Pinellas County, Florida
has withstood the test of time. Although it has changed
in some ways since it inception in the 1800’s,
the county still continues to attract people for
vacation, and eventually convinces them to stay for
good. Its history tells the tale of many who experienced
The area where Pinellas
County now exists was first inhabited by the Tocobagan
Tribe, and subsequently
dominated by the Spanish, led by Panfilo de Narvaez
and Hernando DeSoto in the 16th century. The Spanish
arrived in search of gold, and found hardship in
the process. Finally, in the early 1800’s Spain surrendered
the state of Florida to the United States, the Tocobagan
Indians died, and the Seminole Indians began to thrive
around today’s Tampa Bay. Thereafter, fisherman
from mainland U.S. and Cuba inhabited the area. Along
the way, France also had influence over the territory.
The first white settler, Count Odet Philippe settled
in the area known today as Safety Harbor in Hillsborough
County, and brought more settlers there, alongside
his introduction of citrus.
Pinellas County is
made of several charismatic cities, including St.
Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin, and
Tarpon Springs. Each town’s background and heritage
is as unique as its personality.
By the late 1800’s the Florida coast began to
blossom, shaped by three significant happenings. To
begin, Pinellas Peninsula was named “The Healthiest
Spot on Earth” by the American Medical Convention
in 1885. Subsequently, John Constantine Williams set
out to create a city in the Southern part of the peninsula.
After Russian immigrant Pyotr Demintyev agreed to terminate
his Orange Belt Railroad from Central Florida to Williams’ land,
the two concluded that the new town would be named
St. Petersburg, after Demintyev’s Russian hometown.
Created on the bluffs
overlooking the Gulf harbor, the town of Clearwater
was originally Clear Water
Harbour, named after the clear springs that then
the bay from the bluffs, where downtown Clearwater
is now. In 1906, “Harbor” was dropped and
Clearwater became one word. The City of Clearwater
was incorporated on May 27, 1915. That same year the
city built the first wooden bridge to Clearwater Beach.
The town of Clearwater was named the County Seat of
Pinellas in 1911. Subsequently, the agreeable climate
attracted hordes of people that came to visit. They
were won over by everything the vicinity had to offer,
and made Clearwater home.
Dunedin is the oldest
city on the west coast of Florida, located south
of Cedar Key. The city was settled around
1852, when the first deed was recorded. Richard L.
Garrison is the first recorded settler. Dunedin’s
success is directly related to its position on the
coast. The settlers wasted no time in setting up a
seaport, and receiving shipments from sailors. The
city became the trading center for the entire region.
John L. Branch, and Scots J.O Douglas and James Somerville
jump-started the port’s retail business, with
stores along the waterfront. Dunedin was incorporated
in 1899. In 1920, the population of Dunedin was 642.
By 1994 the estimated population reached 34,857. Today,
the city is a popular travel destination. The peak
season is November to March. These months bring an
additional 1,500 winter residents and tourists.
As time passed, immigrants
consistently arrived and other townships were settled
and named, such as Tarpon
Springs, which was, interestingly enough, created
by Greek sponge fisherman.
Pinellas County is situated in an ideal location
for a vacation, on the central west coast of
such major destinations as Orlando, to the east,
and the Everglades, to the south. One must
though, the amount of activities there are right
within the county. Orlando has Disney World,
County has some of the most unique theme parks, including
Adventure Island, a water-theme family park. In addition,
Busch Gardens, an African theme park is located close
by. Its here you can be thrilled by killer coasters
and come face to face with big game at one of America's
largest zoological parks.
Pinellas County rests
on the banks of The Gulf of Mexico, which yields
another universe of adventure activities
for all ages. Windsurfing is growing in popularity.
The sport takes a certain level of bravery to try
for your first time, but learning the skills can
in the hands of the experts. Britt Viehman puts his
12 years of windsurfing and teaching experience to
good use through his company, North Beach Windsurfing
School out of Tampa Bay. Britt, along with his instructors,
provides windsurfing lessons, instruction and rentals
for all levels of surfers. For beginners, the school
and its U.S. Sailing certified instructors offer
multi-day windsurfing lessons and clinics. Beginners
a 4-hour lesson on a three-foot wide board and lightweight
sail. The lessons teach sailing straight across,
up and downwind, as well as turning so that surfers
be able to get back to shore when necessary. The
lessons start on land and progress to the water.
and private lessons are available.
If you desire a more
relaxed activity, be sure to experience Dream Catcher
Excursion Tours, based in Clearwater
Beach. Join Captain Mike for a 4 to 6 hour adventure.
You may find yourself surrounded by wildlife, like
Captain Mike and crew did one day. Mike explains, “We
found ourselves in the middle of a pod of about 40
Dolphins. They were everywhere, and swimming at about
arms length from the side of the boat was a mother & calf.” Dream
Catcher’s tours are fun, yet mindful. The Captain
is to be commended for incorporating environmental
awareness into his trips. When he takes adventure seekers
to the protected islands located north of Clearwater
Beach he instills such rules as, no live shelling,
and no dumping of trash on the islands or in the water.
Also, while his guests are snorkeling, Captain Mike
picks up trash on the beach.
The Captain journeys
out to several reefs for diving. The Rube Allyn Artificial
Reef, at a depth of 45 feet,
was created by pilings from the Sand Key Bridge in
1976. In addition, 47 feet deep Veterans Reef, as
well as Indian Shores Artificial Reef, are also among
Catcher’s scuba diving options. Anclote Key Preserve
State Park, an island off the coast of Clearwater Beach,
is another of Captain Mike’s destinations. This
preserve is a fantastic place to take part in all of
Dream Catcher is currently
offering a 4-hour excursion tour that includes snorkeling,
dolphin watching, tubing
rides, shelling, fresh fruit & refreshments for
$30.00 per person. Since there is a 4-person minimum
and only 7 person maximum tours can fill up fast.
Captain Paul of Reel
Florida Adventures offers the best in fishing excursions
for beginner to advanced
fishermen. 4, 6, and 8-hour trips can be arranged,
at $50 less than the competition. Most trips leave
early in the morning. Afternoon trips can also be
arranged. Captain Paul uses his 20' Backcountry 201
flats boat with 200hp Mercury outboard. “Only
the finest rods and reels by Sage, Abel, G-Loomis,
Redbone, and Shimano are used,” he states on
his web site. In addition, you are sure to see a variety
of wildlife while out with Captain Paul, such as porpoise,
manatees, sharks, and pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills,
Blue Heron, Ibis and Ospreys. Paul recalls one of his
remarkable trips by saying, “The most memorable
fishing experience has to be the six hour long fight
on a 9ft. Lemon Shark last August. I had three guys
from Scotland on board and each one took turns fighting
the large shark. We were using light tackle more appropriate
for Tarpon than a 350lb. shark. Towards the end of
the battle I was grabbing the tail of the shark and
trying to put a rope around it. The fishing line broke
on my third attempt to lasso the tail. We were planning
on pulling the large shark on board for a quick picture
and then releasing her. It was the largest fish and
the longest battle on my boat.”
Captain Paul is a member
of the Florida Guides Association. According to the
organization’s web site, the
association strives for ‘Better Fishing through
Conservation.’ The group also states, “We
believe it is essential to lobby to protect the rights
of all recreational anglers for access and responsible
use of the natural resources available in Florida's
State waters.” Captain Paul works via the association
to protect the Tampa Bay area. Some of the efforts
include, coastal trash clean up, setting up manatee
slow speed zones, and state fishing regulations. Paul
states, “I have personally rescued a freshwater
turtle from the sea and returned it to an inland lake
and helped several Brown Pelicans in distress from
hooks and fishing line.”
Captain Paul provides your fishing license, a cooler
with ice, rods, reels, tackle, and live bait, on
each fishing trip. He arranges fishing at several
locations to ensure the finest experience. Meeting
locations include Anclote River Park, Palm Harbor
Resort, Seminole Street Ramp, Maximo Park, Kingfish
and Safety Harbor Ramp.
It is easy to find both intimate and grand places
to stay in Pinellas County. How does a bungalow
beach sound? If it sounds good to you, book one at
The Island's End. The Island’s End offers a private
beach, within a cozy neighborhood setting.
If you are joining
Captain Mike of Dream Catcher Excursions, you should
consider a stay at The Quality Inn, situated
on the south end of Clearwater Beach. The hotel is
located adjacent to Shepard’s Beach Resort, with
daily and nightly entertainment. Mike will pick up
guests in his boat on the beach behind the hotel.
When in the St, Petersburg
area, consider a night at Don Cesar Beach Resort & Spa, a historic luxury
resort, or Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club,
another of Florida’s finest historic hotels,
with its own private marina, a 18-hole golf course
and 12-court tennis complex.
Dining in Pinellas County is a treat. Of course,
there is the freshest of seafood. The Wharf is a
casual seafood restaurant, located on a wharf, hovering
over the water, on St. Petersburg Beach.
Frenchie’s Original Café, where the fish
travel from boat to skillet, is also recommended. You
can get there by car or boat, since they have a boat
dock. Captain Mike of Dream Catcher Excursion Tours
says, “I recommend the She crab soup for starters.
And for the main course I like the tuna steak.”
Captain Paul of Reef
Florida Adventures recommends Bon Appetit in Dunedin,
and Billy’s Stone Crab
Seafood House in St. Petersburg. Both offer fresh seafood
and a view of the water.
St. Petersburg Beach
The Quality Inn
Don Cesar Beach Resort & Spa
St. Petersburg Beach
Vinoy Renaissance Resort
and Golf Club
St. Petersburg Beach
(727) 367 9469
Billy's Stone Crab Seafood
The Florida Aquarium
701 Channelside Dr., Tampa
This is the state's only aquarium offering a dramatic,
unique and educational look at the astonishing world
of Florida's diverse water habitats.”*
1925 4th St. N.
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704
Hands-on children's museum and learning center.”*
800 2nd Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg
A popular 5-story festival market full of shops, dining
and entertainment with a water view.
The Pier is located at the end of 2nd Avenue N.E.
The Pier is minutes from Tampa and Florida's famous
beaches. Valet parking available. Tour buses welcome.”*
1001 McKinley Dr., Tampa
Busch Gardens, Tampa
3000 East Busch Blvd., Tampa
LOCATION: St. Petersburg Beach, Pinellas Central Florida
ACTIVITIES: Kite Surfing, Sailing, Windsurfing,
DESCRIPTION: All North Beach Windsurfing instructors
are certified by the US Sailing Association of America.
Britt Viehman, Mike and Maria are 3 young working professionals
who love to windsurf.
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