Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hollywood Legends On Pasco's Cotee River

Most people assume they have to travel to Hollywood - or at least Universal Studios Orlando - to get a glimpse of the movie star lifestyle. What many in Pasco don't realize is that we have a little bit of star dust right here at home and it can be found along the banks of the Pithlachascotee River, which winds through historic downtown New Port Richey.

In the early 1920s, celebrities like Shirley Temple, Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin came to Florida for the great weather and glamorous parties in places like New Port Richey's Hacienda Hotel. A few even built homes here and one of the best ways to see those homes is aboard the Miss Daisy II, the 49-passenger pontoon boat that docks at the Seaside Inn Restaurant off U.S. 19 in Port Richey.

The two-hour river tour takes visitors past homes once owned by silent film stars such as Thomas Meighan and Gloria Swanson. Baseball great Babe Ruth had a spring training residence here, as did Shirley Temple, whose $1.7-million Spanish-style home is pictured at left. June Carter Cash spent her winters at a home on the Gulf of Mexico in Pasco. The Miss Daisy's Capt. Ray Kelly will even show passengers his copy of an old black-and-white photo of Johnny & June Carter Cash enjoying a fishing trip at one of the stilt homes still standing today.

The Miss Daisy is a great way to see the riverfront and tiny islands that dot the Pasco coast, including Durney Key, a popular spot to camp, dig for shells, picnic and sunbathe. You can grab a great lunch at a number of riverfront restaurants, including the Crab Shack, Fatty 'n Mabel's, Hooters or Catches Seafood. The Miss Daisy is available for private groups, special events and sunset cruises. Reservations are strongly recommended. Adults are $19; children are $12. Discounts are offered for groups of 26 or more. For more information, visit or call 727-819-1754.
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