Kick Scooting In Treasure Island, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin, and Sarasota
[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 3/15/2011 - www.Littleviews.com ]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dunedin, located at the northern-most point of today's adventure, is listed in tourist guides as having a burgeoning art community.
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.
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.
Pier 60 is relatively clear during the day, and depending on pedestrian traffic, provides a level place to kick scoot into the sea!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Questions? Just ask!
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.