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Where to Rent Baby Gear ‚Äď Pack Less Play More – Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

3 Simple Steps For All The Gear Your Baby Needs

We know traveling with your baby or toddler can be stressful! They crave their routines and traveling is anything but that!

Cribs, car seats, stollers, high chairs, booster seats, pack n plays, bouncers, booster seats – I could go on and on.

Even if your car would hold all these items or the airlines would let you check them all, do you really want to? 

Enter Pack Less Play More. This “easy button” business helps you order your baby equipment online, have it delivered to your vacation rental and they’ll pick it up after you leave. ¬†Three simple steps:

  1. Choose
  2. Reserve
  3. Secure Checkout

Fun in the sun and surf

Cleaning and Sterlizing

Babies and toddlers are messy! One of the reason we refer our guests to this wonderful company is the care they take in cleaning and sterilizing their equipment after each use.  

Pack Less Play More cleans their rental items with  100% all-natural cleaning products.  You can read about how the clean cribs, strollers, car seats, toy boxes, high chairs, booster seats, and bouncers here.

The Process is Easy and Packages are Available

The process is easy Рjust click and reserve. Have it delivered before you arrive.  

Packages are available too, with fun names like the “Everything is Covered Package” or the “Biggest Bang Package“.

A few baby-oriented beach items are available too. Sand toys, Kidco Go-Pods. and Beach Baby Cabana & Sunshades.

Beach Snoballs in St Pete Beach

Sugar And Soft Shaved Ice Fuse In Shivery, Sweet Awesomeness

Do you know anyone who doesn’t like shaved ice

Me neither. 

It just seems so indulgent. One, it’s sweet.  Two, it’s so cold.  Three, it’s so soft. Four, it just seems a little naughty.  (After all, didn’t your mother tell you not to eat snow? More than once?)

Well, hold on, because we’re about to take naughty to a whole new level.

It is a grave error to assume that shaved ice consumption requires hot weather.

Beach Snoballs in St Pete Beach is the purveyor of these delightful icy desserts they call Snoballs.    

Ever run out of syrup with a sno-cone? It’s just so sad! Hopeless even. That doesn’t happen with Snoballs. With finer ice than that found in Sno-cones, there’s no fighting between the syrup and the ice.  Ice and syrup are one.

Spike It!

You adults know what I’m talking about.  Add a little warmth to counteract all that coldness.

You can find Pina Colada, Margarita. Bahama Mama (my favorite) and more.  Or just add a shot to any flavor. Or two. Or three to any Snoball. Terry likes to go big on the Bahama Mana.

Have Fun Choosing

Add Some More Sugar!

Flavored syrups made with real sugar not enough carbs for you? It’s OK, we get it.

Then how about you add ice cream.  Yes, to your shaved ice.

Still not hitting the sugar receptors on all cylinders? You can add that food of the gods, Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Or Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Sauce or Whipped Cream.  

Experiment!

Ready for adventure?  No training wheels for you. You can build it yourself.  You pick a size, decide whether or not you want to add ice cream, choose up to three flavors and then select your toppings.

Do you find 60 flavor choices and over 25,000 combinations a bit, err, overwhelming after a simple day at the beach? Not to worry.

You can let someone else do the heavy-lifting and try one of the Signature or Specialty snoballs.  These include such creations as Salted Caramel Deluxe, German Chocolate and a Tangerine Dream.

The menu includes little icons to let you know which combos are their best sellers.

Pure and simple Bahama Mama! Watch the video and keep an eye on the spoon in the video below

Locally owned by just the nicest people (a mother daughter team), you won’t be disappointed.  Unless they’re closed.

Visit them at 7350 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach. Weekdays from 2 pm to 10 pm and weekends from noon to 10 pm.

Note to you old-timers.  Beach Snoballs used to be located on Treasure Island where Middle Grounds Cafe is.

Where to Buy Fresh Seafood ‚Äď Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

When Freshness Really Counts

As any chef or good cook will tell you, one of the keys to cooking success is to start with the freshest ingredients.

And I think there’s nowhere where that’s more important than fresh seafood..

We’ve all taken that stroll through a supermarket reeking of questionable seafood products and bleach, only to find our appetite and enthusiasm taking a dip. Or nosedive. ¬†No pun intended.

Well worry not, we’ve got you covered! Read on for how to buy fresh fish and where to buy it in the Gulfport, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach and St Petersburg area.

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Mary Oliver

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Step 1: Go to a local and reputable seafood shop. ¬†See the next section “Where to Buy” below.

Step 2: Ask what the freshest fish is or what the catch of the day is.

Step 3: If you decided to buy anything other than what they tell you is freshest or the catch of the day, make sure what you’re buying isn’t “previously frozen”.

Step 4: Make sure the flesh is firm and shiny. ¬†It should provide resistance when touched. Don’t go poking it with your uncovered finger, however. I saw one source that said the fish should look as if it might jump up and swim away. If only, the fish is thinking. If only…

Step 5: Sniff it. Yes it’s ok. ¬†Fish isn’t supposed to smell fishy. It should smell fresh.

Step 6: If the poor creature still has its head intact, check the eyes. ¬†They should be clear, not cloudy. ¬†(You know, so he can see better…)

Step 7: Gills if present should be bright pink and wet. No slimeyness.  Ever.

Step 8: For fillets or steaks, make sure the meat doesn’t separate from itself.¬† If it does it isn’t fresh.

Step 9: If the fish still has its skin, make sure the skin is not discolored.  No brown or yellow edges. Mostly this means even, consistent coloring.

Line ’em up

Where to Buy #1 – Key West Shrimp Company

We get it. ¬†You’re not in Key West. ¬†And no, I don’t know why. But I do know that the entire business is a family affair, with their own boats and own stores. ¬†One shop is located in St Pete Beach and the other in Madeira Beach.

“Most of our fish was swimming less than 24 hours ago.” Says it right on the website. You’d have to fish for it yourself to get it any fresher. ¬†Like them on Facebook to find out what their specials and fresh catches are.

Read about their dedication to sustainability here. ¬†And check out products available in their online store here. ¬†(Fish Spread fans will find some things to love here!)¬† You can even ship some home if you’d like.

10 am to 6 pm every day.  St Pete Beach location is 7217 Gulf Blvd Ste 13 (727) 873-3913.  Madeira Beach location is 215 150th Ave. (727) 592-1885

Perfect Salmon

Where to Buy #2 – Mid-Peninsula Seafood

‚Äč

Both a restaurant and a full-service fish market.   Looking for something special? Call them! They just may be able to deliver.

Not sure which fish to buy? Visit their Fish School for tips on cooking and information on origin.

Mid Peninsula Seafood’s restaurant is one of my faves. Soups, sandwiches, dinners and big orders to feed a gang. ¬†Fish Spread is available and something you don’t see just anywhere – hushpuppies! They call them Cornpuppies!

Find the full menu of prepared foods here.

Follow them on Facebook.

They’re gone fishing on Sundays. ¬†Just keep that in mind.¬† Open Monday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm.¬† 400 49th St S, St Petersburg, FL 33707

Insider Tip: The Seafood Watch App

Download the app for your phone.  Sustainability at your fingertips!

Where to Buy #3 – Gulf Coast Seafood

Gulfport has two outstanding places to buy seafood.¬† “Fresh From the Boat“.

Gulf Coast Seafood began by providing products to stores, resorts and restaurants over a large part of Florida.  In response to repeated requests over the years, they are now selling to the public with their own retail shop!

Fresh fish in display cases. ¬†Frozen products are vacuum packed). Head on over and catch tonight’s dinner.

Follow them on Facebook.

4921 9th Ave S, Gulfport (727) 321-1068   Open from 10 am Р6 pm Monday through Friday. 10 am to 4 pm Saturday

Chances are they have what you fancy

Where to Buy #4 – Don’s Dock & Wild Seafood Market

Don’s Dock has a wonderful fish market in addition to provide bait, ice and other gear you need to go fishing.

You can call¬†727-391-3223 for the Catch of the Day, see where your sustainably-caught seafood is coming from “Track Your Fish” and more.

Sauce and seasonings available too.  Online seafood market coming soon.

Check out the photo gallery for sample wares.  Those babies look ready to go home with you.

Don’s Dock Wild Seafood Market is located at 215 Boardwalk Place E, Madeira Beach, Fl. (727) 391-3223

Insider Tip: Sustainable Seafood?

View the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guide here.

Recipe Suggestion: Perfect Salmon

Note: This cooking technique can be used on other varieties of fish too.  Just use your seasoning of choice!

Ingredients

  • Salmon filets, not steaks
  • Olive Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Maple Syrup

Spray or rub a small amount of olive oil on the bottom or skin-side of the fish.  Massage soy sauce into the top of the fish.  Place the fish skin side down on a small metal tray.  (Sizzle platters are perfect for this.) Pour a modest amount (approximately 1 T) of maple syrup over the top of the fish and spread it around.

Place the salmon in a COLD oven.   Now turn the oven on to 400 degrees and set a timer for 25 minutes. Your fish will be moist and flaky and the soy sauce maple syrup on top provides a slight crunch.

Enjoy!

Perfect every time

Disposing of Fish Parts – How to be a Good Neighbor!

No matter how fresh that fish is when you get it, eventually it won’t be.¬† If you have leftovers (or leftover “parts”), please don’t just toss them (bagged or not) in the trash can and let them marinate until trash day. Please help keep the trash cans clean and smelling the best they can by refrigerating your excess in a plastic bag and tossing out the morning of trash pickup.

Insider Tip:

Visit Allrecipes.com

For an amazing assortment of delicious seafood recipes

Bikes Gulfport and Treasure Island

Bike Routes and Rentals in Gulfport and Treasure Island

With so much beautiful weather year-round, Florida is a natural spot for a bike ride.

You can ride around the local neighborhoods, checking out what’s happening with local projects, visiting shops and restaurants, the Tuesday Fresh Market, the Gulfport Marina, the Treasure Island Friday Market, bike to Gator’s for lunch. ¬†There are so many quiet neighborhood streets you can just cruise around on and that may be all you need.

However, if you’d like to venture further afield, read on!

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

Isak Dinesen

Winning Bike Rides

We’ve outlined our top riding suggestions below and provided rental spots near each ride.
You can hop on the Pinellas Trail, head out to Fort DeSoto Park or bike beachside along the Treasure Island Beach Trail.

Riding on the road is not necessary – we have safe trails and pathways!

Ride #1 – The Pinellas Trail

Officially named The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, this rail-to-trail urban pathway runs from St Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs. In 2017 an additional 5-mile section was opened 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.

Gulfport Spur

There is a Gulfport ‚Äúspur‚ÄĚ to the trail, just north of Gulfport Boulevard, off of 55th St near Tomilson Park.¬† The section closest to Gulfport travels through mostly urban landscapes, crossing streets with dozens of pedestrian bridges.¬† The street crossings that are not protected via an overbridge almost always have a marked crosswalk with flashing lights.

Ride Planning Resources

The link below is an invaluable resource in planning your ride.  It contains link to maps, links to rules, links to audio tours, bike rental locations along the rental and emergency assistance information.

http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/

Gulfport Spur to the Pinellas Trail

Insider Tip: ABC Bicycle Rentals –¬†The Pinellas Trail

Helmets included at no charge! Rentals include “Flat Packs” and water bottle cages.

ABC Bicycles is a bike shop near the trail and I have used them for purchasing bike accessories as well.¬† They’re located very close to the trail, so you may be able to drive here, get bikes and head out on your way. Rentals include ‚ÄúFlat Packs‚ÄĚ and water bottle cages.¬† Hybrids include kickstands and a lock.¬† Helmets are included at no charge or you may use your own.¬† Hybrid, Road and Electric Assist bikes are available!

Here’s the link to general rental information:¬† http://www.abcbicycles.com/rentals

Complete rental policies at ABC Bicycles can be found here: http://www.abcbicycles.com/about-us/policies#bicycle-rentals

Maybe a sunset ride is in your future?

Ride # 2 Fort DeSoto

Fort De Soto park is worth a visit for many reasons besides the multi-use trail.

It is the largest park within the Pinellas County Park system and is made up of five interconnected islands, or ‚Äúkeys‚ÄĚ.

Total acreage is 1,136!

There are more than 328 species of birds here, an historic fort, 7 miles of waterfront (including almost 3 miles of beautiful white sandy beach, a boat launch, playground, restrooms, food concession area, two fishing piers, a nature trail, a dog park and ferry service to Egmont Key!

So you can see that there are plenty of reasons to venture out on a bike on the 12-foot-wide asphalt multipurpose trail.

Ride Resources

The park service has a wonderful resource-rich webpage to the park and its features here: http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/05_ft_desoto.htm

Insider Tip: United Park Services – Fort DeSoto

Ten types of bicycles built for one to eight people!

Rentals at Fort DeSoto ‚Äď United Park Services

The rental location is located on the multipurpose trail behind the Fort & Gift Shop.  Phone number is 727.864.1376.  Ten unique types of bicycles built for one to eight people!

http://www.unitedparkservices.com/bike.html

Nice, wide flat surface to ride along the Treasure Beach Trail – but under construction (or repairs?) August 2018

Insider Tip: Cycling resources

For a list of bike rental locations – Check Here
To plan out your ride – Check Here

TIBT Sign at the 119th Ave entrance

Ride #3 – Treasure Island Beach Trail

On the southern end of Treasure Island is Sunset Beach, which runs from the 119th Ave S to Gulf Front Park. ¬†(If you see the Shake Shop on Gulf Boulevard, you’re about 1 block north.)
There are other beach access roads along the way linked to Gulf Boulevard street access.
The concrete path is flanked by a short wall on the beach side. ¬†The wall helps keep sand off the trail while still allowing full beach views. (Note: As of August 2018 the trail is under construction at multiple locations to repair cracks. ¬†It’s annoying enough to have to get off the trail if you’re walking. ¬†If you’re biking its a non-starter until construction is complete. ¬†I would estimate it is completed by some time in September. Treasure Island’s website says it is supposed to be completed in August.)
Anyway, one of the nice things about the trail is it’s width, smooth surface, unobstructed views of the beach landscape and access to restaurants (and some condos) along the way. ¬†You can get to Sloppy Joe’s from this trail.

Schiller water bikes available for rental through Hubbards at either Johns Pass Marina or on the beach

Bike Rental Options on Treasure Island

Treasure Island Boat Rentals, Mad Beach Sports
(including electric bikes and fat tire bikes)
Hubbards Marina
(Schiller water bikes)
Erika’s Bikes, Boats

Partial map of Coast to Coast Connector Network

Coast to Coast Connector

If you’re an avid cyclist, you may already know about Florida’s Coast-to-Coast Connector. ¬†When completed, this connection of bike paths will link communities between St Petersburg and Titusville.

The goal is to provide a safe and scenic way for visitors to explore Florida on bike and on foot. ¬†The “C2C” is a major priority within the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan.

Click on the map above to be taken to the full version on the website.

Click HERE to view a video about the C2C.

The coverage C2C network is really something to behold.

When we drive from Texas to Florida, we usually avoid I-75 (very prone to frequent accidents and long backups), which means we cut down from I-10 and go down 98 through Perry, Chiefland (GPS Bermuda Triangle), Crystal River, Homosassa Springs and then pick up 589 Toll, the Suncoast Parkway.

The Suncoast Trail parallels the toll road in that area.  Read more about the Suncoast Trail here.

For now be warned that there is a gap between the Pinellas Trail and the Suncoast Trail, north of Tarpon Springs. ¬†(If you visit the map above you’ll see that the Coast to Coast Connector is estimated at 250 miles, with current gaps estimated at 69 miles. Additional funding is needed to complete it).

Insider Tip: Splashy Houses with bikes

The Shack & Flunky; Casa Sol, Harbor Mist. Isle Be Back, Tyn & Marty’s Old Fashioned Beach Cottage

Splashy Bikes

Splashy does have bicycles in a general bike pool, however they may not be available to you during your stay.

Also, not all of our rentals are large enough to keep the bikes inside while you’re not riding them.

Splashy bikes and bikes with homes are not to be taken outside of the general neighborhood. (In other words, please don’t load them up in your vehicle and take them to Fort DeSoto).

Riding on the Pinellas Trail is fine, but keep in mind that we will not be able to come get you should the bike need maintenance.

“The cure for anything is salt water: At the beach, treasure is what we find, not what we buy.”
From How to Live at the Beach

Sandy Gingras

Bike Etiquette

If you’re using the bikes at one of our rentals, we ask that you do not ride them in the sand or lay them down in the sand.

If you’re renting a bike, please follow the rules they’ve laid out for you in your agreement.

Leave a comment below and tell us if you have a favorite ride!

Boating, Ramps and Marinas – Treasure Island Florida

Getting Around Treasure Island by Boat

Boat Ramps

Treasure Island has three public ramps. These are all pretty small, single-lane ramps with limited or no space for trailer parking.  It may make sense to scope it out ahead of time, but if you’re staying at our TI rentals you’ll want to use the 123rd Ave ramp and you can take the trailer back to the house and return on foot.

Things can get really busy on weekends, so TI asks that you¬†prepare your boat¬†prior to launch.¬† Treasure Island also has a small marina with some boat slips for rent. If you just need a slip for a short period they do have metered slips available at an hourly rate. There is a waiting list for the permanent slips. You may contact the recreation department if you‚Äôre interested. 727-547-4575. This is located on Boca Ciega Bay next to the City Services Complex on 108th¬†Ave. Be careful if you search the web for information ‚Äď there is a Treasure Island Marina in Panama City Beach. ¬†Use our¬†link¬†or make sure you have the right one!

Bridges The Causeway Bridge (pictured above) can open three times per hour during the week and twice an hour on the weekends. Here is the schedule:¬† Monday – Friday – 7 am to 7 pm it opens at the top of the hour, at twenty minutes after the hour and forty minutes after the hour. Saturday, Sunday and Federal holidays – it opens at 15 minutes after the hour and 45 minutes after the hour (or 15 minutes before…) You can request a bridge opening by calling the bridge tender on VHF Channel 9. When closed the bridge has 21 feet of vertical clearance.

Bridges‚Äč

The Causeway Bridge (pictured above) can open three times per hour during the week and twice an hour on the weekends.

Here is the schedule:

Monday – Friday – 7 am to 7 pm it opens at the top of the hour, at twenty minutes after the hour and forty minutes after the hour.

Saturday, Sunday and Federal holidays – it opens at 15 minutes after the hour and 45 minutes after the hour (or 15 minutes before…)

You can request a bridge opening by calling the bridgetender on VHF Channel 9.

When closed the bridge has 21 feet of vertical clearance.

Options for Getting Around in Gulfport Florida Without a Car!

Sometimes, you just don’t want a car. Maybe you’re planning on enjoying a night out without having to find your way around or worrying about having a glass of wine with dinner. ¬†Other times you’re appalled by how much they want for a rental car. ¬†Or perhaps your SO is playing a round of GOLF somewhere (yes THAT four-letter word) and you want to go to the beach.

No matter. We have transportation options for you.

Gulfport’s Get Go

Complementary transport within the Gulfport area

Gulfport’s Get Go is complimentary transportation available to anyone from any point within Gulfport to any other point in Gulfport.

Available from 10 am to 10 pm, seven days per week.  Funding is made possible in part through donations and a matching grant from the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Ongoing funding is provided by local business sponsorships and private donations.

Stylin’ wheels

Lyft & Uber

I could give you a link here but it’s really better if you just download the app. If you haven’t done that already more than likely you’ll be eligible for some credits for free rides! And with the app you can get estimated costs if you enter both your pickup point and destination when you’re looking.

The Bus – PSTA & Suncoast Beach Trolley

Check out this Google Transit Trip Planner to help you find your route number, stop and estimated time to your destination.  So cool!

A special transportation network called the Suncoast Beach Trolley is a portion of PSTA that runs only from St Pete Beach to Downtown Clearwater.  Checkout the schedule here.

2019 Update: A better solution: The Transit App.

If you want to feel as though your head is about to explode, try reading the¬†PSTA bus route map. If you lived here, perhaps it would be worth the effort to figure it out. ¬†If you’re not a local, your vacation will be over before you’ve figured out your route.

Thankfully there’s a solution that you should probably have your phone anyway, and that’s the¬†Transit app. ¬†This app from Heaven lets you plan your trip and includes¬†real-time data¬†for accuracy.

And better yet? This app doesn’t just work here – it works in 175 cities around the globe. ¬†From Austin to Anchorage. Nicaragua to New Zealand. ¬†Iceland to Italy. ¬†Download it now.

Coast Bike Share

Coast Bike Share (coastbikeshare.com) is the Official bike share of St Pete.  They have an app, you can gift rides or join a monthly plan that allows so many minutes per day of riding.  

Bikes can generally be found along Central Avenue and the USF area.