leave the nests sites alone. If you believe you have found an unmarked sea turtle nest, be sure to contact authorities so that the nest can be protected. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies, will take your calls if you find a nest in Pinellas County, (727-441-1790). Other than human tampering and predation by animals, lights are the biggest threat to sea turtle hatchlings. Hatched sea turtles aim toward the greatest light, which, without beach housing, would be the moon reflecting off the sea. That is why many locations mandate that beach houses and businesses keep their shades drawn during turtle hatching season. You should not shine flashlights or other types of lights onto hatching sea turtles. Loggerhead sea turtleAdditionally, if you come upon an adult sea turtle coming ashore to lay eggs, keep your distance. If the turtle is frightened, it may return to the sea, in which case, it could drop its eggs into the open water where they will not survive. Hunting and loss of habitat has greatly reduced the sea turtle population. If you are given the opportunity, do your best to help them survive.

 

Local Turtle Trivia

Turtle sculptureHere in Pinellas County, home to Clearwater Beach, we love our turtles.

  • The Gopher Tortoise can be seen here in open flat lands like Honeymoon Island State Park.
  • Another local turtle, living in our freshwater ponds and lakes, is called a cooter. Cooter’s Restaurant & Bar, found right here on Clearwater Beach, takes its name from this turtle.
  • Up in Tarpon Springs, home to the famous Sponge Docks, you will find a fun pub called Lagerheadz,which is named after our local loggerhead turtles.

 

Other posts  you might enjoy:

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Fishing Charter Hotspots on the Florida Gulf Coast

Refences:

http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/species/   http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/life-history/   http://www.seefloridaonline.com/turtles/   http://www.conserveturtles.org/florida.php?page=nestingseason   http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2013/freelance-articles-2013/sea-turtle-walks-bonnie-gross.html   http://www.seaturtle.org/faq/answers/6.shtml   http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/nesting/loggerhead/   http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Sea-Turtles/Loggerhead-Sea-Turtle.aspx

Fun Florida Facts

Fun Florida Facts

Clearwater BeachVacation Paradise

We enjoy welcoming people to Clearwater Beach and the other beautiful white sand shores of our home, Pinellas County, Florida. While investigating what makes our vacation paradise so interesting, we came across various collections of facts about Florida and our home county that were unique. We’ve distilled a few of the more relevant ones to share with you here on our Florida Beach Rentals blog.

 

Fun Florida Facts

Florida oranges

Seven Mile Bridge: Florida is home to the nation’s longest bridge, Seven Mile Bridge, which spans the Florida Keys. Instead of building the spans over the open waters, they constructed it elsewhere and shipped the completed pieces to the Keys to be connected.

Florida Oranges: Florida produces about 70% of the Unites States’ oranges and roughly 40% of the world’s oranges.

frown face

Longest Coastline: Florida does not have the longest coastline in the United States! Alaska has more coastline, we come in second.

Oldest City in the US: Saint Augustine, on Florida’s east coast, is the oldest city in the United States, settled by the Spanish in 1565

frown faceFlorida bald eaglesMost Southern State in the U.S.: Florida is not the southernmost state in the United States! Hawaii is farther south, we come in second.

Longest River Sailboat Race: The Annual Mug Race is held in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Saint Johns River. The race spans 42 miles.

Florida Bald Eagles: The second largest breeding population of bald eagles in the United States is in Florida. That comes as no surprise to those who live in Florida, as our state is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

 

Fun Facts about Clearwater Beach Region

Honeymoon Island slash pinePines VS Palms: The name of our county comes from the Spanish “Punta Pinal,” or “Pine Point.” You can see some of these beautiful and abundant pine trees today by visiting Honeymoon Island State Park. The nature trail at this fantastic park is shaded by the pines that gave Pinellas County its name.

Longest Sidewalk is in Tampa: Tampa lays claim to having the longest continuous sidewalk in the country, weighing in at 4.5 miles. The waterfront sidewalk is popular for walking, biking, and skating for good reason. It winds along the bay, with views of beautiful old homes, the active waters of Tampa Bay, and the Tampa skyline. It is also the location of the yearly Tampa Gasparilla Pirate parade.

Fountain of Youth: The waters of Espiritu Santo Springs rise to the surface at Safety Harbor, Florida. The springs were discovered by explorer Hernando De Soto, the namesake of breathtaking Fort DeSoto Park at the southern reaches of Pinellas County. Some legends suggest that he was looking for the Fountain of Youth. Local Native American Tribes knew of the springs, and, as time went by, so did the world, the location becoming a renowned destination for those seeking its touted curative powers. A resort now rests over the site, where visitors can still enjoy the famous spring waters.

First in Commercial Aviation: While the Wright brothers hailed from Ohio, creating the state motto, “First in Flight,” Florida’s Tampa and Saint Petersburg earned the accolade for the first commercial passenger flight. A scheduled service for passengers wishing to cross Tampa Bay was run by aviator Tony Jannus, beginning on January 1, 1914.

Ybor_Cigar_workersCigar Capital of the World: Ybor City, named after cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez Ybor, was once touted to be the Cigar Capital of the World. Ybor created remarkably good conditions for his cigar workers and many of the buildings in which they resided are still standing. It is estimated that Ybor City created 700 million cigars a year. Located north of the City of Tampa, Ybor City is a fascinating destination for history buffs.

Sunshine Skyway BridgeSunshine Skyway Bridge: The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is another example of the modern style of bridge building in the Tampa Bay area. The new style replaces drawbridges with spans built high enough to accommodate passing boats, including the tall masts of sailing vessels. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is 4 miles long, including the causeway, and is built to accommodate not only sailboats, but rather full size ships, crossing the waters at 190 feet. Stopping is allowed on the causeway but not the bridge span. However, the views while driving, even from a vehicle of ordinary height, are spectacular.

The Pinellas Trail: Built upon a former train route, the Pinellas Trail runs from the north end of the county to the bottom, then curving to cross the width of the county, arriving at last at the St Petersburg waterfront. It has apparently earned the accolade of being the longest linear urban trail in the eastern United States.

Florida ParksPeople and Parks of Pinellas County: Pinellas County is a fun place to live. The small peninsular county has loads of shoreline, residents never being more than 15 miles from the coast. The western shore is lined with beautiful white sand beaches and the eastern side faces sparkling Tampa Bay, with a scenic drive along the mangrove coastline. Because of those facts, it has become one of the most popular places to live in Florida. In addition to the remarkable coastlines, Pinellas County offers 4,242 acres of parkland and 15,525 acres of preserves, all of which are found in the second smallest county in the state.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

How Big is your Vacation Activity Zone?

Weird Florida News Right Here in Clearwater

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

References:
http://www.50states.com/facts/florida.htm#.U9PqNrHQqyM   http://visual.ly/50-insane-facts-about-florida   http://planet-florida.blogspot.com/2012/02/20-fun-florida-facts.html   http://www.express.co.uk/fun/top10facts/406778/Top-10-facts-about-Florida   http://www.amazingandweird.com/facts/25-amazing-and-interesting-facts-about-florida-the-state/   http://www.floridasecrets.com/Floridafacts.php   http://www.pinellascounty.org/facts.htm   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayshore_Boulevard

Ingraving of native Floridians

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Native American Indian Mounds

American Indian MoundThe American Indian Mounds along the Florida Gulf Coast were once very numerous. Today, in Pinellas County, which is home to popular Clearwater Beach and St Pete Beach, only a few mounds remain for public viewing. Some mounds on the mangrove-covered Nature Coast are overgrown and unrecognizable while those along the beach shorelines are now replaced by houses and businesses. Many of the mounds were originally garbage piles. They survived the centuries because shells comprised a large part of the refuse. These shell mounds, unfortunately, made a good resource for building shell roads, the Florida version of gravel roads. Not all of the mounds were mere shell piles, however. Some served as burial mounds, containing valuables such as jade and copper. Other objects such as arrowheads, tools, and knives have also been found. To preserve the remaining sites it is now illegal to dig at mounds and the parks that surround them.

 

Native American Mound Builders of Florida

Tocobaga TerritoryThe story of the original Native Americans in Florida is an unfortunate one. The mound builders of Pinellas County were called the Tocobaga. They lived in what we now call the Tampa Bay area, home to such cities as Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater. The landscape was sandy, covered with tall scrub pines, waist high palmetto palms, and mangroves trees. It was populated by deer, dolphins, manatees, alligators, cougars, black bears and an abundant bird population. Fishing and shelling provided much of their diet but they also ate other native wildlife, including alligators.

Native American Indian moundWhen settlers came to the Americas, the Native Americans did not fare well. While some newcomers treated the natives with respect, conflicts broke out and treaties were broken. The French, Spanish, and English warred against one another in Florida, often involving the native tribes. More devastating than the political issues was the spread of European diseases for which the Native Floridians had no immunity. Near the end, to survive, the remaining Native Americans of Florida moved to the fort at St Augustine, Florida. After a battle there, the remaining native people of Florida escaped to Cuba. Marking the end of the state’s original Native American tribes. The Native Americans who live in Florida today, called the Seminole, arrived later from other states. While some of the peoples of Florida may have survived as slaves to the north or by joining other tribes, no original Florida mound building tribes remain today.

 

Where to Find Mound Sites

While a number of mounds hide in unmarked areas along the Florida coast and inland, some key parks have preserved the mounds.

Safety Harbor MoundJungle Prada Park

Philippe Park

Pinellas Point Temple Mound

Anclote River Park

You can find additional information about the Native Americans of Florida by visiting the Safety Harbor Museum in Safety Harbor or the Weedon Island Preserve and Natural History Center in St Petersburg. All of these locations can be reached within an hour or less from Clearwater Beach.

 

Other posts you might enjoy

Curious History of Philippe Park

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

Ever Changing Sands of the Florida Gulf Coast

 

References:

http://www.southernhistory.us/Counties/c5pine.htm, http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/articles/indian-mounds-give-clues-early-cultures, http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pinellaspoint.htmlhttp://www.stpeteparksrec.org/jungle-prada.htmlhttp://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/spanishmassacre.htmhttp://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/native-americanshttp://www.aaanativearts.com/native-american-tribes-by-state/837-florida-indians.html#axzz37f5QfBROhttp://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/41/267.htmlhttp://www.native-languages.org/timucua_culture.htmhttp://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tocobaga-indians.htmhttp://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/florida-indian-tribes.htmhttp://www.flheritage.com/facts/history/seminole/http://www.southernhistory.us/Counties/c5hill.htmhttp://fcit.usf.edu/Florida/maps/nat_am/nat_am.htmhttp://www.keyshistory.org/histindians.html 

Strange Florida news

Weird Florida News Right Here in Clearwater

Weird Florida News

Florida map of Pinellas CountySometimes a news story comes out of the state of Florida that sounds a little odd. Strange news from Florida includes the legends of the chupacabra and the skunk ape monsters, the house made of bowling balls, the drive-in church, and more. Then of course comes the crazier variety like the woman arrested after throwing her husband’s chicken into the pool, or the man who attempted robbery with a tomahawk.  Yes, we citizens of Florida smirk at these too. However, a while back we noticed our own local slice of bizarre Florida, not all that far from Clearwater Beach. While we won’t be disclosing the exact location, we took pictures of the strange occurrence we found.

 

Local Piece of Weird Florida

Guinea Pig and Marsh RabbitA common variety of rabbit living in Florida is the marsh rabbit. These rabbits are most often seen at dusk, and almost always next to areas of tall grass, where they like to make their homes. They frequent marshes where the abundant undergrowth makes perfect homes for them. Within the stiff grasses that grow along the water, the small-eared rabbits create pathways that look a lot like tunnels. While there is nothing surprising about finding marsh rabbits in Florida, this time we found something else. Living in perfect harmony with the wild rabbits was a Guinea pig! He huddled next to the rabbits and foraged alongside of them. The rabbits had clearly accepted the Guinea pig as part of their community.

The animal was well-known to local residents who said the Guinea pig had lived among the rabbits for quite some time. Apparently, each evening at sunset, when the rabbits come out to forage, the small Clearwater, Florida resident draws a small crowd of onlookers.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Where the Heck is Pinellas County and Why Should I Care?

Wildest Islands on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida

Gulf Coast Local Big Bird Secret

 

Florida road trip

Top Clearwater Beach Day Trip Destinations

Clearwater Beach Day Trip Adventures #2

Map Tapron Safety Dunedin Tampa StPetersburgFun Florida Gulf Coast Cities

Looking for a great place to go on a day trip from Clearwater Beach? The region has some great tourist spots that you might want to know about. Try sampling some of the tourist hotspots in the neighboring towns of the area. Here is a brief summary of what you can find in the towns and cities of Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Tampa, and St Petersburg.

 

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs, FloridaTarpon Springs is known best for its history and Greek culture. The sponge industry began in the early 1900’s with many Greek divers recruited for the industry. The Greek community still thrives in Tarpon Springs and so does the sponge diving industry. You will see this for yourself when you walk past the sponge-laden boats moored alonge the riverside docks. You will also have multiple opportunities to eat Greek food at the area restaurants. Gift shops abound in Tarpon Springs. The souvenirs have a nautical theme, with an interesting addition of specialty soap and culinary shops. The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is entertaining for adults and a lot of fun for kids. If you like history, you will love Tarpons Springs. The historic district makes a nice scenic drive. History buffs should not miss the antique shops on East Tarpon Avenue, the Tarpons Springs Cultural Center, or the restored Safford House.

 

Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor, FloridaSafety Harbor is a quiet town on the east side of the county that is known for its art. Main Street in Safety Harbor is a pleasant walk with a mixture of diners, restaurants, art shops, and pubs. The walk to the Safety Harbor City Marina and pier is a pleasant diversion, while the dock area are often used for community events. The small but interesting Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center is very nearby. The local library is bracketed by the Art Park to the north and Baranoff Park to the south. The well-known Safety Harbor Resort and Spa sits over natural springs, which have been in use as a spa since the early 1900’s. The scenic drive along the coast of Safety Harbor is one of the best in the area, with beautiful Phillipe Park near the north end of the scenic drive. The other thing to note about Safety Harbor is that they seem to have an endless line up of festivals and street fairs.

 

Dunedin

Dunedin, FloridaThe Main Street strip of Dunedin is well-known for its large events and smaller street fairs. It hosts a Mardi Gras parade and a large St Patrick’s day evening event, as well as other seasonal events. Keeping an eye on Dunedin events is a good idea for anyone looking for diversions in the Clearwater Beach area. Main Street has a good number of pubs, restaurants, and gift shops. Main Street ends at a pier, marina, and city park, all within easy walking distance. Fresh seafood is available for sale at the docks. The popular Pinellas Trail bicycle and walking path runs directly through the center of town, and is built along the old railroad tracks. The old train station is a central historic building to the downtown area. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball winter training games are also held in Dunedin and are very close to Main Street.

 

Tampa

Tampa, FloridaTampa sits on the other side of Tampa Bay from the City of Clearwater, and is very likely where you will land when you fly into the area. While downtown Tampa is oriented more toward business than tourism, there are still plenty of great sites to see, especially along the many miles of waterfront. The popular Channel District is a great place to try out the dining or the bar scene. In the same general area you will find the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium. Another great museum you should visit is the Henry B Plant Museum, located at the grand hotel the railroad tycoon built to attract visitors to the area once the railroad was built. Old Water Street and Channelside Walk Way are great places to dine or spend the evening out. Close to the waterside attractions is the Tampa Bay Times Forum sports stadium. Tampa is also the home of the yearly Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, one of the largest events in the entire Tampa Bay area, in which a pirate invasion of Tampa is reenacted. The city of Tampa is large, so be prepared to drive between the many attractions.

 

St Petersburg

St Petersburg, FloridaWhile St Petersburg is also a large city, the downtown attractions are all surprisingly close together. In a relatively small area along the waterfront you will find the famous Dali Museum, the St Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, and the St Petersburg Museum of History. The Bay Shore Drive area is a hotspot for nightlife and is a good choice for an interesting dining experience. The University of Southern Florida is found amid the downtown attractions, with its own Barnes and Noble bookstore. The developed shorefront parks go on for a surprising distance, including Vinoy park, North Straub Park, and South Straub Park, among others. The sports stadium is located on the western side of downtown. Two main attractions of downtown St Petersburg are the very large pier on 2nd Ave, and the popular Saturday Morning Market, an outdoor flea and farmers’ market.

 

Road Trip!

While on your Clearwater Beach vacation, don’t miss the opportunity to head out for a day of fun. Find out for yourself what makes the Central Gulf Coast of Florida one of the best places on Earth!

 

Other blog posts you might like;

Florida Springs

Safety Harbor Museum

Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival

 

 

vacation rental scams

How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams

Vacation Rental Scams Are Out There

Vacation rental scams are terrible to hear about. People look at beautiful pictures online of a perfect vacation rental; it’s on the beach, it has enough rooms for the family, it has a pool, and all the amenities they wanted. When they email the owner, the price is perfect, comparable but just a little lower than the others. They hand over their credit card information and the charge for the deposit goes through. Or perhaps it is worse. Maybe the person puts down the whole amount in advance. Vacation rentals can cost thousands of dollars. When you try to contact the person again just before it’s time to go on vacation, they are not there to answer. Another, more gruesome situation, is when the prospective tenants arrive for their vacation to find the unit does not exist or is occupied by permanent residents who know nothing about the rental. Both legitimate vacation rental companies and scammers take money upfront at the time of booking, either a deposit or the full amount. The length of time between booking and the actual vacation can span from a few weeks to over a year ahead of time. It is horrifying to discover that the money you paid so long ago has been stolen. The trail is cold and the vacation rental scammer is long gone.

 

Avoiding Vacation Rental Scams

Vacation rental scammers take advantage of your trust. To fight back against them, unfortunately, you need to be a little suspicious. Or, taking a higher road, let’s say you need to be vigilant. Every time you book a vacation rental, you should check into the person or company before you pay. Consider it a matter of routine. With the Internet, this is easier than ever. Do you know the name of the company? The name of the person? Enter the name in a search and see what you get. Known scammers will light up the screen with alerts and warnings. Once you have gotten over that hurdle, it’s time to see who they really are. Do they have a website? Are they listed on Yelp, Urban Spoon, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, or other similar web directories? Are they members of the Better Business Bureau? It is difficult for scammers to be listed for any length of time on websites like those. Betrayed consumers will readily report abusive businesses to those websites –and so should you! The reports of fraud will cause their ratings to drop or, more likely, get them banned, or create a scam alert, depending on the site.

 

Vacation Rental Scam Checklist

  • Do they have a website?
  • Do they have a blog, Facebook page, or other social media outreach?
  • Do their online vacation rental listings appear realistic?
  • Does the rental address check out as a real address on Google Maps or Map Quest?
  • Are they listed with online business directories?
  • Are they members of the BBB?
  • Do they have a phone number where they can be reached?
  • Do they answer their phone or return your calls?
  • Do their email responses include company info such as name and address?
  • Do they have online reviews from previous vacation rental customers?
  • Do they send receipts?
  • Do the receipts include company name and address?

 

Leave Vacation Rental Scams Behind

Remember that most of the vacation rental companies out there are not scammers. While some companies are better versed in good service than others, for the most part, they are all operating legitimate businesses. Don’t let the scammers spoil all the fun. It is wise to do your research first, then call the company afterward. Why would you want to do it the other way around anyway! Doing research first lends to two good results. One, you will not waste time talking to a company you have not checked out yet. Two, you will have a greater chance of securing the exact rental you want. When you call up already knowing you can trust the vacation rental office, your only concern is which rental you will choose. You can make your decision faster than someone who has doubts. You might also avoid losing that perfect vacation rental to the person on the other line who made their decision first.

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Tarpon Springs sunken s hip

Gulf Coast Sunken Ship

Gulf Coast Local Secret #17

Does the Gulf Coast Have Sunken Ships?

Of course the Gulf Coast has sunken ships! You will find that any harbor locations around the world have long histories of sunken ships. Before European ships arrived, Native Americans plied the waters in smaller craft. The coasts of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida have been in use by large ships since the Americas were first settled. Settlers, war ships and even pirates used the shores of Florida, especially Tampa Bay, where Fort De Soto State Park still displays cannons used to defend the mouth of the bay. The maritime history of the Florida Gulf Coast is fascinating, and worth looking into.

 

Sunken Ships on the Florida Gulf Coast

ShipwreckA number of websites help divers and others locate known shipwrecks along Florida’s coast. If you are a diver, these are great resources. However, if you are the average tourist, it is not likely you will be diving on shipwrecks. So how can you see your own sunken ship?

 

Tarpon Springs Sunken Ship

Tarpon Springs (7)This local secret turns out to be in Tarpon Springs. Tarpons Springs is a fun, Greek-style tourist destination with enough shops, boat tours, and dining to keep any visitor happy. Located on the Anclote River, Tarpon Springs is known for its Sponge Docks, where the catch of the day is sponges. Little known to most of those walking the docks is that Tarpon Springs has its own sunken ship that you can see. Protruding from the waters of the Anclote River, you can catch a glimpse of part of this ship, identified by the pitch of its mast and derricks. Look for it midway down the docks. If you are lucky enough to take a boat tour past this ship wreck, the guide will surely tell you all about it, and you will get a close up view of this modern sunken ship.

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Florida deer at sunset

Sunset Deer Sightings

Gulf Coast Local Secret #15

Large Deer Population in Florida

Florida deerFlorida rarely drops below 50 degrees in the winter, making it a great place for wildlife. While this attracts species that don’t tolerate cold easily, it also makes a perfect environment for just about everything else. Florida has a thriving deer population. While it might seem difficult to see deer in an area as populated as Tampa Bay, you might be surprised.

 

Where to See Deer Every Night

Florida deerDeer sightings on a nightly basis can be almost guaranteed for our local secret #15. Well-known by locals, Chesnut Park is a great place to visit any time of the day. The park has endless picnic spots, more hiking trails than most other parks, and has lakefront access and a boat ramp onto Lake Tarpon. In addition to the possibility of alligator sightings, you can also see the local deer population. The park is home to dozens (if not more) of deer which come out of their hiding places in the forest when the sun goes down. The park closes officially after sunset but you still have time to watch the deer come out. Keep your eyes sharp toward the edge of the forest. The baseball field is one of favorite sunset hangouts. Try this park out -it’s a great place to visit –and then wait for the sun to set. You should get to see quite a few deer.

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