Category Archives: Gulf Coast Lifestyle

Pinellas Trail

Pinellas Trail Bicycle and Walking Path

Pinellas Trail Scope

Pinellas TrailThe Pinellas trail currently consists of 37 miles of pathway that runs from Tarpon Springs in the north down through multiple communities until it reaches downtown St Petersburg at the southern end of the Peninsula. The trail is dedicated to Fred Marquis who was instrumental in the development of the pathway. Despite traveling through nine cities, the trail most often passes between tall trees that provide much welcome shade and solitude. You will find multiple opportunities to sightsee along the trail, the type of attraction depending on which section of the trail you choose. (We particularly like the connection to the bike path leading to Clearwater Beach.) Pinellas TrailThe path will take you past waterways, interesting features of small communities, and the more complex sights of the larger cities of the peninsula. Taking the entire trail is a bit much for most people so just pick the area you are most interested in seeing. The trail winds through Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Belleair, Largo, Seminole, Gulfport, and St Petersburg. Choose your favorite city and get started on your tour of the Pinellas Trail!

 

Pinellas Trail Experience

Pinellas TrailDeciding which part of the Pinellas Trail is the best for you is a matter of personal preference. Some people enjoy the long stretches of wooded pathway while others like the stopovers in popular cities like Tarpon Springs or Dunedin. At Clearwater, you can take a diversion on the bike path over the causeway to the beach. In Largo you will pass by the large grounds of Largo Central Park and, farther south, Walsingham Park, home to Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village. Passing from Seminole to St Petersburg, you will have an opportunity to cross the longest bridge on the trail, spanning the waters of Long Bayou, with sweeping views across the water to the north and south. The trail begins –or ends- at the docks in St Petersburg, a great place to bike and walk along the scenic downtown waterfront. Regardless of where you use the trail, you are bound to have a relaxing and interesting experience. The memorable sights and enjoyable stretches of the Pinellas Trail are worth visiting.

 

More Information on the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas TrailHere are some links to more information as well as some maps of the trail

Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail

Guide to the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (map)

St Petersburg Bike Map

 

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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

 

 

Clearwater Beach equipment rental

5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach

Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach

The number of different items you can rent on Clearwater Beach is amazing. Among them are bicycles, scooters, all terrain wheel chairs, beach chairs, umbrellas, jet skis, and more. The list below was compiled after grueling hours of casual observation while beachcombing, strolling, and catching sun on the shores of Clearwater Beach.

 

1. Parasailing at Clearwater Beach:

Clearwater Beach parasailingWhat rental option at Clearwater Beach could be more exciting than parasailing? Numerous companies offer parasailing excursions along the local Gulf Coast shores. While this is one of the pricier options for fun, you will be challenged to find one more exhilarating. Enjoying this unique experience guarantees you have great stories to tell when you get back home.

2. Watercraft Rentals at Clearwater Beach:

Clearwater Beach jet ski rentalsComing in next for good times at Clearwater Beach are the watercraft rentals. The options are so varied, we had to go online to find out what some of them they were called. However, we do know that if you want to get out onto the water, you merely need to choose how. The three most common craft are Jet Skis, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards. To find these rental craft, simply walk down sands of Clearwater Beach, or walk down the docks of the Clearwater Marina. Both locations have multiple options to make your vacation one to remember.

3. Motorized Street Transportation at Clearwater Beach:

Scoot Coup at Clearwater Beach

Scoot Coup at Fun Ride Rentals

Perhaps we might have come up with a simpler way to describe this rental option at Clearwater Beach. Once again, however, the modes of transportation at the beach are numerous, and some are so odd, we had to look up the names for them too! Scooters are a hit but coming in with a strong influence are the mini three-wheeled cars called Scoot Coups. Both these options can be used on the streets of Clearwater Beach.

4. Beach Bikes and Sidewalk Vehicles:

Segways on Clearwater Beach causeway

The Segway Adventure

Bicycles are an easy and time honored choice for locomotion at Clearwater Beach. Added to the mix is a four wheeled pedal craft that seats four, named a Surrey. No, really, we looked it up. Both options are a popular and affordable rental option at the beach. One thing we noticed about this mode of transportation is that the people always seem to be smiling. You and your party can also rent the two-wheeled stand up Segways, which are popular for cruising the beach causeway.

5. Beach Chairs and Umbrellas:

Clearwater Beach umbrellasProbably the most frequently rented items on Clearwater Beach are the beach chairs, umbrellas, and beach cabanas. On busy days you can find colorful arrays of chairs and shade equipment lined up for your use along the sandy Gulf shores. Nothing sets the stage better for a relaxing day at the beach than a cozy chair with a matching umbrella. Many fond vacation memories have been created by those who have rented these items. While sitting at the beach might not raise your pulse, plenty of folks get excited at the prospect of spending the day relaxing on the sands of Clearwater Beach.

 

Clearwater Beach kayak rentalsSome options:

 

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Sailboat

Regatta

What Is a Regatta?

Dunedin, Hurricane Pass (13)A regatta is a series of boat racers but the word also refers to the activities that accompany the races. Perhaps it could be seen as a boat race surrounded by race excitement and activities. This conjures up a pleasant picture when one considers going to see a regatta or perhaps to join one. While the term may conjure images of sailboats, the word originally comes from Italian, referring to gondola races.

Regatta Beach Club

1. Regatta Beach Club Front ElivationDo sailboat or gondola races launch from the Regatta Beach Club? Well, no. While nearby Tampa Bay and Saint Joseph Sound host many sailboat races a year, the Regatta Beach Club is named for its beach access and shorefront theme. It is the most northern high rise condominium complex on Clearwater Beach with breathtaking views of America’s number one beach. The sands are white and very soft on bare feet. Sunsets are spectacular from Regatta Beach Club balconies.

Looking Out for Regattas

18. View of the pool areaWhile you may not see a regatta launch from the Regatta Beach Club, you just might catch glimpses of races that pass by your section of shoreline. You could always check the racing schedules in the area. In the meantime, why not imagine boats pushing off from the Regatta Beach Club dock or racing flags flying on the rooftop.

 

For more info on the Regatta Beach Club, click here.

16. Balcony with table and chairs 6. Master Bedroom with King  size bed

 

 

 

 

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Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival

Celtic Music on the Florida Gulf Coast

Dunedin Celtic Music Festival Florida Gulf CoastThe Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival was a very lively event. When you think of bagpipes, you might imagine green fields with a handful of men in kilts playing a tune. If you attended the Dunedin, Florida Celitc music event, you might never think of bagpipes the same way again. We arrived after dark to the sound of wailing bagpipes from the high school band. The effect was a good one right from the start. Even from deep within the large parking lot we could see the activity on the stage was not static. Hands were waiving in the air while the sound of deep drum beats thumped into the sky.

 

Dunedin Hosts Celtic Music Event on the Florida Gulf Coast

Dunedin FloridaDunedin occupies a fair stretch of the best coastline the Florida Gulf Coast has to offer. Situated between the tourist destinations of Tarpon Springs and Clearwater Beach, Dunedin boasts an active uptown section on Main St., several beautiful city parks, and world famous Honeymoon Island. It also runs along the inland side of Saint Joseph Sound, a waterway named Clearwater Harbor to the south. The pristine white sand beaches of Honeymoon Island and some of the best nightlife activities and festivals in the region makes Dunedin a name visitors should note. With a great history of successful events, it is no surprise that Dunedin put on a good show with the Celtic Music Festival. With great bands and a good selection of local vendors, including craft beer sales, the event was well-rounded entertainment.

 

Celtic Music Rocks the Florida Gulf Coast

Dunedin Florida Celtic Music FestivalWhen the Dunedin High School band left the stage, the KIlldares took over, showing the crowd that bagpipes have come a long way. With a lively fiddle player, they drew a crowd to the stage with some great modern music –Celtic style. Following the Killdares came Celtica, a Mohawk wearing band that showed the crowd that bagpipes could truly take part in a rock and roll band. The crowd-pleasing tunes rattled our rib cages, and inspired the crowd to sing along. They ended off to shouts and applauding of a happy crowd.

 

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Clearwater Beach Volleyball

Clearwater Beach Volleyball

Volleyball at Clearwater Beach

Volleyball at Clearwater BeachWhat could be better than playing volleyball on Clearwater Beach? Two organizations have recently visited the soft white sands of America’s favorite beach. The tournaments are held on the public beach, providing great entertainment for fans or casual beach-goers. While permanent nets exist at Clearwater Beach, like the one behind Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, the organizations need a multitude of nets to accommodate the number of players.  Following the clubs is fun, and a very good excuse to come to the beach.

 

East End Volleyball Hits Clearwater Beach

East End Volleyball Clearwater BeachThe recent Spalding Volley America Nationals tournament held by East End Volleyball at Clearwater Beach was a large event. The nets set up by event organizers stretched a fair span down the sand to the south of Pier 60. The matches went on October 26-27, giving dedicated spectators and beach visitors plenty to see. Beach Walk and Pier 60 provided excellent views of the action. The East End Volleyball web site places the entrance of the association into the public domain in the 1980’s. From the looks of the activity at Clearwater Beach recently, they are still going strong.

 

Sunshine State Outdoor Volleyball Association at Clearwater Beach

Volleyball at Clearwater BeachSSOVA came to Clearwater Beach again the first weekend of November. The weather was very kind, giving the players plenty of sunshine combined with mild temperatures. Open to the public, SSOVA allowed couples to sign up and play impromptu at the event. The competition was open to both young and old, the kids putting on some surprising displays of talent. According to their web site, the Sunshine State Outdoor Volleyball Association is run by the players for the players. While they do accept sponsors, the site states that funding for the group comes largely from its members. Why else do we like SSOVA? Because they love Clearwater Beach too! Their tournaments are held south of Pier 60, on America’s favorite beach.

 

Volleyball at Clearwater BeachClearwater Beach Volleyball

Remember, you can find volleyball nets on Clearwater Beach anytime. Just take a volleyball, something to drink, and your friends and you are ready to play.

 

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Rain storm

Understanding Florida Gulf Coast Weather

Clearwater Beach (152)Crazy Gulf Coast Weather

Florida Beach Rentals is not staffed with trained meteorologists, but we thought we would try to help you understand Florida weather better, based on our experience as local residents. The weather along the Gulf Coast can seem extreme at times, but it follows patterns that, once you understand them, are easy to manage.

 

Will Rain Ruin My Florida Gulf Coast Vacation?

No. Gulf Coast rains most often blow through an area within a couple of hours and the sun comes out again. It is part of the subtropical nature of our climate. The reward is tall palms, lots of flowers, and lush expanses of green. If you keep your ears tuned, you will hear an explosion of birds singing after the rains pass by. Just prepare in advance with an indoor activity like dining or a museum and you will do fine.

 

Clearwater Beach (72)Summer Weather of the Florida Gulf Coast

Summer weather on the Central Gulf Coast is predictable. In fact, the weather from July to September most often goes like clockwork. The days starts sunny and stay that way till around 2 or 3PM when the sky grows dark. You still have a little more time but around 4 to 6PM the clouds will burst and bring down heavy rains, often with fascinating displays of lightning. When the clouds can give no more, usually about two hours or less, the day brightens up again and the evening activities commence. It might not go this way every single day, but this pattern is the rule rather than the exception.

 

Where Do Florida Gulf Coast Storms Start?

Gulf Coast rains showers almost always generate in the Gulf of Mexico. When the warm, wet air crosses over land, the clouds let loose. Even with winds coming from the East, the culprit is the same. The two forces meet at the coasts along the Gulf, and showers ensue.

 

Winter Weather in Florida

The phenomenon of “Snow Birds,” or an increase in residency in Florida during the winter, is no mishap. Florida winter weather is quite nice. The rains come but with much less frequency than in the summer. Weeks can pass without a shower. The temperatures are cooler, but rarely dip below 55 degrees –and that’s cold!

 

Pop Stansell Park, Palm Harbor (6)Best Attitude for Florida Gulf Coast Rains

Gulf Coast showers are fun to watch. Did you know that the flat Florida landscape allows you to see storm clouds as far as 100 miles away? When sunset arrives, storm clouds will take on the changing colors of the sun, creating beautiful panoramas. Rather than considering the weather an impediment, think of it as your own personal entertainment. Sit back and enjoy the show!

 

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Beach Troubles Solved

Clearwater Beach (155)Florida Beach Vacation Woes

Going to the beach in Florida is a favorite vacation event in America. However, lurking beneath the surface is a host of dangers most people don’t realize. Below is a list of beach-goer risks along with their recommended solutions.

 

White Sand Beaches

Clearwater Beach (255) x2000 aThe warm Florida sun shines down onto the beach, illuminating the blue and turquoise waters which lap against the world famous white sand beaches. When visitors step onto the sand, they immediately come across one of the greatest dangers of the Florida Gulf Coast. The powdery, soft, white sands are bright.

How should visitors to the beach solve this dilemma?

We recommend sunglasses.

 

Warm Florida Weather

Clearwater Beach, Pier 60 (38)aEnjoy the wide open spaces of the Florida Gulf Coast coastline, sharing the gentle breezes with scantily clad beachgoers, tossing the Frisbee, or reclining on a beach chair. But beware, this next one our list might sneak up on you. It’s warm at the beach.

What should visitors who are right at the very edge of the Gulf of Mexico do?

We recommend walking just a little farther West until you get wet. We call this swimming.

 

Endless Stretches of Beach

Clearwater Beach (252) x2000 aBeach chairs and blankets dot the beach along the shorelines of the Gulf Coast. The swaths of soft, white sand reach north and south to the edge of sight. You stand with beach chair and cooler in hand but between you and your destination is a problem. If you walk across the beach, you will get sand in your shoes.

How do visitors overcome this roadblock?

Take off your shoes.

 

Florida Sun

Clearwater Beach (254) x2000 aWhile you stand on your stretch of Florida Gulf Coast beach, digging your toes into smooth, soft sands, you might inadvertently look up. Above you palm trees wave in the breeze, creating a melodic, gentle rattling of leaf upon leaf. But if you look up too high, beware. The sun is bright in Florida!

How does a beach-goer solve this one?

We recommend wearing a hat, preferably embroidered with the name of the beach you are on.

 

Have Fun on the Florida Gulf Coast

Clearwater Beach (189)The Florida Beach Rentals staff loves the beach. Yes, it is a good idea to be prepared. A hat and sunglasses, sun tan lotion and a towel are recommended. But really, the beach is heck of a lot more fun than it is anything else.

How to Prepare for Florida Gulf Coast Beaches

Florida Beach Basics

Clearwater Beach (244)

While many people know what the essentials are for a beach vacation, let’s go over it again just to be sure. The beach is sunny and bright, so preparing for warmth and sunshine is a must. Take suntan lotion, a hat, and sunglasses. These basics will get you started at the beach, protecting you so that you can have your day of fun in the sun. Some sort of sandal is also a good idea, making the transition from boardwalk to sand easy.

 

Optional Goodies for Florida Beaches

Clearwater Beach (195)x500What should you bring along when you go to the beach? With your essentials above handled, the rest becomes optional. Lying on the warm sands and playing in the surf will make you thirsty. Be sure to bring something refreshing to drink. Reclining on a beach chair with earphones delivering your favorite music is a popular option. You might also want to bring along a Frisbee or a football to keep the day lively. Chips can refuel your body with energy and might even replace some of the salt you sweat away while you play. Remember to use plastic rather than glass on the beach.

Florida Beach Experience

Clearwater Beach (155)What can you expect on for a day on the beach along the Florida Gulf Coast? It is usually sunny and the weather is nice and warm. Gulf waters are warmer than most, making for a chill-free dip in the water. Plenty of beach-goers flock to the beach all year round, making it a dynamic place to be. Amenities for visitors abound. Fantastic tourist shops line the beachside avenues and casual diners nestle in right alongside finer dining. Restrooms and beach showers are often just a short walk away.

 

Create Your Own Florida Beach Style

Clearwater Beach off Cabria Cottage rental (14)What will your style at the beach be? Will you lie on a towel or will you recline on a beach chair? Will you bask in the sun or retreat beneath an umbrella or nearby palm tree? Will you bring the whole family or just your spouse or close friends? The beaches are vast, providing you with a choice between a vibrant, active beach scene or a secluded location on the far reaches of the coast.

Will your favorite beach style include walking, throwing a ball, swimming, or simply relaxing the day away with a book? The choices are many, and they are all up to you.

Dolphin Jam

 

Gaper Jam

What is a Gaper Jam? A Gaper Jam occurs after a vehicle accident happens on a busy road. Even when the authorities have arrived to handle the cleanup, passing motorist will slow down to stare at the wreckage. The word is surely created by the people one hundred cars back who are failing to get to work on time.

 

Dolphin Jam

Dolphin fins breaking the surfaceOnly along the Florida Gulf Coast will you find this other kind of gaper jam. This morning on the way into the Florida Beach Rental office, I was caught in a miniature gaper jam along the scenic Dunedin coastal road. This tiny traffic snarl was not created by a collision, but rather by a pod of dolphins swimming within twenty feet of the shoreline. Their presence was noted by the drivers because it was a windless morning, giving the waters of Saint Joseph Sound a smooth, glassy surface; ideal for dolphin sighting.

 

Dunedin Dolphin Sighting

The pod was not only breaking the surface with their many dorsal fins but was also creating a very noticeable disturbance as their bodies displaced a surprising amount of water. The displacement pushed the water upward and out to the sides, giving the appearance of mound of water moving northward through the harbor. The pod was keeping close together and I counted at least three fins, though the moving water suggested even more beneath the surface.

 

Dolphin Watching

While the Florida Gulf Coast has multiple dolphin sighting boat tours, seeing them at unexpected times is always a treat. The coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a favorite playgrounds for bottle nose dolphins. If you are planning a Central Gulf Coast vacation, be sure to bring your camera. While you are strolling along coastal waterways, keep a look out for dolphin fins. They make appearances much more often than you might think.