Happy wellness!

Originally appeared in the St. Petersburg Bar Association March/April 2021 issue of Paraclete

Happy wellness issue SPBA members! As you are reading this, we are in the midst of both my favorite time of year in Florida and my favorite issue of the Paraclete. The two coincide nicely as outdoor time is at the top of my wellness list. The more time I have outside, in the lovely weather, the happier and healthier I feel. I hope you all enjoy the outdoor opportunities our beautiful part of the world has to offer this time of year, as well as this issue. In the spirit of both wellness and days with an average high of 72 degrees, I will offer you some of my thoughts on a few new-to-me and wonderful outdoor experiences here in St. Pete. As a parent, I have found that my kids and I (my husband is pretty much happy no matter what, so he’s excluded from this statement) are happier when our Saturdays and Sundays have as much time outdoors as possible, preferably in the morning and at sunset. A few issues of the Paraclete ago, I offered various challenges to our readers and I have engaged in several myself. One of those challenges I’m partaking in is trying to visit all of the parks in St. Pete. So, pursuant to that challenge, I have recently visited Maximo Park and Abercrombie Park, and I will offer you some insight into those parks, which are certainly worth a visit. Additionally, my family has taken to biking the Pinellas Trail more, and I’ll share my experience biking from Demens Landing in downtown St. Pete to downtown Gulfport. Spoiler alert: it’s great and it only takes 45 minutes! Maximo Park is a 70-acre oceanside park on the south side of St. Pete, located where Boca Ciega Bay joins Tampa Bay. The park has a covered playground, beach, boat ramps, an Indian midden site, a two-story wooden lookout, frisbee golf, bike trails, covered picnic shelters, and large grassy areas that are perfect for running the energy out of children or dogs. There are great views of the sunset and clean restrooms available as well. Some of the picnic shelters have grills that can be used and there is also ample area for putting down a picnic blanket or hanging a hammock between trees. My kids loved hanging out near the two-story lookout (see photo), trying out frisbee golf, and picnicking under the trees. Other people at the park were enjoying playing fetch with their dogs, using the playground (this was a little too crowded for our comfort level), and getting out on the water from the boat ramps. The beach area would be a great place to push off on a paddleboard or kayak, and some people were taking advantage of that as well. Overall, I highly recommend taking a trip to this park, which is the largest of St. Pete’s four archaeological sites. I suggest going around 4:00 P.M., bringing something to grill (don’t forget the charcoal!) or eat, and staying through sunset. Maximo Park is exit 16, which is the last exit before you go over the skyway. Enjoy! Abercrombie Park is in an area of St. Pete known as “Jungle Terrace.” Abercrombie Park is a waterfront park that offers one of my favorite opportunities—a beautiful sunset view. Abercrombie Park has lots of trees, a lovely waterfront area, boardwalks, picnic tables, and another historic Indian midden. Our kids easily spent 2.5 hours enjoying this park after having a morning snack at a picnic table looking out over the water. We saw birds, squirrels, a raccoon, and dolphins during our morning at the park. There’s a very small beach area with mangroves and several great areas for sitting down to enjoy a snack, drink, or just taking a moment to relax. Abercrombie Park, like most of St. Pete’s parks, is open 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset. Abercrombie is at the intersection of Park St. and 38th Ave. N. on the water. It’s definitely worth a visit. If you like to bike, I highly suggest you head out on the Pinellas Trail. Specifically, try biking from downtown St. Pete to downtown Gulfport. It’s a perfect ride and there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate a bite to eat or even a stop at a brewery into your trip. We parked at Demens Landing downtown St. Pete. There was parking for two or three hours. I recommend parking in one of the three-hour spots if you want to have time to bike to Gulfport, grab a bite to eat, and bike back at a leisurely pace. A leisurely pace is necessary for me when I’m towing a child, which is most of the time. Demens Landing is another waterfront park with picnic areas, great views of the pier, sunrise or moonrise, boat ramps, and restrooms. Once you park at Demens, you can bike right across the street and hop on the Pinellas Trail. As you bike through downtown, it’s not immediately obvious you are on the trail, but if you’re on a bike path heading straight across the street from Demens, you’re heading in the right direction! It will take you down First Avenue South. Right around Tropicana Field, the trail will curve south and it will be more obvious you are on the actual trail. You will pass the old train station, many murals and have a nice mix of shade and sun. There is one overpass that will make you use a little extra energy heading up and enjoy the ride down on the other side. You will pass many playgrounds, which may be useful if you have young children. If you are following my advice and heading to Gulfport, watch for the left turn after you pass 49th St. There will be an arch with a sign welcoming you to turn left, leave the trail, and head to Gulfport’s waterfront district. Once you turn left, just keep heading straight until you cross 22nd Ave. South. At that point, you can bike through the park with art exhibits and it will take you straight into the waterfront district. This area of Gulfport has great restaurants, coffee shops, festivals, a beach, parks, etc. There are plenty of great opportunities to spend a whole day. If you want to stay for a whole day, just remember to park your car somewhere where you aren’t limited to three hours. I hope you enjoy some of these new finds for me and find new ways to embrace wellness in 2021. We are spoiled with Florida winters. I encourage you to revel in it and get outside while other people in the world are shivering and wishing they had 360 days a year of sunshine! Yours in wellness, Shannon

Shannon L. Zetrouer is a partner of ZP Legal, PLLC. After obtaining her law degree and M.B.A. from Stetson University in 2005, Ms. Zetrouer focuses her practice on real estate and consumer protection matters.  Her passion for law is only superseded by her love for her children, Ariana Sol and Austen Lee, and her husband, Trevor.  As a Florida native, she takes full advantage of 360 days of sunshine by boating, enjoying live music, and exploring her hometown, St. Petersburg.

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