Tucked along Florida’s lesser-known coast on the Gulf is adorable, colourful Dunedin. When you think of Florida, Miami probably comes to mind. But, if mega-clubs and speedos aren’t your idea of a holiday, consider the Gulf Coast.
Walking down the vibrant streets of this small town, you’ll feel nostalgia for places you’ve been. It looks like Cuba, smells like Mexico and tastes like New Orleans. A perfect sensory fusion of the country’s south and island neighbours.
Give yourself a three-day getaway as part of your US trip in this little town with a gorgeous, big heart.
Explore the vibrant streets.
What to eat?
Dunedin is, to my surprise, a foodie mecca. With culinary influences from its southern counterparts, this town certainly puts on a show, food-wise. If you hover around downtown Dunedin, you’ll discover dozens of eateries, from outdoor barbeques to upscale rooftop dining.
It’s the perfect town to explore on-foot, and most restaurants have seating outside which just adds to its energy.
You’ll be stuffed full to the brim with tacos after your visit.
Seafood, burgers and barbeque
Eddie’s Bar and Grill is a must for jumbo burgers, seafood platters and the best bar food you’ll ever find. For a no-frills, flavour-packed meal, head to Eli’s Bar-B-Que to get that ‘I’m in the south’ feeling. If you’re in the seafood mood, check out Lucky Lobster Co. or take a stroll down to the pier and catch the sunset, with dinner at Olde Bay Café.
Fancy Mexican? Walk up Main Street until you see the taco stand. It’s the best $3 you’ll ever spend.
This place is a mecca for foodies.
Coffee and beer
There are two drinks that you can’t overlook while in Dunedin: coffee and beer. In the morning, visit Cork and Beans Coffee House, the Sandpiper Café or 9th Bar Coffee. For a sit-down brunch (and one of those token Nola-lookalike spots), check out The Little Red House.
Once the sun goes down, it’s time for beer. And Dunedin is (surprisingly) peppered with breweries that weave the fabric of its night scene in this perfect little town. After dinner, wander to House of Beer (HOB), Cueni Brewing Co or Woodwright Brewing Company.
This is one of those destinations that you can’t stop eating in. You’ll just want to try everything and explore with your tastebuds.
Enjoy plenty of coffee and beer when you’re in town.
What to do?
After being gluttonous, you’re going to want to move your body. But don’t worry, you’re in Florida. There’s plenty of outdoor activities for you to burn off that finger-licking barbeque dinner.
Check out the Honeymoon Island State Park
Another hotspot for travellers to Dunedin is Honeymoon Island State Park. A short 15-minute Uber ride over the Dunedin Causeway will bring you to this natural paradise. This island is flat, so the trails are ‘friendly’ for all fitness levels. Bring your good camera and take your time wandering the island, marvelling at the interesting birds and wildlife.
The aquarium rehabilitates marine animals.
Head to the aquarium
If the weather is delightful (which it most likely is), cruise down to Clearwater and ride over the bridge to the beach and spend the day there. If you love the ocean, visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, that’s also a rescue facility for injured marine life, who are rehabilitated and then returned to the wild. You can plan ahead by buying tickets online before your visit, and as a bonus, save on the ticket price.
Rent a bike, and ride up to the coast.
Rent bicycles for the day
Start your day at Kafe Racer, and rent bicycles for the day. It was around $25 (US) and you can literally ride onto the bike trail, which you can take north or south up the coast. They have a range of models available to hire including tandems, electric bikes and trailers, so there’s something for everyone.
Stay downtown so you can explore easily.
Where to stay, and getting there
The best way to get to Dunedin is to fly into Tampa. It’s a picturesque 30-minute drive from the city (and a region that often has cheap flights). While there are hotels, book an Airbnb in the downtown area so you can walk around. For a sunny two-bedroom condo, it’s approximately $100 (US) a night.
As far as budgeting goes, I’d allow US $50 for meals and snacks, plus extra for any activities you might do, such as the Dolphin Sanctuary and Uber rides. $75 per day is more than enough to cover everything (especially when you’ll be eating affordable street tacos).
Pack for warm conditions.
Essentials to bring for your trip
As for what to pack, the climate is similar to Australia. It’s temperate and usually sitting at around 25°C so you can pack quite minimally. You won’t need anything special, but make sure you bring:
- Mosquito repellent and protection for all the outdoor activities you’ll be doing
- Appropriate footwear for walking and wearing around water
- Extra layers for night time (as you’ll most likely be dining outdoors).
You’ll get a little bit of everything in Dunedin. It’s a tiny city that’s bursting with life… and an endless spring. Is there really anything better?
About the writer...
A journalist by trade but storyteller by heart, Amanda writes content for a variety of communication agencies and individual brands, and editorials and feature stories for magazines, blogs, and news platforms. She’s worked with over 100 brands across Australia and globally. Always curious, Amanda draws her creative inspiration from people – whether it’s sitting in a cafe people watching, having a conversation with a stranger or reliving memories from the 50 countries she’s travelled to. Follow her on @amandasmith_writer and visit her online at www.amandasmithwriter.com.au.