Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Lets start out with the fact that there is a lot of traffic in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area, so allow plenty of time to get to any attraction you plan on attending.

The Beach :
We stayed on Treasure Island so we would be close to the beach, and there is a lot of beach here.
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Sunken Gardens : Because it was March and we'd had a particularly cold and snowy winter, seeing a lot of blooming, tropical plants was a must. The Sunken Gardens is an oasis in the middle of the city with a large variety of palm trees plus some fish and birds, including flamingos.

The Sunken Gardens is in the downtown St. Petersburg area. If you are in this area you might also be interested in the Salvador Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Spring Training Baseball :
The real reason we were in Florida in March was to see some Spring Training Baseball! If you are thinking on planning a trip to see Spring Training Baseball, you should check out the blog Spring Training Connection for information about buying tickets, parking, seating, and more.

New York Yankees, Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
Steinbrenner Field is the largest of the Spring Training stadiums in Florida and seats more than 10,000. We went to a night game where the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles.

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Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin
This stadium is the smallest of the Spring Training stadiums, so you're really close to the action. Chad the Beer Guy leads the seventh inning stretch singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Since baseball fans will travel to see their favorite teams play, there were a lot of Canadians in the stands and they sing both 'O Canada' and the 'Star-Spangled Banner.' In the game we saw the Blue Jays lost to the Pittsburg Pirates.

On a side note, the Rainbow's End Quilt Shoppe is near this stadium and it's a fairly large store with a big selection of fabrics.

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Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Field, Clearwater
We got to see the Phillies play when we were down in 2005 and Bright House Field is one of our favorite stadiums (perhaps because it reminds us of the Dayton Dragon's 5/3rd Field), although both times we've been here, it's rained. This year there was an hour-an-a-half rain delay, so when it finally did stop raining, we got to see the players warming up from behind the bullpen. The visiting team was the Yankees (so we saw them twice) but this time they won.

When we were here in 2005 we also saw the Pittsburg Pirates play at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, which was a charming stadium but our seats were right in the sun. I seem to remember that no one else around us had brought sunscreen so we shared ours with about 50 other people. We also got to see the Cincinnati Reds play at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota and that was a nice stadium. The Reds moved to Arizona so the Baltimore Orioles play there now.


St. Petersburg (area) Accommodations :
Since we had a kitchenette in our room, one morning we ate our breakfast at the table in the photo. 

Treasure Island :
We wanted to be close to the beach so we stayed on Treasure Island at the Sunrise Motel. We chose this place because of the price and because we wanted a kitchenette so we wouldn't have to eat all of our meals out. This place was clean and quiet and we could walk to the beach.

When we were here in 2005 we stayed at the Mardi Gras on Treasure Island, which also had a kitchenette. We had hoped to stay there again this time but they were all booked up when we called.

St. Petersburg (area) Dining :

Indian Rocks Beach :
As we drove along Gulf Blvd., which connects the islands west of St. Petersburg, we spotted a place called Café de Paris Bakery, so we stopped and enjoyed a scrumptious buckwheat crepe with cheese and egg, a yummy fruit tart, and a delicious chocolate croissant.

Madeira Beach :
When we were here in 2005 we ate at The Hut in John's Pass on Madeira Beach (near Treasure Island) and had a wonderful time. We stopped at John's Pass this time to do some shopping and there were several restaurants there that looked inviting with their open-air seating on the second level but we'd weren't hungry at the time.


Me relaxing on the swing at our B&B
There’s not actually a lot to do in Cedar Key, but that’s part of the point. The thing to do in Cedar Key is to relax, breathe, and enjoy the moment. One of the things we really liked about this place was that there weren’t any chain restaurants or stores, nor were there any stop lights.

One of the many public art pieces in the downtown area
Since it’s an island there are boating and fishing opportunities, although we didn’t do either of those so I don’t have specific recommendations. Since the island is pretty small, we borrowed some bicycles at the B&B we stayed at and road around the island, which was surprisingly hilly.

If you’re interested in history, you can visit the Cedar Key Museum State Park which is a few miles from downtown (we biked to it) or the Cedar Key Historical Museum, which is right downtown but only open a few hours in the afternoon.

If you’re interested in birds the Cedar Key Museum State Park is a good place to visit, as is Cemetery Point Park. To get to this area, park at the Cedar Key Cemetery at Gulf Blvd. and Paroda Ave. and walk along the 1,200 foot boardwalk that borders the marsh.

View of the Cedar Key downtown area from the second floor porch on the library, which is open to the public during library hours.

If you’re interested in shopping there are some cute art shops in both the dock area and the downtown area, including an artist co-op and a quilt shop.
There is a small beach area. There is other water access, but a lot of it is more rocky than sandy.


Cedar Key Accommodations :

Nana's Room at the Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast

There are a lot of accomodation options in Cedar Key. We picked the Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast not only because of the price and reviews, but also because it was 2 blocks from the downtown area and offered free use of their bicycles.

View of the 500 year old live oak tree from the back porch
The rooms were cozy and filled with antiques, the porches were large with plenty of areas to sit, and the gardens were lovely (especially considering how much snow we'd had back home this winter).

The breakfast was delicious. There isn't any choice of breakfast, you eat what's cooked that day but I'm a picky eater and I enjoyed it all. (They do accommodate for food allergies and dietary preferences.)

Cedar Key Dining :

One of the things I really liked about dining in Cedar Key is that most of the restaurants are located either in the downtown area or the dock area (the two areas are within walking distance from each other). So when we got hungry, we'd just go to these areas (which were within walking distance from our B&B) and wander around looking at menus until we decided what we wanted to eat. We didn't have to decide ahead of time where to eat and drive there.

(Left to right) Seabreeze Restaurant and Steamers Clam Bar and Grill on the dock in Cedar Key

While we were in Cedar Key we ate at two of the many restaurants in the dock area, most of which specialize in seafood entrees. We enjoyed both the Seabreeze Restaurant and Steamers. Both are located on the upper level with views of the water. Steamers even has a few tables on their porch area but they were all taken when we got there. Steamers is the more casual of the two, and had live music when we were there.

Tony's Seafood Restaurant in Cedar Key

We also ate at two of the downtown restaurants. We had sandwiches at the Away From the World Café and we also tried some of the "Three Times World Champion Clam Chowder" at Tony's. It's a creamy, New England style clam chowder with a lot of flavor. You wouldn't know it from their website but they do serve other food and we also enjoyed the catch-of-the-day fish sandwich. We heeded the website's advice and went there during the week for lunch when it's usually less crowded but there was still a short wait.