St. Petersburg/Clearwater is for Runners

Dedicated athletes takes their routine with them wherever they go. This holds true for runners. Most days I get up early, throw on my gear and start pounding the pavement, logging my requisite miles before the sun comes up.

I prefer to run alone. It’s my church – my chance to breathe, think and start my day. There’s something magical that tugs at a runner when you’re staying at the beach. Running at the water’s edge is not as easy at it appears in movies though

After a short jog from where I’m staying, I reach the sand beach and realize, you simply can’t run on this fluid white powdery surface. It takes a careful walk using a completely different motion to keep the sand out of my shoes and to make my way to the packed sand.

Image of Indian Rocks Running Club

Indian Rocks Running Club

In the dark hours before the dawn, I feel the humid salt breeze blow through my hair and hear the waves washing against the gulf shore. I make sure to stay above the wet sand, so I can keep the rhythm of my stride even though I sense the slightest sinking feeling with each step. Every day distractions are soon swept away by the relaxing sound of the sea, the comedic sandpipers running in and out, as they try to catch breakfast among the tide’s foamy aftermath. As I start to perspire, I’m glad I’m out early….it won’t be long before the temperatures start to rise.

I’ve made some mental notes as to where to get on and off the sand and turn around. Fishing piers, be it Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach,

Pier 60, at Clearwater Beach

Pier 60, at Clearwater Beach

or Long Pier in Redington Beach,

Pier at North Redington Beach

Pier at North Redington Beach

or wooden ramps over protected sea oats, serve as my markers to measure time and distance.

While yesterday was a difficult run, less miles were covered. Today I don my gear and elect to run street-side. I’m amazed how much farther I can run with asphalt under my feet. This morning is met with the mundane side of beach life and it’s not as easy to free my mind – newspapers being delivered, equipment headed to the sand to begin beautifying the beach (who knew her looks didn’t come naturally!), the aroma of food wafting from restaurants make me think of breakfast, employees bicycling to work and fishermen readying to head out to sea.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll get back on the beach as it’s much more peaceful run. For those who like to run in a pack, dawn and dusk options are available around the county…see below.

Shuffleboard's Back!

Shuffleboard Got It Going On!

I honestly thought they were kidding? Apparently it’s now the “in” thing to do in Florida.

As a big fan of retro, how could we resist our friend’s invitation to join them at the St. Petersburg Shuffle Club in the shadow of The Coliseum? As someone who’s fairly competitive, I had to do my research to know more.

The game is played on a rectangular surface with opponents standing on opposite ends. Each pushing his or her weighted disc (biscuit) to the other end using a cue (tang). How your disc lands within or on the selected areas indicated with a number (score) determines whether you gain or lose points. Games are played in frames (each side gets a turn) of 4, 6 or 8, or to a score of 75.

While St. Petersburg’s Club is the oldest club, Clearwater’s facility is a city park and home to the Clearwater Shuffleboard Club and the International Shuffleboard Association’s Hall of Fame, a perfect place to learn more. Surprisingly there’s an International Shuffleboard Association and within Florida there are seven districts and many tournaments. Clearwater’s season opens in October and play is from Sunday to Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; non-members pay $2.00 a day, although first timers are free. Club members provide instruction and equipment. Don’t worry about the heat of the day, as there’s a covered area on both sides for players and spectators, plus full-sun courts. Deemed “The best facility in the whole state,” if you want to take lessons one of the masters of the game, gives them starting in January for beginners and in February for those with intermediate skills.

With the basic rules and terms under my belt, we headed down to St. Pete for the free Friday night St. Pete Shuffle from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. This is a markedly different crowd here found among the city’s trademark green benches – younger and more families, which reminded me of a bowling alley crowd. The lights strung across the courts were reminiscent of Texas beer gardens. (More on that later).

While club members here can play anytime, posted hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (members are free; non-members pay $5.00 to play. They also organize a number of events to introduce the community to the game – bike rides and themed events.

So what do you do afterwards? We narrowed it down to two nearby craft brewers: the club’s event partners, Cycle Brewing, a few blocks away at 534 Central Avenue or Green Bench Brewing Company at 1133 Baum Ave. N., a little west of the club. We chose the later because of the outside beer garden and ordered Green Bench IPA all around.

As a sidebar, many hotels are dusting off their shuffleboard courts. If you’re serious about shuffleboard or want to take it home with you, visit Allen R. Shuffleboard Company in Seminole. They are a major supplier of equipment and courts.

Vacation Without a Car?

Can You Vacation in our St. Petersburg Clearwater Area Without a Car?

You Want to Vacation Here without a Car?

Have you asked yourself is you can vacation in this area without a car?

Well, the answer is, yes.  It’s absolutely do-able – if you don’t mind a mix of transportation and a bit of walking too! But, speaking for myself, my favorite vacations are “walking locations”, where I can see things as I go! And you might find it is easier than you thought!

Here’s How You Can Vacation without a Car!

Below are some suggestions for those who want to forego a rental car or want to use their rental car minimally.

Getting To and From the Airport

Shuttle van services are often the lowest price option for individuals. Keep in mind that they do stop at a number of locations to drop off others sharing the shuttle with you at local hotels, etc.

Taxis, which are door-to-door, have a set rate and may accommodate 3 or 4 persons and are waiting outside the terminal. No advance reservation is required. You can call a local area taxi service in the community you are visiting and they should be able to give you an estimate of the cost. (They cannot pick you up at the airport, but can deliver you to the airport when it is time to go home.)

Private cars, also door-to-door, charge a flat rate, and may accommodate 3 or 4 persons. These services normally hold a sign and meet you in the baggage area, making you feel like a celebrity! These are a good option for families and small groups.

By the way, private car services are not shown on the Tampa International Airport Ground Transportation page.   But, you can ask the Superior Small Lodging® owner/manager where you will stay.   Or, you can do an online search for a private car services.

The St. Petersburg Central Avenue Trolley connect St. Pete Beach to the historic waterfront area of downtown St. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg Central Avenue Trolley connect St. Pete Beach to the historic waterfront area of downtown St. Petersburg.

To and From the Grocery or Drugstore?

In most towns, the grocery and drug stores may be a ways from the beach or downtown.

++ If you are buying lot of items, a taxi might be the option for you. It’s door to door and usually has a large trunk.

++ If buying only a few items, you may be able to use the Trolley system in your area, such as:

The Suncoast Beach Trolley, which runs up and down the beaches area from St. Pete Beach in the south to downtown Clearwater in the north. Several grocery stores and drugstores are near the route.

The Jolly Trolley will transport you around Clearwater Beach and downtown Clearwater. And, by the way, the Jolly Trolley and Suncoast Beach Trolley routes meet in Clearwater should you need this connection when shopping. (They do not have a scheduled ‘connection’, so you may have to wait a few minutes.)

The St. Petersburg Central Avenue Trolley carries you from St. Pete Beach, which is west of downtown St. Petersburg. It also goes to the Pier area and other locations downtown St. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg Downtown Looper will get you to great dining in downtown St. Petersburg, and the new Locale Market downtown also.

The Clearwater Jolley Trolley in this photo goes throughout Clearwater Beach, and connects to the Suncoast Beach Trolley.

The Clearwater Jolley Trolley in this photo goes throughout Clearwater Beach, and connects to the Suncoast Beach Trolley.

Shopping?

++ Trolley systems take you to a number of shopping areas in the beach communities. So, for example, if you want to go to Johns Pass Village, the Suncoast Beach Trolley stops there.

++If you want to shop downtown St. Petersburg or Clearwater, see the information above about grocery and drugstore shopping.

++Should you want to find a shopping center, such as the Countryside Mall in the North and the Tyrone Mall in the South, the area bus system can get you there. The system is called the PSTA and routes and schedules are available online.

Seeing Some Sights?

Clearwater Beach

++The Jolley Trolley can get you to the Clearwater Aquarium and to Pier 60 with ease, if you are not close enough to walk.

++And, the Jolly Trolley goes north to Tarpon Springs and through charming Dunedin, making these very easy trips to these charming and delightful communities.

St. Petersburg

++If you want to go to St. Petersburg from St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille, or a Beach community on the Suncoast Beach Trolley, you can take the Central Avenue Trolley to St. Pete Beach.

++The St. Petersburg Downtown Looper stops at the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Holocaust Museum and many more places of interest.

Gulfport

++Should you want to visit Gulfport, a charming community on the peninsula, the Suncoast Beach Trolley meets the Central Avenue Trolley at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg by the bay. From there, you can use Route #15 to go to the Gulfport Casino, which is smack downtown Gulfport!

++Look at the maps to make sure you understand where to get off in St. Pete Beach!

Gulfport, a colorful and charming small town shown in this photo, has a free trolley that runs through the downtown areas.

Gulfport, a colorful and charming small town shown in this photo, has a free trolley that runs through the downtown areas.

The Beaches

The Suncoast Beach Trolley stops:

++Near the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, Johns Pass Village, and the Long Pier at Redington Shores for fishing enthusiasts

++Along each of the beach communities on the barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico in our area from Clearwater Beach (North) to St. Pete Beach (South).

Active Sports?

You can go on vacation without a car and expand your kayaking, biking, or other active outdoor skills without a car.

++Many rental facilities that rent bikes, kayaks and other equipment will deliver it to you.

++Check out the blog at: www.bestgetawayever.com for information about options, resources and equipment.  his site is in progress, and there are already a few blogs articles about active sports that area available, including some local resources to rent or use.

Dining Out

++Of course, there will likely be several restaurants you can walk to from where you will be staying.

++If you want to go a bit further, all the various trolleys may make this easy! And, we know your trips to a number of our locally owned restaurants will offer some very great experiences and memories!

So check out your options and take a break from driving if you are of a mind to experience our area close up, assisted by local professional drivers!

Article by J. Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach

Sun coast Beach Trolleys run from St. Pete Beach in the South, north through Madeira Beach and other towns to Clearwater Beach.

Sun coast Beach Trolleys run from St. Pete Beach in the South, north through Madeira Beach and other towns to Clearwater Beach.

Salvador Dalí Museum and Promotion

Hope You Love the Salvador Dalí Museum!

The year I was married (some years ago), I made a trip to San Francisco and first saw Salvador Dali’s work in person.  His artistry captivated me and I hoped some day to see other work he had done.  On our first visit to the St. Petersburg – Clearwater area we discovered the Dali museum…  We were thrilled to see so much of his work in one place!

Now, I think I can say that even if you are not familiar with Salvador Dali’s work, you will love this museum and be fascinated by his artistry.  Plus, the architecture of the museum is captivating — both for it’s creative design and the views it showcases of the waterways surrounding downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.

Museum Hours

You can visit any day!  The museum is open daily from 10:00am to 5:30pm.
On Thursdays & Fridays, the museum is open late – until 8:00pm.

Take the Tour

Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FLI recommend taking one of the free group tours led by docents, that are available throughout the day.  The guides are extremely knowledgeable and will help you appreciate the work and Dali, in a way that is hard to do on your own.  (By the way, private tours at an additional fee may be arranged in advance.)

And, the museum offers complimentary audio guides — on a first come, first served basis. These also will increase your enjoyment and appreciation of the works that you see.

  • Available audio tours are in English, German and Spanish.
  • And, if you bring a child to the museum, ask for the audio recording, the “Mr. Moustache” tour, customized for children between the ages of 5 and 13.

Hungry?

For anyone who wants a great treat, the Dalí Museum has an amazing café, called “Cafe Gala”, named for Dalí’s wife, Gala.

They offer a light menu, that includes a variety of Tapas (and small plates of appetizers), plus some amazing Spanish soups. And, don’t miss the deserts (flan!) and cookies, and a most surprising and lovely wine and beer selection.

If you go early, the café has light breakfast items and pastries. And, coffee lovers will be thrilled at their delicious coffee, espresso, cappuccino and macchiato.

The café is open during regular museum hours. And, you have the choice of eating in the café dining area or outside on the Avante-garde patio. If you run short on time, keep in mind that you do not need a ticket to visit the café (or the gift shop).

Parking

A parking garage is located on-site ($10), plus there is also on-street, metered parking and parking lots nearby.

Not Driving? Take ‘The Looper’

A downtown trolley, the Looper Trolley, stops near the Dalí Museum and the cost of only 50 cents! More information on the Looper at: The St. Petersburg Looper Trolley

Don’t Miss Our Special Dalí Stay & Play Package

The following Superior Small Lodging™ members are offering two free adult tickets (regularly $48.00 for two) with a one week stay!

By June Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach. ©2015hdr_logo

Bringing Young Children to the Beach?

A Great Place for Families with Young Children!

After the beach, here are my top 3 favorite ways to entertain young-uns! ☺  (I’m a grandparent who is just sharing our experiences!)

The Clearwater Aquarium

winter-at-the-clearwater-marine-aquarium

Winter Playing Underwater!

Photos courtesy of Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater Convention Visitor Bureau.

This great little rescue and rehabilitation facility is home to the world-famous dolphin, Winter, who has a prosthetic tale. The aquarium offers hands-on activities that range from touching sea critters to a crafts-activity room fro those who need a few minutes of coloring and crafts!

The dolphin education show, offered several times a day, is a hit with adults and children of all ages! (Open daily)  These dolphins really show their amazing capabilities at the show, and you might want to call ahead for the schedule so you do not miss this.  Definitely worth the making time for the dolphin show!

For more information, see their website at: http://www.seewinter.com/visit-us

 

Great Explorations Children’s Museum, St. Petersburg, FL

GreatExplorationsPlayground GreatExplorationsTheaterPerfect for rainy days or after getting enough sun.

This museum re-invented itself a couple of years ago and it has some of the most imaginative and engaging exhibits for young children that you will find! (Open daily)

More information is at: http://www.greatex.org

 Photos courtesy of the Great Explorations Children’s Museum.

Tarpon Springs and the St. Nicholas Boat Line Sponge Diving Demonstration

StNicholasBoatLineBoatPhotos courtesy of the St. Nicholas Boat Line, Tarpon Springs, FL.

Tarpon Springs doesn’t actually look like Florida too much! It looks more like a little Greek fishing community – at least along the waterfront!  It’s largely populated by descendents of immigrants who were recruited to dive for sea sponges almost 100 years ago.

The boat ride is short (30 minutes), inexpensive, and informative. And, the diver who demonstrates sponge harvesting wears a diving costume like you see if books!  The diving outfit is complete with big, weighted shoes and a helmet shaped like a ball. (Open daily, weather permitting)  For More Information: http://stnicholasboatline.com/

 Don’t Miss the Beaches, of Course!

Obviously, our Gulf Beaches are headliners here for families. Out gentle waves, soft white sands and easy access to restaurants, restroon and lodging ensure fun in the sun! Visit our magnificent beaches from Clearwater Beach (North) to St. Pete Beach (South).

 

Article by June Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach. ©2015

Five Tips for Vacationing with Your Dog

In addition to owning and operating a ‘hotel’, we travel with our dogs…  So we thought we would share the 5 most important things we’ve learned about traveling with the family dogs!

Plan to be around most of the first day in your vacation spot.

CoupleWithBlackDog Dogs acclimate very quickly to new locations, but leaving your dog alone for several hours the first day in a new place can be a mistake.  Dogs that never bark, cry or howl at home sometimes feel “left behind”.  And, they let everyone know how unhappy they are!  Obviously, this isn’t good for them, for you, or for your hosts. So, easy does it!  Stay around most of the first day to let them get used to the new “home”.  Then, you can stay away a bit longer and be worry free!  Everyone will be glad you did.

Bring along familiar toys, beds and crates.

Dogs benefit from familiar items and adapt more quickly, knowing that some of “home” is with them.  This is especially true for crates, which make lots of dogs feel safe.  (Heck, I bring my pillow on road trips, cause I sleep better with my stuff, too!)   And, if you are traveling by air, we and many local Superior Small Lodging™   hotels and resorts with advance notice are happy to help arrange for a crate for your dog for your stay (at a nominal charge).

Bring your dog’s records.

If your vet doesn’t have records available online – and most don’t – you will be prepared should you have a concern.  Nothing is worse than being unable to get your pet’s records faxed to you, when your dog seems to need an exam! Plus, should you decide to use doggie day care or board your dog in a kennel, immunization records will be required – and you will be all set.

Bring along a portable (collapsible) drinking dish.

This is especially important if you are staying here in Florida or traveling during the summer. Dogs need to stay hydrated too and you can share your bottle of water!

Give Yourself a Vacation!

SpottedDaneInPark Ask your host hotel or resort about dog walkers or doggie daycare,.  This way, should you decide to do a daytrip and want to linger a bit longer, you can.  After all you and your dog are on vacation! Have fun and be sure to understand any “house rules” pertaining to dogs when traveling with your furry buddies!  And, do consider a Superior Small Lodging™ in our area! Hope these tips are helpful – and hope that you have the best getaway ever!

By June Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach. ©2015  (Island Paradise Cottage of Madeira Beach offers collapsible doggie dishes as a part of their welcome package for guests traveling with dogs. )