Pioneer Park in the center of historic downtown was buzzing as people shopped the local, open-air farmer’s market for fresh produce, seafood, cheeses, and other specialty items. Later that evening, families set up lawn chairs and blankets in the park to watch a movie on the outdoor screen. On any given weekend, you’re likely to find something going on downtown.
Dunedin also hosts a slew of special events throughout the year, including its popular ArtHarvest. This nearly 50-year-old, juried show, held the first weekend in November, showcases the work of more than 200 artists. The popular Dunedin Wines the Blues festival, also in November, draws some 30,000 people and offers wine and beer samplings from around the world and entertainment from top-notch blues musicians. The annual Celtic Festival in the fall and the spring Highland Games celebrate the city’s Scottish heritage.
We were sorry the Toronto Blue Jays weren’t in town during our visit; we’d have grabbed close-to-the-action seats at Dunedin’s old-fashioned Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, for a spring training game. Instead, we treated ourselves to ice cream cones at the award-winning Strachan’s Ice Cream Shop (their homemade carrot cake flavor is reason enough to visit this town) and returned in the evening for drinks at the Brewery and spicy Korean style BBQ beef lettuce wraps at the contemporary Living Room restaurant.
Not all of Dunedin’s art is on its outside building walls. The next morning, we visited the surprisingly top-notch Dunedin Fine Arts Museum.
“The fact that we have an art center in a community this size is amazing,” Roy said, urging us to check it out. We weren’t disappointed. The museum has four galleries featuring national, regional and local artists, a fine gift shop, a small café for coffee, sandwiches and sweets, and the fun, interactive David L. Mason Children’s Art Museum.
After, we contemplated taking the ferry to Caladesi Island State Park to kayak among the mangrove forests and twisting tidal flats. We decided instead to take a cue from the mellow locals, grabbed a seat on the patio at Kelly’s, ordered cold pints of craft beer and a bucket of peel and eat spicy shrimp — and felt right at home.