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Travel Diary: Clearwater Beach

As the school year draws to an end for two of my kids, we were fortunate to have an opportunity to spend a few days beachside. Luckily, though it is May, we avoided major rain and thunderstorms. An added bonus: cloud coverage helps alleviate the heat a bit. It was a perfect mini-vacation because honestly, all the kids wanted to do was swim in the ocean, make sand castles, and swim some more. The kids also enjoyed giant inflatable slip-n-slides, and play structures located near the pier.

We stayed at the Wyndham Grand which has a prime location ocean front near the pier. The room had an airy, beach vibe and we had an excellent view of the ocean and harbor. A and I accomplished our goal of relaxing and the kiddos maximized their time in the surf. Despite the fact that all three kids remained firmly on west coast time (sleeping at midnight and waking up at 9am), the housekeeping staff was accommodating and efficient at turning the room over after we crawled out close to lunchtime most days. My only quibble with the hotel was the shortage of dining options on-site. But the pool was perfect and the distance to the beach, negligible.

Within easy walking distance was Crabby's Dockside which we enjoyed so much, we visited twice for dinner. The staff at this restaurant are extremely family friendly. Our kids partook in the Florida delicacy of gator tail, as well as fresh crabs, and baked oysters. Also nearby on Mandalay Avenue, was the Spotted Donkey Cantina which offered fresh Mexican options, and an equally kiddo-friendly atmosphere. Basically, we dined up and down Mandalay Ave., and didn't stray far from the beach. Also, from a food perspective, my newly minted one-year-old decided he would double his appetite on this trip. Fortunately, a well stocked 24-hour Walgreens was a five minute walk from the hotel. I made that trip several times to replenish baby items.

All in all, an easy and satisfying vacation with the kids. I'd recommend it highly for families looking for a low key beach getaway. You'll want to fly into Orlando and rent a car - it's about a two hour drive. Also, I'd avoid Friday and Saturday nights as it seems things get a little crowded, and a bit "seedy" in the evening. Nothing too wild, but not exactly family fare. Think party buses and bikers. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't note that across from the Wyndham was a rooftop bar by the name of "Jimmy's Crow's Nest". I have to wonder about that name choice.

All photos my own.


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