Car Free Journey Columns

Car Free Journey—Pinellas County, Florida

Last year, we spotlighted Tampa, Florida: From Tampa, enjoy a ride across Tampa Bay to visit Pinellas County: home to many of the Florida’s outstanding Gulf of Mexico beaches. You can also enjoy downtown St. Petersburg with its museums and walkable downtown, the historic town of Dunedin, Clearwater with its unique Aquarium dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating marine wildlife, a 42-mile walking and biking trail, and the waterfront town of Tarpon Springs. If you come during the winter, the Philadelphia Phillies are in training here—a great way to enjoy major league baseball. You will want to spend more than a weekend here. If you have just a weekend or a few days, consider one of these shorter visits:

  • A visit to Pinellas County beaches, Clearwater, and the towns of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs, with a ride on a popular biking trail
  • A visit to downtown St. Petersburg (known as St. Pete) with its walkable streets, shops, museums, restaurants, and other cultural attractions.

My wife Karen and I recently visited Pinellas County for our anniversary in December. Unfortunately, we only had 2 days to spend here.

We visited the Dali Museum, walked around Dunedin, took a ride on the Jolley Trolley to visit the waterfront town of Tarpon Springs with its sponge docks and many Greek restaurants, and ended our day with dinner in Dunedin. And yes: the Jolley Trolley is a real trolley, even though it does not run on tracks.

The next day, we rode local bus 59 to Indian Rocks Beach. From there, we took the Suncoast Beach Trolley (actually a bus, although it is called a trolley) north to Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. Unfortunately, for most of the ride north, our view of the beach was blocked by condominiums and other buildings. However, the ride north was worth every minute when we reached Clearwater Beach. The beautiful white beach and the clear Gulf water looked heavenly. Many people were walking on the beach. (We were glad we were on the Suncoast Trolley, because parking seemed very limited, and—we were told–expensive at Clearwater Beach.) This beach is considered one of the top beaches in the United States.

The ride south to St. Petersburg Beach was a different experience. South of Indian Rocks Beach, there are many small communities with stores and houses. We enjoyed more views of the Gulf—and wished we were off the Trolley and walking around. A one-day pass costs just $5 ($2.50 for seniors and persons with disabilities) and allows unlimited rides on both Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) buses and trolleys, and the Jolley Trolley that on weekends serves Dunedin and Tarpon Springs (but serves Clearwater and Clearwater Beach every day).

From there, we took PSTA’s Central Avenue Trolley (unfortunately, our “trolley” was a bus, since the trolley that was supposed to operate had broken down). Shortly before reaching Beach Drive with its museums and places to eat, drink and linger, Central Ave changed from an average street to a walking oasis with many shops and sidewalks. We wished we had more time to linger here.

Before visiting two museums along Beach Drive, we enjoyed waffle cones at one of our favorite ice cream shops: Kilwins. (It’s true that we didn’t have to come here to enjoy Kilwins’ ice cream, but it was sure sweet and good.). Then, we stopped in at the Chihuly Collection to enjoy its exquisite and almost tactile glass sculptures, and concluded our visit here with a stop at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. This beautiful museum houses paintings and sculpture from most periods and cultures. It was small enough for us to explore most of the galleries, but varied enough that we will want to return many times.

Our visit was a great introduction to Pinellas County. We plan to return here for longer visits. On our next visit, we will visit Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, and walk on the Pinellas Trail.

Here is an insider’s tip for museum lovers. You can enjoy hundreds of museums throughout the United States—and visit each one FREE—by joining one of the 800 museums that participate in the North American Reciprocal Memberships Association (NARM). Be sureto join at the level that includes membership in the NARM. Two St. Petersburg museums that participate in the NARM, and offer free admission if you belong to an NARM museum in your area, are the Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.

How to Get to Pinellas County, Florida

By Air: Your best choice is to fly into Tampa International Airport: a major regional airport that is served by both traditional (“legacy”) and discount airlines.

HART (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority) Route 30 serves the airport seven days a week: from 4:30 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, and from 6:30 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday. Route 30 runs from downtown Tampa along Kennedy Boulevard to Westshore and then to the airport, with many stops along the way.

From Tampa International Airport to downtown Tampa, the 40-50 minute ride costs $2 each way, $4 for a one-day unlimited ride pass, or $11.75 for a three-day unlimited ride pass. (For detailed information about schedules, fares, and unlimited-ride passes in Tampa, including the airport, visit www.goHart.org, or call (813) 254-HART (254-4278 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday

Take a HART Route 30 bus to the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa. Then, see below for two ways to travel to Clearwater and Clearwater Beach and the best way to get to St. Petersburg from here.

(Unfortunately, the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Regional Airport (http://www.fly2pie.com/ ) is not a good option. Only one airline, Allegiant, flies there. There is no local bus service to that airport. Other than a taxi, the only option (other than renting a car) is Super Shuttle.)

By Bus: The St. Petersburg Greyhound bus terminal is located at 180 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. North, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. PSTA staff have this suggestion for bus travelers arriving here:

By Train: Amtrak’s Silver Star stops at Tampa’s historic Union Station: 601 Nebraska Ave., Tampa 33602 (813) 221-7602. The shuttle to St. Petersburg (from the Silver Star in Tampa, or the Silver Meteor in Orlando) meet only the southbound trains coming in, and the northbound trains when you return from St. Petersburg).

Southbound trains (from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond VA, Raleigh, NC, Columbia SC, Savannah GA, Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida) arrive at 12:34 p.m. daily. The Amtrak shuttle to St. Petersburg leaves the Tampa station at 1 p.m. and arrives in St. Petersburg at 1:40.

Northbound trains (from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach) arrive at 5:05 p.m. daily. The Amtrak shuttle leaves St. Petersburg at 3 p.m., and arrives at the Tampa Amtrak station at 3:45 p.m. (The shuttle from Orlando takes over three hours, so we are not including it here.)

PSTA staff gave us the following information for visitors who arrive on the Amtrak shuttle, from either Tampa or Orlando:

“The Amtrak Shuttle is along PSTA’s Route 19, which connects to the Route 60 at Clearwater Mall to downtown Clearwater. At PSTA’s Grand Central Station, Route 19 connects to the Central Avenue Trolley, Routes 5, 7, 15, 18, 52, 79, and 97 which go to downtown St. Petersburg.

 “The Central Avenue Trolley also goes to St Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille providing  service to the southern portion of Pinellas County’s award-winning beaches.

 The northern beach communities including Clearwater Beach, are served by the Suncoast Beach Trolley which connects to the Central Avenue Trolley in St Pete Beach and Route 60 and many other PSTA Routes in downtown Clearwater at PSTA’s Park Street Terminal.

 The Clearwater Jolley Trolley serves both Clearwater Beach as and PSTA’s Park Street Terminal.

The Jolley Trolley’s North Coastal Route along with PSTA’s Route 66, provide service to the towns of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs featuring the famous Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

For detailed information about PSTA fares and schedules, visit www.psta.net, or call Phone: (727) 540-1900. Hearing Impaired callers call use the TDD number: (727) 540-0603.

The best value for visitors is a one-day unlimited ride pass. This pass, accepted on all PSTA buses and trolleys (except commuter express Routes) and the Jolley Trolley is $5, or $2.50 for seniors with Medicare cards, persons with disabilities. adult students, and young people age 18 and younger.(Otherwise, the one-way fare is $2.25 for adults and $1.10 for seniors with Medicare cards, persons with disabilities, adult students, and young people age 18 and younger.

At our request, PSTA staff members included the following list (available to our readers only) of what PSTA bus and trolley Routes serve popular Pinellas County destinations:

PSTA Routes that don’t run on weekends are: 100X, 300X, 1, 30, 32, 58, 90, 97 & 98.

The following PSTA Routes don’t run on Sundays: 62, 67 & 73.

After you arrive, there are two different types of visits you can enjoy:

  • Taking the Trolley to Pinellas County Beaches, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, and

Clearwater, with an optional Ferry Ride between Clearwater and Clearwater Beach.

  • Walking around downtown St. Petersburg, and enjoying the museums, eating places, neighborhoods, and other cultural events.

Let’s start with a visit to several Pinellas County beaches.

We recommend starting your visit on Thursday. This allows time to catch a commuter bus from downtown Tampa to either Clearwater Mall or Indian Rocks Beach (with a connection), and have 3-4 days to enjoy Pinellas County beaches and other attractions.

More information about Pinellas County beaches is available from the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater: Pinellas County’s Visitors and Convention Bureau

Fly into Tampa International Airport. Then, take HARTS bus Route 30 to the Marion Transit Center downtown. From there, you can get to St. Petersburg. Plus you have two ways to get to Clearwater.

To get to St. Petersburg from the Marion Transit Center (Monday-Friday only), take PSTA Express Bus 100X to Gateway Mall. Go to http://www.psta.net/Bus%20Schedules/PDF/Rt100x%20060312.pdf for schedules and fares. From Gateway Mall, take PSTA route 4 Southbound to downtown St. Petersburg. For Route 4 schedules, go to http://www.psta.net/Bus%20Schedules/PDF/Route%204%20021416.pdf.

There are two ways to get to Clearwater from the Marion Transit Center:

1) Take HART’s 200X from HART’s Marion Transit Center to the Clearwater Mall, walk a short distance, maybe 120 yards,  to the PSTA transfer stop (just north of Target) and take PSTA Route 60 west – to downtown Clearwater.  Most runs on the 60 end at the mall anyway, so that’s a pretty easy transfer. However, every other hour the 60 makes a short loop to the east before heading back downtown.

At the end of the line, the 60 will enter Park Street Terminal. Here, you can transfer to either the Suncoast Beach Trolley or the Clearwater Jolley Trolley for the short and scenic trip out to Clearwater Beach.

Clearwater Beach is full of shops, restaurants, activities and, of course, award winning white sands. (Since the 200x only operates during morning and late afternoon peak hours, you probably won’t arrive in Clearwater until evening.

2) For a more laid back experience, take PSTA’s 300X from downtown Tampa and transfer to PSTA Route 59 at the Checker’s Drive In at the corner of Umberton Road (that’s the road upon which both the 300X and 59 travel) and 49th If you miss that location, just ask the driver to help as there will be many locations farther down the road where you can make the same transfer. (The 300X operates Monday-Friday only, with trips during morning and evening peak hours, plus two midday trips.) This is an on-street transfer, not at a terminal or transfer station.

The 59 goes to Indian Rocks Beach. Here, you will find beautiful white sand beaches, shops, restaurants and activities. It’s more “low-key” than Clearwater Beach, but still a fun, friendly beach town. There are several places to stay in Indian Rocks Beach that are within walking distance of both the bus and the beach. For information about attractions and places to stay in Indian Rocks Beach, go to http://web.tampabaybeaches.com/directory/results/results.aspx?AffFilter=Indian+Rocks.

Since the 300X has two midday trips, you can arrive in Tampa early or mid-morning, and be on the beach by early or mid-afternoon. After visiting the beach and shops of Indian Rocks Beach, take PSTA’s Suncoast Beach Trolley north to Clearwater’s Park Street Terminal.

Clearwater and Clearwater Beach

Since Clearwater is not as crowded as Clearwater Beach, avoid traffic jams at the beach by staying in Clearwater overnight, and take the Clearwater Ferry, PSTA’s Suncoast Beach Trolley, or the Jolley Trolley to Clearwater Beach the next morning. For information about places to stay in Clearwater and Clearwater Beach go to http://www.visitclearwaterflorida.com/accommodation. For restaurants in Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, visit http://heronfla.com/books/ClearwaterVG2016/#32. If you want to visit Clearwater Beach at night,the Suncoast Trolley operates until 10 p.m.-time enough for dinner if you plan with the Trolley’s schedule in mind.

Elaine Mann, Chairman of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Transit Riders Advisory Committee (PSTA TRAC) and Executive Director of the Technical Arts Facility for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, shares some of her favorite restaurants in Clearwater Beach: “The Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach’s north end offers a small hotel catered to by one of Clearwater’s earliest families. The adjacent Palm Pavilion restaurant and a stone’s throw away, Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill provide the most amazing beach view, great food, and often live music. Looking for a special dinner to mark your weekend? Clearwater Beach’s Island Way Grill is unsurpassed in food and service. Be sure to check out the tiki bar on the water for a quick cocktail before you’re seated.”

 More information is available from the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce as well as Visit St. Pete/Clearwater: Pinellas County’s visitors and convention bureau. You can view the ClearwaterVisitors Guide online at http://www.seewinter.com/transportation.

On Friday, walk around downtown Clearwater, and explore Clearwater Beach. Take PSTA’s Route 52 Bus to the Harbor Oaks historic neighborhood just off South Fort Harrison Ave. (just a 5-10 minute bus ride). This neighborhood, celebrating its 100th anniversary, is home to about 80 historic homes. To learn more about Harbor Oaks, visit http://www.clearwatergazette.com/cg/opinion/historic-harbor-oaks-100-years-and-counting-20140710/.

Before leaving Clearwater, take time to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium: home to Winter: the dolphin from Dolphin Tale 1 and 2 and a unique rescue facility for marine wildlife. (http://www.seewinter.com/visit-us, or call (727) 441-1790.).The Jolley Trolley provides free (after your paid admission) shuttle service between the Aquarium and Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure. You can also travel between the two facilities by a free (included with admission) boat ride. For details, visit http://www.seewinter.com/transportation.

Elaine Mann describes the Clearwater Aquarium this way, “Don’t miss the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This marine search and rescue mission has become famous for saving Winter, the dolphin whose tail was lost in a trap. After recovery, Winter starred in Winter’s Dolphin Tale 1 & 2 and has been the source of inspiration for amputees the world over. Make no mistake, however. This Aquarium is focused on its mission of ‘education, research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release’. The CMA provides a great opportunity to observe our sea creatures in a habitat that reflects their own natural environment while preparing them to return to the wild. The CMA only retains wildlife such as Winter and her partner Hope who are unable to fend for themselves due to physical conditions if they were to be released.”

 It’s time to take the Suncoast BeachTrolley or Jolley Trolley to Clearwater Beach—rated one of the best beaches in the United States. Before visiting, check out the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce website: http://www.beachchamber.com/ or call (727) 442-3604 for a list of accommodations, restaurants, and attractions. In addition to walking along the beach (and swimming when the water is warm enough), allow time to walk along the Beach Walk in Clearwater Beach. For more details about the beach walk, visit http://www.visitclearwaterflorida.com/blog/single/fun-in-the-sun-beach-walk.

You can also take the Clearwater Ferry from Clearwater to Clearwater Beach. For details about fares and schedules, visit http://www.clearwaterferry.com/ or call (727-755-0297. Ferries operate Monday-Thursday: 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. An all-day-pass is $8.00.

If you want a special treat, consider a one-day outing to Caladesi Island with its outstanding beach and nature walks. The cost is $65 for an all-day trip. Book online, or call (813) 846-5318.

According to the Clearwater Ferry’s website, free parking is available anytime at 4 locations:

Downtown Boat Slips North: 100 Drew Street, Harborview Center: 101 Drew Street

Downtown Boat Slips South: 150 Pierce Street, and City Hall Overflow: 220 Pierce Street

Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday ($5 for all day parking Monday-Friday) at 2 locations:

City Hall: 112 Osceola Ave., and Garden Ave Garage: 28 Garden Ave.

For a complete list of parking locations and fees in downtown Clearwater, go to:

http://www.myclearwater.com/gov/depts/pwa/engin/ParkingSystem/pdfs/PKLOT-DtownAll.pdf

Many merchants in downtown Clearwater will validate parking tickets for customers for up to

2 hours of free parking. For details, go to: http://www.myclearwater.com/gov/depts/pwa/engin/ParkingSystem/parking_downtown.asp.and

For information about parking in Clearwater Beach, go to http://www.myclearwater.com/gov/depts/pwa/engin/ParkingSystem/pdfs/PkgLotMap-BeachAll.pdf.

In mid or late afternoon, leave the beach and take the Jolley Trolley to the charming town of Dunedin: your home for the next two evenings. Take the Jolley Trolley’s Beach Route from Clearwater Beach to the Publix supermarket at Island Estates. Transfer to the Jolley Trolley’s Coastal Route (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only, runs hourly).and get off in downtown Dunedin.

Or catch the Jolley Trolley’s Coastal Route at Park Street Terminal in downtown Clearwater. This trolley operates 10 a.m. to 12 midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.

Get off at any stop along Main Street in downtown Dunedin to begin your visit.

Elaine Mann, Chairman of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Transit Riders Advisory Committee (PSTA TRAC) and Executive Director of the Technical Arts Facility for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, recommends Dunedin as a great choice for your stay. She shares these suggestions: “Consider staying in Dunedin, the oldest operating seaport on Florida’s west coast. There you’ll find quaint shops, fabulous dining, and a small town with a big heart. Dunedin plays host to many festivals and concerts throughout the year.

“Great food, fun shopping and a family atmosphere abound in Dunedin! Dunedin has been rated as the “Most Walkable” town in Florida. The town is is adjacent to Honeymoon Island and Caladesi—which is rated as one of the Top 10 beaches in the United States. Featuring a quaint downtown, the City plays host to multiple festivals each year including the Highland Games, reflective of its Sister City, Dunedin, Scotland.

“Both locals and tourists can be found wandering the streets of downtown Dunedin ducking in and out of fabulous dining establishments, unique shops, and festive locations along the way. Grab a slice of freshly made pizza at Tony’s Pizzeria, while away the afternoon with a cone full of homemade ice cream from Strachan’s, and have a cocktail at Flanagan’s Irish Pub as you listen to Noel Cooney croon your favorite Irish tunes. Many restaurants offer open air dining. Don’t miss the back patio of the Kelly’s and the Chic-A-Boom Room—a special treat!

“In the mood for finer dining? Panzara’s Italian Restaurant and Bon Appetit on the water both offer memorable dining experiences. But don’t stop there.

“Just off the beaten path by a block or two, you’ll find hidden gems like Dunedin Brewery and Clear Sky Draught Haus. And if you’re in town on a Friday or Saturday, ask around for Eli’s Barbeque. This locals’ restaurant offers walk-up window service only. But it’s perfect for grabbing a slab of finger-lickin’ good ribs on the way to the beach–if you can stand to wait that long to eat them. And, go early! Eli serves till the food runs out–which can be fast at this establishment. Looking for a place to catch your favorite game? Eddie’s Bar and Grill offers 50 beers and 50 TVs tuned to multiple games throughout each sports season.”

 Lynn Wargo, President of the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, offers these additional tips:

”The Jolley Trolley runs two routes through Dunedin on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Coastal Route travels north through Palm Harbor, Ozona, ending in Tarpon Springs.  Southbound riders go through downtown Clearwater over to Clearwater Beach.  There is also a trolley that runs east from City Hall and Main Street to Countryside Mall and over to Safety Harbor, another charming place to visit.  Best of all, a day pass, which allows on and off privileges, is just $5 for an adult, $2.50 for seniors, age 65 and older.

“Are you a major league baseball fan? You can walk to Florida Auto Exchange and catch a Toronto or Dunedin Blue Jays game, depending upon the time of year.

“Are you a walker or biker? Then, take time to explore the Pinellas Trail, a linear 42 mile “rails to trails” park (from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs) that runs thru the downtown area.  There are two bike rental shops near the trail: Energy Conservatory (http://energybicycle.com/, or call 727/736-4432), and Dunedin Cyclery (http://www.dunedincyclery.com/rentals.htm, or call 727/466-1245). Both can give you information about suggested bike trails and places to go.

“One good idea for a bike outing is Honeymoon Island. Honeymoon Island has swimming, kayaking, two cafes, a fantastic Nature Center, picnicking and more.  Honeymoon Island is an easy bike ride. While you are there, take a ferry boat ride over to Caladesi Island: another State Park and one of the most highly rated beaches in the U.S.

“Here are some places to stay within a short walk of the Jolley Trolley: Holiday Inn Express Dunedi, Best Western Plus Yacht Harbor Inn, Beso del Sol Resort, the Meranova Guest Inn, and the Amberlee Motel. (visit www.dunedinfl.com. for websites and phone information for each of these hotels.).”

Here are Lynn’s tips for exploring downtown Dunedin: “Our Main Street is very walkable, with quaint shops and great restaurants.  Main Street ends at a marina with great sunsets.  A stroll down Victoria Drive (just east of the Best Western Plus Hotel, features unique homes, some very historic.  Several streets off Main Street that feature more shops and eateries like Broadway, Douglas and even along the Pinellas Trail just north of Main Street.

“There is a wonderful farmers market every Friday and Saturday, November thru May, in the center of town, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  There are also several art shows and festivals throughout the year, many in the downtown area.  Every April and October there are Friday Films in the Park, shown at dusk at Pioneer Park, in the center of downtown.  A family-friendly and charming way to see a free movie.

“Another quaint place to visit is the Dunedin Historical Museum for a look back in time of Dunedin’s and Florida’s history.  Check out the special exhibits.  We also have the oldest microbrew in the State of Florida, Dunedin Brewery, where you can sample great beer and food.  Plus the Dunedin House Beer, just a short walk away, features about 100 beers on tap.

“Restaurants feature seafood, burgers, salads, and much more.  There is an ice cream shop (Strachan’s) with all handmade flavors, fudge and taste treats like carrot cake.  Plus the Candy Bar offers all types of candy, new and some from your childhood.”

Away from downtown, Lynn has these suggestions: “Weaver Park is just about a half mile north of downtown Dunedin and another beautiful spot to visit.  Kids love the playground.  There are two picnic shelters, restrooms and a beautiful waterfront view.  It is along the Intracoastal Waterway and has a long pier, great for fishing or just relaxing.

“Sail Honeymoon (http://www.sailhoneymoon.com/ or call (727) 734-0392) is a great place to rent kayaks, paddleboards and catamarans on the Dunedin Causeway.  It’s a bit of a walk but if you are adventurous, it’s worth it.  Rentals can be for the day or just a few hours.

“A ride on the ParrotDise Express Boat Tours (http://parrotdiseexpress.com/ or call (727) 388-7333) is another great way to see Dunedin from the water.  Captain Jeff is quite entertaining and works really hard each trip to give his guests an opportunity to see dolphins.  Customers particularly like the hull and sound of his boat. Often guests can see dolphins right along the boat, sometimes even jumping from the water.  Beverages are provided as part of your fee (www.parrotdiseexpress.com).

“North of downtown Dunedin is a remote, natural Florida park called The Hammock.  It’s about a 2 mile walk, but worth it.  The north and south boundaries were established when Florida joined the Union in 1847.  There is a butterfly garden on the outskirts and many paths that meander through the natural vegetation.  This park is lovely to stroll through and see the landscape that hasn’t changed much in decades.”

While you are here, take time for a trip on the Jolley Trolley to Tarpon Springs. The Coastal Route operates every hour. Here are some suggestions for enjoying your visit to Tarpon Springs:

The Jolley Trolley makes two stops in Tarpon Springs.

The first stop is E Tarpon Avenue in downtown Tarpon Springs. Your first stop should be the Chamber of Commerce, 111 E Tarpon Avenue, where you can pick up a guidebook.  The Chamber also houses Artists’ Faire, a collection of artwork from local artists.

Tarpon Tavern has the best hamburgers in town, just off Tarpon Avenue on the Pinellas Trail. Check out the shops on Hibiscus Street.  Just off Tarpon Avenue is the Greek Cathedral.  Down the street is Craig Park on Spring Bayou.  Surrounded by the original Victorian mansions; you may see a manatee or two.

The trolley’s last stop is on the Sponge Docks: home of the Greek spongers.  You can arrange a short tour on the water or just enjoy the shops along Dodecanese Boulevard.  The best Greek food is on the Docks. If you like crab cakes, check out Rusty Bellies at the end of the Docks.

When my wife and I visited, we were glad to take the trolley. Parking spaces seemed few and hard to find.

After your visit here, take the Trolley back to Dunedin to enjoy the rest of your day (probably Saturday) here.

The next morning (probably Sunday), take the Jolley Trolley to Clearwater’s Park Street Terminal. From there, transfer to PSTA’s Suncoast Beach Trolley. (Don’t forget to purchase your one day pass on the Jolley Trolley for just $5—or $2.50 if you are a senior citizen or a person with a disability. It is accepted on both the Jolley Trolley and all PSTA trolleys and buses.)Remember that the Jolley Trolley’s Coastal Route only runs Friday-Sunday.

At Park Street Terminal, transfer to the Suncoast Beach Trolley for the ride south to St. Petersburg Beach (75th St. and Gulf Boulevard). Both the Suncoast Beach Trolley and the Central Ave. Trolley (which you transfer to at 75th St. and Gulf Blvd. in St. Petersburg Beach) operate every half hour.

As you ride the Suncoast Beach Trolley (actually a bus) south from Clearwater, consider stopping at one or more Gulf beaches along the way. Here is a list of the beaches where you can stop (for details, contact the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce: http://www.tampabaybeaches.com/):

  • Sand Key Park
  • Indian Rocks Beach
  • Indian Shores (recommended for quiet, expansive beaches and bird watching)
  • Redington Shores (a good choice for fishing)
  • North Redington Beach (known for its exceptionally clean beach)
  • Madeira Beach (great sunsets, plus a marina that charters deep-sea fishing and dolphin-watching cruises)
  • Treasure Island: home to Sunshine Beach, Mid-Island Beach and Sunset Beach
  • Pete Beach (parasailing, paddle boating, and wind surfing)
  • Pass-A-Grille (dolphin cruises and amazing sunsets)—to get here, transfer to the Central Ave.

Trolley at 75th St. and Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach. The Central Ave. Trolley runs every half hour.

Enjoy a day at one or more of these beaches. Indian Rocks Beach is a good place to stay overnight.

Unlike most other cities, St. Petersburg’s major museums are open every day. if you stay overnight, you can take the Central Ave. Trolley to downtown St. Petersburg and visit the Dali Museum, Chihuly Collection, and Museum of Fine Arts on a Monday or Tuesday when there are fewer crowds.

 

Continuing Our Trolley Trip from St. Pete Beach to downtown St. Pete

In our last 2 columns, we traveled to Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, the northern towns of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs, and then took the Suncoast Beach Trolley south to St. Petersburg Beach at 75th Ave. and Gulf Blvd. At 75th St. and Gulf Blvd., take the Central Ave, Trolley to downtown St. Petersburg. Since you purchased a day pass ($5, or $2.50 for senior citizens, persons with disabilities and students) that allows unlimited rides on all PSTA buses and trolleys (as well as the Clearwater Jolley Trolley), allow time to get off the Trolley and explore three of St. Petersburg’s (7) Arts Districts: Central Arts District, Grand Central District, and the Edge District.

 For those of you who enjoy walking around interesting city neighborhoods, take time to explore at least some of St. Petersburg’s seven Arts Districts. Here is a brief description of these districts:

Waterfront Museum District – This district features some of St. Petersburg’s most fashionable dining and shopping destinations as well as independent galleries and museums.  Anchored by the Salvador Dali Museum , Mahaffey Theater  and the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the district is bounded by St. Petersburg’s sparkling waterfront park system and includes the St. Petersburg Museum of History and the Museum of Fine Arts , The Chihuly Collection and the Renaissance Vinoy Resort’s History Gallery as residents.  Visitors to this District are encouraged to use the Downtown Looper and Central Avenue Trolley for transportation.

Central Arts District – Independent artists, studios and galleries nestle in a blend of urban construction and historic buildings that give this district its unique profile. Studio@620 , Florida CraftArt , the Morean Arts Center , Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop and Art Lofts are prominent members in this part of downtown. A thriving music scene gives the District its rhythm, with several venues featuring local and national talent seven nights a week.

Grand Central District – Located just west of downtown from 16th to 31st Streets and between First Avenues North and South, this District houses a unique blend of galleries, antique stores, specialty retail, as well as Florida’s largest new and used bookstore, Haslam’s . Host to many special events and festivals throughout the year, including one of the largest LGBTQ parades in the nation each June, the Grand Central District is surrounded by historic neighborhoods

The Edge District – One of St. Petersburg’s newer Districts, this Main Street Community is located on Central Ave. between Dr. M.L. King Jr. St. North and 16th Streets, bounded by First Avenues North and South, and is home to an eclectic array of locally-owned, independent businesses from craft beer pubs, restaurants and delis to galleries, specialty retailers, antique shops and more. Creative Clay , which provides opportunities for people with obstacles to arts access, and Furnish Me Vintage, one of the largest dealers in mid-century modern furnishings, call this District home.

Warehouse Arts District – Once the location of warehouses and light manufacturing, the Warehouse Arts District along 22nd Avenue South has undergone resurgence for artists needing space for larger pieces or for heavy equipment used in the creative process. Studios are open to visitors, who may watch artists create, and every second Saturday, studios stay open late during the Second Saturday Art Walk. Future developments in the area include the Arts Xchange, which will assist artists in locating reasonably priced studio and gallery space as well as improving expansion opportunities for arts businesses.

Deuces Live District (Emerging) – Adjacent to the Warehouse Arts District, the Deuces Live District embraces the city’s rich African American heritage with a mix of locally-owned service and specialty businesses, including art galleries and restaurants.  Stops include Gallerie 909 , Uniquely Original Art Gallery , and tributes to the city’s African American heritage, the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum and Manhattan Casino . Visitors are invited to sample the District’s ethnic flavors with a stop at either Sylvia’s Soul Food, located in the historic Manhattan Casino , or Chief’s Creole Café .  The District also features a 19-marker African-American Heritage Trail, honoring St. Petersburg’s notable African American residents.

M.L. King North District (Emerging) – from Fifth Ave. N. to 34th Ave. N., this growing District comprises a variety of locally-owned retail, small business and galleries, including Jon Hair Sculpture , expected to open in spring 2016, Bloom Art Center and the Heart Gallery . Visitors to this District are invited to sample eclectic fare from a variety of locally-owned cafes and restaurants, including The Banyan Tree , where artists and writers rub elbows with everyday folk.

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance has also developed a directory of Local Art and Creative Business across the city’s seven arts districts. John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, invites visitors to the St. Petersburg Second Saturday Arts Walk. From 5-9 p.m., the second Saturday of each month, Art Walk brings the arts districts together as one arts destination with free trolley service that takes you around to visit some 40 artists’ studios and galleries. For more information about the Second Saturday Arts Walk, go to https://stpeteartsalliance.org/artwalk-2,

Stay on (or jump off and on to explore one or more of the Arts Districts) the Central Ave. Trolley until you reach downtown St. Petersburg. Then, it’s time to find a place to stay. Tomorrow, we will begin exploring downtown and other walkable parts of St. Petersburg.

Introducing Two Local Residents

Frequently, some of the most helpful suggestions come from local residents. We were fortunate to have help from two local residents who love St. Petersburg:

  • Robert Danielson is a long-time resident and Marketing Director for the city of St. Petersburg.
  • Linda Wagner and her husband Don live in the mountains of Colorado and are winter residents of St. Petersburg. Linda tells us, “Although we love the mountains and skiing, we love taking breaks to warm weather places in the winter. We selected St. Petersburg because of the diversity of residents and visitors, the arts, and the quirkiness of the city. There is so much going on in the city that it’s sometimes hard to choose what to do. We are avid bicycle riders who hardly ever use our car, and rarely leave St. Pete.”

Where to Stay

Linda Wagner has two suggestions: “Some of my friends stayed at the Hollander Hotel. It is within walking distance of all the downtown restaurants, shops and attractions. They made arrangements for bicycle rentals that were delivered right to the hotel. My friends were very pleased with the hotel and highly recommend it. http://hollanderhotel.com/.

“Another excellent choice is the Vinoy that sits right at the water front. I have not stayed there. but am a frequent guest for a drink on the patio, coffee on the veranda and Sunday brunch.https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/tpasr-the-vinoy-renaissance-st-petersburg-resort-and-golf-club/.”

For more listings of places to stay, visit www.visitstpeteclearwater.com.

For reviews of hotels, other accommodations, and places to eat, go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g34607-St_Petersburg_Florida-Vacations.html.

Highlights of Downtown St. Petersburg (also known as St Pete)

For more details and websites for the following attractions, visit http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/

Chihuly Collection 400 Beach Dr. NE, St. PeteThe Chihuly Collection is a stunning, permanent collection of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. The museum in St. Pete was the first permanent collection of Chihuly’s work in the world.

Museum of Fine Arts 225 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg http://www.fine-arts.org/.

The remarkable MFA is home to significant works from the French Impressionists, enchanting sculpture gardens and one of Florida’s most respected photography collections. It is the only museum on Florida’s west coast to offer a comprehensive art collection extending from antiquity to present day with more than 4,600 African, Asian, pre-Columbian and Native American objects.

Green Bench Brewing Co. 1133 Baum Ave N, St. Petersburg

This 1926 red brick garage a short walk from Tropicana Field has been transformed into a tribute to small-batch beer and to St. Petersburg, once known as the City of Green Benches. The indoor tasting room opens up to the beer garden, where you can play lawn games as you sip your brew and kids can run free in the yard.

Fort De Soto 3500 Pinellas Bayway South, St. Petersburg

Built for the Spanish-American War, Fort De Soto Park’s soft sand, shady pines and emerald waters are the ideal spot to enjoy its world-renowned beaches, historic batteries and enjoy outdoor sports like paddle boarding, kayaking, boating and fishing.

Florida Holocaust Museum: 1st Ave. South and 5th Street South in downtown St. Petersburg

http://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/ This is the 3rd largest Holocaust museum in the United States.

St. Petersburg Museum of History: http://spmoh.com/.

The city’s oldest museum focuses on the history of Florida, with special attention to Pinellas County.

Explore Central Avenue and The Grand Central District in downtown St. Pete

Refuel with hand-crafted chocolates at Schakolad or grab a craft beer at Cycle Brewery, and cruise around downtown St. Pete’s Central Ave. Lined on both sides by independent shops, galleries, bars and restaurants, it’s the perfect spot to explore and see what catches the eye. The Grand Central District is designated as both a national and state Main Street community. It is home to several beloved and diverse restaurants and eclectic shops. Stretching from the 1600-3100 blocks of Central Avenue, as well as First Avenues North and South, the Grand Central District is pedestrian friendly, with plenty of on-street parking, and can be easily reached via the Central Avenue Trolley, which makes several stops throughout the District.

Explore Beach Dr. in downtown St. Pete

St. Petersburg’s Beach Drive anchors downtown shopping, dining and entertainment districts that include outdoor cafes and restaurants, world class museums and a dazzling array of shops, galleries, businesses, hotels and bed & breakfasts that line the city’s pedestrian-friendly streets. Grab a sweet treat at Kilwin’s Chocolate (222 Beach Dr.), view the all-new Sundial St. Pete shopping center (153 2nd Ave N), or browse along the many galleries and jewelry shops. Just across from Beach Drive, you’ll find beautiful city parks and St. Pete’s fabulous waterfront.

St. Pete Shuffleboard Club: 559 Mirror Lake Dr N, St Petersburg, FL 33701  

Enjoy an evening playing shuffleboard at the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, the world’s oldest and largest club.

The Canopy at The Birchwood: 340 Beach Dr. NE St. Petersburg

Opened in 2013, this rooftop lounge offers diners a casual South Beach-inspired experience with dozens of specialty drinks, private cabanas, fire pits, lounge seating and breathtaking views of Tampa Bay, Straub Park, The Pier, Beach Drive and the downtown St. Petersburg skyline.

Saturday Morning Market: 230 1st St. South St. Petersburg

The market features a wide variety of locally grown fresh produce and crafts right in the heart of St. Petersburg. Live music every week adds to the charming audience. Operating hours are 9am – 2pm every Saturday from October to May.

The Dali Museum: One Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg http://thedali.org/.

The Dalí Museum provides visitors with an unmatched cultural experience. Located in a stunning building on the scenic downtown St. Pete waterfront, this iconic museum holds the largest collection of the artist’s work outside of Spain, and is the perfect jumping-off point to explore the rest of the city. The Dalí Museum houses more than 2,000 works of art in 20,000 square feet of gallery space, including numerous oils, watercolors, sketches, sculptures and other objects. Of the 18 “Masterworks” Dalí produced, eight are located in the St. Petersburg museum. The Museum’s marketing director Kathy Greif shares some of her favorite parts of the Museum:

“It all starts and ends with the magnificent permanent collection in the James wing. This is where you’ll find works from Dali across his entire career – your idea of Dali will change dramatically by the time you leave this gallery. Yes, you’ll see melting clocks and surreal images that will blow your mind, but you’ll also see one of the most talented painters the world has known – his attention to detail and ability to capture things as if it were photographed is stunning, one of my favorite paintings is Girls Back, it’s an early work from 1926 – it reflects a period when he was really interested in realism (so opposite of what he’s more commonly known for).

“We also have a small exhibit called Dali Revealed of photographs by Robert Descharnes of Dali and his wife – really cool, reminds you Dali was a  man, like any other, just incredibly talented and wonderfully wacky.

“The café is delicious, no doubt. Enjoy authentic Spanish tapas and wines. Staffers (like me) hang out there quite a bit, especially on Thursday nights when we’re open late (admission is only $10 after 5pm).

“The store has hundreds of truly unique products all inspired by Dali, ranging from jewelry and fragrance to apparel, décor, books, games, and even wine. Most of these products are only available from our store.

“The gardens – if I could sleep out there in a tent, I would. It’s beautiful. The back-gardens are where most people spend their time – walking through the labyrinth, leaving a wish on the wish-tree, gazing out across European-inspired landscapes at the boats on the Bay. One of the sides (facing the parking lot) has our edible garden – we grow different things at different times and use what we can in the café – herbs like basil are aplenty. The front has the grotto and beautifully airy living wall of plants. Around the side to the left as you enter is the Fountain of Youth.”

How to Spend 24 Hours in St. Petersburg

For a great article about how to enjoy 24 hours in St. Petersburg, go to http://www.83degreesmedia.com/features/24hours042115.aspx?utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=&utm_content=%7bEmail_Address%7d&utm_campaign=Where+to+go%2c+what+to+do+in+Downtown+St.+Pete

A Stroll through Walkable St. Pete

Did you know that Prevention magazine ranked St, Petersburg as Florida’s Most Walkable City? Robert Danielson invites you to experience St. Pete by taking a self-guided walking tour through some of its especially interesting neighborhoods. Here is his recommended walking itinerary:

“The downtown district is a 10 x 16 block area that snuggles up along the shores of Tampa Bay. Its seven mile downtown waterfront is entirely publicly owned, and probably one of America’s most beautiful strolls. Starting on the north end of downtown, bayside sidewalks curve along Coffeepot Bayou, lined by graceful Mediterranean-style mansions, flowering jacaranda trees and the tall masts of sailboats.

“The bayou then opens up to an expansive park just north of downtown, North Shore. Here, neighborhood kids often pick up an after-school football game, while joggers, cyclists and dog walkers share the sidewalk. There’s a white sandy beach with crowded beach volleyball nets and some outdoor fitness equipment, tennis courts and a world class aquatic center where Barcelona triple gold medalist Nicole Haislett began her competitive swimming career. North Shore is also home to the free Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum, a grotto with winding brick pathways that has more than 500 different species of palms and cycads.

“On the fringe of downtown is the expansive Vinoy Park, host to most of the city’s outdoor festivals and events – Ribfest, Bluesfest and the Mainsail Arts Festival, rock concerts, motorsports shows, pet walks and more.

“Vinoy Park rests in the shadow of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Its coral tower is one of St. Petersburg’s most recognizable landmarks. The hotel was built in 1925 and figured prominently in the city’s boom era, when the Sunshine City lured the likes of Babe Ruth, Elda and John F. Fitzgerald, and Al Capone to its beaches, hotels and swinging night spots. Today it’s a beautiful hotel and resort complete with an acclaimed spa, tennis complex, marina and 18-hole golf course. It’s No. 1 on the list of Major League Baseball’s top hotels for away stays.

“Now in the heart of downtown, the waterfront promenade heads south along North and South Straub Parks. Here, the hungry visitor finds any number of great restaurants, sidewalk cafes and prime people watching posts along fashionable Beach Drive. There’s also two notable museums – the Chihuly Collection, which is the first permanent installation of Dale Chihuly’s glass art in the world, and the Museum of Fine Arts in a stately Italianate villa-style building with an impressive collection.

A turn toward the bay leads you out to St. Petersburg’s iconic Pier. The building, built in 1975, is a jaw-dropping inverted pyramid 1/4 of a mile into Tampa Bay. The building is now closed , but the approach is open to walkers, cyclists, fishers and others who want to take advantage of the bay and city skyline views. Also along the Pier approach is the St. Petersburg Museum of History. Its flight pavilion includes a replica of the Benoist Airboat, credited as the bi-plane that became the first commercial airline in world history, carrying mail from St. Petersburg to Tampa in 1914.

“Back ashore, our downtown waterfront stroll leads us past the largest marina in Florida and the prestigious St. Petersburg Yacht Club, and past a small island called Demens Landing. Each spring, American Stage in the Park brings top notch outdoor theater to its starlit stage.

“Continuing south we come upon the Duke Energy Performing Arts Complex, with its beautiful Mahaffey Theater and the kingpin of St. Pete’s museum collection, the Salvador Dali Museum. Inside this modern new museum is the most comprehensive collection of Salvador Dali’s surrealistic artworks in the world. Just south of the museum, our walk concludes on the shores of Bayboro Harbor, the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus.

“From Mediterranean-inspired homes and glass high-rises’, to marinas and museums, St. Petersburg’s waterfront walk will provide a glimpse of a Florida city that seems to be on a never-ending summer vacation. Discover St. Petersburg for yourself, and shine in the Sunshine City. “

Linda Wagner’s Suggestions for Exploring St. Pete

Linda advises visitors to join one of the walking tours conducted (October-April) by St Pete Preservation: http://www.stpetepreservation.org/. She says, “We are fairly new to the city and are discovering neighbors through the walking tours, that many locals haven’t visited or don’t know about.St Pete, as the locals call it, has several historic landmark neighborhoods. We try to take a walking tour several times a month.”

Here are some other suggestions for walks:

  • Walking on the recreation path downtown is a lovely walk through parks, watching boats,dolphins, fisherman, and volleyball players.
  • “Central Avenue is a wonderful street to explore. Start at the waterfront in St. Petersburg and head west on Central Avenue. There are of art galleries, shops, great cafes, bookstores, antiques and breweries. You can spend the whole day wandering in and out of shops and galleries. Here is a website for things to do:http://www.stpete.org/arts_and_culture/arts_districts.php
  • Every 2nd Saturday is Art Walk: http://www.artwalkstpete.com/
  • Gulfport Art Walk, a trolley ride away from downtown ST Pete, has an art walk on the

First Friday and Third Saturday Year Round From 6 pm – 10pm 3007 Beach Blvd., Gulfport 33707 http://gulfportma.com/gma-events/art-walks

If you enjoy nature trails or gardens, Linda has these suggestions:

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is a wonderful nature park with many attractions. An easy bus ride from Downtown: http://www.stpeteparksrec.org/boyd-hill-nature-preserve.html/.

Sunken Gardens is a 100 year old garden and is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region. It is a short walk or bus ride from downtown. http://www.stpete.org/attractions/sunken_gardens/index.php.

St. Petersburg is also well known for its performing arts. Visit http://events.stpete.org/

Neighborhoods Worth Checking Out

Robert Danielson suggests exploring the following neighborhoods:

  • Downtown St. Pete is the city’s hottest neighborhood right now with several new condos, apartments and townhouses.
  • Old Northeast, located just north of downtown, is an established upper class neighborhood with gracious homes. Other similar neighborhoods include:
  • Snell Isle and
  • Historic Kenwood (center of the city) has the largest collection of wooden bungalows in Florida and is a diverse and eclectic area, with hip bars and restaurants through Grand Central (that stretch of Central Ave. that borders on Kenwood).

Take a Kayak or Paddle Board Ride on one of Pinellas County’s Blueways

Do you enjoy kayaking or paddle board? Then, check out Pinellas County’s network of “Blueways” water trails, and then rent a kayak or paddle board from Urban Kai. They will deliver it to you, and also pick it up when you return for a delivery fee that is separate from the rental fee. For details, visit www.urbankai.com. or call (813) 598-1634.

There is a useful guide kayaking in Pinellas County, identifying places to launch kayaks and amenities available at each site. The guide is broken into sections of the county and can be found at: www.pinellascounty.org/blueways. Map 6 includes downtown St. Petersburg and the surrounding area. The information was put together in 2008, so some info is a bit dated but all of the launch areas still exist, even if their amenities changed a bit.

What’s Your Pleasure: Suggestions for Your Special Interests

You may have one or more special interests, and want to enjoy attractions that relate to one of more of these interests. Robert Donaldson offers these tips for those of you with one or more special interests:

  • Parks, zoos, and other natural attractions: Boyd Hill Nature Preserve and Sunken Gardens. Sunken Gardens (one of Florida’s original roadside attractions) is now owned by the city and offers four acres of lushly landscaped Florida flora and fauna.
  • Museums, and other cultural attractions: Salvador Dali Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center, Morean Center for Clay, St. Petersburg Museum of History, Dr. Carter G. Woodsen African American History Museum, Florida Holocaust Museum, Great Explorations Children’s Museum (next to Sunken Gardens), and the Florida Craftsman (home to the state’s craft guild). In addition, the city’s largest museum is now under construction – the Museum of the American Arts and Craft Movement will occupy a five-story 90,000 sq. ft. space in downtown St. Pete.
  • Families and also Science) Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
  • Self-guided walking tours (neighborhoods, parks etc.) :

     St. Pete Preservation offers a series of downtown walking tours, various itineraries, nearly every Saturday morning.

     City Trails and Biking Trails: His city has more than 135 miles of city trails–the most extensive network of public trails in the southeastern United States. Most lead through city parks and along waterways. You can find city trails and biking trails map at http://www.stpete.org/parks_and_recreation/city_trails/where_to_bike_or_run.php.

Shopping in Downtown St Pete

Sundial is an upscale shopping, dining, and movie complex in downtown St. Pete.

The Evening Beckons: Enjoy a Live Concert or Theatre Performance

Downtown is home to three theaters – the Mahaffey Theater (beautiful European style performing arts center that hosts touring productions and national-name concerts, etc.), American Stage, St. Pete’s resident professional theater, and the Palladium, operated by St. Petersburg College that offers a variety of performing arts events. Two other theaters are Freefall (cutting edge theater) and A Simple Theater on the campus of Eckerd College. St. Petersburg Opera Company and the Florida Orchestra are also based in St. Pete.”

Where to Eat in Downtown St. Pete

Here are some suggestions from Robert Danielson:

  • First, there is a “restaurant row” in St. Pete – downtown’s Beach Drive, lined with restaurants and cafes.
  • Popular restaurants include:

Harvey’s Fourth Street Grille

El Cap’s (known for its burgers),

Chattaway’s (south of downtown) is a kitschy outdoor haunt with bath tubs serving as planters, outdoor entertainment and some would say the best burgers in town.

Coney Island is a dive that serves hot dogs and has been a mainstay for decades.

Ted Peter’s Smokehouse (South Pasadena) is an open-air drive in with notorious smoked fish spread.

For fine dining – Sea Salt and Ruth’s Chris make their home at Sundial.

Rococo is an independently owned steakhouse in the restored YWCA.

LOCALE is a new gourmet market, restaurant and bar.

All downtown restaurants (there’s more than 100) are within an easy walk of your downtown hotel.

Linda Wagner’s Favorites and Suggestions

All the restaurants on Beach Drive are good and fun to eat at, great for people watching and offer outdoor seating Here are some more of her favorite eating places:

Bodega is a favorite sidewalk café that’s serves very fresh high quality Latin food. They have a juice bar that serves delicious fresh organic juices. It’s on Central Avenue and 11 the Street in the Edge District. It’s just an 11 block walk up Central Avenue from downtown, in the Edge District. There are lots of shops to browse in on the way and back. http://bodegaoncentral.com/

The Chattaway Restaurant has been a St. Pete institution for over 90 years. It is just a short bus trip from downtown on the south side: http://thechattaway.com/

If you are on Beach Drive, Start with drinks at The Canopy Rooftop Bar http://thebirchwood.com/the-canopy/ and follow it with dinner right downstairs at Birchwood.For evening entertainment, Linda recommends IMAX at the Sundial.

For More Information

For information about attractions, accommodations, and places to eat in Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, visit: Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, (888) 799-3199 or Local: (727) 447-7600.

For attractions, accommodations, and places to eat in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and other communities in Pinellas County, visit www.visitstpeteclearwater.com or call (toll-free) 877/352-3224 or Local 727/464-7200

For information about beach communities between Clearwater and St. Petersburg (including where to stay, where to eat, and what to do), visit http://www.tampabaybeaches.com/ or (727)366-6957.

For a good introduction to the city of St. Petersburg, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg,_Florida,

For information about attractions and accommodations in St. Petersburg, go to: http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/communities/st-petersburg

For detailed information about local bus and trolley fares and schedules, visit www.psta.net, or call Phone: (727) 540-1900. Hearing Impaired callers call use the TDD number: (727) 540-0603

For information about the Jolley Trolley, visit http://www.clearwaterjolleytrolley.com/index.html, or call (727( 445-1200. For information about Jolley Trolley on Demand (pick you up at your hotel and take you where you want to go), call (727) 447-5863 (447-JTOD)

For Clearwater Ferry fares and schedules, visit http://www.clearwaterferry.com/ or call (727-755-0297.

 

Steve Atlas welcomes your comments and any suggestions you have for cities or vacation destinations in the United States or Canada that you would like spotlighted in a future Car Free Journey column. Email Steve at steveatlas45@yahoo.com.

About the author

Steve Atlas

Steve Atlas

Steve Atlas, author of two published books about parenting, has written newspaper columns and magazine articles about travel, career change, home-based business, parenting, and sales skills. Steve's column, “Single Parent Hotline,” was a weekly feature of Gannett News Service for several years. He has also been a contributing editor to Selling Power magazine. Currently Steve’s primary interest is reducing dependency on private automobiles. In addition to being a public transit advocate and author (since 2008) of Car Free Journey, Steve’s e-book: "Car Free at the Beach", and several reports he has written about Car Free Living can be viewed at www.pubtrantravel.com.

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