History and Nature Combine

for One Delightful Dunedin

 As we continue to bring special “natural” or what we call the “REAL Florida” to our readers we decided to visit one of our favorite spots in Destination Tampa Bay…Delightful Dunedin! 

 For a gallery of our trip click here

There are so many things to do these days in Dunedin. One favorite pastime is spending the day shopping in one of the many unique boutiques and then dining at a quality non-franchised restaurant enjoying food from some of the best chefs and Dining Destinations in Tampa Bay. Of course, Honeymoon Island is yet another attraction worth a day trip! It is also a delightful biking and walking town with deep historical roots.  

All these things make Dunedin “Delightful,” but today we will feature another spot in Dunedin that is slightly off the beaten path yet another destination worth a special trip. The Hammock Park, Hammock Garden and the adjoining Memorial Andrews Chapel combine to become a special place to explore whether you live here year-round or are just visiting. 

Hammock Park is a unique 90-acre natural park inhabited by various forms of wildlife and plant life flora and fauna. It has five miles of nature trails, three picnic pavilions, an observation platform and more. So many birds can be seen at Hammock Park that the park is listed in the “Great Florida Birding Trail Book.” You can learn more about this gem of a park by checking out the Friends of Hammock Park at www.HammockPark.org. Take time to walk the trails and take in the scents and sounds of nature that you will find at Hammock Park, right in the center of Dunedin. 

This park really has everything. There are multiple intertwining trails, each named and well-maintained. You can walk for hours in an abundance of nature on trails that have occasional garbage cans and frequent benches, some boardwalks, bridges, and tree-lined avenues. There is a nice playground as well as picnic areas, shelters and grills. There is even a disc golf area that offers a chance for some outdoor fun! 

The Historic Andrews Memorial Chapel is an elegant historic wedding venue for couples in the greater Tampa Bay area. This charming Victorian building is ideal for an intimate ceremony inspired by vintage details, classic design and elements of nature found at the Hammock Park and Hammock Gardens. Whether you are planning an event or just checking the chapel out for a step back in time, you can enjoy the venue’s gothic archways and Butterfly Garden paired with picturesque backdrops that seem to be out of a storybook but are very real. And, the Historic Andrews Memorial Chapel is open to all faiths and orientations, reflective of the atmosphere and mindset of Delightful Dunedin. 

As you step back in time while visiting the chapel and gardens, it is interesting to learn about its history. In 1876, B.M. Brown, one of Dunedin’s first homesteaders, donated this land for the church to be built on. A man named John G. Andrews offered $200 to the construction costs, provided it was named after his late son, William. The church was named Andrews Memorial Church. 

In 1888, the name was transferred to a new church nearby, which is the current wedding venue and one of the oldest churches in the area. By 1926, the title was changed to Andrews Memorial Chapel, and in 1974, it underwent renovation. The church was also added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

While you are visiting the Andrews Memorial Chapel and taking a stroll at the Hammock Park, you should be sure to take some time to enjoy the Hammock Park Butterfly Garden. A favorite attraction at Hammock Park is a lovely butterfly garden — an ideal spot to watch natural beauty take flight. 

The garden, created for the enjoyment of the entire community, features 11 beds with 225 plants in 40 varieties. Crushed shell pathways lead visitors through a flowering display of butterfly favorites. Tucked away on a quiet side street, local gem Hammock Park is home to more than 35 species of butterflies. 

The community’s Butterfly Garden is the inspiration of Friends of the Hammock, a local nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the park. A small group of volunteers tackled this ambitious project in partnership with the Dunedin Parks Department and Eagle Scout Troop 422. This garden oasis draws visitors to Hammock Park while providing a valuable habitat for native butterflies. The garden was recently certified as an Official Butterfly Sanctuary by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Other certificates have come from The National Wildlife Association and the North American Butterfly Association. 

Creating the Garden was truly a community effort. Theresa and James Polgar spearheaded the project by designing the garden, drafting a budget, raising funds, selecting plants, and overseeing the installation. The garden was installed by a group of volunteers led by Eagle Scout Sean Deeb, with the help of the Dunedin Parks Department staff, including Art Finn and Glenn Bechtle. Founding benefactors who provided startup funding for the garden include Herb and Martha Donald, Bob Young, Pat Jennings, Allan Donald, Ellie Keithly, Theresa and Jim Polgar, and Friends of the Hammock. 

Hammock Park is not a great place for bicycling, as many of the trails are narrow and rough. Strollers and wheelchairs can be used, but, again, it would not be terribly easy because of the narrow, rough trails. The bigger trails would be fine, though. Walking and jogging are no problem. We have found the workers there very helpful and friendly. 

So, whether you enjoy hiking and viewing nature, taking pictures or watching birds, or if you have a passion for the wide variety of butterflies, you will find it all here. And those who enjoy history—you will find it all here bundled in one special day trip! 

Photos and Story by Heather Miller 

Courtesy of Destination Tampa Bay 

 

For more REAL Florida in Destination Tampa Bay check one of these stories and galleries out:

Saddle Creek Nature Trail

Mashall Hampton Reserve

Dead River Road

Circle B Reserve

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