Dining on the Waterfront

On a coastal vacation, cuisine with a view is as essential to the itinerary as a day at the beach. There’s just something about shuffling through sand en route to lunch, or watching the sun set over dinner. To find great waterfront and beach dining, head to Clearwater for a range of dining choices that make even the locals feel like they’re on vacation.

Long after the table is cleared, flavors and views come together to create lasting memories. And after-dinner walks along the water help you store the experience, not the calories. Bon appetit!

Casual Beach Dining Classics

What Chicago did for pizza, Clearwater did for the grouper sandwich. You’ll hardly find an area menu without one, but locals have asserted for years that the “Frenchy’s” family of restaurants (Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, Frenchy’s Salt Water Cafe, Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe and Frenchy’s Original Cafe) spaced throughout Clearwater Beach, serves the best. They’ve also deemed the local chain a generous provider of complimentary sunsets, and with its locations’ signature proximity to the shore, you won’t find a bad seat in the house. Depending on the location, you might find live music or a beachfront bar where it’s perfectly acceptable to arrive sandy-footed and clad in swimwear.

On Pass-a-Grille Beach, pay homage to the landmark Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, where multi-levels offer panoramic Gulf views, live music and dancing in an atmosphere slightly more formal than that of sandier surfside hang-outs. Sunsets savored from the Hurricane’s rooftop deck enhance the flavor of its something-for-everyone menu. If you’re looking for beach dining in the area, the Hurricane’s a classic.

Locals also are partial to Billy’s Stone Crab Restaurant in nearby Tierra Verde. Feast on sweet scallops, Gulf Stream mahi mahi, fresh Florida flounder and stone crabs fresh from the owner’s traps. The menu is succulently simple, and the atmosphere creates a total experience for patrons. Before or after your meal, hop aboard one of the restaurant’s narrated boat tours of its surrounding waterways. Or enjoy a Full Moon Party – live music and an open-air rooftop bar all but enforce relaxation.

At Woody’s Waterfront Restaurant, a retro style, casual vibe and amazing views come together for a great time dining on the water. Located in St. Pete Beach on the blue waters of Blind Pass, Woody’s is so close to the water that you’re likely to see schools of bright fish and even playful dolphins passing by. Sit back, relax and enjoy classic seafood dishes, bar food and continental fare.

Fancy Waterfront Dining in Clearwater

With its signature style – what the owners call a blend of Pacific Rim, continental and island cuisine – Island Way Grill offers a more formal approach to waterfront dining on Clearwater Beach. (Just keep in mind that in the town named USA Today‘s “Best Beach Town in Florida” in 2013, “formal” often means tucking a Tommy Bahama shirt into a pair of walking shorts for men and sporting sundresses or capris for women. And flip-flops are de rigueur all around.) Come by boat if you wish, and sample jalapeno conch fritters and the restaurant’s coveted bamboo salmon. Island Way also offers an early dining menu and a Sunday champagne brunch that you’ll crave long after you leave. Just don’t forget to take in the view of Clearwater Harbor between bites of sushi or bananas foster.


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Sand Castle Building with Signature HomeStyles

Building Sand Castles
If you’ve ever been relaxing on the beach, admiring everyone else’s sand castles, and wishing you knew how to build one – well, have we got a treat for you. Building a sand castle really isn’t as difficult as it looks, and only requires a few key tools. So, grab your pail and shovel, and let’s get started.

Essential Ingredients
Since we’re all beginners here, all we need for now is a pail and a shovel. One of those cheap little plastic pails your kid brother is always carrying around will be fine. As for the shovel, as long as it’s got a smooth side to it, you are good to go.

Back to the Beach
This next step requires you to be at the beach, and since you’ve earned a Vacation of a Lifetime with Signature HomeStyles – BINGO you are ready to go!! Now, if you’ve ever tried stacking sand, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t stay stuck together all that well. That’s because it’s missing a key ingredient – water. If you take your pail and fill it up with sand, and then pour water in there, you’ll find that the water turns the sand into a much stickier substance.

Build Me Up Buttercup
Okay, now that you’ve got a pail full of sticky sand, you can dump it out in front of you. Lift the pail up and voila! You’ve just begun building your sand castle. The first thing you need to do is build the base, which can easily be done by dumping pails full of sand into a square or circular shape. Now, mold them into a more recognizable wall shape, and you’re already halfway there.

Finishing Touches
This is the part where you get to be creative. With the base in place, all you really need to do now is figure out just what you want your castle to look like. Keep piling up the wet sand like bricks, smoothing out the edges as you go along. You can put towers or windows or add some seashells, seaweed or other treasures you find lying around to your castle – throw on whatever you think will turn your sand castle into a kickin’ work of art!

Grab someone walking down the beach to take a picture of you and your family in front of your fabulous sandcastle and make sure to email it to Jennifer after the trip, we love to see pictures of you and your family!! 

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Dolphin Tale 2 is coming – but SHS is going first!!

Take your kids to meet the dolphins right before the Dolphin Tale 2 premieres!!  Our hotel is just a stone’s throw from where Winter and Hope live!  How exciting for the whole family to make a visit to meet the dolphins and then be able to say “I was there” when the movie comes out!

Principal photography of Dolphin Tale 2 is expected to begin in mid October, continuing until mid January, with breaks for Thanksgiving and December holidays. Once again the aquarium where Winter lives will be the primary filming location — the houseboat set is still anchored there — with occasional closings to be announced.

Warner Bros. previously announced a Sept. 19, 2014, debut for Dolphin Tale 2 in theaters.

Dolphin Tale 2 will focus on Hope’s bonding with Winter and her adoptive mother Panama, plus Winter’s struggles adapting to her artificial tail. “We put a lot of real-life elements that we held back in Dolphin Tale into this movie that have not been told before,” Yates said.

Dolphin Tale eventually grossed $72.3 million at domestic box offices plus another $23 million overseas and $24 million in domestic DVD sales.

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Anatomy of Clearwater’s White-Sand Beaches

Clearwater area beaches are famous for beautiful white sand and diverse shells. 

Psychologists say that beaches give us a peaceful feeling. Wherever the land, the water and the sky meet, we humans experience serenity. But the shells and sand have a different story to tell – one of time, struggle and the circle of life.

Special things take time. In fact, it took more than 2 million years to make the fine, white sand you’ll find at the very special beaches in the St. Pete/Clearwater area.

With every soft, relaxing step you take, a million tiny particles crunch underfoot. But it wasn’t always like that. The glowing white powder you see started as mountains of impenetrable quartz hundreds of miles away, massive geologic formations ground into tiny specks over the millennia and deposited on the Gulf coast by raging rivers that no longer exist.

Today, those pulverized mountains exist as the lovely barrier islands and beaches of St. Pete/Clearwater: Fort De Soto Park, Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach, Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Beach, Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park and four beaches accessible only by boat – Caladesi Island State Park, Shell Key, Three-Rooker Bar and Anclote Key.

Unlike the darker, coarser sands you’ll find on Florida’s east coast and in the Keys – which are composed mostly of ground up bits of shell and coral – these beaches are velvet-smooth and cool to the bottom of a bare foot. Some say it looks like snow or sugar, but no matter what you think it looks like, it has an enchanting quality that beckons you to dig your toes in, to frolic and to stay awhile.

And it’s certain to stay with you, in soul and body. These talcum-like white crystals have a way of sneaking into your shoes or hat, then into your suitcase or even your purse or wallet.

But don’t worry. Just consider this a gift from nature, a reminder that it took a lot of geologic conflict and time to create this very special place, and a calling card to draw you back to these shores again and again.

The Shell’s Journey

Humans are not the only creatures drawn to this lovely sand, a fact proven by the millions of shells you’ll find embedded in it. Beaches that have lots of different shells, as these do, show that the water supports vibrant, healthy populations of univalves and bivalves, which make their homes in these colorful, intricate and impressive structures.

But shells have a story to tell, too, one very different from ours. It’s a story of a daily battle for life out there at the bottom of the blue-green water in which we find sanctuary and adventure.

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Looking for a little nightlife?

Here’s a round-up of some of the hottest night spots on Clearwater Beach.  After a long day relaxing on the beach, maybe an afternoon nap – you may be ready for a little nightlife – check out these places cool places in Clearwater Beach:  

Shephard’s. One of the liveliest beachfront spots you’ll find in St. Pete/Clearwater. Check out the outdoor tiki bar and The Wave, a nightclub featuring DJs and bottle service that’s geared toward a dressed-up younger set. Dance the night away while a live band plays on a massive outdoor stage.
Palm Pavilion. You don’t have to be here long to realize you’ve discovered paradise. This open-air beachfront eatery has live music every day and is famous for its sunset celebrations.
Brown Boxer Pub & Grille. This handsome new sports-oriented pub has quickly made its way into the hearts of locals and visitors alike. The pool table is a big draw. Further south, a second location recently opened in Madeira Beach. Both have live music some nights.
Clearwater Wine Bar & Bistro. A departure from Clearwater Beach’s daiquiri and bikini scene, this spot features more than 150 wines, craft brews and a Mediterranean and Mexican menu.

Join your other reps or maybe even Madolyn and Cari for a little dancing on the beach!!  We will see in July!

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The Clearwater Mobile App!

This handy, free mobile app is your perfect Clearwater travel companion. The app is your guide to the best places to visit in Clearwater including attractions, accommodations, restaurants and places to visit, along with maps and contact information to help you plan it all easily.

Go to:  http://www.visitclearwaterflorida.com/travel-tools/mobile-app  to download your free app today!!

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Snorkeling in Clearwater

In the middle of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Clearwater offers truly special snorkeling opportunities. In some places, easily accessed snorkeling sites are right off the beach. And tours in the Clearwater area take snorkelers to freshwater springs, clear rivers, the home waters of marine mammals and other locations. To take full advantage of these opportunities, you will need to invest in some equipment as well as take some minor precautions.

Items you will need

  • Snorkel mask
  • Snorkel fins
  • Snorkel
  • Water-resistant sunblock rated SPF 25 or higher

Step 1
Buy your own snorkeling kit. This will permit you to snorkel independently at places such as Indian Rocks Beach, eight miles south of Clearwater. At other area freshwater sites, including the Rainbow River or Blue Springs, you can snorkel on your own or as part of a tour. Even if you do not intend to snorkel often after the trip to Clearwater, it’s still a good idea to buy your own kit, because the equipment is inexpensive. The minimum requirements: a snorkel, a mask and a pair of fins.

Step 2
Add a snorkel vest to your kit if you are a poor swimmer. Be sure to ask for one if you do not buy a kit of your own and join a snorkeling tour.

Step 3
Apply a thick coat of water-resistant sunblock, rated SPF 25 or higher, to the back of your neck. Put it on your shoulders and upper back as well if you will not be wearing a T-shirt or wetsuit. The Florida sun is strong, and snorkelers spend a lot of time looking down, so these are the areas most prone to sunburn. Do not put any sunblock on your face, as it will fog your snorkel mask.

Step 4
Wear socks if you buy full-foot fins or are issued them by a tour. With offshore reefs, inland springs and manatees to see in the Clearwater area, you can potentially do a lot of snorkeling. The rubberized heel of the full-foot fin can chafe at unprotected ankles, but socks will help protect your skin.

Step 5
Book yourself onto at least one snorkeling tour while in the Clearwater area. Certainly, you can snorkel independently, but you do not want to miss the opportunity to see the offshore reefs or to swim with the manatees. To do either of these things in the Clearwater area, you must join a tour.


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