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Every year my family rotates the vacation destination decision making. This year was my daughter’s year to pick, which meant we were inevitably headed to somewhere sunny, sandy … and crowded. Her choice: Clearwater Beach, Florida.
I blame dolphins, specifically a paraplegic dolphin named Winter. If you don’t know who I am talking about, you are lucky and childless. The culprit looks like this…
So, she’s adorable, a medical miracle and a movie star. My kid freakin’ loves her. That love led to a camp opportunity at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium working with dolphins and sea turtles. Unfortunately, the location depicted in the movie is not what we saw. Here are my Top 3 reasons not to head to Clearwater Beach.
Clearwater Beach and its infamous Pier 60 are freakin’ crowded. All the races, ethnicities, stereotypes and clichés of humanity are represented on this beach. There wasn’t room to breathe, much less relax and enjoy what nature had to offer. Every once in a while a rambling drunk would wander by and, while good for laughs, that wasn’t exactly conducive to a family setting.
Seriously, though, I’m from Texas, but Florida is hotter. More accurately, Florida is more humid. Imagine living your entire life in a sweat box that you can never escape. Cold showers provided no relief and the locals seemed only slightly concerned – I’m being nice here. They legit didn’t give a f*ck. – when our hotel’s air conditioner wouldn’t go below 72°F.
Do you know what people who live in Florida do on Mondays? They go to the beach. Tuesdays? Still beach. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays? Beach. Saturdays and Sundays? For a change of pace … they go to the “other” beach. There is, literally, nothing to do on a Florida vacation, but go to the beach. I was bored, yo. Bored enough to drive thirty miles into town to take my husband go-cart racing.
Still, the vacation wasn’t all bad. Here are a few reasons why … maybe … you should check out Clearwater Beach.
Okay, so if you have a child super interested in marine biology this is the place to go. Not only was her day camp affordable and not only did it give me and my husband four hours every day for adult time – i.e. a chance to drink high-fructose corn syrup sodas without guilt and take a nap – but it was educational. She was given behind the scenes passes to most of the animal exhibits and snorkeling lessons on a private reef. I was actually pretty jealous of her exclusive camp activities, because they were way better than what we could find available to the public.
Everything in this little whole in the wall restaurant was freakin’ delicious. The pizza … superb. The alfredo … perfect. The gelato…
The best thing about Clearwater Beach is, technically, not in Clearwater. It’s in Tarpon Springs, about 20 miles north. Fred Howard Beach is located in a state park, which doesn’t allow the consumption of alcohol or overnight party revelers. It also protects its resources, meaning the beach is “au natural.” Yes, there was sea weed. Yes, there were rocks and you had to wear those dorky little beach shoes. Yes, there were wild animals like sting rays, crabs and fish in the water … right there on the shore line swimming around you constantly. It was awesome and secluded. We had one entire side of the beach to ourselves all day. We loved it.
Ever been to Clearwater Beach? Did you love the hustle of Pier 60 or hate it like we did?
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