Clearwater Beach is one of a series of beautiful barrier island towns that stretch along Florida’s Pinellas County Gulf of Mexico coast. Blessed with powder white sand it’s a favored playground for tourist worldwide.
At dusk throngs gather at Pier 60 to enjoy a typically stunning sunset that for residents is one of the perks of living along the Gulf of Mexico. Pier 60 juts over 1,000 feet into the Gulf. In the daytime it’s a popular fishing pier.
But after 5:00 p.m. it transforms into a free sunset party complete with buskers, musicians and vendors selling a myriad of arts and crafts.
After sunset walk over to Pier House 60 Hotel and take the elevator to the 10th floor. Jimmy’s Crows Nest Bar & Grill offers panoramic views of Clearwater Beach that at night are particularly impressive along with great burgers and drinks.
Florida, the Sunshine State, can just as easily be dubbed the Sunset State after spending an evening on Clearwater Beach.
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At best, the European empires who vied for centuries over control of the Western Hemisphere considered Florida a convenient military outpost for protecting shipping lanes to and from the old world. Misquotes, yellow fever, swamps and wars are never good for real estate sales. European empires and American statehood did little for Florida’s economy. It took Henry Flagler – John D. Rockefeller’s partner in Standard Oil – to create an American Riviera and the state’s first golden age. His entrepreneurial expertise built the Florida East Coast Railroad, a plethora of elegant hotels, the cities of Miami and Palm Beach and revived the oldest city in North America, St. Augustine. From the late 1800’s through 1929, Florida basked in both its sunlight and the glint of a golden age in tourism.
More wars, the Great Depression and jet aircraft diverted attention and Florida’s luster suffered from the 1960’s to the end of the century. Yet the 21st century has witnessed a renaissance in interest in America’s sub-tropical real estate and it’s 20th century golden age.
The arts are flourishing with the revival of resort destinations such as the gulf coast’s St. Petersburg. The venerable Morean Arts Center (1917) has built a new facility just to feature America’s preeminent glass artist, Dale Chihuly.
500 years ago (1513) Don Ponce de Leon fruitlessly searched for the legendary fountain of youth and discovered Florida instead. A lot of history and visitors have followed and they all needed a bed. The building that is now St. Augustine’s renowned St. Francis Inn was built while the city was still part of the Spanish empire – 1791. Yet Joe and Margaret Finnegan have never seen Lily even though they have owned St. Augustine’s historic St. Frances Inn for nearly three decades. Of course, Lily’s not a guest…
An attentive and friendly staff of 14 oversee the many details that can make a guest of the St. Francis Inn forget they’re also visiting one of America’s great historic destinations, St. Augustine, Fl.
With a sly smile, chef Chris Sherrill’s response to winning Gulf Shores 5th Annual Oyster Cook-off in November was, “eat oysters, love longer.” Ten restaurants along the beautiful white sands of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach epitomize both coastal food and southern hospitality.
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