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.

 

 

 

Disney World: EPCOT

DID YOU KNOW: EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow? It was initially supposed to be a real experimental city where new technology would be tested and people would actually reside there, but when Walt died the idea was scrapped and here we are with beautiful EPCOT theme park!

The Park

This park is hands-down my all-time fave Disney Park. Why? There is SO much to see that the World Showcase itself is worth the money. As you walk between the pavilions showcasing numerous countries around the world you almost feel submerged in the countries culture, music, food, and atmosphere. Another fun fact: Anyone working in the pavilions in EPCOT must be from the actual country itself. Here is a break-down of our fave pavilions:

Mexico

With Spanish music playing, Mexican food being served and the gorgeous scenery, you almost feel as if you’re in Mexico (except the pyramids are a LOT bigger IRL). Here they have little shops and restaurants as well as a meet and greet spot where you can snap a pic with Donald Duck in a Sombrero!

China

Again, the architecture, music and food is outstanding and they really do a great job at keeping it as realistic as possible. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the Chinese pavilion, but you can grab a pic with Mulan here and sight-see around some of the buildings!

Japan

Gorgeous architecture, really yummy food and traditional music bring the Japanese pavilion to life. It’s very inspiring and makes me want to travel to go see the real deal! This pavilion has some shops and restaurants you can check out too!

Germany

You guessed it – BEER HEAVEN! The architecture was incredible, the music was beautiful and the beer was SO TASTY. Not-so-fun-fact: They asked us for our passports as a form of ID while buying drinks here, I’ve never had that happen anywhere else as usually our Drivers License is sufficient. Here you can meet Snow White or enjoy a German Buffet and Yodeler!

Other Sites

EPCOT is incredibly beautiful. They have some great rides too, like Test Track, Soarin’, and the new Frozen ride. They also seasonally have gorgeous garden hedges sculpted into your favorite Disney Characters and decorated with colorful flowers. The monorail can also be spotted transporting people to and from parks and resorts which gives EPCOT a cool futuristic vibe.

 

Disney World: Magic Kingdom

Hola and welcome back to our adventures! It’s been a while (Since January) since we’ve taken a trip – and oh, did we miss it! This time, we went to Orlando, FL for two full weeks. We did Disney, Clearwater, NASA, and more and had fantastic weather to boot – we couldn’t have been happier.

Getting There

We actually DROVE down to Florida from Ottawa in Canada, which for those of you who don’t know, is a 22+ hour drive – or about two days of driving including stops. It was super cool to see the foliage, scenery, and cultures change on the drive down (as well as the temperature getting HOTTER!).

Magic Kingdom

Our very first Disney park was MAGIC KINGDOM (you know, the one with the Castle?) and we had pretty good weather for it. It was sunny and super hot. We were in the park from open to close, which is 9am – 9pm (a 12 hour day!) but I’m glad we got to do so much and see almost everything we wanted to see. We did the teacups ride (above), saw an incredible fireworks show (below) and went on many, many other super fun rides! The atmosphere, theming and interactive cue lines were amazing, even though line-ups could be long sometimes – they didn’t seem too bad with all the cool stuff you can do while proceeding through the lines!

 

Fireworks Show

We managed to get a great spot for the fireworks/projection show at Magic Kingdom. They do these shows EVERY night, which is crazy! The music, projections and fireworks were very well done and we were incredibly impressed with the show overall and how the crowds were managed. Lots of people, but well organized! Getting back home after the show was a lot better than we anticipated as well.

 

The Food

So, we HAD a plan to make our lunches ahead of time and bring them into the park with us to save time and money from waiting in lines and purchasing food there ($9.00 USD for a hot dog?!). That didn’t go so well for our first day because we FORGOT our lunch! Regardless, we got some good hot dogs, a giant turkey leg (for Marco, of course) and a yummy slushy complete with Disney silly straw! The meals were ok, but we packed our lunches for the remainder of the trips!

The Culture

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has different “areas” or “zones” throughout the park which all signify different cultures or time periods and the zones are very well themed. The theming is what makes Disney World so special. Characters only appear in zones that are relevant to their “theme”, the music is theme specific, what they sell in the shops, the food, the architecture – EVERYTHING! Way more interactive and “magical” than your typical amusement park.

Character Meetings

Meeting Characters is super cool and fun – especially if you get to meet your fave Disney character! We found the wait times were pretty lengthy for a quick meet and greet and photo-op – we are adults after all. The characters are always IN CHARACTER – no matter how old you are, so prepare for some cheesy conversations and funny comments straight outta the films. I endured the 45 minute wait to meet Ariel from The Little Mermaid because she is my all-time fave, but we didn’t bother to wait for others. Unless you are a kid, or with a kid, it’s a long wait time for a photo!