About a month or so ago, we had the pleasure of heading down to Clearwater Beach for the Frenchy’s Sugar Sand Festival. The 3 days trip was the first that Noor, Sheryl and I had taken together, and while we all had different expectations, Clearwater Beach blew all of them out of the water. The city, itself, is charming with a quaint mixture of 50’s charm and modern amenities.
Clearwater is located about 20 minutes from Tampa, and is easily accessible by car. To get to the final destination of the beach, you cross over one of the most beautiful bridges I’ve seen. It was stunning at 3AM, and at 3PM. That says it all right there.
While the primary reason for us to visit to take in the Sugar Sands festival on Pier60, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore the nearby surroundings and take in the night life. We also explored the “Super” Target while there- because, well we had to. The Sugar Sands festival was a week long festival on the beach showcasing some of the world’s best sand sculptures. There was everything ranging from a sculpture of Obama, to Disney characters, with the sand easily being the star of the show. There’s a reason why they call it “sugar sands”. The white sandy beaches and the hot sun was what we needed to help us relax and not think about work.
Seriously, Clearwater knows how to party. Gearing primarily towards tourists, there are festivals all year round, with the best one being the sunset festival. Incase you’re wondering, the sunset festival is something celebrated by every bar on the strip. It consists of counting down the sunset and taking a free shot. The sunsets were stunning on their own, but having a free shot made them that much better.
There is also a festival on Pier60 every weekend where local artisans showcase their crafts. That, along with the movies on the beach, creates a safe and entertaining atmosphere for everyone. We saw seniors having fun along with teenagers. There are playing Pitch Perfect so you can’t help but enjoy your time there. You’re practically in paradise.
How to get there:
While you have the option to fly into St. Pete’s airport, your options are better if you fly into Tampa and take a shuttle in. Not only do you have more flights options here, but there are a lot cheaper, too.
As we landed around 1am, we opted to rent a car instead of taking the Supershuttle into Clearwater. We ended up with a 2013 Ford Escape, and it was possibly the best car we could have rented. 3 days of driving back and forth from Clearwater and Florida ended up costing us $35 in gas. It also has my favorite feature- blind spot sensor. The people of Florida were safer even though I was on the road. The car was great on gas, and had tons of room for our luggage. Side note- girls pack a lot for 3 days of vacation.
We had the option to stay in Clearwater Beach or Downtown Clearwater. We opted for Marriot Residence Inn downtown Clearwater as it was closer to town, and SHOPPING!
Regardless of where you stay, getting to the beach is no more than a 15 min drive away, but staying on the strip gives you the convenience of being right on the water. Parking is a bit of a issue and a slightly pricey so if you don’t plan on wandering back to downtown Clearwater, or Tampa often, take the shuttle in, and stay on the strip.
The strip itself has a free shuttle services for those nights where you have a touch too much to drive and don’t feel like walking around. The shuttles are provided by a local business, Frenchies.
Frenchy’s Sugar Sand Festival:
The festival definitely worth the trip down. But let’s be frank, Clearwater is absolutely stunning. The people are very nice as they are used to Canadians all the time, and the entire town is setup to be as hospitable as possible.