St. Petersburg – The Sunshine City

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St. Petersburg’s claim to 360 days of sunshine each year has earned it it’s nickname of “The Sunshine City.” For that reason, the city is a popular tourist destination, not only for millions of travelers from the United States but for people from around the world. In 2005, for example, almost 200,000 visitors arrived in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area on international flights — 73,000 of them were from England but Canada and Brazil weren’t far behind in the numbers.

Were they all there for the sunshine? Doubtful! St. Petersburg has many other attractions. For example St. Pete has the largest city marina in the United States, with 234 miles of waterfront property, 35 miles of beachfront and hundreds of resorts, motels, hotels and, of course condos; property in Florida is a very sensible investment if you plan on making it a regular vacation spot.

No slouch on intellectual opportunities either, St. Petersburg is the home of the Salvador Dali Museum; the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts; and the Florida International Museum. Another educational opportunity is taking an Art Gallery Walk sponsored by the Downtown Arts Association (DAA); over 20 galleries participate and they feature receptions and special events.

“The Pier” in St. Petersburg is a whole world unto itself. The Pier juts out a mile from the waterfront and is the center of shopping, dining and recreation in St. Petersburg. Inside you’ll find the Aquarium along with a winery, shops, restaurants, a food court, live music and plenty of fun events for the whole family. The Pier is also the jumping-off point for excursions such as Duck Tours and catamaran trips. You may also find the HMS Bounty (the one used in the 1962 MGM movie starring Marlon Brando) docked at The Pier.

Warning: St. Petersburg family vacations are highly addictive!

This post was generously sponsored by: Florida Adventure

American Success Stories

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At the age of 14, John Simplot dropped out of school and ran away from home. That happens a lot and, typically, the end of the story is a sad one; not so for John Simplot. This was the early 1920s and America was then, as it is now, the “Land of Opportunity,” but only if you have the right combination of guts and luck; the boy John Simplot had both. John happened upon a farmer who, for whatever personal reasons, was a borderline alcoholic and who’s farm was suffering as a result. John took the reigns and learned what he could from his benefactor — in particular, he learned how to grow great potatoes. He also learned to love his hometown of Boise Idaho.

Eighty-four years later, at the end of 2006, John Simplot and his family took their place as the 278th richest family in the world with a worth of $3.2 billion. You may have never heard of John Simplot or known that he was “The Potato King” but it’s almost certain that you’ve eaten his potatoes. Approximately half of the millions of pounds of french fries sold by McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC each year are purchased from the Simplot Corporation.

Idaho is, of course part of that slice of America that we consider the Heartland of America and John Simplot’s beloved Boise is Idaho’s capital. What he loves about it is clear to those who live there and those who visit get a taste that they must like, evidenced by the state’s population growth, currently the third fastest growing state in population in the country. Wide open and beautiful spaces, a great economy, all the cultural events and attractions you could ask for and, the biggest attraction to some people: it’s nothing like New York City or Los Angeles.

Besides John Simplot (at least NOW you’ve heard of him) some American success stories that originated in Iowa are the stories of: the explorers Lewis and Clark; the author of Annis, Vardis Fisher, the baseball great, Harmon Killebrew; the poet, Ezra Pound and the very famous actress/celebrity Lana Turner.

Read more about it!

Idaho Facts: Idaho by Enchantedlearning.com

Boise Facts: Key to the City’s page for Boise

This post is sponsored by the Boise Homes Guide: Boise homes

This post is part of what will be an ongoing series promoting my favorite subject: “This Great U.S.A.”

Got Arizona on My Mind

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As mild as the winters are here in the Dallas, Texas area they’re still too darn cold for me. I was born and raised in the wintry climes of Chicago and got out as fast as I could. I thought Texas would be like an eternal summer but was wrong.

So I took a break from politics and took a winter trip to Arizona and now that I’m back I can’t get Arizona off my mind. I finally found an almost eternal summer and loved it (Hawaii’s great too but frankly too expensive).

I landed in Phoenix and took a short drive to Scottsdale to see what I’ve heard is a great place to visit and eventually retire. What I heard was so right! I had planned to drive around to some other cities but Scottsdale captivated me. To make a long story short, I didn’t want to come back . . . but I had to . . . at least for now.

Check out some links — maybe you’ll find Scottsdale your kind of place (No! The Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce isn’t paying me for this post!):

Scottsdale Info Page: Desert USA/Scottsdale AZ

A Scottsdale Photo Tour: from Metro Shot

This post is sponsored by the great Scottsdale real estate brokerage that will be working on a condo for me: Scottsdale Real Estate