Have you tried Florida without the usual mouse ears? This guest blogger likes to be off the grid just a bit and wear a floppy hat in search of treasures that are off the proverbial beaten path. Florida has some hidden gems that we have visited before and have been rewarded with a previous guest discount and very friendly front desk agents. Join me, Linda Runion (Halle’s mom!) and my husband Jack, as we discover a different kind of Florida!
Let’s fly to Tampa and take the drive across the bay to Treasure Island and visit a few of our favorites spots there. The Thunderbird Beach Resort is right across the short causeway onto Treasure Island. This delightful retro hotel is a throwback to yesteryear with more of the amenities of today. We especially enjoyed sitting by the sprawling swimming pool, enjoying pina coladas or a bottle of wine, watching the sun set as the strains of pop and island music surround us from the musician at the adjacent tiki hut. The rooms here are clean and spacious with a small refrigerator and the television set to the webcam scene overlooking the shimmering pool with the ocean just beyond. Change the station only if you must!
Like our daughter, we love breakfast, and the best breakfast on the island can be found out at Shrimpy’s Blues Bistro. They serve breakfast starting at 9am and ordering a beverage whether it is a Bloody Mary or cup of coffee will get you a fresh beignet first thing in the morning. Try The Bourdain or the Beach Benny. If dinner is calling you, The Pearl, a family owned and operated restaurant is just across the street from Shrimpy’s and the food and service are excellent. If you have your dancing shoes on, Ricky T’s is within walking distance of the Thunderbird and live music is on tap every evening.
A bit of a drive north, Dunedin is a magical town full of music, arts, shops, food and the oldest brewery in Florida. The Dunedin Brewery serves lunch and dinner along with its craft beers. Do check out their live music schedule as it is the place to be in Dunedin in the evening. There is lovely outdoor market, the Dunedin Downtown Market, to check out on Fridays and Saturdays over the winter months where you will find produce, unique crafts and more.
We are repeat guests at The Palm Court Motel in Dunedin, an old style place to rest with retro chairs at each door, a swimming pool and an egret who walks door to door every morning. The Palm Court Motel has bicycles available for $5 for your stay that can be taken on the lovely Pinellas Trail out to Honeymoon Island State Park
Time for breakfast? Kelly’s has unique twists on Eggs Benedict and French Toast with enthusiastic servers. A final spot to visit nearby is the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary where you will be up close and personal with monkeys, orangutans and a television celebrity bird.
Safe travels! Cheers!