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2021 4th of July Celebrations St Pete/Clearwater Beaches

Covid is (still) causing a number of postponements and cancellations of fireworks in 2021.  So if you have a tried and true favorite place to watch fireworks, you may need to be a bit flexible in 2021.

Gulfport has canceled their 4th of July festivities in 2021, but Treasure Island’s are still on.  Check out this page from the Visit St Pete Clearwater site for a list of fireworks locations in the area, along with links to the individual events.

https://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/event-guide/fourth-of-july-festivities

The Fusion Resort in Treasure Island is having s special 4th of July event planned, with a low-country boil and rooftop viewing of the fireworks.  Visit the resort’s Facebook page for details.  It is a ticketed event.

Florida’s Sunken Gardens

Discover exotic blooms and flamboyant flamingos at Florida’s Sunken Gardens

Colorful pathways abound

It seems impossible a landscape this lush could be hidden amidst St. Pete’s hustle and bustle. You’ll just have to see the Sunken Gardens to believe it.

Originally a roadside attraction concocted by an imaginative plumber, these below-sea-level gardens are now 100 years old. They were formed by draining a four-acre lake on the property, which was then planted with citrus trees and vegetables and paved with walkways. Tropical plants were added over time.

The gardens were closed for a number of years as taste changed and interest waned. But in 1998, the city of St. Petersburg declared the gardens a local historic landmark, and years of restoration brought them back to their tropical glory.

Flamingos steal the show

Today’s Sunken Gardens are a colorful culmination of a century of planting. You’ll find over 50,000 tropical plants and flowers, including some of Florida’s oldest. A paved path twists and turns past waterfalls and breathtaking blooms: there’s a delight around every corner.

Insider Tip: Learn More About the Colorful History

Atlas Obscura has a great post on the subject here.

As if countless exotic plants didn’t provide enough eye candy, be sure to keep an eye out for the gardens’ beautiful flamingos. In 2016, a local group now called Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation launched a fundraising campaign to bring 20 new Chilean flamingos to the gardens. They joined George and Lucy, St. Petersburg’s longtime famous feathered residents.

Why did the flamingo go to the salad bar? For a little shrimp!

Insider Tip: Learn about the six species of flamingos!

American (Caribbean), Andean, Chilean, Greater, James’s and Lesser.  Learn more about the vibrant creatures who call Sunken Gardens home from Live Science.

Visiting the Gardens

Pathways are paved and suitable for strollers as well as wheelchairs and walkers. Keep in mind that this is not your typical park: it’s a place where you look and see, not a place where you run and play. It’s an ideal spot to find cover on a hot summer day—leave the beach early and find a moment of quiet in the shade of banana tree, stopping to inhale the scent of gardenias and bougainvillea along the way.

The gardens are a popular destination for groups, so for optimal serenity we recommend calling them ahead of your visit at 727-551-3102. Learn more about the Sunken Gardens and meet its flock on Facebook.

Gulfport Grand Prix March 27-29, 2020

Gulfport is thrilled to be part of this Powerboat Championship every year!

Come for the races! Come for the Boat Show! Come for the food and quirky Gulfport!

Watch Formula 1 Powerboats, Tri-Hull and Formula Lights go – fast!

The event is free to the public and you can visit Gulfport Grand Prix for information about parking, traffic, maps and directions.

Watch the video from the 2017 event here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3QEBJzcCkE

What can I do with my dog?

Are dogs allowed in the house?

Absolutely. We know they are part of your family.  However they are not allowed on the sofas, chairs or beds. Claws can scratch leather and wood and snag blankets, comforters and fabrics.  Plus your dog isn’t as clean or sweet-smelling as you think and not all of our guests are doggie people.  If your dog is allowed on these surfaces at home, please bring blankets or sheets with you to lay over the furniture.

Are the beaches dog-friendly?

They’re not.  That means that dogs are not permitted past the dunes, to the water line or in the water. You may occasionally see someone breaking the rules, but there is a fine if you are caught.  Three wonderful exceptions to this are the dog park at Fort De Soto, Honeymoon Island and North Shore Park in downtown St Petersburg. (See next page.)

  • Fort DeSoto – Called Paw Playground, this 1,136-acre county park was named one of Petside’s Top 10 Dog-Friendly beaches and one of the South’s Best Dog Parks by Southern Living magazine. Dogs are allowed on the beach at the fenced in Paw Playground that’s divided into separate sections for small and large dogs. Some of the amenities include cooling stations with showers and dog-level water fountains to keep your pet comfortable.
  • Honeymoon Island – 4 miles of sandy beaches blanket this natural barrier island. There are also miles of nature trails, wildlife, a nature center, concessions and plenty of parking. Your dog is welcome on the beach and in the water as long as he or she is on a six-foot handheld leash. The dog beach is located at the southernmost tip of Honeymoon Island. Human amenities include showers, concessions and restrooms. Update 2018: Please exercise caution in this area as rattlesnakes are common!!!
  • North Shore Park – in downtown St Petersburg – also welcomes water-loving dogs!

Is there a dog park nearby?

  • Yes!  In Gulfport there are two great places to exercise your dog. Gulfport’s main dog park is “Chase Park”, located at 27th Ave S and 54th St S.  This neighborhood park is one complete city block bounded by 28th & 27th Avenues and 53rd & 54th Streets South. This area includes the meeting site for local Boy & Girl Scouts, tennis courts, the Gulfport Historical Museum and two dog parks – one for large dogs and one for small dogs.
  • The second location is Clam Bayou Nature Park, located at the end of Miriam St S. The area is a nature preserve and includes several observation decks and docks, a canoe/kayak launch, several short trails and views of Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay

Should I bring my own dog beds, bowls, etc?

Yes please! Bringing your pet’s own bedding and bowls can really be comforting to them in an unfamiliar environment.

We do have some dog bowls and “messy cleanup rags” available in most homes in case you don’t bring your pets items.

Please do not use our regular guest towels, beach towels or our human bowls for your dog.

Are there any local dog friendly cafes?

Yes! You may be amazed at the local restaurants that are pet-friendly. Most will have outdoor seating and water bowls. Here are a few:

  • The Dog Bar– aptly named, this place is mainly for dogs but serves alcohol so you can enjoy yourself while your four-legged little one runs wild.  There are some serious play zones here – ramps, a swimming pool for starters.  You’ll need a copy of your dog’s vaccination records & pay a membership – $40 per year for the first dog; $20 each for the rest.  And the adult beverages for the humans aren’t an afterthought either.  24 beers on tap & mixed drinks.
  • Salty’s Gulfport Bar – the patio is completely dog-friendly as long as on a leash and well-behaved with others.  Food is not served (this is a bar) but nearby restaurants deliver. They have Yappy Hour.
  • Nikko Mussolini Dog Barrrrrr – Coffee, mixed drinks, ice cream, dog treats, dog wear.
  • O’Maddy’s – sidewalk seating for dogs
  • Neptune Grill – outdoor seating for dogs

Where is the local vet?

Very close to Gulfport is the Gulfport Animal Hospital/Gulfport Veterinarian.  5621 Gulfport Blvd., 727-489-4897.  http://www.gulfportveterinarian.com/

Gulf Animal Hospital – 808 Pasadena Ave S, 727-381-5005

Veterinary Healing Arts, 727-360-5700, 431 Corey Ave, St Pete Beach, myzenvet@gmail.com, http://myzenvet.com/

The Cat Hospital on Park Street – 22 Park St S, 727-381-2287, http://catsonpark.com/

Where are the local groomers?

Reef Dog Gifts and Grooming – Keep that relationship between you and your pet clean and healthy – treat your loved one to a spa day at Reef Dog.  Located on Beach Blvd in Gulfport, so you may not even need to drive!  http://reefdoggrooming.com/

How can I find a pet sitter?

If you need a sitter during your stay, try dogvacay.com.  Just type in your zip code (33707 will work), then indicate your start and end dates and whether you’re looking for boarding, daycare, house sitting or dog walking.

Tip:  Shannon T with “Your Critter Carer” in Gulfport has many great reviews and repeat guests!

What else can I do with my dog?

How about a festival? Check Bringfido.com for more!

Does your friend need a Spa Day?

Well, who doesn’t now and then. Reef Dog Gifts and Grooming – Keep that relationship between you and your pet clean and healthy – treat your loved one to a spa day at Reef Dog. Located on Beach Blvd in Gulfport, so you may not even need to drive! http://reefdoggrooming.com/

Dog Safety Tips

Dogs are such social creatures and their favorite place is to be by your side.  However, that doesn’t mean that travel and staying in a new place won’t be stressful for them.  Being prepared can make a lot of difference if you find your dog lost, stressed or ill while on your trip.

  • Before you leave for your trip, make sure your contact info on your pet’s ID tag is current and is a phone number that YOU can be reached at while on your trip.  (Such as a cell phone number.)  If it isn’t, consider buying a temporary tag to attach to his or her collar and write your cell phone number on it with a Sharpie.
  • Identify a nearby vet and emergency hospital for your pet before you travel.
  • If your dog needs a special diet, be sure to bring plenty with you.
  • Bring your pets medication.  (I left one of our cat’s asthma inhaler home one time.  Neither the medication nor the device used to administer it can be obtained quickly.  Lesson learned!)
  • Bring a bottle of water and bowl for your trip if traveling by car and also for when you’re out and about exploring the area. Many shops and restaurants will have dog water bowls sitting out, but by bringing your own you may limit your pet’s contact with other doggie germs.
  • Collars and leashes – important anytime your dog is out of the car or house.  Many restaurants and parks require you to “leash or leave”.
  • Boots – if you plan on taking your dog on the beach or on trails, consider protection from hot sand and sharp objects for their tootsies!
  • Planning on boating? Then bring or buy a pet life vest.  You need to wear one and your dog does too.

What else do I need to know?

  • We don’t allow puppies under 1 year old.
  • Normally there is a 2-dog maximum. Please inquire if your situation is otherwise.
  • We do charge a pet cleaning fee
  • All dogs must be housebroken.  Dogs that are “pee-pad trained” are not housebroken.  And they miss the pad.
  • Dogs should be kept on a leash when outside the home or backyard.
  • Please be realistic about your pets behavior when he or she is away from home.  Just because they don’t bark when you are home doesn’t mean they don’t bark.
  • You are responsible for picking up your dog’s waste, in a bag, and placing it in a covered trashcan in a bag.
  • If you’re staying for an extended period, please encourage your dog to urinate in different spots in the yard, to avoid urine burn on the grass

What can I do with my kids?

What fun activities can I do with my kids while in Treasure Island and Gulfport?

5 Fun-Filled Ways to Keep The Kids Entertained around St Petersburg

Every day at the beach seems like a completely new day.  That’s a good thing – what’s better than kicking off each morning with a fresh ocean breeze?

But other times it requires creative plan-making.  Sometimes Monday brings sunshine and high temps while Tuesday’s forecast is doom and gloom.

Although you and your crew may never tire of heading out to the beach, sometimes, life intervenes.  It rains (gasp! Is that even allowed??) or you don’t wear enough sunblock and your crispy burns leave you seeking shade.

Or, you just want to experience some of the other wonderful activities the area has to offer.  If you have young ones with you, we have some suggestions to round out your trip.

Dolphin Cruses

Don’t miss a chance to teach your little ones about the wonder of nature. Witness the playful and inquisitive nature world’s smartest sea life on a boat tour.

And splish-splashing schools of dolphins aren’t the only sight you’ll see, either.  The waters are rich with mangroves, pelicans, great blue herons (GBH to those in the know), osprey, white ibis and sometimes even the lovable manatee!

Embark on one of several daily trips with Dolphin Quest Tours, cruise out of the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort with Adventure Cruises, or set sail with Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center, located in the Dolphin Village Shopping Center in St Pete Beach. This local outfit also offers day trips to Shell and Egmont Keys as well as sunset sails. They also provide free sailing trips to those in the community facing serious health challenges through the nonprofit Soothe Our Souls.

Dolphin Quest Tours

140 Boardwalk Place West
Madeira Beach
727-392-7090

Adventure Cruises

5500 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach
727-423-4247

Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center

4737 Gulf Boulevard
St Pete Beach
727-360-7411

The Pirate’s Ship at Johns Pass

Great restaurants, unique shopping, and a fun-filled boardwalk—you don’t really need any other reason to visit Johns Pass Village and Boardwalk.

But here’s an added bonus: among all that classic beach fun, discover a swashbuckling pirate ship. Take one of three daily cruises aboard this little gem and entertain your kids (and perhaps yourself?) with pirate stories, water gun battles, treasure hunts, and more.

After a day at sea, get your crew sweet treats at Sugar Daddy’s or John’s Pass Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. (Just be sure you’ve left the ice cream smugglers on the ship—they’ll snatch your favorite scoop right off your cone!)

The Pirate’s Ship at Johns Pass

140 Boardwalk Place West
Madeira Beach
727-423-7824

Miniature Golf

Bring your favorite game down to size for your little ones and get them hooked early! 

Check out Smuggler’s Cove Adventure Golf, voted best mini-golf for 5 years in a row.

Smugglers Golf

15395 Gulf Blvd
Madeira Beach
727-398-7008

Arcade, Amusement Parks & Adventures

Bad weather doesn’t have to mean rain on your parade. With amusement centers and action-packed indoor attractions in every direction, you can wait out the wet weather by racking up prizes from the claw machine, teaming up to beat an escape room, or even experiencing the sensation of skydiving. Furthermore, these are activities everyone in the family can enjoy!

iFLY Tampa

Home to a 14-foot recirculating wind tunnel
10654 Palm River Road
Tampa
813-773-4359

Great Escape Room

300 E Madsion Street #301
Tampa
813-586-0914

Vertical Ventures

Indoor rock climbing gym with 40-foot walls
116 18th Street S
St Pete
727-304-6290

Treasure Island Fun Center

Largest arcade in Pinellas County in business since 1967
7770 Seminole Boulevard
Seminole
727-391-9105

Tampa Bay Escape Room

625 Cleveland Street
Clearwater
727-240-1797

Museums & Aquariums

Take your little ones to the museum for an afternoon so fun they won’t even realize it’s educational, too.  From kid-friendly creative play to star-studded planetariums to penguin meet-and-greets, there’s something to satisfy the curiosity of every kid.

Great Exploration Children’s Museum

1925 4th Street N
St Pete
727-821-8992

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

4801 E Fowler Avenue
​Tampa
​813-987-6000

Florida Aquarium

701 Channelside Drive
Tampa
813-273-4000

Tomilson Park in Gulfport

Green space and outdoor fitness done right

Can you say face-plant?

The recently renovated Tomlinson Park Complex in Gulfport Florida has a little something for everyone:

  • 1-acre man-made pond with fountain
  • Nature Boardwalk
  • Walking Trail
  • Playground equipment for children ages 18 months through 12 years old
  • Fitness and exercise area for adults
  • Batting cage
  • One softball and one baseball field

Spidey-wall contraption

I think half the challenge is figuring out what to do here

What do you even do on these?​

The park has both softball and baseball fields, providing one of two homes for Little League.

Insider Tip: Go early in the day or late in the day

Especially in summer. Most if not all of the equipment is in full sun. For a shaded playground try RW Caldwell Park.

There’s a pond with waterfowl and fish.  Plus trees along the perimeter can provide a great backdrop for walking your furry friend.

Time to work on that upper body strength kids

This looks like hard work

Tree spears for climbing

Where to Find It

Tomlinson Park Complex Gulfport Florida
19th Ave S and 54th St S
Open 7 am to 9 pm.
Gulfport has two little league fields – this one at Tomlinson and one at Hoyt Field.

I like the imagination that went into some of these contraptions

The pond is home to a few waterfowl and fishies!

One of two places Little League plays in Gulfport

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 “spur” 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 “Flat Packs” 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 “keys”.

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 – 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!