It’s been a crazy busy Summer, but now that Fall is here and I have a tiny break to catch up before the holiday crazies set in, I finally have a chance to tell you guys about our trip to Florida! I’m going to break this down into two posts, because if I don’t, I’m going to kill your computers with a picture overload!
My mini-me, well only like me in attitude, has been dying to go to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter since the movie Dolphin Tale hit the screen. Being pretty dolphin-obsessed when I was younger, I understand the pull. Finally, after crunching the numbers and weighing our vacation options, we decided to skip our normal huge family vacation this year and instead head for Clearwater, Florida.
First things first, there was the great plane verses car debate. We live a solid 10 hour drive from Clearwater, and that’s assuming you don’t have to stop a half dozen times – and with kids in tow – let’s just be honest… it would’ve been a 12 hour drive for us. And by us, I mean me. The solo adult. The only licensed driver. Hmmm… plane it is. We flew out of Charlotte and into Tampa (via a connecting flight in Atlanta). My kids definitely got their fill of airports for one trip. I booked the whole shebang through Priceline.com (flight, car and hotel) and definitely saved some money. (No, they aren’t paying me to say that. I priced a number of options a number of ways and through a number of places. Priceline was the best option.)
We stayed at the Wyndham Garden on Clearwater Beach. We thought it was a really nice place, and more of a resort than a hotel. The rooms were very, very clean, had nice furniture and plenty of room. We had a great experience with the staff, and outside of one little elevator issue (I kinda got trapped for about 10 minutes), I had no complaints. The kids really enjoyed it too. They loved the pool, beach toys, floats and other amenities the hotel had to offer them. I really enjoyed the lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and wonderful cabana staff there to handle any requests we had.
The Wyndham also had a fantastic restaurant on site that we enjoyed for most of our meals. I even ordered room service the night we arrived and we were all thrilled with the quality of the food. That being said, it was a little pricey. That’s to be expected though. The hotel was also within walking distance of a variety of other dining options, but really… how could you not enjoy leisurely walking down to the ocean side deck for a scrumptious breakfast burrito in your bathing suit?
The kids really enjoyed eating there too. That’s part of why we ended up eating there so many times! They would pick out several things they wanted at each meal, so we’d come back again so they could try the next thing on their list. I can’t say I blame them. I did not have a single thing that I didn’t think was fantastic the entire time we were there.
What about Winter and Hope? Well, we definitely got to see Winter and Hope, as well as Nicholas and a few other animals from Dolphin Tale, and we checked out a cool place all about the movie. We also took a boat ride of the bays and got to see some dolphins playing in the water by our hotel! I’ll tell you all about our Dolphin Tale Adventure in my next post, but for now, check out the friend we made on the beach…