As they flock to the nearby beaches of Clearwater or the nightlife of Tampa, most tourists overlook Dunedin, a pretty burg known for its sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico. But, thanks to the segway-riding guides at Sun Glide Tours, the region’s hidden gem just became much more accessible. Astride their two-wheeled steeds, visitors can explore the Pinellas Trail that cuts through downtown, steering their segways alongside runners, bikers, and the town’s famous rollerblading squirrels.
Tampa resident and history lover Lonnie Herman’s longtime fascination with history has evolved into a broad expertise about the area's vibrant streets where newspapers are printed in three languages. The personable former executive also has the gift of being an evocative storyteller. This convergence of interest and talents resulted in Lonnie's company, Ybor City Historic Walking Tours. The guides' upbeat narration carry small groups down vibrant 7th Avenue with detailed anecdotes that reveal the complex past behind Ybor City's cigar factories, Columbia Restaurant, and the story of the eponymous Vicente Martinez-Ybor, who founded the city as a place to store his statues of himself.
Snorkel with Manatees' expert divers lead tours on underwater sojourns to discover peaceful manatees and environs beneath the waves. Offering both group and mini manatee tours year-round, the guides monitor each diver to ensure safe practice with the animals. Their Crystal River scallops tour scours the ocean floor for tasty scallops while avoiding crabs auditioning for The Little Mermaid revival, and the Snorkel with Manatees excursions explore the Crystal, Homosassa, and Chassahowitzka Rivers on airboat. They also teach the fundamentals of their craft during discover scuba-diving lessons.
Sailing smoothly since its maiden voyage last fall, the 155-foot Jacks or Better Casino harbors more than 180 ticket-operated slot machines, which allow bettors to digitally select the stake of each spin (from $.01 to $25). Chomp chicken tenders ($5) or a hot dog ($3) and examine the table games found on deck, featuring blackjack, craps, roulette, three-card poker, and baccarat ($5 to $1,000 limits), or place a wager on the ship's virtual sportsbook, which supplies betting options for collegiate and professional contests across the globe.
"We've got more canoes, kayaks and SUPs than fingers and toes to count them," Captain Wendy explains. "Also, two sailboats, eleven pontoons––all rentable. The funny thing is, this business came from a big accident." She's referring to the company’s inception in 2002, when a devastating hurricane led a friend to sign his company’s single sailboat over to Wendy and her husband, Bruce. "We were in marketing––then, suddenly, we were in boating." More than 12 years later, Windsong Charters & Boat Rentals has flourished under the duo’s stewardship. The company now performs 200 weddings each year and equips a wide range of patrons to revel in the breathless joy of cutting through playful zephyrs and out across the water. Wendy and Bruce encourage fishing and bringing pets on boating voyages, and the two share stories to delight guests or calm champagne bottles propped next to brand-new yachts. As propellers hum to life and paddles make a gentle kissing sound against the surf, visitors scan the horizon for the variety of wildlife that slips along just below the surf's surface or comes wheeling out of tufts of cumulonimbus. "I wish the animals would give us their schedules,” Wendy says, “but, on a given day, you could see manatees, dolphins, stingrays, and lots of birds."