Where will the road take YOU?

Destination Diaries

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 Clearwater Beach


By Angela Ash


Positioned on the west coast of Florida is gorgeous Clearwater Beach.  With pristine white sand beaches and clear waters (hence the name) on the Gulf, this is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world! 

A lot of people always ask which beach to visit when in Disney World.  As that Orlando is not a coastal city, a little over an hour drive must be invested in your beach day, but oh is it worth it!  Not many things in this world can tear me away from Mickey Mouse, but once my feet were in the soft sand and I was beneath the glorious shade of a palm tree, "It's A Small World" finally stopped playing on repeat inside of my head. 

Now, if you are wondering how to get from Point A to Point B, whether arriving in Clearwater Beach or Tampa, I have a wonderful solution!


Sometimes it is just so carefree to fly in for a vacation and not have to think about renting a vehicle.  You can avoid the hassle of shopping for the best rates, worrying about the high cost of parking at the theme parks, and deciding whether or not to get that extra insurance.  Wouldn't it be nice to just let someone else do the driving? 

Well, you are in luck, because there are two fantastic options in the Tampa Bay and Clearwater Beach areas! 

SuperShuttle offers a quick, convenient shared ride experience for runs to the airport, to your hotel, and more!  You may reserve SuperShuttle in advance, or if you are just arriving at the airport, it's easy to board the blue van and be whisked away to your hotel at a fraction of the cost of other methods of transportation.

A shared ride is extremely economical, and it means exactly what its title describes.  You and other passengers who are going in the same direction are picked up and dropped off at your destination in record time, and with plenty of extra cash still left in your pocket!


Now, if you have something a bit more private in mind, then ExecuCar is the perfect choice for you!  A sedan or SUV will take you from the airport to your hotel, to a business meeting, or they will chauffeur the entire family to and from Disney World.  ExecuCar is much more cost effective than a limousine, but it still upholds the same luxurious standards. 

When you require transportation, SuperShuttle and ExecuCar offer options to fit everyone's budget, schedule, and lifestyle.

For additional information, please visit SuperShuttle and ExecuCar online, or call (727) 572-1111. 

Transportation is SUCH an important part of any getaway. 


If you are lucky enough to find yourself on spectacular Clearwater Beach, then surely you are wondering the best way to get from one exciting attraction to the next.  And the answer is extremely simple.  The Jolley Trolley is undeniably the way to go! 

Even if your car is parked in your hotel lot, it is so much simpler to just hop on and ride!  And at under $5 for an unlimited day pass, which also includes rides on the regular county bus, it just can't be beat! 

The Jolley Trolley takes you literally just about anywhere you would want to go on Clearwater Beach, from restaurants to parks and to the best swimming areas.  There is even a Coastal Route on the weekends.  Interested in going to Tarpon Springs?  Yup... the Jolley Trolley has you covered! 

The trolley is also an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the area. As you are riding along, you may see an eatery that you want to try, or a specifically beautiful area of the beach.  You can even ride the loop around, just to get your bearings and have a nice view of what Clearwater Beach has to offer!

For additional information, please visit the Jolley Trolley online, or call (727) 445-1200.


Now, a vacation in a wonderful place like Clearwater Beach deserves the perfect hotel pairing.  The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is located right on the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, and it is just waiting to welcome you with its comfortable rooms and seemingly never ending amenities. 

This Mediterranean styled property is literally bursting at the seams with everything a traveler could possibly want or need in their "home away from home".  The accommodations range from poolside or Gulf-view guestrooms that can comfortably sleep a couple or a family of four.  However, if you have something a little different in mind, it also offers suites with a full living room and kitchen area.  And for a real getaway, stay in a family suite, complete with a separate space for the kids, with their own bunk beds, tv, and vanity area.  All of the rooms are large and comfortable, making it extremely easy to settle in for the weekend or the entire week!


This beautiful Holiday Inn is right on the Gulf, with a lovely sundeck area reaching out across the water, adjacent to the blue ripples of the swimming pool and the lively libations of the tiki bar, where you can rest the day away as you hear the waves gently come in. Ready for some beach time?  Less than 500 steps will place you on the sugary white sands of Clearwater Beach!

And when hunger calls, dine Gulf-side at the onsite restaurant, and experience delicious food, mixed with the breathtaking views of the sunset.  There is even a coffee house and ice cream shop, conveniently located right off of the lobby.

With plenty of activities for every member of your family, this is the ideal location to call your "home base" on Clearwater Beach!

For additional information, please visit the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Clearwater Beach online, or call (727) 447-6461. 

And while staying at this wonderful property, you may also purchase discount tickets to nearby Busch Gardens.  Who can turn THAT down?


Busch Gardens, located in sunny Tampa, Florida, is equal parts animal habitat and thrill park... resulting in 100% fun and adventure for the entire family! 

Busch Gardens boasts a fierce list of roller coasters for anyone wanting to be spun upside down, sideways, or somewhere in between.  SheiKra is a floorless, diving coaster with a 90 degree drop, reaching speeds of 70 mph. And the newest triple launch coaster, Cheetah Hunt, is the park's longest thrill ride.  Gwazi, Kumba, Montu, and the Scorpion are other mind-bending coasters at Busch Gardens that MUST be experienced.  And for the smaller riders, check out the Sand Serpent or Air Grover in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun. 

Plenty of family rides round out the offerings at Busch Gardens, including the Serengeti Railway and the Skyride, both affording their riders magnificent views of the wildlife surrounding them. 

But the animal encounters do not stop here!  Come face to face with lions, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, lemurs, meerkats, and vultures in the Edge of Africa.  See gorillas and chimpanzees in the Myombe Reserve, and experience other wonderful animal interactions at Walkabout Way, Cheetah Run, Jungala, and much more! 

If you'd like to get even a little more hands on with the animals, for an extra fee, you may trek across the plain on a Serengeti Safari, even stopping to feed the giraffes!  Other memories may also be made by participating in Keeper For a Day, the Heart of Africa Tour, or many other behind-the-scenes adventures.

For additional information, please visit Busch Gardens online, or call (888) 800-5447.


When you find yourself anywhere near Clearwater Beach, do not even think about not adding the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to your list of "Must Do's".  This place is nothing short of amazing. 

If you are walking in, expecting to see your average, everyday aquarium, with rows of bubble tanks, then prepare to be surprised and thrilled.  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is literally a working aquatic hospital, where injured, sick, or stranded animals are brought in for treatments and surgeries, hopefully to be returned to the wild. 

You have surely heard of one such resident, Winter the dolphin, from the motion picture Dolphin Tale.  The CMA completely shocked the world by fitting Winter with a prosthetic tail, catapulting her into the role of the most famous dolphin in the world.  And on the last day of filming, fate brought Hope into the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, set to star in the sequel, Dolphin Tale 2

And yes, you heard correctly... most of the filming for both movies occurred right at the aquarium, so sets and props are around every corner.  However, if you want to wade just a little deeper into the movie magic, take the Jolley Trolley or the narrated boat ride to Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure, where you will embark on an educational journey that will lead you deep into Winter's miraculous story. 


While visiting Winter is definitely one of the main reasons that travelers, residents, and excited school groups flood through the gates, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of what this amazing attraction has to offer.  You can swim with the dolphins, feed the sharks and stingrays, you may drop fish into the mouth of one of the two pelicans that play the role of Rufus from Dolphin Tale,and you can be a trainer for a day.  There are also several behind-the-scenes tours that literally put you into the world of rehabilitating, training, and loving these magnificent creatures. 

Again, this is not your typical aquarium.  Exhibits at CMA offer visitors the ability to view dolphins at roofless pools and underwater viewing areas, and touch stingrays as they swim around Stingray Beach.  You can also see turtles and otters like never before, and interact with other animals, without always having to press your nose to the glass. 

Without a doubt, this is one of the most impressive facilities that I have ever visited, and they aren't done yet!  Future plans include a state-of-the-art aquarium downtown.  I can not wait to see how the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will surpise us next!

For additional information, please visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium online, or call (727) 441-1790.

When you are ready to make lunch or dinner plans, Clearwater Beach is full of unique, tasty eateries!  Here are just a few!



 If you are looking for a fun, festive place to dine, then Cooters Restaurant & Bar is definitely the place for you!  Offering lunch, dinner, and one of the best Happy Hours, ANY time is the right time to visit!

The menu is expansive, offering literally just about anything that your taste buds could want.  And they really know how to start off a meal, with favorites like the Buffalo Chicken Dip, Grouper Cheeks, and Skinny Rings. 

And the entrees are absolutely mouth-watering, with favorites like the Signature Stuffed Mahi, the Alaskan King Crab Legs, Fish and Chips, New York Strip, and the absolutely amazing Cooter Chicken.

Cooters is known for having the best burgers on the beach, and it isn't difficult to see why.  These juicy creations come topped with all kinds of goodies!  The Sloppy Shrimp Sandwich, the Loaded Grilled Cheese, and the Philly Cheese Steak are also just begging to be brought to your table! 

With an ample selection of salads, soups, and side dishes to round out the menu, you will definitely not leave hungry.  And neither will the little ones, with kid-friendly menu choices just for them! 

But a meal will not be final without a delicious, expertly crafted libation from the bar and a slice of Homemade Key Lime Pie... served by some of the friendliest staff on the beach!

For additional information, please visit Cooters Restaurant & Bar online, or call (727) 462-2668.


If you are looking for a gourmet experience, but you don't want to break that vacation bank, then the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe is definitely the place for you! 

You may dine inside or out... just steps away from the beach, with the sounds of the live entertainment creating a perfect setting for a fantastic meal!  I will say that this is one of the BEST meals that I have experienced... ever. 

And it all starts with the wonderfully diverse menu.  Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and specials for late night... there is always something for everyone, prepared with fresh ingredients and delivered to your table with exceptional service!

For breakfast, expect tempting dishes like Biscuits and Gravy, Rib Eye Steak and Eggs, and a variety of skillets and egg benedict dishes. 

Stop in during lunch for a delicious 1/2 pound burger.  One of the best things about Clear Sky is the options that they offer with even a simple item like the hamburger.  They may be ordered as a Black and Bleu, Mushroom Swiss, On the Border, Big Time Booze, the One Pounder, and many more tasty variations. 

Now, when the sun starts to go down, you want to be experiencing dinner at Clear Sky!  You may start off with a nice selection of soups and salads, or go for the absolutely magnificent Lobster Risotto Balls, Crisp Calamari, Potstickers, or my personal favorite... the Keylime Shrimp Scampi.  A variety of flatbreads and pizzas are also offered, such as the Thai Chicken or the Four Cheese and Portobello. 

Since you are on Clearwater Beach, seafood is always a number one option, and the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe offers a wonderful selection, beginning with the Fresh Local Grouper, the Mahi Mahi, Blackened Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Grits, and the Cedar Smoked Salmon.  Steak and Poultry dishes are also a specialty, with the perfectly grilled Rib Eye, Beachside Sirloin, and the Mandalay Chicken.  If you are in the mood for pasta, your taste buds will have a treat with the Lobster Ravioli, the Pasta Yum Yum, or the Drunken Shrimp Penne, covered in a creamy white vodka sauce. 

For a special meal to remember as a highlight of your Clearwater Beach getaway, you can may visit the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe online, or call (727) 442-3684 for more information.


If you are anywhere on Clearwater Beach, you will see the signs for Frenchy's Restaurants, conveniently located right in the middle of just where you want to be! 

The largest location, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, is situated right on the beach, with spectacular outdoor seating that affords some of the most beautiful views you will ever set your eyes upon.  This is just an absolutely gorgeous property, especially at sunset! 

And isn't it nice when the quality of the food even surpasses one of the most fantastic atmospheres imaginable?  Frenchy's Rockaway Grill offers delicious food at very affordable prices, all served with a casual, beach flair. 

Start off with the tangy Buffalo Shrimp, the Cheese Fries, or the Cajun Chicken Quesadilla.  The She Crab Soup and the Yellowfin Tuna Fish Salad are also on the "Must Try" list. 

If you are in for a quick lunch before you get back to your beach time, it is probably illegal not to have the Super Grouper Sandwich.  Prepared Cajun, Fried, Grilled, or Jerk, this might just possibly be the best fish I have ever tasted.  But don't take my word for it, try it for yourself, or have the Grouper Nugget Basket for fun sized portions, or have the aromatic Baked Stuffed Grouper or the Grouper Santorini. 

When you are relaxing over a Rockaway Rum Runner, the delicious plates keep coming!  The Fried Clam or Shrimp Baskets are both prime examples of fresh, delicious casual seafood, served with a heaping pile of seasoned fries and creamy cole slaw.  Several tasty chicken sandwich options are also available, including Caribbean Jerk, Buffalo, Hawaiian, and California. Excellent options also include the Crab Cakes, the Top Sirloin, or the Twin Caribbean Chops.

When you are craving delicous food in a picturesque setting, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill should be at the top of your list!

For additional information, please visit Frenchy's Rockaway Grill online, or call (727) 446-4844.


Situated right on the exciting Beach Walk, another Frenchy's restaurant offers its unique Key West atmosphere for your dining pleasure.  Frenchy's South Beach Cafe affords a gorgeous view of the sparkling beach, just steps away from all of the fun.  You don't have to go far to experience hot sandwiches, delicious burgers, and fresh seafood. 

Start off your meal with the Spicy Conch Fritters, the Grouper Egg Rolls, or choose from a variety of specialty salads, including the Sesame Tuna Salad or the Shrimp and Blue Crab Salad. 

Frenchy's South Beach Cafe also offers a diverse array of entrees, such as the Key West Mahi, the Grouper Oscar, the NY Strip Steak, and the Alaskan Snow Crab. 

When you want something fast so that you can get back to that sugary white sand, try the South Beach Burger, the Shrimp Basket, or the Chicken Walnut Pocket. The Grouper Sandwich is ALWAYS an excellent choice!

Whether you come for dinner with a sunset view or a casual lunch, Frenchy's South Beach Cafe offers fast, friendly service and some of the best food on Clearwater Beach!

For additional information, please visit Frenchy's South Beach Cafe online, or call (727) 441-9991.


If you would really like to spend a special afternoon or evening while on Clearwater Beach, then a cruise on the Calypso Queen is an obvious choice! 

On this beautifully themed tropical vessel, a sumptuous buffet is served, along with beer, wine, and rum punch!  Expect delicious entrees like tender beef teriyaki, a tantalizing roasted chicken with a mango glaze, and other assorted dishes that will have you coming back for seconds. 

And the view on this cruise is magnificent.  While gliding across the harbor, dolphin sightings are often common on the afternoon outings, and the lovely glow of the moon brings an air of romance to those evening sailings. 

Whether you are celebrating a special occasion or merely searching for something unique to do on Clearwater Beach, be sure to include the Calypso Queen on your itinerary.

For additional information, please visit the Calypso Queen online, or call (727) 461-3113.

  Whatever your reason for visiting... whether it be to experience world class attractions, relax away on the beach, or a bit of both... Clearwater Beach is the ultimate coastal destination!