Sea Critters Cafe & Hurricane Seafood Restaurant – Pass-a-Grille, St Pete Beach

Sea Critters Cafe and the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant,  are  fantastic summer destinations on St Pete Beach’s Pass-a-Grille. Located on the southern-most section of St Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille offers pristine beaches and a great selection of locations for dining on local seafood.

St Pete BeachThe beaches are never as very crowded and what better place to take a long walk than along the miles of white sandy beaches that run north and south here in Pinellas County? With the combination of turquoise water, pure white sand and the pale blue skies, it is indeed a little piece of Paradise on Earth!sea critters cafe

One of my favorite locations for dining on Pass-a-Grille Beach is Sea Critters Café, located at 2007 Pass-a-Grille Way. You can dine inside or out at the docks where locals come to tie up their boats for lunch. Either way, you will find a friendly staff and first rate dining. Fresh fish is served daily and you can have it blackened or grilled. Their grouper is fantastic but so is the red snapper or the blackened shrimp!

If you are looking for nightlife, be sure to check out the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant. Built in 1912, the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant offers homemade conch, bisque and clam chowder along with a wide range of other seafood dishes. In 1991 the Hurricane added a second floor and this became Stormy’s Nightclub. The Hurricane Watch Roof-top offers live entertainment and some of the best views around of the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico!

The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant is open seven days a week beginning at 7 am. A great meeting place for breakfast, it is really one place you need to check out while enjoying the beaches on Pass-a-Grille.

There are also numerous short and long term beach rentals available on Pass-a-Grille Beach, so be sure to check the area out for your next beach holiday! You will be glad you did!

Condo vs Co-op: What Is The Difference?

Condo vs Co-op: What is the difference? Clients often ask me just that question since it is indeed confusing! Let me attempt to provide a little clarity on this topic.

Ownership: A condo owner actually owns the condo, as any homeowner would. In a co-op situation you don’t actually own any specific real estate, instead you own shares in a corporation and as a shareholder, you have the right to lease space in the building. The co-op owns the building and the common areas and you own a share of that. Upon your death, a condo is considered real property and passed on in the family. A co-op is considered intangible personal property. Your attorney can go into detailsClearwater Beach Florida about how that is passed on.

Condo vs Co-op: What about taxes? A condo owner is taxed individually since they own the condo as real estate. Co-op property is owned by a corporation and the corporation is taxed. It then passes the cost on to the shareholders. 

Can I get financing for a co-op? Since you do not own any real property when you own shares in a co-op, financing can be difficult to obtain. Many co-ops have a relationship with a few specific lenders that will finance units in the building but more often you see co-op purchases happening as cash deals. It is much more difficult, if not just about impossible, to get a home equity line of credit on a co-op since you don’t own any actual real estate, you own shares in a corporation. The downpayment on loans is also higher and normally the interest rates are higher as well.

When considering purchasing a co-op, it pays to discuss the situation with an attorney so you are clear about what you are doing. That will provide peace of mind for you and your family. Many purchase into a co-op without doing their homework and are later surprised by the fact that they are not property owners but shareholders. There is indeed a difference in ownership when owning a condo vs a co-op.

Pinellas County Florida Botanical Gardens

Pinellas County Florida Botanical Gardens is located in Largo Florida. Here you can wander through over 30 acres of cultivated gardens and view the wildlife in the 90 acres that are kept in their natural, wild state.

florida botanical gardensThe cultivated gardens include a herb garden, palm garden, tropical fruit garden, patio garden, butterfly garden, succulent garden, bromeliad garden, native plants garden and a seasonal plantings display area. In addition to that, there is a beautiful wedding garden as well as a tropical courtyard. 

Naturally, a botanical garden down here in Florida would not be complete without an aquatic habitat demonstration area with a large retention pond complete with water lilies and alligators. There are also sixty acres that were once used for agriculture andflorida botanical gardens are now being restored to it’s natural state. Volunteers are available to answer your questions throughout the park. There is also a gift shop and an information center where you can bring in plants or soil to receive guidance on your own garden. 

Pinellas County Florida Botanical Gardens is adjacent to both the Florida Gulf Coast Center for Fishing (with their interactive museum) and Heritage Village (28 historic structures dating back to the 19th century). This is the perfect destination for the entire family! The botanical gardens are open seven days a week. 

Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve North & South – Oldsmar Florida

Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve has two sections: Mobbly Bayou South Support Area and Mobbly Bayou North Support Area. Both of these wonderful waterfront parks are directly on Tampa Bay and both are in Oldsmar Florida. Here you will learn about both.

mobbly bayou wilderness preserve, oldsmar floridaMobbly Bayou South Support Area is located at the eastern end of Shore Drive, directly on Tampa Bay. This great park has a beach, picnic shelters and restrooms. It is an extremely popular destination to take the kids for a picnic and romp on the beach of Tampa Bay.

Mobbly Bayou North Support Area is located off Lafayette Blvd in Oldsmar. There is a great kayak launch area in this park. From here you can travel east in your kayak to the Upper Tampa Bay Park and return on the scenic route via Mullet Creek. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the mangroves and birds along our coastline. This mobbly bayou north area, oldsmar floridapark is also popular with those who enjoy fishing from the shoreline. Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve North Support Area also has picnic shelters and restroom facilities as well as a large playground for the kids.

Oldsmar Florida is growing! Convenient to both Tampa and the Gulf Beaches, it has great schools and is close to top rated medical facilities.

R.E. Olds Park – Oldsmar Florida

R. E. Olds Park in Oldsmar Florida was named after Ransom E. Olds, who was the founder of Oldsmobile and REO cars. In 1913 R.E. Olds purchased 37,541 acres of land on the northern shores of Tampa Bay and named the area “R.E. Olds-on-the-Bay”. The area became known as Oldsmar in 1937, when the town’s name was officially changed. 

re olds park, oldsmar floridaBack when Olds built the city, there were no bridges across Tampa Bay. The only way from Tampa to St Petersburg was to come through Oldsmar. Olds had many plans for the town, including a banana plantation, horse track and a casino with a major hotel. Tampa Bay Downs  has become a major attraction, bringing tourists and their horses down to Oldsmar during the winter months. It is the only Thoroughbred race track on Florida’s West Coast and is one of America’s oldest race tracks. re olds park, oldsmar florida

Today R.E. Olds Park is frequented throughout the week since it offers hiking trails directly on Tampa Bay, a great fishing pier, several playgrounds, sand volleyball area, fitness equipment, restrooms, an open amphitheater, picnic shelters and fantastic views of Tampa Bay. From the shores of R.E. Olds Park you can see Philippi Park across the bay over in Safety Harbor. 

R.E. Olds Park is one of several great parks located in the town of Oldsmar Florida. Convenient to both Tampa and the Gulf Beaches, the town of Oldsmar is growing. Here you will find excellent public schools and lovely communities. 

Wall Springs Park – Palm Harbor Florida

Wall Springs Park is located right on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico in beautiful Palm Harbor Florida. Wall Springs Park is a natural spring that was once a bathing and spa area for wealthy northerners. Charles Wall purchased the property in 1884 and it was used as a spa retreat until the 1960’s. Pinellas County began purchasing the property with the goal of making a large park and today the park comprises 210 acres.

wall springs park, palm harbor floridaWall Springs Park, located between Crystal Beach and Tarpon Springs, is a favorite destination of locals. Accessible from the Pinellas Trail as well as by car, this great county park offers five picnic and grill shelters that can be reserved for parties. In addition to the shelters, there are restroom facilities, wonderful nature trails, boardwalks, an observation tower, fishing piers, playground, butterfly garden and a historical area explaining about the history of the park. If you are planning on fishing in the park, remember that here in Florida you must have a fishing license, even if fishing from shore. 

The spring in the center of the park comes from the Upper Florida Aquifer. The average water flow from the spring iswall springs park, palm harbor florida 2,917 gallons of water per minute and the spring’s temperature is a pretty constant 74 degrees. Swimming is no longer allowed in the spring and neither is fishing. Here you can see not only some of the largest mullet you will ever encounter, but also snook, redfish, sheephead, needlefish, white bait and of course otter and a wide variety of tropical birds. The fish seem to know that as long as they are in the main spring area, they are safe from fishermen. Naturally, since the spring and Boggy Bayou are connected you have a great chance of catching plenty of fish from the park’s fishing docks that are on Boggy Bayou. 

We are indeed lucky to have Wall Springs Park here in Palm Harbor Florida. It is a popular family destination for all who live in the area. 

Weedon Island Preserve – St Petersburg Florida

Weedon Island Preserve is a 3,190 acre natural area on the eastern shores of St Petersburg Florida. Located directly on Tampa Bay, Weedon Island Preserve is owned by the State of Florida and maintained by Pinellas County. The preserve itself is open to the public seven days a week from 7 am to dusk, with the exceptions of the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Those are the only two days during the entire year that the preserve is closed.

weedon island preserveHere you will find miles of hiking trails. Part of the trails have boardwalks which make those sections accessible to wheelchairs. There is also a great 45 foot high observation tower, perfect for great photos and bird watching. When you visit Weedon Island Preserve, you want to remember to bring bottled water and shoes with closed toes. The trails wonder through mangroves and some of them take you out to Tampa Bay. weedon island preserve

If kayaking is your pleasure, there is a fantastic kayak launch in Weedon Island Preserve but plan on getting there early since the parking area by the kayak launch fills up early. There are also restrooms and water facilities by the kayak launch, as well as at the education center. The education center has a large parking area and offers workshops as well as educational programs for the community and local schools. Six thousand square feet of exhibits await you at the education center. Here you will be able to view artifacts left by those who inhabited Weedon Island Preserve as far back as 1800 years ago! The three story educational center was designed with the assistance of Native Americans, in following with their traditions. When planning a visit to the education center, remember that the center is only open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm. 

Philippe Park – Safety Harbor Florida’s Historical Park

Philippe Park is indeed Safety Harbor Florida’s Historical Park! This 160 acre park is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks due to the fact that it was once home to both the Tocobaga Native American tribe and later the home of Count Odet Philippe. Remains of the Tocobaga’s time here can be found not only from the fact that they left a safety harbor florida, philippe parklarge mound in the park but that there were numerous other mounds that have been excavated. The archaeological remains of these mounds are now contained in the Safety Harbor Museum. 

Count Odet Philippe, once chief surgeon to Napolean and born in Lyon France, made Safety Harbor Florida his home back in 1821. Here he settled with his family and introduced the citrus industry to Hillsborough County (today’s Pinellas County belonged Hillsborough County until 1921). It was also Odet Philippe that originally brought the cigar making industry to Florida. He passed on in 1869 at the age of 100 and was buried on his estate, in what is today Philippe Park.philippe park, safety harbor florida

Philippe Park has miles of trails, picnic shelters, restrooms, boat ramps and of course the Tocobaga mound. It is a popular destination for children’s birthday parties, family picnics, morning jogs and a favorite with everyone interested in local history. Here locals love to put their kayaks into Old Tampa Bay for a day out on the water and you will often find people fishing from shore.

Philippe Park is a wonderful addition to Safety Harbor Florida and one park you need to check out!

Eagle Lake Park – Largo Florida

Eagle Lake Park located on Keene Road in Largo Florida is a beautiful 163-acre park that once belonged to the Taylor family. This pioneering family raised cattle and had orange groves. Many of these trees are still growing in the park.

Eagle Lake Park, Largo FloridaPinellas County purchased two sections which now comprise the park back in 1998 and 2006. Now county park-goes can enjoy the picnic shelters, playground, fishing piers and miles of hiking trails. The fishing is catch and release only.

Here you can also bring man’s best friend and let your pet romp in the enclosed dog park with other visitor’s pets. Outside of the enclosed dog park, dogs must be on a leash at all times.Eagle Lake Park, Largo Florida

This natural habitat includes over 2,000 feet of well maintained boardwalks over beautifully restored wetlands. Convenient to both north and central Pinellas County, Eagle Lake Park is a popular destination for locals to hold birthday parties, family outings and even morning yoga classes. One of the things I love about Eagle Lake Park is how the turtles come swimming up to the piers, obviously awaiting handouts. That makes photographing these marvelous creatures ever so easy!

Eagle Lake Park runs from Belleair Road to the north all the way to Rosery Road to the south and is a real treasure for the neighboring communities!

Upper Tampa Bay Park – Just East Of Oldsmar & Near Westchase

Upper Tampa Bay Park is a gem of a park located just east of Oldsmar Florida, off Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. The park offers kayak rentals, picnic and grilling facilities, fishing piers, miles of hiking trails, playgrounds, restrooms, meeting facilities, summer camp and an educational center.

upper tampa bay parkThis 596 acre natural park is bordered by Old Tampa Bay to the south and west and Double Branch Creek to the east. You kayak the creek or the bay, enjoying Mother Nature at it’s best among the mangroves and natural habitat of salt water marshes.

There are wonderful picnic facilities for parties right next to the playground and there is even a volleyball court. 

Wander the trails and keep an eye out for osprey, bald eagle, red shouldered hawk, spoonbills  and other native birds, as well as bobcat, tortoises and a variety of snakes. Remember, we do have coral snakes, rattlesnakes and cottonmouth down here, so be careful where you walk! upper tampa bay park

If you are out in the water, you can enjoy the dolphin and  manatee, also be sure to watch for otter! Naturally, fishing is great since there are snook, red fish and drum in these waters.

Convenient to residents of northern Pinellas County, including Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and Palm Harbor, this great park is also close to Tampa’s Westchase area!