A morning at Pass-A-Grille – Saint Petersburg Beach

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This post is part of the Sunday Traveler Series (#SundayTraveler)

I had been anxiously waiting for Martin Luther King holiday weekend to arrive!!  I had planned a full morning of sightseeing at Pass-A-Grille on Saint Petersburg Beach and I could not wait to get started. The brisk morning air felt good on my face and though it was not super cold, I still brought along a jacket to wear since I knew I was going to be at the beach.

The ride down to Pass-A-Grille was quiet, the highway was deserted, which was very unusual for a holiday weekend. On the way there, I was so excited about highlighting this laid back and authentic beach town located in the southernmost end of Saint Petersburg Beach.  It’s my favorite beach because I can escape the larger beach crowds, it’s quaint, peaceful, beautiful as well as clean. With plenty of metered parking to park at,  you can walk to the beach, ice cream shops, restaurants, outdoor art market, hotels, tennis courts, fishing pier and shop at trendy boutiques.

The streets between Pass-A-Grille and the walkways to the beach are filled with old fashioned, charming cottages and smaller mansion homes with picturesque views of the gulf. The cozy streets are welcoming, but yet inviting enough to spend time with the locals and be able to enjoy a scenic day at the beach. When you are here everything slows down, it’s unique to itself. I find myself taking a step back from my daily busy life and enjoying the ambiance, beauty and nature of it.

The shops and buildings are painted with pastel summer colors to attract the island feel of this eccentric beach town.  Also known as Old Town, Pass-A-Grille, is a U.S. historic district with an interesting history behind it.  It was inhabited by native Americans for thousands of years before Spanish explorers in 1528.

With many shops closed for the holiday, it gave me the liberty to photograph some of the coolest things around the town that I had not seen before.

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Storefront buildings

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 Art décor displayed above a store

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Beach House Store

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Paradise Grille Food Court & Shop

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Pastel Green & Blue Shops

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 View of Pass-A-Grille Beach

What’s your favorite local beach and why? Would love to hear from you 🙂

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

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Straub Park – A Mark of downtown Saint Petersburg, FL.

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After a few weeks of cold weather, I decided to take a drive to Straub Park in downtown Saint. Petersburg, FL.  With my Canon PowerShot Camera around my neck, I was ready to get down to business and start taking some awesome shots of this park. Straub Park is conveniently located in the middle of downtown with beautiful views of the water and the marina. It’s surrounded by shops, restaurants, museums and our most popular resort The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club (Will highlight in another post). The park itself is beautifully landscaped with lushes Banyan trees and historic sculptures all around the park.

I could not believe how beautiful, sunny and hot it was on this Sunday afternoon. Even though it’s the middle of winter, people were in shorts and it felt great to be outside feeling the hot sun!! There was a lot of activities going on from people biking, running, jogging, roller blading, boating, fishing and even couples on a romantic stroll. The park is so serene that you can sit on a bench and watch the breathtaking view of the marina. Its such a lovely park that it reminds me everyday how lucky I am to be living in Saint Petersburg, FL.

It’s a venue to several events that happen throughout the year such as Snowfest, Santa Parade, Chillounge Nights, St. Pete Fine Art Festival and the St. Pete Food & Wine Festival to name a few. Not only does the park attract large events but it also draws in the peace and quiet of the surroundings. It’s open space makes it convenient for those who want to enjoy an afternoon picnic.  If you ever come to Florida, make sure you make the drive to downtown St. Pete and enjoy what Straub Park has to offer!!

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Do you have any local parks in your city that you are fond of? If so, I would love to hear from you?

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

7 Things About Florida I Love

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Florida has a lot to offer for those who come and visit the Sunshine State. Much of Florida is located on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.  With a total of 663 miles of beaches and tropical weather most of the year, it’s no wonder people come and visit this Caribbean style and tropical destination.

Though our climate and weather is tropical, we still get some cool breeze. Our Summer and Fall Seasons run from May thru October and it’s considered to be hot and long. Winter and Spring is our dry season. During this time, Floridians look forward to turning off their air conditioning in their homes and opening up their windows. From around November thru March/April you can enjoy cooler air and breezes. Hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th.  There is nothing remarkable about this time of year.  It’ a very stressful time for those living in the state and we have learned to be ready for when one hits. “Because we are surrounded by water and we border the Atlantic Ocean, we also have a low pressure system and hurricanes tend to form in 80 degree temperature waters”.

Our beaches are the most popular destination for visitors, Spring Breakers, and those wanting to plan their Florida destination wedding of their dreams!!! With the majority of the state surrounded by water, you’ll never have a problem finding a beach. Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. With tropical weather, beautiful sunsets and sandy beaches its no wonder that visitors are wanting to visit the Sunshine State. Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, Miami Beach, Siesta Key, Daytona Beach, Fort De Soto Park Beach, Anna Maria Island, New Smyrna Beach, Melbourne Beach, and Longboat Key are some of the most popular beaches.

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St. Pete Beach – St. Pete, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie via Instagram @Ruthie’s Routes)

Fort De Soto Park Beach - Fort De Soto, FL

Fort De Soto Park Beach – Fort De Soto, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie via Instagram @Ruthie’s Routes)

Coquina Beach - Bradenton, FL

Coquina Beach – Coquina Beach, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie via Instagram @Ruthie’s Routes)

Some of the most famous theme parks in Florida are located in Orlando, FL. Disney World, Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Discovery Cove, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Animal Kingdom, and LegoLand are among the biggest tour attractions. In the Tampa Bay area, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island are the biggest theme park attractions in the area. With millions of visitors visiting the parks each year it’s no surprise that Florida is growing in the tourism industry. Luckily for me, I have the luxury to visit the parks at least once a year with the convenience of an hour drive, it’s one of my favorite places to visit and getaway!!

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International Flower Garden – Epcot Center – Orlando, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie @Ruthie’s Routes)

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Mickey Mouse & Mini at Epcot Center – Orlando, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie @Ruthie’s Routes)

Florida is home to many types of wildlife including the famous alligator, dolphins, whales, manatees, Florida panther, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Wildboar, Leatherback Sea Turtles, Bald Eagle, Osprey and Seagulls to name a few. Here are a few shots of some of the wildlife around St. Pete, FL that I took with my new Canon PowerShot SX500 IS (review to come in a later post).

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Pelican – Photo Credit: Ruthie – Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

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Heron – Photo Credit: Ruthie – Canon PowerShort SX500 IS

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Blue Jay – Photo Credit: Ruthie  – Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

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Osprey – Photo Credit: Ruthie – Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

Tourism in Florida is growing every year. With many outdoor activities, beaches, parks and things to do it’s no wonder that more and more people are moving and visiting the Sunshine State of Florida. Between July and September, 22.9 million visitors came and the numbers keep rising. I’m super excited to be living in a State that is growing in the tourism industry.

Some of the best universities are located in Florida. Here is our top 10 Universities in no particular order. 1. University of Florida located in Gainesville, 2. Florida State University in Tallahassee, 3. University of South Florida in Tampa, 4. University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida 5. International University in Miami, 6. University of Central Florida in Orlando, 7. Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, 8. Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, 9. Emery- Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and 10. Florida Institute of Technology located in Melbourne, Florida.  So whether you are looking to study nursing, engineering or aeronautics, Florida has the right university for you.

If you are an avid outdoors person and love the beach and water like I do, then you have come to the right place.  With many water sports activities, Florida has something to offer for everyone. Some of the water activities that you can enjoy are paddling, surfing, boating, fishing, snorkeling, jet skiing and diving. There are more water sports to do around Florida, but these are the most popular ones.

Have you visited Florida lately? What did you enjoy the best? Share your thoughts here!!

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

Sunken Gardens – A Historic Tourist Attraction in St. Pete, FL

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Saint Petersburg, FL has some cool places, restaurants, parks, museums and gardens for tourists to explore and visit.  I’m lucky to live in a tourist destination, as it gives me the opportunity to drive to a lot of cool places. This weekend, I visited Sunken Gardens, a landmark since 1930, located in the heart of Saint Petersburg. They are open to the public for educational programs, tours and special events.

For many years, the Gardens were a commercial tourist, but its now operated by the City of Saint Petersburg, FL. The four acre property offers more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. It’s unique in a way that it offers beauty, tranquility and its beautifully kept.

A lot of what you’ll see here includes a Japanese Garden, cactus garden, butterfly garden and the Chilean Flamingos.  On this day, I was not able to see the butterfly garden as there was a wedding nearby and it was closed off to the public.

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Fountain Plaza

One of the many things that I enjoy about Sunken Gardens is that its peaceful.  Though you’ll find locals and tourists walking around, you have the space to really indulge yourself in the beauty of this luscious botanical oasis.  You can stroll at your own pace, experiencing the natural view of the garden.

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Chilean Flamingos

You can hear the waterfalls, birds chirping and parrots. You may even hear wedding music, since it’s a popular venue for weddings.

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Sitting Area

Around the garden, you will find sitting areas like the one above.  You may want to stop, take a break and take photos of this quaint botanical garden.

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KOI Fish

Small pond

One Pond Waterfall

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Pure Copper dual Wind Spinner

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Amazon Parrots

So whether you are in Florida for one day or a week, Sunken Gardens in Saint Petersburg is a must see tourist attraction.  Have you been to Sunken Gardens? If so, what are your thoughts?

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

The Worst 7 things about living in Florida

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Originally from Boston, Massachusetts I relocated to Florida in 1989. So by now, I consider myself to be sort of a Floridian.  Though Florida is a tropical destination state, there are some things that I don’t particularly like about living in Florida. In no particular order, here we go.

  1. Hurricane Season – Hurricane season starts June 1st and ends November 30th.  Though I’ve been through a few of them, the worse is when they are heading directly for your area.  We live in St. Pete, FL about  20 minutes away from the Tampa Bay Area, in an area where it get flooded.  Most of the times, we are warned ahead, but unfortunately when you live near the bay like we do, we get all the surge from the storm.  Last year during Tropical Storm Debby our area flooded really bad that cars were not able to pass through.
  2. Hot Summer Months – It’s no surprise that I LOVE tropical weather!! However, when you are used to living in a cold state, HOT is better than Cold!! The hottest months in Florida are June, July and August. It’s gets so hot down here, that you don’t feel a breeze at all. When you breathe, you are breathing hot air and it’s so uncomfortable, at least for me it is.
  3. Life is a RUSH – When I moved here, I kept telling my friends, “I’m going to a state where it’s island living.” People won’t be in a rush.  Boy, was I wrong. Everyone is in such a rush even when driving. Life is too short to be always in a rush, sometimes we need to slow down. But Florida does not offer that.
  4. Lightning – When it rains in Florida, it rains.  I mean we are talking about some dangerous lightning.  Visitors who come to Florida, don’t take this serious. We’ve had visitors from other states that have been striked  by lighting and have died. Heavy lightning is common during hurricane season, so be warned if you travel to Florida during hurricane season.
  5. People drive like maniacs – I don’t know if it’s like this where you live, but here in Florida, it’s bad.  Drivers are not considerate of each other, they don’t use their blinkers and they cut in front of you.  I would rather live in an island where you can walk or ride a bike.
  6. Palmetto Bugs – Ok so its not surprise that I HATE roaches or palmetto bugs, what ever you want to call them.  My husband and I debate on this one because he says that they are called Palmetto Bug and I say they are roaches. Nevertheless, they are disgusting and I can’t seem to kill them unless I have a heavy broom with me.
  7. Love Bugs – Also known as honeymoon fly, kissing bug, or double-headed bug.  They are in season April & May and late August through September. Though these things are harmless they are indeed a pain in the butt.  They are known for excessively clogging of vehicle radiator and the obstruction of windshield when they are smeared all over the glass.

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My hubby crossing our neighborhood during Tropical Storm Debby

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Me sitting on top of a fallen palm tree

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Wind, Rain and Lightning picking up during Tropical Storm Debby

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Intersection where we live

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Florida Palmetto Bug – Pic via Google

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Lovebugs – Pic via Google

Gators Cafe – A John’s Pass Landmark

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It was a gorgeous day out, the sky was a clear blue color, the sun was hot and I could feel the breeze in the air. It had been a while since I had been to Gators Restaurant. Located on the waterfront of John’s Pass, Treasure Island, FL, Gators Restaurant is known for their waterfront view and their delicious Gator Bites and food! As we walked up to the restaurant, I could hear the music playing outside. The smell of the delicious fried food was making my stomach hungry.

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The entrance to the restaurant

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Florida Gator Mascot inside the restaurant

As we walked up the stairs to the restaurant to sit outside, we passed some Gator memorabilia that I just had to take a picture of.  It’s no surprise that people who come to this restaurant are not only Florida Gator Fans but also who love and enjoy their foods and waterfront view!!

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More Florida Gator Memorabilia

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Margarita Surf Board

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Gator hanging from the ceiling

The waterfront view of this place is breathtaking and amazing!! I could smell the sea air, hear the seagulls and take in everything that this place had to offer! We were greeted by a bubbly and corky waitress dressed with a Florida Gator Orange Shirt who introduce herself and took our drinks and food order. While we waited, I was admiring the Florida view and thinking how lucky I am to live in such a tropical place.

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View from our table

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John’s Pass Walkway

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Seagull near our table

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Gator Bites and crunchy French-fries

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Calamari with Lemon, Zucchini, Squash and Marinara Sauce

Their menu has quite the selection of food including soups, leafy greens, sandwiches, burgers and more. We ordered their Gator Bites and crunchy French-fries along with their Calamari plate which included lemon, zucchini, squash and marinara sauce. The food was greasy, tasty, delicious and I was left with wanting more!

If you are ever in Florida, take a drive to John’s Pass located in Treasure Island and stop to get a bit at Gators Restaurant, you won’t be disappointed!!

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie