Indian Rocks Beach

indianrocksbeach1Indian Rocks Beach is located on a barrier island, with wide sandy beaches along its western edge fronting the Gulf of Mexico, and a series of canals and boat docks along its Intracoastal eastern edge. Less than 3 miles long, some parts of Indian Rocks Beach narrow to the point where one can stand in the center and see the water on both sides.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 4,113 people make up Indian Rocks Beach – families, active retirees, professional couples and empty nesters along with seasonal residents – make their home here. Residents of Indian Rocks Beach live in quaint beach cottages, high-rise condominiums and single family homes on the water as well as inland. Great restaurants, charming hotels and local businesses are all part of the mix that makes the town attractive to locals as well as seasonal guests.

Some of the area’s most famed restaurants are right here in Indian Rocks, with seafood being the star of most menus. Residents and visitors look forward to festivals and events held throughout the year, including the annual Beauty and the Beach festival each April, a celebration of art, music and food. Public docks on the Intracoastal Waterway are available for boaters of all types to utilize and are only a few blocks from the restaurants and shops.

indianrocksbeach2In addition to the beautiful and pristine beaches, The City of Indian Rocks Beach offers a wealth of other recreational opportunities among its six city parks, with tennis courts, basketball courts, a ball field, boat ramp and more. A nature preserve and the 1st Street Boardwalk offer a more relaxed way to enjoy the area’s beauty.

“Almost everything is within walking distance, so to speak. I’m in a power wheel chair and I’m able to make my rounds in my chair. On the way I find that I know just about everybody on the beach. When the sun goes down the beach party moves inside where you can listen to great local musicians. I enjoy myself.” Dick Schaal, ten-year resident.

 

 

 

Factoids:

Population: 4,113 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 0.93 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: Famed restaurants, Festivals and events, The Annual Beauty and the Beach festival each April; a celebration of art, music and food, Beautiful Beaches, Six city parks, with tennis courts, basketball courts, a ball field, boat ramp, Nature preserve, 1st Street Boardwalk.

Safety Harbor

safetyharbor1Tucked away like a hidden gem among the ancient oaks at the top of old Tampa Bay, the town of Safety Harbor is a small town hideaway with sparkling water views. Home of the historic Espiritu Santo Springs and a world-renowned spa, Safety Harbor has always drawn visitors with its restorative powers. Its natural beauty and ideal locale continue to attract young families, artists, retirees, working professionals and others who make Safety Harbor home.

This is a vibrant village, with weekly markets and festivals, boating marinas and fishing piers, and a quaint downtown, bustling with an eclectic array of shops, eateries and art galleries.  Residents of Safety Harbor enjoy seven city parks, the backdrop for live music events and lively outdoor pursuits – biking, roller-blading, jogging and strolling – as well as canoeing and kayaking in Tampa Bay. Big-city attractions are just minutes away, but once you’re home in Safety Harbor, the rest of the world seems distant, indeed.

Location, Location, Location
Safety Harbor residents cannot say enough about the contrast between the insulated feel of their Safety Harbor village and its location. It is minutes away from major north-south, east-west traffic corridors in Pinellas County, making it about the most centrally located community in the whole of the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. From a home in Safety Harbor, you can get to Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater quicker than from almost any other community. Yet when you are home, you feel like you are in a small town miles from anywhere.

“It’s like a little village off the beaten path,” according to long-time resident, Gary Bass. “When you make that turn to the east off McMullen Booth Road, you leave six lanes of traffic, the hustle and the stress and you feel like you’re on vacation.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 16,884 residents live in Safety Harbor, making it a rather small community by today’s standards. They consistently report that what they like about living in Safety Harbor is the small town feel, the traditional Main Street, and the quaint atmosphere. Location is also a big factor as residents can drive to just about anywhere around the area in just a few minutes.

Safety Harbor maintains an active Parks and Recreation Department, sponsoring a number of camps that children can enjoy for a small fee. These include everything from educationally oriented activities to sailing instruction. The camps are popular and a source of civic pride.

For Youngsters
The many young families send their children to Safety Harbor Elementary School and Safety Harbor Middle School. Most high-school students attend Countryside High a few miles to the north.

Abundance of Recreation
Safety Harborites have a relatively short drive to all that Tampa Bay has to offer. But they love their peaceful little enclave and produce many special community events. Each year there is a Seafood Festival, a Canoe and Kayak Festival and a Wine Festival, among others. Every third Friday of the month the city blocks of a big chunk of Main Street for music, dancing and food.

Medical Services
Mease Countryside Hospital is located in Safety Harbor and has a fully staffed emergency room. It also features maternity and pediatric care. Mease Countryside is a top quality operator and has been named as one of the country’s top 100 hospitals seven times. That’s quite remarkable considering that it only began in 1986.

 

Factoids:
Population: 16,884 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 4.92 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: Weekly Markets and Festivals, boating, Fishing, Quaint Downtown, Art Galleries, Seven City Parks, Live Music Events, Biking, Roller-blading, Jogging, Canoeing and Kayaking, Seafood Festival, A Wine Festival.

Redington Shores

redingtonshores1The island community of Redington Shores offers sunrise views over Boca Ciega Bay to the east and breathtaking sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico to the west.

Residents live in modern beach homes, luxury condos, or in lovely apartments or cozy cottages on quaint inland streets in an area covering only 200 acres.

redingtonshores2Surrounded with wide sandy beaches, 2,121 residents enjoy a lifestyle understandably focused around the water. In fact, a glimpse of water is literally never far away from just about anyone in Redington Shores, beckoning sunbathers, swimmers and shell-gatherers. The turquoise water is certain to attract boaters and fishermen. The popular Redington Shores Beach Access boasts a successful dune establishment program, where boardwalks protect the seashore grasses and plants that thrive in this delicate ecosystem.

Children gather at the playground in one of three neighborhood parks, all available with an easy stroll from most homes. Anglers fish the coastal waters from one of the city docks.  Neighbors greet each other as they stroll along the beach at sunset. The Lobster Pot, a local landmark, attracts folks from near and far for fantastic seafood meals.

 

Factoids:
Population: 2,121 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 0.39 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: Beaches, Sunbathers, Swimmers, Boating Fishing, The Lobster Pot, Parks, City Docks, Three city parks Tennis courts, Boardwalks.

 

Treasure Island

treasureisland1When Treasure Island residents cross over one of the three bridges to their barrier island homes, the tropical light, colorful foliage and the sound of seabirds in the air let them know they’ve arrived someplace very special.

The three and a half-mile beach that fronts the Gulf of Mexico makes up the western boundary of Treasure Island. Narrow at both ends and wide in the middle, locals claim that it’s the widest beach on the Gulf Coast. At the north end is John’s Pass, with Madeira Beach on the other side, and at the south end is Blind Pass, both have access to the Gulf of Mexico from inland waters. In fact, Treasure Island is an island.

Hotels, motels and condominiums occupy most of the beach front property while most of the town’s residents live along canals on the landside of the island. The proximity to the Gulf and the canal houses with boat slips make it a great place for boaters.

In addition to its marina and three very busy public boat ramps, the town also provides wonderful land-based recreational facilities.  The Treasure Island park system was designed with the goal that every resident would be within walking distance of a park.  The Treasure Island Golf & Tennis Center includes a 9-hole golf course, 10 tennis courts, plus facilities for volleyball, basketball, horseshoes and shuffleboard.

Life’s a Beach
treasureisland2 According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 6,705 residents enjoy an easygoing, flip-flop lifestyle. They have the advantages of living in a small, but well-serviced community where they essentially are on vacation every day of the week. Treasure Island features a lively restaurant and bar scene along the beach, catering to locals as well as the high number of annual visitors from near and far.

Fun in the Sand
 
An annual highlight of living in Treasure Island is the Master Sand Sculpting Competition and Music Festival called Sanding Ovations. It is a four day competition of sand sculpting masters from places in North America and Europe, who create astonishing works of art using nothing but sand, water and lots of their own imagination.

“Treasure Island was a really nice place to grow up. As kids we fished, went waterskiing and played on the beach and kids can still do that here. And you’ll not find better neighbors.  We stick together and really care about our community.” Butch Ellsworth, lifelong resident.

Factoids:

Population: 6,705 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 1.59 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: The Sun, Sand and Swing festival, Beaches, Skim Boarding, Swimming, Fishing, Marina and three very busy public boat ramps, The Treasure Island Park System, The Treasure Island Golf & Tennis Center includes a 9-hole golf course, 10 tennis courts, plus facilities for volleyball, basketball, horseshoes and shuffleboard.

Gulfport

gulfport1Retaining much of its yesteryear charm, yet also exuding an eclectic artistic and bohemian vibe, the quaint City of Gulfport is one of the most interesting communities in Pinellas County. Known for its tranquil Old South atmosphere, the city also boasts chic boutiques, shops and art galleries thanks in part to the active community of artists drawn here by the tropical light and natural beauty of the place.

Gulfport is also home to the beautiful campus of  Stetson University College of Law, Florida’s first law school.

Old Florida
 As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Gulfport had 12,029 residents. These residents are fortunate to enjoy the splendid setting overlooking beautiful Boca Ciega Bay. Housing choices are diverse, ranging from a restored 1920s Mediterranean villa to a newly-built waterfront condo, a comfortable 1960s ranch house to an elegant country club home. Residents take pride in rehabbing old housing stock in creative ways. The spirit of the community is to maintain the throwback-to-old-Florida charm.

gulfport2Small but Active
Gulfport residents are proud of their city pier, an ideal location for catching a fish or just watching the sunset. Other civic institutions include a state-of-the-art performance hall, the Catherine Hickman Theater, and the Gulfport Casino, a waterfront landmark which is home to dances, musical performances, and other activities. Hop on the free trolley the first Friday of the month to experience Art Walk, an evening of street performances, craftsman exhibits, and a variety of galleries, shops, restaurants and clubs open late for your enjoyment. Art walks take place on the first Friday and third Saturday of every month.

The city parks are numerous and varied – from a nature preserve with boardwalk trails to a neighborhood park with softball fields.

“There is a remarkable sense of place in Gulfport. It’s the hometown you grew up in or wish you’d grown up in.” Greg Stemm, eight-year resident.


Factoids:

Population: 12,029 as of the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 2.83 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: City pier, Beach, Fishing, Performance hall, The Catherine Hickman Theater, and Gulfport Casino, Free Trolley, Art Walk takes place on the first Friday and third Saturday of every month, City parks are numerous and varied – from a nature preserve with boardwalk trails to a neighborhood park with softball fields.

Redington Beach

redingtonbeach1This small residential community maintains a laidback atmosphere with plenty of private beaches and quaint neighborhoods. 1,427 residents enjoy four town parks, a community recreation area and a causeway that’s a favorite of fishermen.  The city prides itself on its “triangle” parks, small areas of colorful flowers and native foliage that adorn many city intersections.

Measuring just one square mile in size, the city is surrounded by water – the Intracoastal Waterway on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the west.  It is a haven for boaters and beachcombers.

redingtonbeach21With very limited commercial development, residents enjoy a tranquil atmosphere. Housing is primarily single-family dwellings and low-rise condominiums.

 

 

 

 

Factoids:

Population: 1,427 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 0.36 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: Four Town Parks, Community Recreation Area, Fishing, Native Foliage that adorn many city intersections, The Intracoastal Waterway, The Gulf of Mexico, Boating and Beachcombing.

 

Pinellas Park

Pinellas County residents seeking a central location find it in Pinellas Park. Situated midway between Clearwater and St. Petersburg, this city of approximately 49,079 people is a community-oriented place to live.

This family-friendly community offers a variety of housing options among several neighborhoods and real estate developments, including single-family residences, golf course homes, town homes, condos and waterfront homes.

Performances
One focal point of community activity is the city-owned England Brothers Park, where annual events including the popular Country in the Park festival are held. Every third Tuesday of each month, folks gather there for a free lunchtime performance on the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater pipe organ.

Concerts, plays and other live performances are enjoyed at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center throughout the year. The Center was completed in late 2007, seats 500, and is a multi-use facility. Currently, it is home to the Civic Orchestra, a local community chorus and the Sunstate Opera Society. The facility is also available for weddings and banquets.

horseWatch for Horses
An active parks and recreation department provides opportunities for casual or league play, and indoor and outdoor activities. It is also a very well known equestrian community in Pinellas County. Several of the parks have horse trails and the main equestrian attraction is Helen Howarth Park. Horses are commonplace enough that traffic officials saw fit to place horse crossing lights on some streets and cross walk buttons high enough so that riders can reach them.

On the weekend, residents might be found hunting for a bargain at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market, a 100-acre market that attracts guests from near and far.

Factoids:
Population: 49,079 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 14.7 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: England Brothers Park, Country in the Park festival, City Auditorium, Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, The Civic Orchestra, The Sunstate Opera Society, League Play, Indoor and Outdoor Activities. Horse Trails, Helen Howarth Park. Equestrian Events, Flea Markets.

Palm Harbor

palmharbor1According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 57,439 residents make the Palm Harbor community their home.  Currently an incorporated area and largely governed by Pinellas County, Palm Harbor features a wide variety of available housing choices.  From golf course communities with a country club atmosphere to lovely historic areas, from contemporary single family neighborhoods to condominium communities with boat slips and waterfront access, Palm Harbor has something to offer just about every homebuyer.

History and Charm
The entry to Palm Harbor’s historic downtown makes quite an impression with its Gateway Art Sculptures. Recently refurbished, Old Palm Harbor Main Street has preserved eight historic structures, and is the heart of this small town with a strong sense of community. The charming brick paving and tree-canopied sidewalks make the area especially conducive to an afternoon stroll through the shops.

palmharbor2A short distance from the quaint downtown, with its mixture of retail service, and professional offices, is the main traffic artery U.S. 19, offering national chain restaurants and retailers a short distance from home. Those interested in golf will be glad to know that Innisbrook Golf Resort, a nationally regarded golf course, is located conveniently in Palm Harbor.

Activities abound for residents. The Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Department sponsors everything from dance classes and guitar lessons to kayaking and tennis for both youth and adults. The Main Street program sponsors a variety of events, including the Palm Harbor Parrot Head Party and First Fridays. The first Sunday in October, the Palm Harbor Junior Women’s Club sponsors the “Taste of Palm Harbor” festival, offering samples from more than 20 local restaurants. Proceeds of the event benefit the club’s grants and scholarship program.

 

Factoids:

Population: 57,439 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 17.9 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: Palm Harbor’s Historic Downtown, Gateway Art Sculptures, Brick Paving and Tree-Canopied Sidewalks, Shops, The Innisbrook Golf Resort, Dance Classes, Guitar Lessons, Kayaking, Tennis for youth and adults, Palm Harbor Parrot Head Party and First Fridays, The first Sunday in October, Taste of Palm Harbor festival.

Tierra Verde

tierraverde1At the southern tip of Pinellas County, where Tampa Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, is a string of islands collectively called Tierra Verde. This exclusive, unincorporated area is home to 3,721 residents according to the 2010 U.S. Census, with a little more than a third living in single family homes and the balance residing in condominiums and townhomes.

tierraverde2

Residents enjoy all the luxuries and conveniences right here with a wide range of restaurants, specialty shops, spa services, boutiques and more. The Tierra Verde Marina is a full-service facility catering to the many boaters who live nearby. The waterways, 150 to 350 feet wide and some 15 feet deep, have been especially engineered to allow the Gulf of Mexico’s tidal actions to help sweep them clean.

At the southern tip of Tierra Verde is one of the world’s most pristine and famous beaches, Fort DeSoto Park, designated as the #1 U.S. Beach in 2005 and named America’s Top Beach in 2009 by Trip Advisor.

A morning stroll on soft white sand, an afternoon of fishing, or an evening out at a fine restaurant can all be found “at home” when home is Tierra Verde. But should you want to venture out, St. Petersburg is only 15 minutes away, and downtown Tampa can be reached in 35 minutes.

Factoids:

Population: 3,721 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 1.5 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: Fort De Soto Park – At the southern tip of Tierra Verde. Tierra Verde Marina.

Tarpon Springs

tarpon1In the later part of the 19th Century, Tarpon Springs was a small resort village named for the leaping fish splashing in Spring Bayou. Never mind that those fish were mullet and not tarpons because the town was shortly to become world famous for another sea creature – the sponge.

The discovery of a plentiful supply just in the surrounding Gulf waters soon brought islander Greeks from the Mediterranean to harvest sponges, a trade that turned out to be very profitable. In the 1930s the sponge industry was Florida’s largest, outstripping even tourism.

Tarpon Springs still benefits from that boom. First of all, the Greek heritage in the town gives it a unique Eastern Mediterranean ambiance that has a wonderful transporting power. Secondly, the sponge docks are thriving still with the sponge industry having experienced a revival starting in the late 20th Century. The sponge docks are a great getaway where you can eat a great meal on the water, shop at souvenir shops, take a cruise up the Anclote River, or simply stroll and gawk.

The town’s 23,484 citizens (according to the 2010 U.S. Census) own homes that span the gamut from mobile home to mansion. Many residents work in nearby Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa.

Theoretically, a youngster could go from pre-school through college without leaving the city limits. In respect of  local heritage, Tarpon Springs High School offers courses in the Greek language. Additionally, St. Petersburg College maintains a campus in Tarpon Springs.

Recreation
The city supports several parks, as well as the downtown Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center and the Cultural Center. On January 6 of each year, the Greek Orthodox community presents the Epiphany Celebration in which selected young men dive for the cross in Spring Bayou. The event is the largest of its kind in the U.S. and draws thousands of spectators and certainly lots of media attention. Later in the spring the Fine Arts Festival, a juried arts show, comes to town and is one of Florida’s largest.

“I was born and raised here. Then I moved away for 25 years. When I came back, I discovered how much I love the place. The quaintness, the peacefulness is just like it was 50 years ago. I could hit the lottery tomorrow, but I would still live in Tarpon Springs. The history, the Greek celebrations, the beautiful places – we know what nice living is. You’ll never get me out of here.” Michael Houllis, born and raised in Tarpon Springs, and returning resident.

Factoids:

Population: 23,484
Land Area: 9.14 Sq. Miles
 

Statistics are an estimation only

Points of Interest: Unique Eastern Mediterranean Ambiance, The Sponge Docks, Great Greek Meals on the water, Take a cruise up the Anclote River, City Parks, The Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center and the Cultural Center, The Epiphany Celebration, In the spring – the Fine Arts Festival.