Kids in their twenties and thirties sitting outside drinking beer in skinny jeans and those glasses they wear…
Serious cyclists in their eighties zipping by in their tight black bike shorts… and get this, they look good. Enviably, breathtakingly good!
People enjoying the evening at outdoor cafes, coming out of shops with giant shopping bags, couples pushing babies in strollers, lots of laughter and cheers-clinking glasses, and best of all, the dog-friendliness of this town. Dog lovers are happy people, and Dunedin is a happy, welcoming town.
“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.” – Edith Wharton
One of the oldest towns on the west coast of Florida, Dunedin has that small town, back-in-the-day feel mixed with a vibrant, active community of gourmet dining, craft breweries including Florida’s oldest, festivals, beautiful parks, subtropical shady streets, and unique shops. The Pinellas Trail, a linear park created along an abandoned railroad corridor, winds through Dunedin as it makes its way from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.
Those pepppy granny and grampa cyclists – some still wearing their bike helmets (so cute!) as they took a break for some refreshment – deserved those beers they were hoisting! (They made me feel slothful and out of shape.) (Now that our weather isn’t so hot, wet, and punishing, I’m getting my beach cruiser out of storage!)
For us this was not the kind of walkable Triple-B we seek. Our hotel was a quick drive to the beach, and to the downtown bars and restaurants, and also would have been an easy bike ride (had that cruiser not been in storage.)
There is a lovely bed and breakfast right in the center of downtown next to all the restaurants and shops, Meranova Guest Inn, but as this trip was with two of my three children, we all needed our own beds. If you’re traveling as a couple Dunedin offers The Bungalow and The Bar all within walking distance. The beaches are natural state parks where there is no development and you may only visit for the day.
1 Causeway Blvd.
- PARK/WALK: Just two miles from the mainland so you could choose to walk or ride a bike. (We chose to drive.) Admission to the park is $2.00 for pedestrians and bicyclists, $8.00 per vehicle with 2-8 passengers, $4.00 for a single occupant vehicle.
- GO/RINSE: There are places to rinse off as well as two very large and accommodating buildings, Cafe Honeymoon and the South Beach Pavilion, which both offer a decent sized menu of sandwiches, snacks, drinks, beer and wine! Yay, wine!
- CROWD FACTOR: We found this beach to be rather crowded on an August weekend, but not in a “your towel is in my towel’s personal space, you ignorant SOB” kind of way.
- GUARDS: Yes.
- IMBIBE: Not on the beach, but drink up at the cafe, my friends.
- BEST FRIEND: Yes! Your dogs are welcome at the southern tip, on a leash.
- WE LOVE: The big cafe and pavilion which offer way more than most beach facilities, including beach accessories, gifts, souvenirs, and rentals of beach chairs, umbrellas, and kayaks.
*Caladesi Island, the other beach close to Dunedin, can only be reached by ferry ($14 per person)and sounds gorgeous (says Dr. Beach) but we didn’t feel like paying the fee or being bound by the ferry schedule (you stay for four hours.)
680 Main Street
There are SO MANY choices in Dunedin, and they all sound good, but we had a great time here:
- VIBE: Upbeat, upscale but still mellow. You can wear shorts and flip flops (like just about anywhere in Florida, even to church.)
- ARRIVE: A short and pretty walk from the main part of downtown. There is also a large parking lot.
- SIT: Inside is cool, but outside is more fun, in our opinion. There is a large covered porch that catches the breezes.
- SIP: Happy hour is every day, 3 – 6:30 p.m.
- NOSH: Max got the No Name Burger (he always gets a burger! I know I know, I always get Caesar Salad) and said it was perfect, Mae who is newly vegetarian (kudos to her; I can’t give up steak) had the White Pizza that I was coveting as I gazed over my BLT salad – I don’t always get the Caesar! – which was delicious, but sometimes a girl just wants pizza. Next time.
- LISTEN: Live music Wednesday through Sunday.
- WE LOVE: 28 craft beers on tap and the FOOD is amazing – they call it “fresh, chef-driven pub grub” but however you describe it, it’s inventive and beyond delicious.
2090 Bayshore Blvd.
- VIBE: Mom-and-pop, retro 1950’s, quiet and cozy.
- WALK: The causeway to the beach is close by but the beach is two miles beyond that, so we drove. You can walk right next door to a convenience store in case you forget something important, like your toothbrush which I ALWAYS ALWAYS forget.
- DECOR: Some updating has been done, and the rooms are cheerful and CLEAN.
- SLEEP: The owners are refurbishing to include all new beds and other furniture. My mattress was fine but my sheets felt a little rough. But then I am the pickiest sheet person I know.
- EXTRAS: Full kitchen, full size fridge, dishes, pots and pans, utensils; everything you need to cook and serve a meal. Bring your own coffee; filters are provided. Free Wi-Fi. Swimming pool. Pet friendly for small dogs.
- RATES: So affordable for us at right around $80 a night when we were there, and we had two double beds in addition to the futon in the living room; our suite comfortably slept the three of us.
- WE LOVE: How committed the owners are to their property, and that they trust their guests to use and return all the complimentary beach towels, beach chairs, coolers, umbrellas, kiddie toys, BBQ including equipment. They even offer sunscreen! Sweet.
Here are just a few of Dunedin’s many restaurants and shops:
I have to show you more of the dog murals, one of which you saw at the beginning of this post, created by Anna Hamilton of Murals for Mutts, which is a non-profit that raises money for animal welfare. In Dunedin, partnering with Skip French of Skip’s Bar and Grill, Anna painted the Welcome to Dogedin on the bar and grill wall for a fundraiser for the Dunedin Doggie Rescue. Read more on muralsformutts.com about how you can memorialize your pet or donate a whole wall for your business.
I probably took fifty million photos of the dog murals (there are some cats, too, and a rabbit) and we could be here all day if I tried to show you all of them. I just love that most all have their names on their tags, (ohhh Peachie) and even if they’re up there waiting for Mom and Dad at The Rainbow Bridge, their memory lives forever down here in Dunedin.
While I’ve been yammering away about this cute town that radiates cheer and speaks of a time both past and present, have you been wondering where in the hell it is?
(Btw it’s pronounced “Done-E-din”)
Dunedin is on Florida’s west coast, 4.5 miles north of Clearwater, and 25 miles west of Tampa.