Most people have heard of Clearwater in relation to Scientology, with the church of Scientology at its centre. But what more is there to see in the heart of lovely Florida, with its paradise-like beaches and marine wildlife? There’s so much more to Clearwater Beach, than you can imagine – perfect for a weekend trip. Anything from a never-ending beach party, to museums, and non-profit rescue aquariums.
Check out what I did on a two-day trip, what’s worth your time, and what isn’t if you’re short on it.
Must-See in Clearwater Beach
As you might expect, traveling while working has its unique set of obstacles when compared to either traveling or working. Let me walk you through what such a weekend trip in Clearwater Beach might look like if you worked while you were there. As a general overview, you can expect to see where I completed my projects and how I planned it to get the most out of it without losing out on money.
Read this article, if you want to learn How to Travel the World, While Making Bank.
Roadtrip to Clearwater Beach
Depending on how I travel, I often get certain things out of the way on the way to my destination.
For once (Ha), I traveled with a companion rather than on my own. This means, while I wasn’t behind the wheel, I was able to use my laptop/iPad in the passenger seat to complete some work. I had around 3 – 4 hours to get anything done while traveling from Miami to Clearwater Beach for the weekend.
I think, all of us have a tendency to do nothing except listen to music and gaze out at the horizon while daydreaming, when driving long-distances Or, we can get distracted by our companions’ conversation, which can be enjoyable on one hand because it allows you to spend quality time with your companion but on the other hand, it wastes time that could be spent on quality experiences that actually matter. Don’t get me wrong, I think those conversations in a car have their own magic, but personally, I’d rather get work done and get it over with, so I can walk worry-free through the alleys later on.
“If you’re prone to motion sickness and dizziness, I suggest using this time to listen to podcasts or audiobooks to expand your knowledge on key issues like money, marketing, or business.”
Clearwater Beach - Day 1
As soon as we arrived in Clearwater, I was rushing to continue with my project because I was so immersed in it. You know that feeling when something just doesn’t want to let go and you’re completely in it? That’s exactly what happened to me.
So, change of plans. I planned to finish my project first, and then go downtown to see what else the city has to offer. Because of this, I decided to hunt for a local coffee shop or restaurant.
There, I started my typical productivity routine:
- Airpods in
- Music on
- Phone on silent
- World off
“For me, I usually strive to get the most out of my productive period, which means using every ounce of drive and tunnel vision that I can generate.”
Pier 60 - The Never-ending Beach Party
Life as a beach party: what would it be like? Spectacular sunsets, live music, and a variety of food? You can get a taste of this in Clearwater at Pier 60, where it’s a beach party every day of the year – no seriously it’s 365 days a year, depending on weather of course. Even though….we know what Floridians are like.
It’s hard not to be awed by the sunset on the other side of the boardwalk, with blood reds hugging bright yellows, and orange blending into a stunning display of color. On the other hand, you’ll find street performers, food trucks, and various forms of entertainment. Consider the fact that this isn’t just a great place for a romantic date, but also for a single traveler looking for some amusement.
Did I mention a Fire Throwing Ginger?
Entertainment at Pier 60
Volksfests and fairs have a special place in my heart notwithstanding my extensive travels throughout the globe. As an ambivert, I can’t get enough of the plethora of things to do and see in crowded places – but I can understand how this can be an anxiety inducing event for introverts.
Flame Throwing Ginger has already been mentioned, so check out The Flaming Ginger. While I don’t know how often he performs in Clearwater Beach, especially on a weekend, he might just come to a city close to you.
Gingers are notorious for making deals with the devil, but it’s rare to encounter one that leaves Avatar Aahn flabbergasted in the backseat when it comes to handling fire.
I mean, who doesn’t appreciate sarcastic remarks that are to die for hilarious? This Flaming Ginger put up an engaging and hilarious display. One of his shows even included kids as performers and gave them a taste of being on stage.
If you’re in town, definitely check to see if he is as well – you won’t regret it.
FOOD FOOD FOOD - where to go?
Either, you can get a bite at any of the food trucks at pier 60 or you can wander down the street to get to a chain of restaurants with an ocean view. Marina Cantina is one of the best places in Clearwater Beach – so of course, I couldn’t wait to see what the hype was about.
Dinner at Marina Cantina
Marina Cantina, the famed restaurant on the first night of my trip, lived up to its reputation. If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on meals, this is the place. Also, if you visit during the winter, you’ll be able to enjoy the warmth of a roaring fire at every table.
There is no doubt that this Mexican food is authentic and delicious, and if you’re sensitive, intolerant, or allergic to any food, they can even tailor your meal for you.
“This will be a welcome change for those of us who are perpetually cold – like me. As the weather in Florida does become cool at this time of year, make sure to either go to a restaurant that has a service like this or pack a light jacket.”
No one can resist the temptation of eating grilled snapper caught that morning.
Day 2 - Exploring a non-profit rescue Aquarium
It was a more laid-back day on the second day, which was Saturday. I decided to spend most of the morning and part of the afternoon in the city, and then do some work on the way home in the evening. While driving for 4 hours, I was able to get some work done.
However, during the day, I decided to see one of Clearwater Beach’s Classics:
A location that doesn’t treat animals properly would not be on my list of places I would visit, but when I heard about a rescue Aquarium, I had to go see it. When I learned that it was also a sanctuary for dolphins, I was overjoyed to be able to observe them in action as they trained.
Of course, my initial thought was, “How come they have dolphins so long that they can train them?” There are a lot of instructional resources on the walls, and certain dolphins and other aquatic members can’t be released into the wild since they’d be at risk of dying if they were released into the wild.
The non-profit rescue only keeps animals if they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own – making them a hero in my book.
The aquarium also offers a few close-up experiences, however, none include actually directly touching any of the animals. The experiences include feeding the dolphins and receiving a picture with them, or receiving a picture while the dolphin jumps in the background. Each has a price, of course, but it all goes back to the care of the animals.
The only animal you get to interact with directly at no cost are stingrays – here, you put your hand into the water and wait until they come by and accidentally touch you. Of course, there are many rules to it – at a small price, you even get to feed them.
However, you can learn more about what they do and how they do it by taking the behind-the-scenes tour (which is well worth it). Turtles are one of the most often rescued animals, and they spend a lot of time in the turtle ICU, where they are able to swim around in shallow huge bowls while recovering from a viral infection or from being trapped somewhere. They’re employing a variety of methods to ensure that the turtles don’t become used to humans:
- Using black one-way windows, where you get to observe them, but they can’t see you
- Borders/covers, where turtles don’t get to see that humans are feeding them
- Keeping distance so turtles don’t get used to humans
Let's talk money - My Budget
To stay in the heart of Clearwater, La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Clearwater Central, Clearwater is my recommendation. It’s on the lower end of downtown Clearwater’s pricing range, at roughly $120-190 per night. I used to Chase Business Ink Miles to pay for this place and ended up spending less money on it point wise (I think it was like $135 compared to paying $175 cash that night).
Here’s why I liked it:
- Free parking
- Free breakfast (not even bad actually)
- Free Wifi
- Close to everything (literally 10-20 minute driving to all major things)
- Has a hot tub (Love them after a long day of walking, especially in the winter months)
- Has a pool for the summer to cool off
- It’s clean
Total Budget for a 2 day Trip – 1 night
Without Hotel: A two-day weekend trip to Clearwater Beach, FL cost me roughly $200, the most of which was spent at the Aquarium, where I purchased a behind-the-scenes tour. This also includes dinner and everything else I paid for – parking is expensive!
With Hotel: I didn’t include the cost of the hotel because I paid for it with points/miles – If you don’t have miles, you’ll need roughly $400 to cover this trip.
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