Where railroad tracks once sat, abandoned and rusting, now runs The Pinellas Trail, a paved, greenway corridor in Pinellas County, Florida . The first six-mile section of the Pinellas Trail opened in 1990, connecting Taylor Park in Largo to Seminole Park in Seminole. The trail became immensely popular, now ranking as the third most heavily used rail-trail in America with 1.2 million users per year. Stretching 47-miles from St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs, the trail links some of Pinellas County’s most picturesque parks, scenic coastal areas and residential neighborhoods.
We plan to start cycling the Pinellas Trail in Dunedin, one of the oldest cities on Florida’s west coast. Downtown Dunedin is notable for its absence of large commercial signage, fast food franchise restaurants or big box chain stores. Dunedin is perhaps best known as the home of the Toronto Blue Jays spring training camp.
After picking out our rental bikes, we hit the trail. The plan is to bike the 6 miles from Dunedin to Honeymoon Island State Park for some swimming and return to Dunedin for dinner.
First stop is Eli’s BBQ for lunch. Nothing fancy, just good old Southern barbecue at its finest: tender ribs, smoked pork, sausage, beef, chicken and turkey done right. A local favorite, this roadside attraction next to the Pinellas Trail at Skinner Blvd. is only open Fridays and Saturdays.
After a delicious, smokey, pulled pork sandwich, we cycle across Dunedin Causeway towards Honeymoon Island. The pioneers called it Hog Island, but when a New York developer built 50 palm – thatched bungalows for honeymooners in 1939, it became Honeymoon Isle. You can swim, fish and snorkel in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Shelling is good here, as the Gulf currents deposit an incredible variety of seashells on the shore. The Honeymoon Island visitor’s center has a knowledgable staff to help navigate their exceptional display of shells.
With wide lanes and no elevation changes, The Pinellas Trail is a breeze to cycle and soon we’re back in Dunedin. Dunedin hosts 25 festivals annually and we check out one – a weekend arts and crafts market on Main Street in Dunedin. For casual waterfront dining in Dunedin, try The Olde Bay Café. Dine al fresco on the deck and watch the sun go down while sipping a Landshark and eating a smoked mullet taco, one of the best fish tacos we’ve had in Florida. Many different beers are available as well as fresh catch of the day specials.
The free Guide to the Pinellas Trail is available at the trail office, area libraries and the Pinellas County Courthouse Information Desk or on the Internet . The pocket-size guide details rest stops, service stations, restaurants, pay phones, bike shops, park areas and much more along the entire length of the Trail.
So hop on your bike, lace up your in-line skates, or put on your jogging shoes and head to the Pinellas Trail.