The more I explore the sunshine state, the more I realize I really, really love small towns. I actively seek out places that feel inviting, are small enough to explore on foot, and – ok – have at least one really great spot for an ice cream cone.
Funny then, that in my multiple past visits to Dunedin, I never ventured past the Dunedin Brewery and nearby 7venth Sun Brewing Company. (Turns out afternoons are easily lost when eating delicious food and sampling 3 too many craft brews.)
While the brewery scene is lively and worth experiencing, I knew this town had more to offer, so it was time for another visit.
This time, I set some boundaries for myself:
1) I will not lose the entire day to beer, as great as it tastes.
2) I will actually visit the beach this time.
3) I’m definitely still going to Dunedin Brewery though. (Playing with fire?)
4) I’ll walk around downtown, mainly as a method for counteracting the carbs consumed at Dunedin Brewery, but also as a research project (I’m totally drawn to Dunedin and would possibly like to live there someday).
5) Ice cream.
The day went a little something like this: a morning spent at Honeymoon Island getting entirely too much sun, lunch and one beer (willpower!) at Dunedin Brewery, a stroll around downtown, and of course ice cream, all in the great company of my mom (aka my day trip sidekick). It was a day incredibly well spent which I found to be equal parts happiness and mild heartbreak.
Happiness because there are colorful homes, unique shops, a mexican restaurant AND a pizza/wine bar right next to each other (dreams do come true), nearly everyone smiles and says hello to each other, and it’s impossibly cute. Heartbreak because…there are colorful homes, unique shops, a mexican restaurant AND a pizza/wine bar right next to each other, nearly everyone smiles and says hello to each other, and it’s impossibly cute.
Needless to say, my seed of desire to live here grew exponentially.
So what is it about Dunedin? Part of it is definitely being an artist. Local businesses, colorful buildings, and artistic details can be found around every corner. The arts are clearly valued here, and what type of artist wouldn’t want to live in a place like that? But there’s also an overall charm and authenticity to it all.
Dunedin is also incredibly dog friendly. I mean, just look at this dog mural:
There’s a dog beach in Honeymoon Island State Park, restaurants put out water bowls, the other side of that dog mural actually says “Welcome to DOGedin.” As a dog owner/lover, this obviously speaks to my soul. Dog people = good people, just sayin’ (sorry cats, I still like you though).
Is there anything not to love? Well, the problem with areas like this is that everyone wants to live there, myself included. Our waiter at Dunedin Brewery, having grown up in the area, spoke of gentrification and how it was becoming more and more difficult to find a place to rent. A quick stroll through town revealed a new condo project in progress and some pricier home listings. Still, I got the impression that things seemed pretty balanced – here’s hoping it can stay that way.
When you live in Florida, it can be difficult to find a place that doesn’t feel overrun by tourism or catered directly to tourists. Sure, that means never running out of things to do, but sometimes it’s overwhelming.
Dunedin is a great escape from the hustle and bustle, even just for the day.