It may be quaint, but the scenic coastal town of Dunedin is exceptionally artsy and ever-evolving. Behind the doors of its eclectic shops and restaurants, the casual culture lover, foodie or beer aficionado are all thoroughly immersed. And with the city's progressive downtown and full calendar of art events and other happenings, there’s a steady stream of new things to see and do. Here are some fresh ways to explore vibrant, progressive Dunedin.
Dunedin's name hales from the Scottish Dùn Èideann, and the town's rich Celtic heritage can be seen in many of its established attractions. Stop in at the Dunedin Historical Museum, housed in a former railroad station, and The Celtic Shop of Dunedin, stocking authentic tartans, clan heritage books and claddagh rings.
Recently, the story of Dunedin's little-known orange manufacturing heritage has blossomed into some fun public art. Local artist Steve Spathelf has brought this juicy history to life with a series of colorful orange murals. He started secretly painting the signature Florida fruit on buildings, graffiti-art style, and two years later he's publicly celebrated for his work. There are now more than 130 orange murals, including a vintage fruit crate label (read more here). See how many oranges you can spot around town.
Dunedin's downtown is famously pedestrian-friendly and artsy. Besides the orange murals, there's the beloved "Dogedin" (pronounced Dog-ee-din, rhyming with Dunedin) pet mural at Skip's Bar and Grill on Main Street. New art venues are dedicated to working artists: Stirling Commons houses an art institute, galleries and cafes open to the public; the Institute for Creative Arts features artist studios and galleries displaying stained glass to photography.
Check out the locally owned The Painted Fish Gallery and Firehouse Gallery, containing works by local and national artists. Darling Memories features one-of-a-kind goodies like clever handbags made from juice boxes, and Stirling Tropical Wines sells locally made fruit wines and hand-painted wine glasses. If antiques are your thing, you'll find a treasure trove in the Antique Mall of Dunedin.
Dunedin favorites include The Black Pearl, known for its exceptional cuisine, and the Dunedin Smokehouse, an energetic sports bar. There's also festive Casa Tina for Mexican food, and Kelly's and the Chic A Boom Room for everything from breakfast omelettes to late-night martinis.
But there’s plenty off the beaten path, too. Downtown, JolliMon's Grill is a Florribean restaurant with homemade sangria and live music. Eli's Bar-B-Que is anything but ordinary – this roadside stand serves up tasty ribs, pulled pork and more, all with a delectable secret sauce (see a video on Eli's). For a good meal on the water, head west toward the marina: Olde Bay Café offers seafood and other Florida favorites right on Old Clearwater Bay; Bon Appetit Restaurant offers a more formal restaurant along with a casual café on the marina.
Downtown Dunedin also claims Florida's oldest and newest craft brewery, and they’re practically neighbors. The Dunedin Brewery, billed as Florida's oldest craft brewery, offers the popular Apricot Peach Ale and creamy Nitro Stout, plus live music most nights and a drum circle on Tuesdays. Around the corner is the new Seventh Sun Brewing, which serves up Belgian-style beer, oak aged sour beer, IPAs and more.
It's worth venturing beyond city limits to get some exercise and take in some spectacular scenery. Take a bike, walk or jog on the Pinellas Trail, a 40-mile recreational trail that runs right through downtown Dunedin (see a video on the Trail). A trail spur connects to Honeymoon Island State Park, one of the area's award-winning beaches, and from there you can take a ferry to Caladesi Island State Park, another local award-winner. For secluded sands, ultra-clear water, rich nature and total relaxation, these two beach parks can’t be beat.