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Old 08-12-2013, 11:02 AM
226 posts, read 274,934 times
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I will preface by saying I am only reviewing from Tampa Bay, Pinellas county area-NOT the Tampa city itself, I did not have time to see that. BUT Pinellas county is quite large and IS part of Tampa, so let's not play name semantics games This is long also!

First on weather: YES it was hot (end July)-but nothing we couldn’t adapt to-in fact by middle of week we were fine. We were out on the water during hot times or back to condo for a quick break. Mornings seemed fine, and evenings were VERY nice. I did notice we would swell up a lot-likely due to heat and eating out though-they put a lot of sodium/seasoning-and we don’t’ shy away at ALL ourselves when we cook but a lot of places seemed to over salt. OH- maybe because we were by the sound/water-but none of us got ONE mosquito bite the entire trip. And we were at a lot of places at dusk also. Odd.

Edited: We saw thunderstorms brewing in the distance and close but only got caught in one when boating back to condo from 3-Rooker-not lighting but we were SOAKED and got a little nervous out in the water w/the heavy rain.

We stayed in Dunedin-and I have to say hands down that's my favorite area. Here's where we visited on our trip.

Dunedin area:

Cafe Alfresco- outstanding brunch and service when we arrive on Sunday.
Strachan's Homemade Icecream: The smell alone sells you on this place, cannot be beat.
Dunedin downtown: IMMEDIATLEY noticed the cute colored signs, how quaint yet active it was, people biking, rollerblading, walking their dogs where big buckets of water awaited-very dog friendly, very bike/pedestrian friendly, beautiful and clean and absolutely charming. Nice little shops, restaurants (nothing seemed chain)
Casa Tina- honestly? A tad overrated IMO- food was good (went for lunch on a Sat) but not outstanding, didn't care for the salsa, the margarita subpar a bit and a little pricey for quality. Now, I'm guessing they may use more organic ingredients which is great. Loved the decor/atmosphere though. Would probably return.

Honeymoon Island: Went they day we arrived, late afternoon- North beach- GREAT for shelling but no swimming- tried the main beach area, much better but still loads of shells when you first get in water- for all the hype I really wasn't that impressed-perhaps I was just in the wrong areas. The water way too calm-but that seemed the norm in all beaches to be honest-would have been nice to have even SMALL waves.

Ft. De Soto -AMAZING, beautiful, full of nature and sea/wild life, we found amazing shells, live sand dollar, crabs, live shells w/the mussel in it-all released of course... gorgeous beaches, wish I knew more at the time because we spent most the day at the dog beach area, which is desolate and nice and great pier-and further down no dogs. It was great to see the Sunshine bridge from there-but water was TOO calm/lake like/greenish-the fort side is much nicer IMO. We saw that on our way out and wished we spent most of the day there. It's hard to tell though until you've been there before. It was quite the drive (45min-1hr) and several tolls, plus parking-but definitely worth it.

Brass Monkey in Pass-A-Grille...food not very impressive nor service but the view is outstanding. I will say they did exchange my blackened grouper for grilled- they were VERY heavy on the salt on everything. Should have gone to Hurricane like I wanted to originally-but we had a great time-amazing pics, boys left us after they were done to jump in the ocean while we watched from the balcony. Beautiful area-we drove by the Don Cesar which is amazing. We walked around that area a bit-seemed also charming. Wanted to drive towards St. Pete but we were beat after a full day. Did see two cop cars pulled next to us talking to some woman that was apparently waiting for the bus right on a bench-not sure what that was about.

Ozona Blue Restaurant: WE absolutely LOVED this place, in fact from reviews I was nervous but the food was outstanding, the boys loved having the pool there (so did we), great location, décor, clean, friendly staff, food, drinks, overall a 5 star experience-would likely become a fav or ours-granted we were there during lunch time during week, so likely was more calm then a vibrant weekend-but I think we would still love it.

Loved the houses around there- we drove by a house we once saw for sale a year ago that we loved…it’s just a neat area, with all the other pubs/wood oven pizza/restaurants close by also.

Tarpon Springs/Rusty Bellies: We only drove through downtown as it was last day –would like to go back and see more. We drove inside Wall springs on the way there but did not get down to explore-on the next visit list. Rusty Bellies, loved the décor and fun patio-but VERY long wait-and in the end we opted to just go first available and didn’t sit outside. The goombay drinks…ok I love my drinks strong and have a good tolerance…and these were amazing-but a lot of people were visibly buzzed or drunk-one lady asked if the front door was the bathroom lol…I realized after my one drink how quick to get this way. Our food was great-calamari was outstanding-not rubber at all (compared to TONS of places I’ve had this dish in my lifetime)- overall good experience.

3 Rooker Island: We went via rented boat- Fav of the locals-won’t say much because I don’t want to spill the secret- just outstanding. Breathtaking, amazing…will definitely be a return.

Caladesi: ALSO very nice, a little more crowded, and long walk from boat dock to beach..especially w/all the gear, umbrella, cooler, beach bags, but definitely worth it.

John’s Pass/The Hut/Sculleys: Also a long drive..and some areas of 19 seemed sketchy and gettoish...but nice atmosphere all around that area Madeira Beach, we really liked it-they stop the jet-skis too early IMO, because that is where we were going to rent-by 7 (and he said even earlier)nobody would rent-dissapointing a bit. For tourists, definitely worth a go. For locals, I assume it’s more a once in a while thing. Drinks kind of weak, nice listening to some live music, dining outside w/the pelicans- we didn’t’ eat there, the boys did and it was just ok they said.

Safety Harbor: Phillipe Park, LOVE LOVE LOVE the park/trees, so pretty- loved the neighborhoods, the downtown seemed quite still-but very charming like Dunedin’s also.
Countryside mall: Never went inside-but my boys did for an hour or so while we waited at Red Robin (Which was actually pretty damn good)- they loved the mall there, just the outside eating options are nice-much more then we have in some malls here where I live for sure.

Clearwater/Pier 60: Clearwater is clearly (ha) touristy-but yes, sunsets are amazing. There was a big storm further out, we saw a never experienced lightning show that night that we were in awe of…the colors, little trinkets, vendors, was fun for us (only a few vendors showed as the storm came pretty close). Beach is pretty but damn people- you have TONS of trash cans feet from each other and we still saw trash on the beaches L How sad.

We never got to Sand Key or St. Pete Beach or Treasure Island beaches... or Frenchy’s like I wanted to-just not enough time. Also didn't get to ride the trolley, visit Bush gardens or that indoor surf thing for boys-or the aquariums...7 days isn't enough time. At our condo in Dunedin, amazing time- great place, owners, wild-life, dolphins, kayaks, bikes…just outstanding.

One big difference from ATL: People are amazingly friendly, laid back and kind no matter WHERE we were- strangers would talk to us forever when we asked about the area, or anything really- everyone seemed VERY happy, I can imagine the Vit D and continuos connection to nature has something to do w/it Honestly-these were locals, not tourists. Couldn’t have been more pleased. Everything seemed more relaxed-example, we wouldn’t ID’d anywhere to buy drinks or alcohol- here they id you to buy a lighter (wish I were kidding)-I saw no strict law on helmets (motorcycle, bikes, skaters)-which is nice- I mean it SHOULD always boil down to YOU using if you want/safety sense-but no mandated by law. Just didn’t seem as ‘uptight and legalistic police state’ as it is here. All around you didn’t feel harassed, oppressed or hounded like you do in ATL-it’s hard to explain. No, it wasn’t just being on vacation either-we noticed a big difference that way. I also noticed a LOT of people in our age group (mid 30’s-ok I’m late 30’s) –and not all full of retirees like I thought.

I will say most areas we saw were very clean and safe-I’m sure I’m forgetting some spots. It was awesome watching people gather in parks, on the causeway beaches, sandy areas by the Courtney Campbell –families just grilling out, enjoying the day. IN other words-you don’t HAVE to go to the beaches if you just want water-there’s bodies of it EVERYWHERE> We loved fishing-mostly the boy, mainly smaller fish on the sound-but did get a spotted trout and small shark –all catch/release.

We can summarize with this: My guy wanted me to just leave him there lol - We are more determined than ever to make it our home-He loved it, boys did too but are nervous about moving and leaving GA and their friends. The place fits us like a glove, matches our style, personality, what we want in life. He definitely wants to work on boats in a marina-we loved the water, the fishing, the beaches (though not having waves kind of sucks), the people, the roads, the downtowns, the different character/personality of each area-all unique and nice in their own way, traffic wasn’t horrid-though construction on 19 (Main not alternate) seems a nightmare- drivers a bit crazy but hey…I grew up in a country in S. America known for crazy drivers and nobody respecting traffic rules-it’s a mad house-and I learned to drive there-…so driving in TPA is something I can get used to. We will likely rent for a year until we decide fully which area…but loved Dunedin, S. Harbor, Ozona, P. Harbor west side (didn’t go to East-further out from water)- I guess S. Harbor runs up to Clearwater (North area?).
All the tons of people even in the heat biking, kayaking, boating, walking, jogging, w/kids, dogs, sidewalks-saw those EVERYWHERE, and trails everywhere-very conducive to active lifestyle IMO- I've heard complaints about LACK of them and I'm in shock-they were everywhere-or those people never lived in Atlanta ha

Schools- we drove by Countryside High, PHUH and Dunedin High- honest, PHUH seems the best from reviews- but Cside and Dunedin seem somewhat similar in demographics/scores? It sucks, I would love to live in Dunedin and have boys attend PHUH ha… all a drive from the airport, but honestly? I may be looking for something else there.

I have amazing pics to post-once I get my computer running properly...

Last edited by overit2; 08-12-2013 at 11:16 AM..
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:39 AM
Location: says MA on my license but can be found wandering the beaches of RI
1,432 posts, read 1,535,672 times
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Loved reading about your visit. I'm glad your family liked the area and I hope it works out for you. It's hard thinking about leaving friends but really, you guys won't be too far that you can't visit.

I can't wait to see the pictures you post!
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:57 AM
Location: North of South, South of North
8,706 posts, read 8,820,570 times
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Your review is AWESOME and would be almost exactly how I would review it after being here about a year. Glad you noticed the "lack" of mosquitoes, how the heat really isn't that bad especially for the hottest part of the year (JMO of course) and Cafe Alfreso rocks!

Great great great review!
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:03 PM
Location: Places you dream of
20,246 posts, read 12,123,341 times
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one thing to remember, the area is MOSTLY retirees in Dunedin, so neighborhood friends for the kids are hard to find.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:01 PM
2,719 posts, read 4,403,272 times
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Originally Posted by overit2 View Post
We can summarize with this: My guy wanted me to just leave him there lol - We are more determined than ever to make it our home-He loved it, boys did too but are nervous about moving and leaving GA and their friends.

I have amazing pics to post-once I get my computer running properly...
That was my first impression coming for an interview and driving on Courtney Campbell Causeway, lol. I still pinch my self when I drive over the causeway. Now there is even a bike lane almost completed next to it (95% done). Can't wait for that.

Your summary will help others like you who are looking for more info. Thanks for taking the time to do that .

Good luck!
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:15 PM
226 posts, read 274,934 times
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I noticed the bike lane construction-can't be cheap! I was thinking if I did work on the airport would definately chose the beautiful causeway to S. Harbor vs Veterans- I love that by the time we go the bike path will be done on it

You are very welcome. We honestly fell in love. Having been there before I could remember some things-but I had never even scratched the surface then-got to know a LOT of the area this time.

STILL for next times though:

Sand Key/St Pete and Treasure Island beaches-
Definately a Frenchy's and Crabby bills
Ride the Trolley just for fun
For boys: Clearwater aquarium and that surf wave thing
Jet ski's at John's Pass
Busch Gardens

Visit Ybor city for fun- maybe S. Tampa to check out night life
In Dunedin: Primate sanctuary
Wild cat sanctuary maybe also
Wall Springs Park-John somethign park (East side of P Harbor)
Biking around C. Campbell and Pinellas trail
Boat to Anclote Key- dock up to a restaurant to eat from the boat
Perhaps a Day trip to see the manatees in Crystal Springs-stop maybe at Weeki-Watchee?
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:30 PM
Location: Places you dream of
20,246 posts, read 12,123,341 times
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to visit is not to live- some love Miami but could not stomach the life style... but it is beautiful! so close your eyes and think about everyday living, driving, traffic, schools etc etc.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:54 PM
Location: St Pete
480 posts, read 806,592 times
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As someone who lived in St. Pete and now lives in the ATL area, I can agree with the fact that the St. Area is much friendlier and a lot more live and let live. Now if Fa only had mountains like N. Ga.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:30 AM
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
693 posts, read 960,176 times
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Thanks for posting your impressions, very helpful.

I am less then 3 weeks from my arrival to Tampa Bay to see if its a fit or not.
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:20 AM
Location: Places you dream of
20,246 posts, read 12,123,341 times
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Bavarian you have been posting on here for a long time. not a Tampbaylian?
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