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Kick Scooting In Treasure Island, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin, and Sarasota

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 3/15/2011 - www.Littleviews.com ]



The following five articles were initially a part of blog related to a road trip that took place between February 8 and March 5, 2011. They contain more pictures than the original blog, which is no longer posted.
Kick Scooting Savanna and Vacationing Near St. Petersburg

<|> <|> <|> Kick Scooting In Treasure Island, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin & Sarasota

Kick Scooting In John's Pass, Ybor City, Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock, Dunedin & Clearwater Beach

Kick Scooting In Hollywood, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale & Daytona Beach

Visiting Charleston, SC, Learning About the Festiva Hospitality Group, and Home Again
Thank you to NYCeWheels, specialists in portable vehicles including adult kick scooters for providing guidance, adult kick scooters, and a folding bike for testing. Visit them at 1603 York Avenue (between 84th and 85th Street), New York, NY 10028.

Getting to Know Treasure Island and St. Petersburg

FEBRUARY 13, 2011: It turns out that very flat terrain, miles upon miles of Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay-side sidewalks, and stunning St. Petersburg neighborhoods are perfect for kick scooting and sightseeing.

Without effort, my husband and I covered eight miles that included a rolling pace along Treasure Island's beach sidewalk, and later, a long roll in and around St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park and The Pier, which protrudes into Tampa Bay. What could have turned into a back-breaking day was an easy "trek." While a few power joggers kicked dust in our faces, we gently but swiftly passed hundreds of pedestrians.

Phil Little, St. Petersburg Pier - Feb. 2011

Water is everywhere and so are Pelicans. At The Pier, you can buy five fresh fish, then toss them to a hungry group of at least 20 birds. When the Pelicans aren't waiting for an occasional hand-tossed snack, they cluster on the pier's pilings and along the sidewalk.

St. Petersburg Pelican- Feb. 2011

We returned to our apartment at 4:30PM, hoping to see a spectacular sunset around 6:30PM. Unfortunately, today was bright blue, 70 degrees, and cloudless, which meant that the sun's rays could not reflect off clouds to make spectacular patterns. It did its best, however, to provide a beautiful end to a perfect day.

Treasure Island, FL, sunset - Feb. 2011

University of Tampa and the Tampa Bay Hotel

FEBRUARY 15, 2011: As you ride through Tampa's city center, you'll see a towering series of silver minarets, which are onion-shaped spires each topped with a half moon. No, they do not belong to an Islamic mosque. They were used instead to capitalize on exotic Moorish architecture as adored by travelers in the Victorian age.

These minarets decorate the ornate Tampa Bay Hotel. Built in the late 1800s, it was one of several fantasy hotels created by Henry B. Plant, a transportation czar, to lure travelers into using his services (and have a good time while doing so).

Tampa Bay Hotel / Henry B. Plant Museum- Feb. 2011

Fortunately for Tampa, good things don't last forever. Instead, formerly good things often get transformed into better things. In this case, after the hotel fell into disuse in the 1930s, it was eventually restored and became the home of the University of Tampa.

Today, visitors can learn about the old hotel in the Henry B. Plant Museum, as well as stroll or kick scoot through the university's breathtaking campus next to the Hillsborough River.

University of Tampa grounds - Feb. 2011

Treasure Island to Clearwater Beach and Back Again

FEBRUARY 16, 2011: Today we kick scooted over seven miles along Florida's barrier islands and gulf coast, touching down in Treasure Island, Dunedin, and Clearwater Beach.

Although this stretch of land is a resort area, with motels and hotels to prove it, there are almost no women's clothing boutiques or decent shops of interest to tourists outside the ubiquitous Surf Style, a nation-wide chain of bathing suit and T-shirt shops. Tourist shopping opportunities, in fact, are totally missing from long stretches of areas along the main route. Has shopping become an endangered activity?

We used our kick scooters to explore off-the-main-road areas in Treasure Island, Dunedin, and Clearwater Beach. We found, much to our delight, that Treasure Island's back streets, many of which run along bay inlets (see below), are peaceful, shaded, and provide benches overlooking those inlets. Traffic is light in these areas, which meant we could scoot in the streets as well as on the sidewalks.

Bay inlet in Treasure Island, FL - Feb. 2011

Dunedin, located at the northern-most point of today's adventure, is listed in tourist guides as having a burgeoning art community.

Karen at Dunedin's city limits next to Clearwater - Feb. 2011

Instead of checking out its art scene, however, we kick scooted at random through the city and discovered, much to our surprise, a long bike trail. We only drove a portion of it before heading off through the city's side streets and then on to Edgewater Drive, which borders the Gulf of Mexico. If you're interested in the area, you should check out all the biking, kick scooting, and hiking opportunities that the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail provides. Among the path's many virtues is that its surface is level. In Dunedin, it runs between stunning, palm-shaded neighborhoods, like seen below.

Neighborhood in Dunedin, FL - Feb. 2011

We then drove to Clearwater Beach to see its famous Pier 60. Yes, that's me below, standing on Pier 60 with my trusty KickPed.

Karen and kick scooter at Clearwater Beach - Feb. 2011

Pier 60 is relatively clear during the day, and depending on pedestrian traffic, provides a level place to kick scoot into the sea!

Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach prior to vendors and entertainers setting up - Feb. 2011

Besides having an expansive beach of fine, white sand, as dusk approaches, merchants set up tables backed by multi-colored umbrellas and performers mark off imaginary stages on Pier 60. Pictured below is an example of what the pier looks during the setup period. By early dusk, this area is packed with merchant tables, performers, and beach goers.

Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach with vendors setting up - Feb. 2011

Pier 60 also provides places to buy snacks and drinks, and equally important, it has restroom facilities. Directly across the street from it on the bay are docks filled with sightseeing cruises, fishing vessels, and boats for personal use. The entire area, including a smooth sidewalk along South Gulf View Boulevard, is great for kick scooting.

Pier 60 is also famous for providing world class views of Gulf of Mexico sunsets. For the best sunset views, however, a ticket price of 50-cents must be paid to access the pier's western end. As we had been on-the-road all day, we chose to skip the expenditure and returned to Treasure Island where we could see the exact same sunset. Pictured below is a scene from our lodging just as the sun was about to make its descent.

Evening beach at Treasure Island - Feb. 2011

Sarasota and the Ringling Complex

FEBRUARY 17, 2011: No kick scooting today, although maybe that was a mistake. We ended up spending almost six hours standing in or strolling through the wonderful Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota; an activity that weighed heavily on my back by the end of the day. If you've never experienced back pain associated with excessive standing, but want to know more, just ask a cashier and you're sure to get him or her talking.

The winter atmosphere of southwestern Florida is perfect! Crystal blue skies. Soft breezes. Seventy-plus degree temperatures. This late-February Floridian weather helps us understand why the Ringling family chose Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico coast for their circus' winter quarters and ultimately, their mansion's location. Named Ca' d'Zan (which either means "House of John" for John Ringling, or "House of Zany" for the house of clowns), the mansion balances all the bright blue that surrounds it.

Ca d'Zan Mansion in Sarasota - Feb. 2011

Many of the Sarasota acres that once housed the winter circus now form The Ringling Museum of Art campus. It consists of an art museum that holds Ringling's world famous collection, Ca' d'Zan, a circus artifacts museum, and the Tibbals Learning Center, which contains a large scale model of what the traveling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus looked like between 1919 and 1938.

Ringling Museums in Sarasota - Feb. 2011

Frankly, now that I'm acquainted with what it took to produce a circus, I think that its logistics were far more amazing than whatever was needed to build the great pyramids of Egypt. If you enjoy the entertainment industry and understand the hard work required to be continuously entertaining, you owe it to yourself to visit the huge Tibbals Learning Center, which replicates old-time circus activities through hand-crafted miniatures.

The mansion and circus museums are staffed with exceptionally knowledgeable volunteers, including master model builder and philanthropist Howard Tibbals, himself. Make a point of asking questions!

On a personal note, however, standing for almost six hour took a toll on my back. Standing, which seems to take no effort, appears to be more strenuous than miles of kick scooting.

Kick Scooting Around Treasure Island

FEBRUARY 19, 2011: I experimented today by using two different sightseeing strategies: planned and unplanned. I then made the not-so-startling discovery that for a meaningful experience, it's best to have a destination mapped out. While poking around can reveal unknown treasures, it can also eat up time that would otherwise be better spent around known treasures.

In the morning, for example, I carefully planned a sightseeing trip to the Isle of Capri, which is a subdivision of Treasure Island. Planning included consulting a map (which Isle residents thoughtfully also included on their welcome sign), and estimating the distance and time I'd travel.

Isle of Capri, Florida- Feb. 2011

The result of my planning was a leisurely one and a half hours of sightseeing that included talking to people along the way, taking pictures, and shopping.

In the afternoon, my husband and I returned to St. Petersburg's Tampa Bay area with the express purpose of traveling through lovely old neighborhoods, but we didn't plan our route. While we did, indeed, find these neighborhoods, we got off track and spent too much time wandering without particular purpose.

Great Blue Heron in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg- Feb. 2011

While the scenery in St. Petersburg cannot be beat, we were, indeed, beat by the time we returned to its landmark, The Pier, near where we parked. Worse, because of our aimless wandering, we were too tired to enjoy today's 75-degree weather to have a drink on the upper deck of The Pier's pavilion, warmed by a crystal blue sky. Our loss!

I wish every town would have a map available like those published by Resort Maps. Without maps that relate areas to one another, tourists either have to chart their own maps (like I had to do in Philadelphia when looking for outdoor murals by neighborhood), or just catch the high points in check-list manner. (Quiz: Does a tourist really know what's of interest in the neighborhoods surrounding New York's Empire State Building?)

Karen in the courtyard of the Vinoy Park Hotel, St. Petersburg - Feb. 2011

Not all was lost this afternoon, however. Among the highlights of our noodling about were visiting the restored Vinoy Park Hotel (that's me, above, sitting on the ledge of its courtyard pool), sighting a Great Blue Heron just steps from the sidewalk, and seeing grand, multi-million dollar homes with their equally grand landscaping off Coffee Pot Boulevard and 23rd Avenue.

We missed interesting shops and activities, however, by not wandering up Central Avenue and we arrived too late to enter the Salvador Dali Museum of St. Petersburg (mobs of people got there before us).

On our next long trip, I plan on bringing a portable printer along so I can print my own marked-up maps, rather than rely on my memory, or sheets of randomly-sized tourist literature.

Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little

The following five articles were initially a part of blog related to a road trip that took place between February 8 and March 5, 2011. They contain more pictures than the original blog, which is no longer posted.
Kick Scooting Savanna and Vacationing Near St. Petersburg

<|> <|> <|> Kick Scooting In Treasure Island, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin & Sarasota

Kick Scooting In John's Pass, Ybor City, Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock, Dunedin & Clearwater Beach

Kick Scooting In Hollywood, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale & Daytona Beach

Visiting Charleston, SC, Learning About the Festiva Hospitality Group, and Home Again
Thank you to NYCeWheels, specialists in portable vehicles including adult kick scooters for providing guidance, adult kick scooters, and a folding bike for testing. Visit them at 1603 York Avenue (between 84th and 85th Street), New York, NY 10028.

Article by Karen Little. Photographs primarily by Karen Little with help from Philip Little. First published on www.Littleviews.com on 3/15/2011. All rights reserved.





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