I can’t say that I knew much about Clearwater Beach before being invited up to stay at the Opal Sands Resort, but one thing’s for sure: I’d be happy to go back anytime.
I mean, just take a look at this beach (the view from our room):
This was our kiddo’s first time at a big resort, and unfortunately, he got sick just the night before our trip up. We gave him plenty of ibuprofen and acetaminophen to battle the fevers though, and he hung in there.
Note to travelling mamas: Don’t cancel your trip or leave your kiddo behind unless they are extremely ill (or have certain medical conditions). Most bugs resolve within 24-48 hours and you’ll never travel if you worry that much. Thanks to all my mama friends who gave me this advice!
First night in I had dinner with a few fellow journalists at Seaguini, their on-site seafood and Italian-inspired restaurant. We got a round of appetizers (only the bruschetta with goat cheese was veg-friendly–calamari and a meatball dish were among the other starters) plus some bread, olive oil, and hummus for the table. I also started my meal with a watermelon mojito which was strong and sweet. Win.
Afterward came the dinner entre, the spaghetti ali olio–spaghetti with roasted mushrooms, sweet field tomatoes, baby spinach, and my personal favorite, toasted garlic chips. While I wish there would have been more for me to choose from as a vegetarian (they had some wood-oven pizzas but I wasn’t quite feeling in the mood for it), it was still fairly tasty, especially with a glass of red wine. Many others at the table seemed to enjoy the pan-seared hogfish as well.
Dessert was the absolute best part, though. At the server’s suggestion, I opted for the croccante, which is basically a deconstructed cannoli. But really, it’s so much more. The combination of the sweet ricotta, chocolate, pistachio, and tuile (a sweet, thin, baked wafer) was heavenly.
While I dined, JB and Willy B wound up going to a Clearwater Threshers game, the local minor league baseball team. Husband said it was pretty great, not to mention they were serving $1 beers. Not bad. When they got back, we were all pretty beat from the road and hit the sack quickly.
Our second day started off with a tasty breakfast at Seaguini again. Our server, Brando, was on point and the food (especially the breakfast potatoes) was just right. Willy enjoyed sitting by the bubble wall most of all. Hell, we all kinda did.
We got invited to take a ride on The Little Toot, a local Dolphin sighting boat in the Clearwater Municipal Marina. It was Willy B’s first time on a boat, but after a few unsure moments, he settled into it. I’d never gone on a tour like this and I expected the dolphins to remain far in the distance. Little did I know these beautiful sea mammals love to ham it up for the audience and came so close we could almost touch them, jumping in the air and chasing up around. It was by far my favorite thing we did on the trip. I highly recommend opting for this (or any other) of the dolphin sighting tours at the marina. They also sell refreshments, including beer, on some of these (which I didn’t opt for but probably would if I weren’t with the toddler).
Afterward, kiddo and husband took it easy in the hotel and I went on a search for some good local grub and beer. I found a delightful little organic eatery called Basimo Beach Cafe not far from Pier 60 that had an incredible veggie burger. It was served with a side of chips, but honestly it didn’t need anything because it was so ridiculously appetizing. I only wish I’d also opted for one of their herbal teas or coffee drinks. Nice to see a place this far north with Cuban coffee, also.
I picked up an italian sub for JB over at a small local joint called Florida Subs and Gyros. Seems their menu has changed a bit though because they also had a variety of Mexican dishes there that sounded good. Husband was a big fan of the sub, as was a crow that found some of his leftover meat on the table on our room’s balcony and quickly made off with an easy lunch.
That afternoon, we hit the beach to try and catch the sunset, but kiddo wasn’t feeling all that great. He wound up jumping in the water anyway, but with the temperatures going down, we opted to go back and kick it in the room and ordered a pie from Kings Pizza and the veggie lovers side of it did not disappoint (JB seemed pretty pleased with the meat lovers side as well).
We had our last breakfast at Seaguini, except it wound up being lunch as we got there 5 minutes past breakfast time. We got the spinach fondata dip and I went with a caprese sandwich while JB got a burger, and I washed it down with this phenomenal cappuccino. Loved the use of the rock candy stirrer to sweeten it up.
Next, we hit the beach. The sugar sand description is no lie. Unlike Miami’s gritty, grainy sand, Clearwater Beach is covered in this powdery white, fine sand. It’s the kind you wouldn’t really mind falling in to. JB and I took turns splashing in the (fairly cold) water with the kiddo and then drinking beers (3 Daughters Beach Blonde Ale was my local-ish pick for the trip) and making sandcastles.
Not wanting to leave the area without finally seeing a proper sunset, we took refuse at Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe, where I had yet another veggie burger (this one was also quite good, but went a little heavy on the sundried tomatoes so I picked them out), plus some Shock Top for good measure.
We had tickets for the local Sugar Sand Festival at Pier 60 so we decided to check it out next.
Once outside, we also caught a couple of jugglers and fire eating acts near the pier, saw a couple craft booths, and found a few corn hole boards to play at. Willy B made friends with a few strangers visiting in from Ohio and then we walked over onto the sand to finish watching the sun set into the Gulf.
#NoFilter, y’all. A girl could get used to this.
Disclosure: Opal Sands Resort provided accommodations for our stay, but I was not compensated for this post and opinions here are my own.