My family and I discovered Dunedin 10 years ago when we went there to check out an arts festival. But we’ve found ourselves returning to this quirky town again and again over the years, and it has become one of our must-stop spots for out of town visitors. With its vibrant arts scene, eclectic collection of shops, beautiful bike trail and parks, five-star restaurants and gorgeous views of the bay, you can easily spend an entire weekend exploring Dunedin.
Head over on a Friday and see if you can snag a spot at the Old Bay Café and enjoy a fresh-caught fish taco while watching the sunset. You can spend some time exploring the marina and watching manatees or head back to Main Street. Every Friday in October, the city of Dunedin is hosting Movies in the Park on the street’s John R. Lawrence Pioneer Park.
Alternatively, spend the evening bar-hopping. There are at least four breweries within walking distance of Main Street, including Soggy Bottom Brewing Co., Caledonia Brewing and Dunedin Brewery. The Living Room is an excellent stop for a glass of wine and appetizer, or try Casa Tina for a handcrafted Latinarita and some creative Mexican cuisine.
Saturday after breakfast, head over to Dunedin Cyclery and rent a bicycle. The Pinellas Trail runs right through Dunedin, and you don’t have to ride for a long time to come across some interesting finds. Weaver Park is a delight for children with its whimsical nature-inspired equipment. The 90-acre Hammock Park is home to a butterfly garden and next to the historic Andrews Memorial Chapel, one of the oldest remaining church buildings in the area. You can even bike to Honeymoon Island State Park if you want some beach time.
Spend Saturday afternoon visiting all the shops and galleries along Main Street. The Mermaid’s Secret Garden is always filled with interesting finds, and you can find some fabulous original artwork at Stirling Art Studios & Gallery, which is home to 15 local artists-in-residence. That evening, have dinner at Hog Island Fish Camp — the salt-and-pepper fried shrimp is delicious — and then dance the night away at Kelly’s Chic a Boom Room.
On Sunday morning, grab breakfast at Sweet Pea’s Café and then enjoy a dolphin-watching tour with ParrotDise Express Boat Tours. Before you head out of town, be sure to stop by Jensen Brothers Seafood — this family owned seafood distributer sells freshly caught seafood at wholesale prices to the public, so you can create your own delicious seafood dish to remind you of your weekend in Dunedin.
My 5 Favorite Things
1. Festivals — There always seems to be something fun happening in Dunedin, from concerts in the park to farmers markets. Some of the bigger festivals this fall include Art Harvest (Nov. 4-5), Wines the Blues (Nov. 11) and the Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival (Nov. 18).
2. Quirky Art — Home to at least seven galleries and museums, Dunedin has art everywhere, even outside. Where else will you see a crosswalk painted like a fish skeleton, a mural of local dogs and cats or a bike rack shaped like a dachshund?
3. Honeymoon Island — This state park is undeveloped, but it does have a building with restrooms, showers, a gift shop and a snack bar. The park has several nature trails and bird observation areas as well as a dog beach.
4. Restaurants — Dunedin is home to lots of great restaurants, many serving freshly caught fish. Most are locally owned and run by creative and inspired chefs. You won’t find these dishes on just any menu around town.
5. Shopping — Dunedin’s shops are chock full of gifts, accessories and unique items. There is even a Celtic Shop that carries Celtic food, gifts and tartans. If you want a hat with a manatee playing the bagpipes, you can find it here.