Tag Archives: Florida

Sunken Gardens a St. Pete Tropical Paradise

When people visit St. Petersburg (St.Pete) in Florida many come for the tropical experience. They will hit the beach, stay at a coastal hotel, hang out in outdoor bars and enjoy lots of seafood. There is an off the beaten path gem inland and just outside of downtown where you can just add to this tropical fun. Visit Sunken Gardens a hundred plus year old garden and tropical paradise.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

After paying the nominal fee to get in, we spent two hours on a summer afternoon day walking the curvy paths of the four acres of gardens. All the twists and turns made the gardens seem much more expansive. It definitely did not feel like we were in the middle of a big city.

Operated by the city of St. Petersburg, you will find hundreds of species of tropical and subtropical plants, with 50,000+ plants in total. Many palm trees, birds and mini-waterfalls were spotted as we walked, not to mention geckos. Being Florida and the summer, we got rained on pretty good which just added to the tropical experience. Below are some highlights of what we saw at Sunken Gardens.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunken Gardens, a botanical and tropical gardens paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Are there any other off the beaten path spots in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area you would recommend visiting?

2014: The Year in Travel, Instagram Style.

It’s hard to believe the end of 2014 is already upon us. A great year it has been with lots of time out on the open road. I’m going to highlight the year in travel by picking my favorite Instagram photo from each month.

Winter in Michigan brings snow, cold temperatures and way to early in the day sunsets. Those sunsets though with snow and ice in the foreground never seem to disappoint as on this January evening roaming around Kensington Park in Milford.

Kensington Park, Michigan, sunset

There are many places I try to get to once a season to capture photographs. Edgewater Park just west of Downtown Cleveland is one of those spots. The camera is always directed back to the east and the Cleveland skyline, with February usually bringing piles upon piles of lake effect snow.

Edgewater Park, Cleveland, Ohio skyline

College town Ann Arbor offers many architectural marvels on-and-off the University of Michigan campus. One such place, a favorite of mine to walk through, is Nickels Arcade. On this March day, I hung out on the ground to get a different feel of this gem.

Nickels Arcade, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The end of April brought lots of time out on the Michigan open road along Lake Michigan. Hoffmaster State Park near Muskegon brought picturesque views, a remote beach and made me feel like I was hanging out along the Pacific. My hand in the photo was showing off that I was indeed in The Mitten (Michigan’s Lower Peninsula). I was also up to something else in that photo. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon, Michigan

May brought lots of time in Niagara Falls and not just a trip or a vacation, but also my honeymoon. The Ontario, Canada tourist town served as the first place I got to experience with my wife. While there we passed by scores of flowers, including these yellow daffodils which were guarding the American and Bridal Veil Falls.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

The beginning of summer and June brought me to the Windy City. One of my favorite spots to walk when in Chicago is Grant Park because of the greenery and skyline views.

Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois skyline

Another month, another honeymoon. Niagara Falls wasn’t enough, so my wife and I decided to take another trip, this time to St. Pete Beach, Florida. Every evening it didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as it involved being on or along the beach at sunset. Watching the sun go down into the Gulf of Mexico night after night was one of the more beautiful scenes I have seen.

St. Pete Beach, Florida sunset

August brought me back to roaming Michigan, this time the Lake Huron coastline. It’s not just sunsets with me. Getting up and on the road super early leads to scenes like down below. The beautiful sunrise near Tawas City opened a new day of travel possibilities!

Lake Huron sunrise, Michigan

I have spent a lot of time in small-town Findlay, Ohio over the years, but it took until this September to visit the Findlay Reservoir just outside of town. So close to civilization, yet this gem gives off the feel of being far away from everything. I climbed the stairs to reach its vast body of water. It was a relaxing morning with just me and reservoir hanging out.

Findlay Reservoir, Ohio

It being October in Michigan and the Midwest meant I was out roaming and capturing as much Autumn color as possible. The most memorable spot I found was Parker Mill County Park in Ann Arbor. The variety of colors, along with the piles of leaves decorating the ground made for a great place to relax and enjoy the season.

Parker Mill County Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I gravitated to Atlanta, Georgia in November, where the Autumn color was still in full swing. That meant going to my favorite place in the city to walk around, Piedmont Park. Right in the heart of Midtown beautiful color and ATL skyline views awaited me at every turn.

Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Georgia, Autumn skyline

In December I figured to finish the year out right by visiting arguably my favorite spot in Michigan. I climbed up the sand dunes at Grand Haven State Park along Lake Michigan to checkout the lighthouses, catwalk, pier and vast body of water. A romantic spot and view if there was one. 🙂

Grand Haven State Park, Michigan, Lake Michigan

2014 brought lots of roadtripping and being out on the open road but ultimately when I think back on the year travel won’t be the first thing that comes to mind. That special day in the Spring when I married the love of my life, Erin, will always be front-and-center! 🙂 My favorite Instagram shot of the year, look The Mitten now has a ring. The picture earlier was taken a week before, my last trip as a single guy.

elATLboy Wedding, Wedding Day

The elATLboy is wishing everyone a safe and happy start to the holiday season. Almost time to get Instagram and my camera ready for some 2015 travel adventures. 🙂

Cheers!
Aaron

Enjoying the Gulf Coast Day at Clearwater Beach.

Miles of sugar white sand with the turquoise Gulf of Mexico waters on one side and an award-winning Florida beach town on the other, that’s Clearwater Beach.

Approaching the beach all that separates you from the sand are scores of palm trees.

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

We avoided the crowds and parking issues that can arise, by visiting on a weekday right after a holiday. Yes it is a popular tourist spot, but for good reason. 🙂 We were hooked as soon as the car went into park.

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Amongst the heart of the beachfront is Pier 60. Across its length you’ll find a souvenir shop and a lot of fisherman. In the evening it’s the place to be as “Sunsets at Pier 60” takes over. You’ll find street performers, music and people selling gifts every day as the sun is setting over the gulf.

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Pier 60 #LoveFL

It was hot and humid with the sun coming down directly on us. That’s par for the course on a summer day in Florida. We managed to score some $1 waters and spent some time hiding under palm trees and in shops to cool down. They do have beach umbrellas available for rent as well as chairs.

Tip: Another option for cooling down is to look for the turtle statues. They all sit up-top the showers just off the beach used to clean the salt and sand off. The icy cold waters also make for a great way to cool down in a hurry.

Whether we were on the pier or beach, a beautiful view always stood in front of us. I’ll let the rest of the pictures tell the story. Anyone game for some bungee trampoline jumping?!

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Make sure to make the short trip over to Clearwater Beach if your going to be around Tampa and St. Petersburg.

There is more to Clearwater Beach then just hanging on the sand and pier. Stay tuned for stories on some of the fun we had on the water that day.

What other beaches would you recommend checking out along the gulf coast of Florida?

An Early Morning Stroll Along Pass-a-Grille Beach.

The gulf coast in Florida, especially St. Pete Beach, is well-known for their beautiful sunsets. Waking up right after sunrise one summer morning, I found the area to be just as scenic during the early morning hours.

I approached Pass-a-Grille Beach and the historic district alongside near St. Pete Beach’s southern most point. Some small dunes were all that separated Gulf Way and myself from the sugar-soft sands and the Gulf of Mexico. It was time to walk the short wooden bridge and see more of the gulf with every step.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The early morning sun, some blue skies, a calmness to the water and not a sole around, I had this part of the beach all to myself.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Well almost! Some people were hanging out on the pier off in the distance and I hope that other person wasn’t taking a bath haha. 🙂

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

It wouldn’t be a morning along the beach in these parts without a bunch of seaweed that washed ashore overnight.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The romantic park bench was just hanging out waiting for someone to sit. A beautiful place to just hang out and stare off into the vast, turquoise waters of the gulf. The sun continued overhead, but off in the distance storm clouds were forming over the water. Just par for the course in Florida. 🙂

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Who is that guy checking out the “Welcome To” sign? 🙂

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Pass-a-Grille and this part of St. Pete Beach is off the beaten path, a mile or two south off the main highway. It’s a recommended stop. You’ll find shopping, ice cream, restaurants and fishing opportunities to go with the beach. Merry Pier is definitely worth a look.

Checkout the beauty of a St. Pete Beach area sunset. Are there any off the beaten path beach spots you would recommend along the Florida Gulf Coast?

St. Pete Beach: The Views, Cocktails & Seafood of Crabby Bills.

Crabby Bills Seafood in St. Pete Beach, Florida sits right along the beach and Gulf of Mexico. The up-top outside deck provides beautiful tropical views during the day and romantic sunsets each and every night. A rum runner or two and some Sea Scallops and Bairdi Snow Crab are the last pieces to the puzzle of a fun St. Pete Beach experience.

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

St. Pete Beach, Florida, tropical cocktail, Crabby Bills

St. Pete Beach, Florida, tropical cocktail, Crabby Bills

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach bar

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, scallops

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, king crab

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, scallops

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, king crab

Food-wise you aren’t looking at the same dishes more than once. 🙂 The photos are from consecutive days. When you find great seafood why not order it again. The sides of choice are the Southern Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Crabby Bills has other locations in St. Cloud and nearby Clearwater, but how can beat the beauty of being alongside St. Pete Beach and the Gulf of Mexico?!

What delicious, scenic, outdoor dining fun have you had in your travels? Or around home?