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So proud to be a new resident of quaint and charming downtown Dunedin, Florida.* Here are my Top Ten favorite things so far. I’m sure there will be many more…
1) The Seafood—I love fresh seafood and Dunedin has it in spades. Jensen Bros. Seafood Market is only five minutes from our beach cottage and their array of fresh caught seafood is amazing. And John Jensen is so personable and always ready to offer advice on cooking your choice of the day.
2) The Beach—Three of the most beautiful beaches in the world lie 10 and 15 minutes away respectively. If you are like me and prefer a more isolated and peaceful setting, then Honeymoon Island is just a nine-minute ride north across the Dunedin Causeway and for even more pristine beauty and privacy Caladesi Island is a relaxing 15-20 minute ferry ride over the calm waters of St. Joseph Sound from Honeymoon Island. For the athletic-minded, consider taking a kayak to Caladesi. For those who enjoy a beach filled with beautiful people and activities, then head south a few miles and stake out a place on popular Clearwater Beach.
3) The Pinellas Trail—One of Florida’s most popular and unique urban pathways, the Pinellas Trail stretches from St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs, and on into Pasco County. The pathway is part of the Coast to Coast Connector, a developing trail network that will span 250 miles across the state. The trail is only a three-minute walk from our cottage. It is perfect for biking, running, and walking.
4) Downtown Dunedin—Quaint, charming, off-beat, walkable. Sitting on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the small city of Dunedin has a lot more going for it than just its whimsical downtown. The city was founded by Scottish families, and its name comes from the Scottish-Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The city is known for its annual Highland Games and Festival, which is held in nearby Highland Park just a short drive from Dunedin’s downtown. The downtown runs along Main Street from the Gulf of Mexico to Milwaukee Avenue. While Main Street runs east and west, Broadway runs north and south and also features many businesses, particularly art galleries and independent restaurants.
Many of the businesses on Main Street include antique stores, clothings stores, and gift shops. Along with numerous amazing eateries, you’ll also find nine breweries and several taverns and clubs to give the area a bit of nightlife. The town permits golf carts on the streets for downtown residents, so be sure to watch for them—some are elaborately decorated.
5) The Gulf of Mexico—It lines the western boundary of Dunedin for four picturesque miles and offers a vast array of recreational activities and scenic panoramas.
6) The Sunsets—Be sure and grab a seat and cocktail on the waterfront patio of the iconic Bon Apetit restaurant and get ready for one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life. They are vastly different but equally stunning every night. For a more laid back experience, it’s just a four-block leisurely stroll from our cottage to the Tiki Bar at Marker 8 Hotel which offers a free shot and a seahorn signal every night at sunset. Another favorite custom of mine is pizza and wine on the beach at sunset.
7) The Restaurants—From the flagship offering of fine dining at its best at the Black Pearl, to the Ahi Tuna Nachos at Clear Skies Draught House, to the $3 Taco Tour at Pearly’s Beach Eats, to the Bloody Mary bar and Seafood Omelettes at Kelly’s Chica-Boom-Boom Room, to the best Fried Shrimp and Fish Spread in town at Hog Island Fish Camp, the decadent Poutine and impeccable Guinness at Flanagan’s Irish Pub, to the Grouper Sandwich at Cafe Alfresco, to the Shrimp Cocktail at Bon Apetit, to the Fried Chicken Wraps at Dunedin Brewery, to the Cuban Sandwich at Sandpiper Cafe, to the fragrant and delicious Pho and Banh Mi at Phoedin, to the Conch Fritters and Seafood Sandwich at Carvor’s Seafood House, to mention only a few, the dining options are a foodie’s dream come true.
8) The Proximity—Having lived in the isolation of the Appalachian Mountains where grocery shopping means an all-day commitment, to have a spectacular Whole Foods Grocery only ten short minutes away cannot be overstated. Publix Grocery is only five minutes away, and a brand new Nature’s Food Patch Organic Grocery and Cafe opens in two weeks and is only a four-minute bike ride or a ten-minute stroll from our cottage. With the afore-mentioned fresh seafood market, nine craft beer breweries, numerous restaurants and shops only a five-minute bike ride away, Gina and I are pinching ourselves to see if we are awake and not in some delightful dream.
9) The Walks—Two of the most stunningly beautiful walks in America are here in Dunedin. A stroll along the magnificent homes that line the eastern side of Edgewater Drive with the sparkling Gulf of Mexico a few feet away on the west—and now with the renovation of the iconic Fenway Hotel with its extraordinary Rooftop Bar and elegant Jazz Club—combine for an unforgettable jaunt. Then only a bit further and the savvy traveler will enjoy a walk along the hidden and virtually unknown Victoria Drive. Don’t let the sand road fool you. A walk along the brief but stunning public path (just don’t stray off the beaten path to the private lawns) is one of the most beautiful of my life.
10) Mazzaro’s Italian Market—While not technically in Dunedin, this world-renowned foodie destination is a short thirty-minute drive from our cottage. It is like a Disneyland of Italian cuisine. For an experience you will never forget, go for lunch at the deli and grab a number, choose a bottle of Italian vino from the Wine Room, fight for a table on the patio and savor the sounds, smells, and tastes of what it’s like to be in Italy for a few magic moments. That is, if you can tear yourself away from the meat market, the cheese shop, the espresso bar, the dessert section, the gelatos, the olive bar…shall I go on? Mazzaro’s is one of my happiest places on earth, and now that it’s only a short drive away makes me believe in heaven on earth.
You can book our delightful beach cottage (circa 1955) available on Airbnb in late August 2018 and experience all this and more for yourself. That is, if we can tear ourselves away and head for the mountains every few weeks. We LOVE Dunedin and think you will too!!
*We plan to split our time equally between our farm and mountain home Rivendell in the Tennessee Appalachians and our beach cottage named Cocomo in Dunedin.