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County by County Riding Florida…Pinellas, Home of Beautiful Bridges

By LuLu

As we have embarked on the County by County feature each month, I have been surprised by how different each county has been.  Each has their own reasons for visiting and their own flavor. Pinellas we found to be an interesting mix of beaches and cities, history and gardens and the home of some beautiful bridges to ride crisscrossing their county.

We are featuring Pinellas for June because there is an event June 4-5 at Indian Rocks Beach put on by Bikers Raising Awareness; their cause is breast cancer. The event includes the 5th Annual Bikers ‘n’ Boobs Poker Run on Sunday the 5th.

If you can make your way to Pinellas County, include this run in your adventure! Deborah Speicher from Thunder Roads will be covering this run. First I want to name the bars and restaurants suggested by the locals: Best Bars: Quaker Steak & Lube, Biff’s Burger and Grass Flats all in Clearwater. Best Restaurants:  PJ’s Oyster Bar (St. Pete and Indian Rocks Beach), Molly Goodheads (Ozona) and Hella’s (Tarpon Springs)

[singlepic id=1197 w=320 h=240 float=left]Our favorites were Molly Goodheads and Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, both had great food, staff and drinks! We spent the first day checking out their beaches. Unlike A1A  in Flagler where you have a long ride of open beaches, there are buildings on the water side of the roadways so you can’t get much of a beach front ride. Having said that they do offer great beach parks and wonderful open air bars/restaurants to get your beach fix!

We happened on Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach.  They made great Rum Runners and are known for their Four Kings (a huge seafood platter at $20.95). Our bartender was just great.

While in Clearwater Beach you might try a ride on a pirate’s ship with Captain Memo (727-446-2587). We mosied on down the coast and found Caddy’s on the Beach at Treasure Island. Their featured drink was a Lounge Lizard and the Sandkicker (2 half pound Angus burgers with 2X the bacon and 2X the cheese).  This is a great spot to watch the sunset.

Just south of Treasure Island is a cool little village, John’s Pass, with shopping, fishing, dining (the Friendly Fisherman has great fresh seafood) and watersports.

We made the ride out to Ft. DeSoto only to find it closed for renovations, but the ride was pretty, and other than the bridges (particularly Skyline) probably my favorite road to ride of the trip.

Camping is available at Ft. Desoto Park. You really should invest in a Sun Pass since there are multiple tolls, sometime as little as 35 cents, but it is annoying to have to keep digging in your purse or pocket for change.

Friday night we were lucky enough to be staying at the Hampton off Center St. in Downtown St. Pete. They have a street festival the first Friday of the month and close Center St. down for bands; and it is packed! We also walked the Pier which was right across from our hotel.

One of my favorite things about St. Pete is that the restaurants downtown have outdoor seating on the sidewalks. Our second day we explored botanical gardens, including Sunken Gardens and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Pete, and the Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village in Largo (Boyd Hill is closed Mondays).  Sunken Gardens is $8 and is a pretty stroll through lush tropical foliage with flamingos and Koi fish.

[singlepic id=1201 w=320 h=240 float=left]Boyd’s Preserve is $3 and offers about a 3.5 mile walk through the woods. There are caged birds that were injured and can’t be released, including a bald eagle. We saw a huge alligator and a raccoon. This is very natural (except for a few metal creatures of art made entirely of auto parts); there were no fences between us and the gator!

Our next stop was The US Military Museum off  Ulmerton which has a great collection of war artifacts and interesting displays from WW 1 though Vietnam.

Right down Ulmerton going west is the Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village this was free!! (Heritage Village is closed Monday and Tuesdays.) After parking, don’t bother going left into the gardens use the entry path in the center.

We loved Heritage Village, which is to the right, it is a collection of 25 buildings from the past, made to look like back in the day, including people acting as shopkeepers, metal working, etc. This is a tree covered walk over 21 acres. It is a living museum and probably our favorite thing of the trip…and it was FREE!

Our next stop was Tarpon Springs and the sponge docks, where we bought ours! Hella’s Restaurant is here and they are known for their desserts, but we stopped before getting there at Molly Goodheads in Ozona, and we were just too full to eat a bite. Molly Goodheads is in a 100 year old building and great little bar!

[singlepic id=1204 w=320 h=240 float=right]We finished up the day with a stop at Quaker Steak and Lube for a cold one, and then the Saturday Bike Night at Biff Burger. We did all this in a 2 day weekend, but never stopped to rest! I would suggest either narrowing down your plans or take an extra day.

We didn’t get time to do the Florida Orange Groves and Winery or the Salvadore Dali Museum which are supposed to be great. There is baseball for fans and aquariums for fish watching. Don’t forget to check out Jim’s Harley Davidson and Fletcher’s Harley Davidson while in this area of Florida. Put Pinellas on your map of places to visit, we enjoyed our stay, but be forewarned traffic can be heavy!

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2 Responses to “County by County Riding Florida…Pinellas, Home of Beautiful Bridges”

  • Deborah Speicher:

    Lulu — I think you did a great job of covering Pinellas County this month. In fact, everyone I talk to really likes the coverage of each county that you have done so far!

  • beth connors:

    Thanks Deborah. Couldn’t have enjoyed it more. We look forward to roaming the rest of the counties over the next couple of years. And need the input of locals to pass on to our readers!

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