The northern Pinellas waterfront communities of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs offer great dining, gorgeous vistas and genuine characters you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else.
In charming Dunedin, hit Main Street, where you'll find the Chic-A-Boom Room [319 Main St.; (727) 736-0206], a beloved Dunedin party joint, and the funky Casa Tina Gourmet Mexican & Vegetarian [365 Main St. Dunedin; (727) 734-9226].
Not far away is the award-winning restaurant Black Pearl [315 Main St., (727) 734-3463]. Despite classical preparations of continental cuisine, the kitchen staff keeps things contemporary with the inclusion of ingredients like jicama and heirloom tomatoes, or with preparations like a crispy pork belly osso buco ravioli.
For beer lovers, don't miss Dunedin Brewery [937 Douglas Ave.; (727) 736-0606]. The stone-walled brewery that looks a bit like a highlander's castle has ginormous vats that produce phenomenal, award-winning beers like the Redhed Red Ale.
The small fishing village of Tarpon Springs is famous for its Sponge Docks [20 Dodecanese Blvd.], which pay homage to the Greek fishing community and sponge divers. The Spongeorama museum [510 Dodecanese Blvd.; (727) 943-2164] of all things sponge is our favorite retro haunt. For authentic Greek food, both tourists and locals press into Mykonos [628 Dodecanese Blvd.; (727) 934-4306]. And you'll kick yourself later if you don't stop in at one of the bakeries, such as Hellas [785 Dodecanese Blvd.; (727) 943-2400], and take home a fresh pastry in a little white box. Currents [200 E Tarpon Ave.; (727) 940-5377] swims against the Greek tide with more contemporary and darn pretty plates of balanced cuisine. And Dimitri's on the Water [690 Dodecanese Blvd.; (727) 945-9400] offers inventive seafood and the perhaps the best lamb wrap in town.
Before leaving the north Pinellas coast, don't miss a stop at the famous William Dean Chocolates [2790 W Bay Drive, Belleair Bluffs; (727) 593-0656], with chocolates that are works of art. They were featured in The Hunger Games movie.