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Part of me feels like I have done a disservice by not exploring this cute little town before so I can share it with you all, and another part of me feels like I’m doing a disservice to those who do know about this underrated destination by spilling all of its magnificence with everyone who doesn’t know about it.
But I can’t help it— I have a big mouth, and when I find awesome places, I get excited to share them! I am excited to divulge all things Dunedin with you and give you your ultimate guide on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat (and drink).
Ultimate Guide Dunedin, Florida
I have been to Dunedin before just a couple of times for a few drinks, but I never really explored the town— or realized there was so much to explore. Boy, have I been missing out. Dunedin is so freaking cute and charming. Some people say it’s comparable to a smaller-scale St. Petersburg, and I would agree. Similar to St. Pete, it has unique eateries and awesome breweries, and it’s very pedestrian and pup-friendly. But it’s different in that it just felt a little less busy and a little more cozy. The staff at every place really showed their personality as well as tried to get to know us— it was so delightful. I’d say I had some of the best hospitality experiences here in comparison to anywhere else I’ve been in Florida.
Where to Stay in Dunedin
If you are going to be staying in Dunedin, the Fenway Hotel is a must. Y’all, I loved this hotel. Such a perfect location— right across the street from the Clearwater Harbor, and an easy, enjoyable walk to downtown. Or better yet, use one of the bikes the hotel has for guests to use freely!
The hotel was moderately priced. It tends to go for less than $200 a night. They are a Marriott Hotel, though, so if you have Bonvoy points, you can just use those!
There is a restaurant and rooftop bar located on-site. You can enjoy indoor or outdoor seating from the HEW Parlor and Chophouse, and there are even a couple of tables with chairs on the lawn if you want to set up your own little date-night dinner around sunset. I had too many places to pop around downtown for food that we ended up not checking out the on-site restaurant, but I will definitely be back to try it and experience the romantic ambiance the outside area had for dining.
Don’t want to leave your room to go grab a drink? No worries— the Fenway hotel says to forget about a mini bar and supplies each room with what I like to call a mega bar. Full bottles of wine, whisky, and other alcoholic drink options (and plenty of snacks), just help yourself (for a fee, of course)!
If the Florida heat is too much for you, they also have a lovely pool area where you can enjoy laying out or taking a dip.
Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar is not currently open.
What to Do in Dunedin
Unlike the other beaches in the area, Honeymoon Island is a little more unadulterated. You won’t find beach bars or hotels here. What you will find is white-sand beaches, plenty of varieties of wildlife, a dog beach, and some nature trails. There are two bath houses and a little cafe if you get hungry. Honeymoon Island State Park is open from 8 am until sundown and has an admission fee ($2 for pedestrians/bicyclists, $4 for single-occupant vehicles, and $8 for vehicles with 2-8 people). While this is a lovely place to lay out and enjoy the beach, I really enjoy it around sunset. If you drive, one hour prior to sunset, they lower the vehicle admission fee to $4, and the sunset here really is quite the sight to see.
Open from 5 am to 11 pm, the causeway is great for a number of activities, including laying out, propping up a hammock, kayaking, paddleboarding, Rollerblading, biking, jogging, fishing— and more. There is a little hut you should notice on your left before entering Honeymoon Island called Sail Honeymoon Kayak and SUP Rentals. Here, you can rent sailboats, kayaks, or paddleboards for various time frames. You can rent for as little as an hour, but if you rent for any amount over two hours, you are able to take your rental over to Caladesi Island and explore! Pro tip: go earlier in the morning, because you’ll have a better chance of seeing dolphins!
This is the perfect place for tranquility. You have a couple of ways to get here— by foot (from Clearwater Beach), by private boat, by ferry, or by kayak/paddleboard. There are small admission fees regardless of which mode of transportation you take to get to Caladesi.
Caladesi is especially great for nature lovers. There is a three-mile kayak trail you can experience that takes you through some mangroves, or if you want to stick to land, there’s a beautiful three-mile nature trail you can experience! Make sure you bring bug spray!!
Take the Jolley Trolley over to Clearwater
Normally, there are some activities to do in the Dunedin Marina. However, many have recently moved their locations due to the Dunedin Marina dredging project that is taking place at the moment. The Jolley Trolley is currently free, and it runs from Clearwater Beach all the way up to Tarpon Springs! You can enjoy a nice coastal ride (don’t forget your mask, and be aware there is limited seating!) as you head off to enjoy some activities on Clearwater Beach! Use the Trolley Tracker to see when the trolley will be at the stop nearest you.
Check Out the Foodie Scene
There are so many awesome restaurants and eateries in Dunedin, and the best part is they have just the thing for any craving— Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian, sushi, pub fare, BBQ, everything. You name it, they have it, and all of the spots are within walking distance from each other and will leave your tastebuds pleased (they sure did mine).
Especially if you’re only staying or exploring for a day, I highly recommend bouncing around from place to place and just getting one or two small things at each. We had so much fun doing this! I really feel like we got the taste of Dunedin. Peep below for details on each place we stopped along the way!
Pro tip: When planning your day and which places to visit, make sure you check what days and times they are open! Many places (especially during these struggling times) didn’t open until 4 pm or weren’t open Mondays or Tuesdays! So just keep that in mind when planning!
Hit Up Some Breweries
I commend Dunedin— for how small it seems, they really do have quite the selection of breweries. I only got to check out a few during my visit (more details below), but I’ll link all of your options here!
- Dunedin Brewery
- Woodwright Brewing Company
- Cueni Brewing Co.
- 7venth Sun Brewing Company
- Caledonia Brewing
- HOB Brewing Company
- Soggy Bottom Brewery
Where to Eat and Drink
Sandpiper Coffee Roast Coffee Cafe
I went to a few coffee shops during my visit, and this was by far my favorite! The hazelnut latte was so deliciously smooth with the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor! They also have an adorable outdoor seating area where you can enjoy your coffee and breakfast or lunch!
The Dunedin Smokehouse
Craving BBQ? This place is for you. I got the brisket sandwich (no bun) with a side of potato salad and smoked gouda mac and cheese. The brisket was very tender, super lean, and moist (I hate that word too, but it was!), and paired with the sweet BBQ sauce, it was a match made in heaven. The potato salad was really yummy, too! While the smoked gouda mac and cheese wasn’t exactly my thing, I could see why other people enjoy it! I’m very much a side chick (that sounds bad, but I just really like my side dishes), but the brisket was definitely my favorite part of the meal!
Just about every drink on this menu was screaming, “Drink me!” I had such a hard time deciding that I just told our server to surprise me. He did not disappoint when he brought me the Watermelon East Side! It was made with vodka, fresh watermelon, muddled mint, and cucumber. This drink was so refreshing and just what I needed on this hot summer day! If you’re into martinis, they have a ton of options. Next time I go back, I will be giving one of those a try!
I have heard nothing but good things about the food here, but since we were trying to try a little bit of everything at each place, we just opted for an appetizer. I wasn’t really in a tuna mood, but I let Remi pick here and he was wanting the chilled ahi tuna, so that’s what we got. Ya’ll, I’m so freaking glad I let him pick. I took one bite thinking I was just going to try it… and ended up being reluctant to only have half. This was some of the best tuna I’ve ever had. It was very fresh and literally fell apart in my mouth. Also, this place is right on the water, so along with amazing food and drinks, you get stunning views!
This restaurant is described as a spot for grubbing on “fresh, healthy, authentic Mexican food.” Now, if you’ve read a few of my other posts, I have mentioned that Mexican food is not really my cuisine of choice, and tequila and I have not been friends (or even acquaintances) in years. However, when asking around what places in Dunedin to check out, this was almost every single person’s first response. And after checking it out, I agree it’s a must stop.
They had quite a lovely menu, but since I rarely eat Mexican food, we asked our server what the most popular items were, and I let Remi pick from there. We settled on the enchilada en salsa roja! We didn’t want to do the full meal they had listed on the menu since we were popping around from place to place, and our server informed us we could just order one a la carte. It was just enough to satisfy us, and the presentation was beautiful!
This was the first enchilada I have ever had, and I found it delightful!
Of course Remi had to get a margarita, and with all of the recommendations this place had, my curiosity got the best of me, so I had to try it. Mine and tequila’s reunion was not nearly as painful as I was imagining it to be! I envisioned having to pucker up and jump out of the booth from the tequila punching me in the face— but instead, my tastebuds were… dare I say it, delighted. Casa Tina made the perfect margarita, with perfectly balanced flavors— not too much sour mix, and the tequila was smooth! I’m not saying me and tequila are going to jump back into a friendship, but Casa Tina made me realize maybe I don’t have to completely write it off.
The decor in this place is also something to note— so beautifully colored and fun! The staff here was also so sweet and helpful. Dee was our server, and she even parted us with some fun stickers that she made herself! Overall, this place was just so great— I give it a 10/10 rating. Casa Tina is an absolute must stop during your time in Dunedin!
Once we got here, I totally forgot the whole reason I wanted to go was to get their Brewhouse Nachos, which have pulled pork, beer cheese, and all sorts of other goodies— so if anyone goes here before I make it back, please get this and give me allll of the details!
We got the Buffalo cauliflower, a dish I used to think was impossible to mess up. However, after getting this at several places, you learn there are definitely more superior Buffalo cauliflower bites— Dunedin Brewery having some of the most superior Buffalo cauliflower I have had yet! It had just the right amount of breading that somehow managed to stay crispy while we attempted to let it sit and cool (not gunna lie, burnt my mouth a few times, because I lacked patience and the first bite was just so yummy). The sauce had the perfect level of heat, and while I normally dip mine in ranch, I really enjoyed their bleu cheese! It was much more subtle than most and paired very nicely.
And of course, don’t forget to check out their varied beer list— from IPAs to lagers to stouts, you have options! And enjoy your beer and snacks in or outdoors!
Woodwright Brewing Company and Coattails
Personally, I love going to breweries, even though I’m not much of a beer drinker. I think most breweries, Woodwright Brewing Company included, do a great job of accommodating those who aren’t as enticed by beer. I had a glass of pinot grigio while I enjoyed the real reason I came to this location— the Bavarian pretzel served with beer cheese made from Woodright’s Irish Red. The beer cheese was everything. I got third degree burns on my fingers from having the incapability of letting the pretzel cool off before attempting to pull it apart to dip in the cheese. But trust me, it’s even better once the pretzel has cooled off a little bit.
The brewery is actually set in a woodworking shop! When you walk up to this place, it definitely stands out unlike any other building in Dunedin. It almost felt like it belonged somewhere in Tennessee, because you really don’t see places built like this down here. I really enjoyed the uniqueness! They have an adorable beer garden area where you can enjoy your beer and whatever snack you may want from Coattails.
Rooftop bars are a must for me when I explore! They usually have some yummy drinks with a chill vibe, and of course, stunning views. HiFi is located at the Fenway Hotel where we stayed. We went a bit before sunset to beat the crowd we thought may gather in the evening, and we succeeded. It was the perfect spot for us to lounge and enjoy a drink and the view of the Clearwater Harbor before we headed back downtown to do some more exploring.
Sonder Social Club
While this isn’t as hidden or secretive as a speakeasy, you do get a little bit of those speakeasy vibes once you enter. It features cozy, dim lighting with shelves of liquors adorned with one of those sliding ladders you often see in libraries, along with my favorite touch— the speakeasy-style bathrooms that have the doors hidden within bookshelves.
They have a lovely craft cocktail menu! Don’t see anything you like? No worries, tell the bartender a few things that you like, and they will whip you up your own personalized cocktail! I was craving a gin or vodka cocktail with eggwhite and somewhat of a fruity flavor. The bartender hit the nail on the head and made me a pleasant drink that was not too sweet, but definitely had a subtle fruity flavor! I was reminded of one of the best bars in Raleigh, Brewery Bhavana.
Crown and Bull
It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is— morning, evening, or late night, this spot is hoppin’! With brunch every day of the week and delicious bloody Marys, you can start your day off on the right foot here (that’s what I did). Most people around town will probably tell you to make sure you get one of their bennies. I had yet to be steered wrong by this town, so I went for it and got the crabcake bennie. It lived up to the hype. The crabcake was full of flavor and lump crab meat, the hollandaise was delish, and the English muffin remained crisp until it was all gone.
The bloody Mary had a little kick (you can get spicier if you’d like), and a super light, natural flavor that I really enjoyed. I love bloody Marys, but I usually have a hard time finishing them, because they can be so thick and heavy— but that was not the case here! It also comes garnished with bleu cheese-stuffed olives if you’re into that (I’m not, but it was a treat for my boyfriend).
The outdoor area in the back is a great place to enjoy your drinks at night! Featuring string lights throughout and an old, lit-up oak tree that really adds to the ambiance. Make sure to enjoy at least one of their signature cocktails or martinis. I don’t even know where to begin with how amazing all of these sound, so I’m just gunna leave the menu here if you want to peep at it. After deep deliberation, I got an All Razzed Up Martini, and it did not disappoint.
This Hawiian-style restaurant I found to be such a lovely touch to Dunedin! You won’t be able to miss this place when walking. My eyes immediately got wide with excitement in hopes this was the place our GPS was leading us to. We opted to eat indoors since midday in Florida summers is no joke, but the outdoor area is beyond adorable.
We tried their house salad with their orange-blueberry vinaigrette, the huli huli sliders, and the ahi poke! The dressing was so good and like nothing I have ever had before! The ahi poke definitely was the star, though— the rice was so sticky and yummy, and the tuna was perfect. I am dying to go back to try all of their unique salad dressings as well as their tiki trio, which is blue corn chips and original, mango, and pineapple habanero salsas with guacamole! Okay— and like everything else on the menu.
Don’t even get me started on the drinks here. If there’s one thing I learned on this day trip, it’s that there are too many places with amazing, unique drinks here— it’s dangerous. Anywho, they have a cool drink menu that shows you little pictures next to it of what type of glass your drink is going to come in (don’t lie— you know that affects your choice sometimes 😉 or is it just me?). I got the Puako Sunset, which has vodka, pineapple, coconut water, orgeat (almond), and fresh lime. I will definitely be getting that again!
If you like games, you HAVE to go to this place. It has such an awesome retro vibe lit with blacklight and neon decor, making it an extra cool vibe for a nightcap! They have pinball, OG arcade games, board games, and game systems new and old throughout the entire place. Seriously, every corner is lined with games. And the one corner that isn’t has the highlight of my experience— the microwave.
I don’t know why this moment was so magical to me (okay, maybe it was because all of the food places around us were closed and my heavily-buzzed self worked up quite the appetite losing in all of the fun arcade games), but Reboot has a snack menu you can order off of, and then the microwave has a corresponding number to the item that you press and it prepares it to perfection.
I’m telling you guys: this probably shouldn’t excite me as much as it does, but I pulled my huge Stouffer’s mac and cheese out of that microwave and looked at it like it was a perfectly-cooked filet mignon. It was everything. I just think it’s so fun that they have such classic snacks like the mac, Red Baron pizza, and White Castle Burgers. They really made sure to stay on theme, and I love ‘em for it. Here is a list of all the drinks, snacks, and games they offer, in case you want to scope it out beforehand!
Places on my List
Okay, so I crammed as much as I could in a day, and I feel like I did a pretty dang good job of squeezing in some of Dunedin’s best food and drink spots in, but there are quite a few places that I still am really looking forward to checking out! If you end up checking any of these spots out (or if you already have), let me know what I should try when I go!
- Pisces Sushi
- The Living Room
- Hurricane Eddie’s
- Rusty Lyon
- HEW Parlor and Chophouse
- Eli’s BBQ
I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide to Dunedin, Florida! And if you get the chance, I hope you take some time to explore one of Florida’s most charming little towns!
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