The BEST Kept Secret in Tampa Bay Florida

There is a place in Florida, one of the best places that maybe you’ve never heard about. A place with a slow rhythm, with as many dogs, bikes and kids as there are cars. The speed limit on Main Street is 25 mph if that gives you a hint.

Here, time slows down and pace become relaxed. This place is Safety Harbor, Florida, often referred to as the Jewel of Tampa Bay.

Safety Harbor is located on the west shore of Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay waterfront is Safety Harbor’s most prominent feature with beautiful pedestrian and bike trails along the waterfront, reaching from Philippe park to the north and the Courtney Campbell causeway to the south, connecting with the Rheem-Wilson trail along the way.

Safety Harbor has a perfect location.  It is centrally located to the Tampa Bay area, within minutes of Clearwater, Tampa, Dunedin, tarpon springs and St. Petersburg.

This town is blessed with the most friendly people and year round fun events. Music festivals, antique car shows, sea food festivals, wine on main street, Sunday Farmer’s Market, there are events just about every week. And every third Friday, Main Street is shut down and the entire town turns in to one big street party with food, drink, music, art and more!

Another great thing about safety harbor: it has an amazing collection of great local restaurants, far more than you would expect for a small town. These restaurants and pubs are all Locally owned, chief centric and one of kind. Downtown Safety Harbor is only 10 blocks long and a couple blocks wide, so the only transportation you’ll need is your own two feet!

The Beach Not Taken

Philippe Park Beach

“How far away is the beach?” This is definitely one of the most frequently asked questions from our guests. John and I have been sharing the most well-known beaches around Tampa Bay such as Clearwater Beach, Indian Rock Beach, and Honeymoon Island.

Then things changed this week.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that Safety Harbor has its own beach! Not just one, but two!!

Both beaches are similar in the fact that :

  • Stunningly beautiful
  • Very seclusive, only a few locals know about
  • Free and abundant parking

These Rare Find beaches are only 5 minutes away when you stay at any one of our Safety Harbor Vacation Homes. Check here for availability.

The first beach we discovered is at the far end of Philippe Park. The park itself is A Hidden Jewel in the Tampa Area, and this beach is a hidden jewel SQUARED!

Bring a beach chair, umbrella, and a cooler, no need to worry about finding or paying for parking, just walk to the beach, relax, listen to the waves and watch the palm trees swing in the breeze.

Philippe Park Beach

How about a picnic after the sun? Thoughtfully located picnic tables are steps away.

Philippe Park Beach Picnic Table

The second beach is even closer! Located right at the Safety Harbor City Marina. This beach is much smaller in comparison to the Clearwater beach, and that’s exactly why it’s so charming.

Drive or walk to the Safety Harbor City Marina any day of the week, find one of the free and abundant parking spots, then walk about 50 yards, and it is likely that the beach is all yours to enjoy!

Safety Harbor City Marina Beach
Safety Harbor City Marina Beach

This brand new beach experience reminded me of the poem:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

This Town Has Art In Its Heart

I am a true believer that everyone is an artist. Art is not just pretty things displayed in a museum or gallery, it is all the things that stop us, from our daily rush, to pause for a second or two, and really see the beauty around us.

When you come to Safety Harbor, Florida, you will see artistry everywhere, created by the most friendly and fun-loving people here.

Safety Harbor Welcomes You with Art Along Main Street

Art in front of the Whistle Stop Restaurant
Art created by the fishermen (unknowingly ) at the sunrise of Philippe Park
Mural Art on Main Street
Art at the street corner
Art at the street corner
Art at the street corner
This is my favorite piece of art, it is painted on a picnic table at Philippe Park, can I challenge you to find it 🙂
Art created by Nature
Art created by Nature

Inspired by all the artistry at Safety Harbor, here comes our Casa Artista 2 bed, 2 bath vacation home, packed with color, nature, luxury, and comfort.

Blackberry at Casa Artista
Sunroom at Casa Artista
Casa Artista, A Dream Vacation Home in Downtown Safety Harbor, FL

Learn more about Casa Artista, check it out here:–the-most-enchanting-relaxing-escape/218355

Philippe Park, A Hidden Jewel in Safety Harbor

I have seen many beautiful parks in this country. Yet, Philippe Park continues to be one of my all-time favorites.

Here is why! ( Couple of pro-tips at the end)

  • It is Stunningly beautiful, everywhere!
  • It is a perfect place for every member of the family. Kiddos, adults, more mature adults, furry friends, everyone with 2 legs or 4 legs, all can find something to love here.
  • There are so many fun things to do here: hiking, biking, fishing, picnic, hammocking, beach, or take the BEST selfies under the magnificent tree canopy
  • Abundant Parking, FREE.

Here are what you will see on a beautiful Friday morning in May

Hiking Trail along the water front

Indian Mount

The most biking/walking trail

Do you know that there is a beach in the park? Few locals do, now you do too.

Share a peaceful environment when the true locals show up!

Boating anyone?

Pro-Tip 1:

Before you get to the park, pay a visit to our friends at First Choice Food & Deli (335 Philippe Pkwy, Safety Harbor, FL 34695). Eddie and his wife make the absolutely BEST Cuban sandwiches in the area. Grab a bottle of wine while you are there and you’ll have the best picnic in 10 minutes. Take to the park, find a table near the water and have a beautiful experience you’ll never forget!

Pro-Tip 2:

You will be minutes away (by walking) to this fabulous park when you stay in any of our beautiful vacation homes in Safety Harbor.

Enjoy a Fun & Inspiring Stay at Casa Artista

The world is changing rapidly in front of our eyes, and we all manage this interesting change one way or another.

If you were to ask our most recent guest Cheryl, and her four-legged friend Chloe, Life is as wonderful as this home-made French Toast. Literally!

Home Made French Toast at Casa Artista

and Chloe agrees!!

Chloe Checking out Birds at the Front Porch of Casa Artista

A great breakfast keeps the doctors away… so here is an awesome and tested recipe cooked completely in the kitchen of Casa Artista.

Super Soft and Custard-y Japanese Style French Toast

This Japanese tamagoyaki-inspired french toast is soft and custardy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The perfect combination of sweet and savory!

Serves 2

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 30 mins


  • 2 slices thick-cut bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • oil for the pan

To Serve

  • whipped cream
  • maple syrup
  • cubed mango or any fruit of your preference


Trim the crusts off the bread and set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, soy, and mirin. If you want to go the extra mile, strain the egg mixture.

Divide the egg mixture equally between two shallow bowls and add one slice of bread to each. Let soak for 1-2 hours covered, in the fridge, then very gently flip and let soak, covered, for another hour to two.

When ready to cook, heat up a non-stick pan over very low heat. Add a touch of oil and add the custard soaked bread (let the excess drip back into the shallow bowl) and cook, over low heat, covered, for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden on the bottom side. Gently flip and continue to cook, covered, until the other side is golden and the toast is puffy.

Serve and enjoy hot, either unadorned or with whipped cream, syrup, cubed mango and if desired, toasted pine nuts.

The Toast was thoroughly enjoyed in the Sunroom of Casa Artista, our newly renovated vacation home located in Safety Harbor, Florida.

Breakfast/Sunroom at Casa Artista, Safety Harbor, Florida
2 bedrooms, 2 baths, sunroom, open concept living room, kitchen, private yard
Sunroom with daybed and pull out trundle bed
Open space Livingroom, dining room, and Kitchen
Superfast Internet, over 200 Cable Channels
10 minutes walk will take you to this stunning sunrise at the City Marina.

Safety Harbor – Small Town with Award-Winning Restaurants

If this is your first visit to Safety Harbor, you are in for a treat!

Known as the hidden jewel of Tampa Bay, I could not imagine a more relaxing and inspiring place.

Among the stunning sunrise, city marina, boutique shops, year-round festivities, one big mystery remains about safety harbor:

How is such a small town packed with so many fantastic restaurants?!

Ellen and I both love great food, and drinks 🙂 So please, let us introduce you to some of our all-time favorite places to eat, drink and have a great time.

Pizzeria Gregorio

The first must go is Pizzeria Gregorio – its a boutique pizza shop. The man making the pies is the owner, Greg. Greg is seriously a perfectionist when it comes to bread baking, making the best tomato sauce, and house-made mozzarella. Fresh ingredients plus Greg’s passion explained the unexplainable great taste of the pizza.

Also, please don’t tell him that we said this. We think Greg is a philosopher disguised as a chef. I would recommend sitting at the bar in front of the pizza oven, you are well dined and well entertained!

Parts of Paris

Another one of our favorite places. It is french food served with southern hospitality. Owner Chris and everyone at the bar will make you feel right at home.

We have tried just about everything on the menu and it has all been fantastic. We once brought a friend of ours who lived in France for years, he ordered lamb chops, he rated it two thumbs up!

Bar Fly

Be sure to also visit BarFly on the east end of downtown. It is an awesome Caribbean-themed place with fresh seafood, fun decorations, and the most relaxing atmosphere.

If you happen to be in town on Tuesday, be sure to check out the famous Taco Tuesday at BarFly, it will be a fantastic time to see many locals as well as happy visitors.

The Kitchen and Bar at Safety Harbor

Set in a charming bungalow, the Kitchen and Bar at Safety Harbor is one of our favorite places anywhere.

The gumbo dish is one of the best we ever had, including New Orleans.

The petit filet mignon with scallops is simply speechless! The plate was cleaned up so quickly, no pictures were taken, Sorry!

Southern Fresh

Born and raised in Nashville, I have an unrealistic high standard when it comes to fried chicken. Yet, Southen Fresh’s fried chicken made to the top of my list. The batter is crispy, the chicken is tender and juicy. Just the right amount of spiciness. All the other southern sides are equally impressive. Also, the best chicken noodle soup in the Tampa Bay area.

The list just goes on and one, in our next blog let’s talk about drinks.

Rolling Stone Museum Exhibit Makes its Final Stop in Nashville, TN

I’m a Nashville native and in my 50+ years of living here, I’ve seen a lot of change. However, some of the things I remember from decades ago are still around like old friends. One of these is the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. This is a 10,000 seat auditorium with almost 70,000 sq/ft of exhibit space, which served as Nashville’s first convention center.

Nashville Municipal Auditorium

Nashville Municipal Auditorium

I’ve seen many legendary artists perform there including The Eagles, Journey, Elton John and Billy Joel. One of the more memorable shows was seeing Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. On this occasion, Silver Bullet sax player Alto Reed was wireless mic’d (yes they had those then!) and came up into the audience two rows from where I was sitting. I had the thrill of watching him do the sax lines of “Turn The Page” from less than 20 ft. away.

This Nashville institution is now home to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. The 70,000 sq/ft of exhibit space is now a museum that displays local as well as traveling exhibits.

Nashville Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

Nashville Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

The Rolling Stones Exhibit at the Nashville Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is on display through June 26, 2018. This display features over 500 artifacts from The Rolling Stones 54-year history. This is the exhibit’s last stop, so don’t miss it! The museum is open from 10:00am to 5pm Mondays – Saturdays and 1pm to 6pm on Sundays. Get more information and purchase your tickets here!

Stones Exhibit.jpg

Visiting Nashville? Stay at Heidtke House

Heidtke House is our beautifully restored mid-century modern home – available for booking your stay in Nashville, TN. Located in The Historic Bluefields community just east of Downtown Nashville, Heidtke House is Centrally located just 10 to 15 minutes from Downtown, East Nashville, Opryland and the Nashville International Airport. When you stay at Heidtke House, you are never far from where you want to be. Check our Availability for an always-up-to-date calendar and rates with a variety of booking options including AirBnB, VRBO / HomeAway – and you always get the best rate when you book directly with us!


Get Ready – The Music City Hot Chicken Festival is Around the Corner

What is Hot Chicken anyway? It is a uniquely Nashville delicacy – chicken dredged, breaded, and fried with lots of fiery spice along the way, and generously coated with an even more fiery dry spice mixture at the end. Always served on slices of white bread with pickles and sides such as cole slaw.

YES! We Nashvillians take our Hot Chicken Seriously. Maybe too seriously? Nah…

Nashville Hot Chicken Festival   (Love by Nashville Vacation Home Heidtke House) 

Nashville Hot Chicken Festival   (Love by Nashville Vacation Home Heidtke House) 

There are many legends that tell the tale of how this delicacy came to be, but most revolve around this dish being served as revenge by a scorned lover!

The 13th Annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival pays homage to this uniquely Nashville phenomenon, which has left its mark around the world. One of my work colleagues was in the UK not long ago and noticed that “Nashville Hot Chicken” was offered on the menu at a London pub.

Created in 2007, the annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival brings together the local community and visitors to celebrate the uniquely-Nashville dish, Hot Chicken.

The FREE event is held in East Park at 700 Woodland Street on July 4th each year. The Fire Truck Parade begins at 10:30am followed by free Hot Chicken samples to the first 500 people in line. Festival gates open at 11:00am. Visitors can sample Hot Chicken from Nashville’s best Hot Chicken establishments, cold beers and other delicious edibles from many local vendors

Live music from local bands keeps the “Nashville” vibe going all day long and visitors can look on while five teams try their hand at cooking up their version of Hot Chicken in the Amateur Cooking Competition

The event ends at 3pm, when visitors can start making their way downtown for the annual fireworks display. 

A few things to keep in mind when visiting the festival:

  • The Hot Chicken Festival is a “Rain or Shine” event
  • Admission is FREE to the Music City Hot Chicken Festival
  • Best to leave pets at home
  • The Festival is all-ages, however a valid ID is required for all beer sales.
  • Not all vendors accept credit cards. There is an ATM on site
  • No outside coolers allowed
  • No tents allowed
  • Restrooms are located inside the East Park Community Center
  • Free Hot Chicken samples are given to the first 500 guests, but the line starts forming well before 11am, so plan accordingly

Visiting Nashville? Stay at Heidtke House

Heidtke House is our beautifully restored mid-century modern home – available for booking your stay in Nashville, TN. Located in The Historic Bluefields community just east of Downtown Nashville, Heidtke House is Centrally located just 10 to 15 minutes from Downtown, East Nashville, Opryland and the Nashville International Airport. When you stay at Heidtke House, you are never far from where you want to be. Check our Availability for an always-up-to-date calendar and rates with a variety of booking opotions including AirBnB, VRBO / HomeAway – and you always get the best rate when you book directly with us


Best Restaurants in Safety Harbor, Florida

Safety Harbor, also known as the Jewel of Tampa Bay, is a well kept secret among the locals and experienced travelers. Ellen are I discovered this vacation heaven years ago and fell in love with it ever since.

Here you will find old Florida charm and most welcoming local people. We would like to share some of our favorite places in Safety Harbor, starting with great local restaurants.

Pizzeria Gregario

400 2nd St N.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695-3614 (727) 386-4107

This is no question one of our favorite places.  Not only because the food is authentically good, the ambience always welcoming, the secret ingredient is the proprietor – Greg Seymour, who we secretly address as “Greg the Philosopher” Greg is the man in front of the wood-fired pizza oven making the pies and engaging in lively conversation with the guests seated at the bar – this is where you’ll want to be!


When you arrive, take your seat anywhere you like (we recommend the bar – see above) then check out the chalkboard menu and place your order at the counter – Greg and his team will have it ready before you know it.

Greg is like a one-man symphony director and he makes pizza making a harmonious art. Our favorite is a spicy sausage and peppers pizza, but Greg has something for every taste.  


Greg sources fresh, local ingredients, bakes his own bread, sources everything fresh and local – and it shows in every pie and dish he delivers.

Southern Fresh

122 3rd Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 (727) 216-6341


Real southern cooking, cooked fresh with fresh ingredients with great ambiance and great service. Dine inside, order to go, or enjoy the huge deck under a huge live oak tree draped with Spanish moss, and a warm and cheerful fire pit on cool evenings.

Fried chicken is the most popular menu item, so order early and be patient but it so worth the wait. The chicken is fresh, hot, the breading is crisp and crunchy yet not oily. That’s what we southerners call a good fried chicken.


A favorite of locals and travelers alike, great southern comfort food accompanied by a great wine and beer list.

 Parts of Paris
146 Fourth Ave N.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 (727) 797-7979


Parts of Paris delivers the ambiance and much more! Located inside a charming bungalow, right next to The Kitchen and Bar of Green Spring. This is one of the best restaurants in Safety Harbor, and even all of Tampa Bay.

Parts of Paris is an authentic French bistro and craft cocktail bar. The best bar scene in Safety Harbor, comfortable inside dining as well as wonderful outdoor dining in the front and also in the back courtyard.

Begin with a Smoked Old Fashioned, Steak Tartare or French Onion Soup for starters, then Mussels and Frites or Pork Medallions paired with a selection from their great wine list – can’t go wrong here.


Finish with an amazing Crème Brulee and you’ll have a dining experience to remember!

Happy Salmon

500 Main St, Safety Harbor, FL 34695

(727) 723-1116


One late summer night Ellen and I were strolling along Safety Harbor’s charming Main Street, when we walked pass this cute Japanese restaurant. We noticed a family sitting outside under the moon, surrounding a big table, all talking, laughing, with sake glasses on the table, they were having such a great time! Later we learned that was actually the owner Tom, his wife and restaurant staff. It is their tradition to chill out together after closing the restaurant for the day. We immediately decided to give it a try the second day.


And that’s how it all started. We fell in love with Tom, his wife and this family run restaurant and have been regulars ever since. The sushi rolls are always fresh, delicious, and artfully presented by beautiful Ms. Tom. Ellen is particular about her Sake and this place has one of the best sake selections. Everything we’ve ordered has always been excellent, we can’t wait to go back! This charming family-owned restaurant is truly a jewel in Safety Harbor .

Marker 39

155 5th Ave N, 155 5th Ave North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695-3636


Just how many great and unique restaurants can a small town have? Marker 39 is another gem in Safety Harbor. We discovered this charming little bungalow tucked away on a quiet street just one block off Main Street. What attracted us at the first sight was this beautiful patio, hidden under a canopy of tropical plants and majestic oak trees. We knew immediately this is the perfect place for a romantic evening.


That’s exactly what Ellen and I did on a couple’s night out, the whole experience couldn’t have been better! We both loved the casual atmosphere, friendly staff, great food, and a great wine list. Marker 39 hit all the right notes.


The food was Floribbean style, fresh seafood with a Caribbean touch. We highly recommend a visit to this charming spot.  Be sure to make a reservation as it fills up quickly.

And this is just a start, there are so many more fun places in this quaint little town. Stay tuned and more is coming.

Fido’s Favorite Coffee in Safety Harbor, Tampa Bay Florida

Florida Safety Harbor

So you and Fido finally arrived in Safety Harbor, the hidden jewel of Tampa Bay!

We hope you’ve had a chance to try one of the Best Restaurants in Tampa Bay or one of the Most Unique Local Breakfast Spots.

Now what to do on this beautiful sunny day?

Let’s start with Coffee…Here are 3 of the BEST Coffee Spots!

Café Vino Tito

Best Coffee Experience is Cafe Vino Tinto. I ordered my usual Cafe Americano here and I was blown away by the excellent Costa Rican coffee. Beans are roasted here right on-site. Most folks around town refer to it as the “Coffee Window” because it really is a walk-up window where you are served and can enjoy your brew at one of the patio tables.

I have heard that they also serve one-of-a-kind waffles on the weekend, like this Black Forest Gluten-Free Waffle that we’re looking forward to trying on our next visit.

It’s in the back of the big New Orleans-styled building that faces Main Street, right across the parking lot from the DreamCatchers mural (see our breakfast blog post)

Two interesting facts about the shop:

1.     It is an all-ladies run business!

2.     They were voted the Best Crafted Beverage in 2019

Kilo’s Kava and Tea Bar

This is a place where Fido is King (or Queen!) Could you tell from their sign?

Great group of guys that run the place – it’s a unique and great experience. Looks like they have a big outdoor courtyard, but it was chilly the evening we were there, so we stayed indoors.

What’s unique about this coffee shop is the Kava, also known as the “happy root”, an alternative to wine that gives a euphoric calming experience.

Couple of interesting things about Kava:

1.     It is very popular among pet owners. Bringing your puppy to the café will extend your happy hour, and your fur baby will get a treat also!

2.     If you are going to try a Kava, make sure that you did not have wine before 🙂 Kava and alcohol do not mix well.


Gotta have one, right?! It’s right on Main St at 2nd Ave S, toward the Tampa Bay end of town.

Couple of things that are of interest at this particular Starbucks:

This is a place where proud pet owners and passionate cyclists gather and have a good time!

It has one of the most creative mural designs inside.

Also a great place to enjoy another unique mural design right across the street at the local chamber of commerce.

Let one of these great coffee spots start your day bright!

The next will be some fun shopping and parks to enjoy.

Hang on..more coming.