Day Trip: Clearwater Beach

The water really is crystal clear in Clearwater – it’s so beautiful! Clearwater is located about 2 hours west of Orlando, FL so it is certainly doable to do it as a day trip, although there is a strip along the beach of amazing hotels and motels you can stay the night in if you wanted to stay a little longer. For us, we thought one day in Clearwater was enough but I am sure there is much more to see!

Getting There

Again, the trip is about two hours west of Orlando. The traffic gets really congested between Tampa and Clearwater and you need to take a fairly long bridge to get into Clearwater. Also, FUN FACT: Hooters Restaurant was founded right in Clearwater, FL in 1983. There is also limited parking close to the beach, so you’ll want to arrive early to ensure you can get a spot. Otherwise, you’ll need to park far or pay for parking at one of the hotels in the area (if there are some free spots available).

The Beach

The beach is very long and there are lots of good spots, but ideally, you’ll want to be relatively close to the pier (Pier 60) or at least be up for the trek to get there. It is super cool and definitely a highlight of a trip to Clearwater Beach. You can pay a fee to get access to sun huts/umbrellas, or you can just lay in the sand and soak up the sun! The sand is also super white, fine and soft. The photos don’t do it justice, but in person, it is absolutely beautiful. The water is also super clear! (They don’t call it Clearwater for no reason!) Clearwater is also situated on the Gulf of Mexico (day trip to Cancun, anyone?).

The Pier

Pier 60 is probably the main attraction to this beach, other than the beautiful sand and lovely waters. You can walk along the pier and even fish from it! There were these boards along the railings where people could cut their fish (yuck!) and there are a BUNCH of pelicans!!! By the way, pelicans are way larger in person than I had ever thought, they also look pretty mean. We didn’t have any bad luck with the pelicans, luckily. Aside from walking ON the pier, walking UNDER the pier is even cooler. You can get some pretty sweet shots under the bridge, some people even set up their picnic spots here for some shade!

The Wildlife

Honestly, there is MUCH wildlife at the beach aside from birds and fish. We’ve never seen pelicans before and the fish in the Gulf of Mexico are very different from those in Lake Ontario – so we found them pretty interesting. Along the pier, you can also use binoculars to check out sights in the distance like boats and such. We also saw two dolphins swimming around the end of the pier for a brief moment! Seeing a wild dolphin, even for a moment, was a really cool experience.

 

 

 

Day Trip: Disney Springs

OK – So first of all, I am so used to calling this place “Downtown Disney”. Does anyone remember that or was I hallucinating this whole time? Disney Springs sounds way more boujee than Downtown Disney – but rightfully so, it is pretty fantastic.

The “Springs” 

Disney Springs is essentially a shopping and eating district. It is not an amusement park and you do not need to pay admission, you can park and walk right up and enjoy! What you do need to pay for is everything else. There are really cool themed restaurants, Disney shops and other shops (not Disney related), and there is even a huge hot air balloon ride that you can get on Groupon for like $11 USD! The balloon takes you up 400 ft. in the air. We really wanted to do this but it was closed when we arrive sadly.

The Shops

There SO many shops, but my FAVE was the lego shop. There are wicked cool lego creations you can take pics beside and there’s even a sea monster lego IN THE LAKE! You can purchase cool lego sets or buy your lego pieces individually along the big lego-piece wall (idk if that’s what they really call it lol). They also have a shop where you can design your very own t-shirt, but they were all out of Marco’s size when we went (boo!).

The Restaurants

SO – we didn’t actually eat here – BUT they do have lots of really cool restaurants and some are themed to the nines (Rainforest Cafe!). There is a lot to choose from and the scenery and atmosphere is so nice here – just like any Disney Park, or really anywhere in Florida for that matter (anywhere with Palms is good for us!). The food smelled so good, but we had dinner waiting for us at the house so we decided to pass up some noms on this day trip.

Disney World: Hollywood Studios

This post will conclude our Disney World trilogy of posts. Hollywood Studios was our third and final day at the Disney World parks and the weather was, well, iffy. The morning was sunny-ish and very hot, but the afternoon quickly turned grey and it started to rain. First lightly and then torrential downpour (yuck!). BUT – rain = less wait times for the rides so we took advantage of the crappy weather and had some fun!

The Park

The Hollywood Studios park is themed as – you guessed it – Hollywood! It has Sunset Boulevard and everything. The little shops, boutiques, restaurants and old-style theming really bring it to life and make you feel like you’re in the mini-real-deal. I cannot stress enough how well Disney theme’s their parks, rides, cue lines – everything! It really makes it special.

The Rides

To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of rides here. There are two REALLY awesome rides, the Rockin’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror – but that’s about it. The other rides are more geared for children. With the exception of the Star Wars simulator ride, the other rides are pretty boring if the thrill is what you’re going for. That being said, the theme of the park, the atmosphere, and those two rides are worth the entrance fee.

The Scenery

A big part about going to Hollywood Studios is the gorgeous scenery, old-time style of the shops and the workers/actors & actresses that entertain there and just the feeling that you’re in Hollywood! They are working on new sections and new rides in the Toy Story area which should be completed sometime next year – so that may amp up this park a little bit, but other than the lack of thrill rides here, it’s an amazing park.

Side note: I wore pants in the morning in the first pic above because the bottom of my legs were sunburnt and I didn’t want to expose them to more sun – but it was so hot and humid I couldn’t stand it in my pants anymore and had to change into shorts!