When you think of Seminole, you might think of the rather congested gateway out to the beach, but there are neighborhoods — older, treed neighborhoods — tucked away in places only the residents who live there know about.
Harbor View, a neighborhood of about 500 homes sandwiched between Boca Ciega Bay and Park Boulevard, is one of those.
It's an extremely desirable area, Rich Rippetoe, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Sun Vista Realty, said.
"When a home becomes available in Harbor View, it's gone," he said.
Its low-lying nature — about half the homes are in a flood zone, Rippetoe said — doesn't deter people who want to be close to the beach, send their children to highly rated schools or live off the beaten path.
"It's a safe neighborhood. The only people who turn in there are people who live there," he said.
Most of the homes, which are by no means cookie-cutter, were built in the 1980s and '90s, so it's a mature neighborhood with lots of trees.
Heather and Chris Mariscal and their two young children, Isaac, 4, and Weston, 2, are one of those families who wanted the seclusion that Harbor View offers.
The Mariscals grew up in Seminole, not far from Harbor View, and moved to St. Petersburg after they got married. However, when they started their family, they wanted to be back in Seminole.
And so, they bought a stilt home on one of the tree-lined streets two years ago and love being back in the town in which they grew up.
"We used to ride our bikes to the beach," Heather Mariscal said. "My husband was a surfer. He'd stick his board under his arm and ride off on his bicycle.
"I'm sure our boys will do that someday, too," she said.
They bought their home, which was built in 1990, from its original owners who had the foresight to put the house up on stilts. Back then it was not required, but it has really helped the Mariscals save money on flood insurance. Regulations today require houses near the water in flood zones to be built on stilts or have a first floor that is not used as living space.
Nearby parks were also a draw for the Mariscal family. She said they spend a lot of time in both Boca Ciega Millennium Park on 74th Avenue N and Lake Seminole Park on Park Boulevard.
Millennium Park is all about nature with a boardwalk winding through the mangroves. Mariscal said her sons love to listen to the birds and catch lizards there. The family also kayaks from the launch site at the park.
Lake Seminole Park is where they go to ride bikes, play on the playground, have birthday parties and ride personal watercraft — but they don't swim in the lake.
"We would," Mariscal joked, "but there are a lot of alligators in it."
Patti Ewald can be reached at [email protected]