Home to 2 Superior Small Lodging™ —
Madeira Beach has two extraordinary options, one of which is for the over 21 crowd:
— Shoreline Island Resort (21+ only)
Madeira Beach – known as the beach city that is “two miles long and a smile wide” – is a
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.
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,
or Long Pier in 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.
We love to ride our bikes. Whenever possible, we travel with them. Ask anyone in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area where to ride and this is what they’ll say, “Pinellas Trail.”
In many parts of the country, retired railroad corridors have been converted to recreational paths and it’s no different here. This 36-mile contiguous linear trail connects Tarpon Springs to the north with downtown St. Petersburg to the south. The asphalt is well marked and requires users – bikers, walkers, in-line skaters and others – to follow “rules of the road” for the safe and enjoyable use by all. While the pathway hugs the west side of peninsula, don’t worry about crossing congested roadways, as overpasses have been created in many places.
Over our numerous stays in the area, we have enjoyed biking different sections. Maps, available for this county park, highlight “park and ride” lots, beverage vendors and a place to get under cover for those unexpected showers. Bike and skate shops have popped up along the trail offering repairs, rentals and sales. A thumbs up to Trail Sports in Seminole for their great service They offer rentals and are convenient to the trail. So glad Uncle Bill and his wife could join us on a ride!
The trail is busy on weekends. For that reason, we prefer to take the roads less traveled and explore the many spurs and side trails built as a result of the trail’s popularity. Exploring the many neighborhoods gives us a real flavor for the community.
A big thanks too for the bike lanes on Gulf Blvd., a major north-south thoroughfare between Clearwater Beach’s Sand Key area in northern Pinellas county to Treasure Island (includes a short stint on Blind Pass Road) and then the length of St. Pete Beach to the south.
I’ll touch on some of those neighborhoods in another blog, as well as beach cruisin’ and a trail within Fort DeSoto County Park.
Slideshow Image 1 – Photo courtesy: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.
Slideshow Image 2 – Take a spin around Pass-a-Grille, a small community just south of St. Pete Beach on these beach cruisers. Rent bikes a Merry Pier, located on the bay. Stay off the main streets if you like and have fun exploring the many alleyways. Photo courtesy: ©Charles Morton.
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.
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!
Below are some suggestions for those who want to forego a rental car or want to use their rental car minimally.
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.
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.
++ 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.
++The Jolley Trolley can get you to the Clearwater Aquarium and to Pier 60 with ease, if you are not close enough to walk.
++The St. Petersburg Downtown Looper stops at the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Holocaust Museum and many more places of interest.
++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!
The Suncoast Beach Trolley stops:
++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).
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.
++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
This video shows the “Bests” of the area. While it’s a marketing video, you can see a lot in 2 minutes! Definitely worth a watch!
In the photo here, this guy is making headway on Madeira Beach! If you are interest in active things to do in our area, we suggest a blogsite that seems to be coming along, called Best Getaway Ever. It can point you to fun things to do and local resources so you don’t have to bring your own kayak, bike, or whatever.
Written by June Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach.
Our small, privately-owned Superior Small Lodging™ boutique hotels, inns, B&Bs, villas, beach cottages and resorts are here, offering you accommodations choices you will love. And, you will find Sugary-white sand… dancing dolphins in the clear blue-green water… and 8 barrier islands that make the beaches around the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area near Tampa Bay a postcard-perfect destination!
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.
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.
I 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.
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).
A parking garage is located on-site ($10), plus there is also on-street, metered parking and parking lots nearby.
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
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. ©2015
A Superior Small Lodging® may be the perfect location that beautiful, intimate destination wedding ceremony, commitment or vow renewal! Here are some key points to consider when planning.
– In some locations, with a small group, you don’t even need a permit to have an event on the beach. In others, permits are easily secured.
– All small hotels and resorts will require booking accommodations when a wedding is held onsite, ensuring privacy and convenience for the wedding party. Larger hotels are less restrictive in this respect, and, of course, have other requirements.
– Flexibility is greatest with a smaller hotel — and generally you don’t have the very long lead time that many wedding venues have.
– Cost is generally considerably higher at a hotel that requires you to use their catering services, so if cost is a consideration you may want to use a wedding planner (or plan yourself) with a carefully selected caterer.
– Budgets can be managed if you do want a hotel to manage food, etc for you and a hotel like THE BIRCHWOOD in downtown, St. Petersburg would be a perfect choice. The Birchwood offers the complete suite of wedding services — and have an absolutely beautiful ballroom! It’s a great choice if you want the sophistication of services and wedding amenities!
Written by June Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach. ©2015
If you aren’t staying in Madeira Beach or Treasure Island, you might find it fun to visit! Johns Pass Village in Madeira Beach was chosen as the “Best Shopping Splurge!” location this year in the “2015 BEST OF ST. PETERSBURG CLEARWATER AREA ” video that showcases some fun and fabulous places!
So make time for this fun explore!
I love John’s Pass. It is the entrance to Boca Ciega bay from the Gulf of Mexico, created by the Great Gale of 1848. Along the boardwalk, you can always catch the acrobatics of a few of the 250 or so dolphins that live in the area.
First inhabited by the Timucua Indians, legends tell us that pirates, roaming the area, used this area as a base for attacks on both Spanish and English ships!
“The Village” was a fishing settlement that small commercial boats worked out of. Today, what you will find based here are deep sea fishing charter boats, small rental watercraft, a Pirate cruise for kids and adults alike, a dolphin watch cruise or parasailing vessels!
The former fishing village is now a shopping district, with lots of great dining options and a lively waterfront. In addition to personal shopping or souvenir shopping, you can enjoy a delicious meal or try the chocolates or “homemade” ice cream from two different shops. And, a new craft brewery is opening, that we are very excited about also!
Well, I must tell you that when my family visited Treasure Island many years ago, one of my brothers was sure that buried treasure was left by pirates on the beaches of Treasure Island. My guess is that today, other young boys have the same fantasy – and also spend hours digging for abandoned pirate treasures!
With an energentic beach shopping district and wide beaches, Treasure Island is a great explore! It has everything from a very, very wide beachfront to sophisticated dining to delight you!
Both communities host unique, colorful festivals each year.
If you’re coming to Madeira Beach
If you’re coming to Treasure Island
Discovery is the key word at our local street fairs. Vendors bring an interesting array of usually quite affordable, treasures. And, It’s all at your pace!
Both Madeira Beach and Treasure Island have boat parades – by locals, for locals. But you can join this fun! There is no no charge to view the parades. Just take your position along a seawall and see some very creative boat decorations! Boat parades are held at:
Be sure to check each city’s calendar for dates.
The 4th of July always features professionally done fireworks displays in both cities. Come a bit early and stay a bit late to see fireworkss displays in other cities along the beaches!
By June Mohns, Island Paradise Cottages of Madeira Beach. ©2015
After the beach, here are my top 3 favorite ways to entertain young-uns! ☺ (I’m a grandparent who is just sharing our experiences!)
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
Perfect 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 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/
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
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!
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.
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).
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.
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!
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!
Dunedin, a charming small waterfront community, offers this top-rated Superior Small Lodging™:
Settled by Scottish families more than 100 years ago, Dunedin – from its position on the coast – offers some of the most breathtaking vistas along the Florida coast.
Clearwater Beach and Clearwater offer these extraordinary Superior Small Lodging™ resorts and inns:
The City of Clearwater has been welcoming visitors since the Tampa Bay area was first settled. It is a city that loves its visitors! And, accolades to nearby Clearwater Beach – on the barrier island – assure visitors to Florida that this is a great destination option. Recently, Clearwater Beach was named, by “Condé Nast Traveler”,
Gulfport, the earliest city in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, offers a picture-perfect setting for one exceptional Superior Small Lodging™ for the over 21 crowd…
— the Sea Breeze Manor Bed & Breakfast (21+ only)
Located on the Pinellas Peninsula (mainland), Gulfport faces the Boca Ciega Bay and has a large, well-equipped public beach with free parking.
Indian Rocks Beach Superior Small Lodging™ choices are extraordinary and include:
Running 2.5 miles along the Gulf of Mexico, Indian Rocks Beach welcomes a visitors to enjoy
Indian Shores and Superior Small Lodging™ go together like ham and eggs! Your extraordinary choices include:
A narrow little strip of land, in some places only a block wide, you will find the relaxed,
North Redington Beach is home to an extraordinary boutique Superior Small Lodging™ bed & breakfast, the:
The friendly little town of North Redington Beach has an eclectic mixture of
Pass-A-Grille, a uniquely distinct neighborhood of St. Pete Beach has it all! Plus 5 exceptional Superior Small Lodging™ options:
Pass-A-Grille, a charming and distinct ‘old’ Florida neighborhood that is technically a part of St. Pete Beach, has beachfront parking and amazing Gulf views.
St. Pete Beach – with its four miles of award-winning beaches – has six extraordinary choices for visitors, one of which is for guests over 21 exclusively.
— Pasa Tiempo Waterfront Resort (21+ Only)
St. Pete Beach was awarded the 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award based on TripAdvisor® reviews of millions of travelers. It was voted the No.1 beach destination in the U.S. and the No. 5 in the world in 2012!
St. Pete Beach is the largest island community on the Gulf,