Tucked away along the Florida Gulf Coast, Dunedin is one of those magical seaside towns that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. It is among the oldest towns in the Sunshine State and boasts a unique combination of distinguished beaches and Scottish culture. Many descendants from Scotland call this beautiful region home and host a variety of events, festivals and carnivals throughout the year to preserve and share their heritage. Visitors can also enjoy the parks, trails and a myriad of outdoor amenities that lend themselves to open-air activities like biking, hiking and soaking up the sun. Plus, it’s a super dog-friendly town –locals even call it “Dogedin” – so bring the pups along to play.
1. Dunedin Highland Games & Festival
Residents and tourists alike have enjoyed the Dunedin Highland Games & Festival for more than 50 years. This outdoor street festival draws a massive turnout, with visitors eager to enjoy the boisterous parade, pipe bands, drumming, dancing championships, traditional Celtic music, games, crafts, food and more. There’s even a rugged Highland Trail 5K designed to transport participants into the Scottish Highlands themselves.
2. Dunedin Seafood Festival
You would be hard-pressed to find a better selection of seafood along the Gulf Coast than at the Dunedin Seafood Festival. Because this event takes place along the beautiful waterfront park, festivalgoers have a magnificent backdrop from which to sample incredible fresh seafood and drinks, as well as meet local artisans and merchants. Insider tip: This spring festival often coincides with baseball spring training, so be sure to book accommodations well in advance.
3. Honeymoon Island
Honeymoon Island was originally known as Hog Island by early pioneers, but when a New York developer built palm-thatched bungalows and marketed them as a romantic honeymoon destination, the name quickly changed. Today, you can venture across the causeway to soak up the sunshine, explore the swamps, search for beloved osprey nests and take advantage of all the water activities available on the island. Guests often have great luck hunting down seashells here, seeing as the Gulf regularly washes up a beautiful assortment on the shore. The island is also home to the Rotary Centennial Nature Center and Cafe Honeymoon.
4. Dunedin Brewery
Florida has no shortage of craft breweries, but did you know that the oldest microbrewery in the state is located right in the heart of Dunedin? Dunedin Brewery is a fan favorite among residents and tourists, likely because it focuses intensively on quality over quantity. There are also seven other craft breweries within a mile of each other in this charming seaside town, making Dunedin an ideal destination for those looking for a good old-fashioned pub crawl experience.
5. Dunedin Celtic Music & Craft Beer Festival
Scottish roots run deep in Dunedin, exemplified by yet another festival. The Dunedin Celtic Music & Craft Beer Festival is a lavish celebration of culture, history and food. This annual event dives into the twin pillars of contemporary Celtic music and local and national craft brews. What’s not to love with a combination like that? Be sure to stick around long enough to soak up as much live entertainment as possible, including performances by the city’s own world-famous pipe band.
6. Caladesi Island State Park
Soak your toes into the white sand beaches of Caladesi Island State Park and you’ll immediately see why it was rated America’s Best Beach in 2008. From swimming and sunbathing to beachcombing and fishing, this is the place to go if you want to savor a little peace and quiet in one of the only natural islands along the Gulf Coast. Enjoy the 3-mile nature trail through the interior or spend the afternoon paddling the kayak trail through the island’s mystical mangroves. Regardless of how you spend your time on the island, you won’t leave disappointed.
7. Dunedin Marina
In the heart of downtown, you’ll find Dunedin Marina, a postcard destination for tourists who find themselves lingering in the city center. From here, you can board a sailing or fishing charter, catch a breathtaking sunset, launch your kayak or attempt to land the catch of the day from the fishing pier. Across from the marina, you can also find restrooms, picnic pavilions and play areas for the little ones.
8. Dunedin Blue Jays
Baseball fans are bound to love the fact that Dunedin is home to a minor league team, the Dunedin Blue Jays. In the spring, major league teams like the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays come down and play games as part of spring training. A major construction project at the stadium just wrapped up at the start of the year, which means visitors can now enjoy extensive updates and elevated game day experiences for the whole family.
9. Downtown Dunedin Art Festival
Sculpture, photography, ceramics, glass and more are available for perusal and purchase at the Downtown Dunedin Art Festival. Each year, artists line the streets of downtown to showcase their wares, and you never know what treasures you may find as you wander through the various tents and vendor booths. The art festival is a free event, but you may want to stay the weekend to make the most of both days.