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Dunedin: Florida’s closed link with Scotland

May 19, 2010

If it wasn’t for the welcome sign with its picture of a highland piper dressed in a kilt, Dunedin would have looked like any other town around the Tampa region in south Florida: tall poles holding signs advertising Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and other fast food conglomerates of the world; a Walgreen situated opposite from a CVS pharmacy; and strip malls filled with unidentifiable shops and more fast food outlets.

But something told me that this Dunedin was different — reputation. Word of mouth had led me to believe that Dunedin’ s town centre was the place to be. Packed with cafés, restaurants and boutiques. A good place to wander around on a warm Sunday afternoon.

The link with Scotland could be seen once I’d moved close to the town centre. Street names had changed from numbers to historic names: Victoria Street, Edinburgh Square, but it was Scotland Street that told me I had arrived in Dunedin — South Florida’s historic Scottish settlement.

by Cate

This was not the first time I’d been to Dunedin, but the Dunedin I knew was in another hemisphere. One of New Zealand’s southern cities carries the same name. It’s a city I grew up with and studied in when I as a student. New Zealand’s Dunedin is famous for its rowdy student life, top notch university and seldom having a dull moment. Could I same the same for Florida’s Dunedin?

I looked forward to trying out one of the cafés in the centre and ambling through the shops unfortunately my word of mouth source neglected to tell me that on Sunday in Florida’s Dunedin, things slow down and are often, closed.

by Cate

I should have picked up on the sluggish note when I walked past a couple of older women busy chatting while sitting in their personal golf carts, which seems to be the latest fashion accessory at the moment in these communities. Slowness aside, the shop fronts are boldly painted cottage style bundles of quaint, offering what I can only guess to be some vintage goodies alongside espressos, desserts, ice-creams,  handcrafted candies and nic nacs.

by Cate

From the outside looking in, this small Dunedin oozes something. Could it be charm?

Going by travel notes, Dunedin holds an annual Scottish festival along with weekend art and craft markets. It buzzes with life — apparently.

I’ll put my visit down to bad timing. Apart from an ice cream parlor pumping with kids and a bar pumping with excited out-of-towners, nothing was happening in Dunedin Florida.

by Cate

Of course I’ll be back sometime to write about the place again. It may be in one month, or six, but it’s a place that looks like it has something to offer when it’s open.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. travelforaircraft permalink
    May 19, 2010 6:31 pm


    This is a nice, if quiet, spot in Florida. Aside from the small, but quaint as you noted, downtown area — about two blocks — is a nice beach and island park (Caladesi Island). I agree, it is a very quiet place on a Sunday!


  2. May 19, 2010 7:04 pm

    I can find Scotland Street in Penang too, and Victoria Street, Kimberly Street….

    • May 20, 2010 11:06 am

      Penang and Cameron Highlands I think are both old colonial posts of the UK.

      Joe – quaint is the word. I can see this placed getting crowded when an event is on.

  3. May 22, 2010 3:17 am

    I hope it is a bit busier next time you are there Cate. It would have to be pretty good to compare to Dunedin in NZ though!

  4. May 23, 2010 9:19 am

    Oh Cate, I’ve just come from Florida too and many of the resort towns are indeed sleepy. You need to go to Miami for the action. I would have liked to read about a glimpse of Scottish culture as well. I’ll be posting about Amelia Island, which passed hands from the British, Spanish, French and five others.

  5. May 23, 2010 10:05 pm

    I love these places that look like replicas of an original, particularly when you can sense some of their charm.

  6. May 24, 2010 2:12 pm

    Thanks Tom, I’ll let you know!

    Fly Girl – Amelia Island, anything to do with the pilot I wonder? True about Miami for action, so very different from the rest of the state. Not only is Florida flat in terrain but also a somewhat flat in life. Can’t be diplomatic about it.

    Gourmantic – yes, I know NZ has a lot of towns like this it is good to see them elsewhere as well.

  7. May 25, 2010 1:56 pm

    It’s frustrating when you catch a place at the wrong time yet sense that when things are open it would be worth another look – it’s especially annoying when shops full of interesting things I might want to buy are closed!

    • May 25, 2010 5:08 pm

      Almost like you have wasted your time and effort to get there. Then again I should have not assumed anything as the saying goes.

  8. May 28, 2010 3:43 pm

    Yet another wonderful city where I once lived. Downtown is so small, you could blink and miss it, but it’s jam-packed with history and culture. The fact that it’s right next to the water just makes it that much more special.

    I love this cute little town, and although I don’t live there anymore, I am close enough to visit when the mood strikes, and I do!

    Great post!

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