Florida is one of my favorite places to visit and one of my favorite things to do when I travel is EAT. I love food! In my day to day life I try to eat pretty clean but when on vacations I will consume just about anything. I traveled with two pre-teens so all of these recommendations were family friendly.
While in Clearwater I ate at a lot of good eats up and down the beach area and when I ventured into St. Petersburg. Besides the places mention in this blog post I also had enjoyable experiences at Cooters; Jimmy’s Fish House and Iguana Bar; Saki Sushi & Hibachi and The Donut Experiment.
The first night we got in pretty late and it was hard to find a late night bite at 11pm that allowed kids was hard to find. We eventually found a joint called The The Brown Boxer Pub & Grille; it wasn’t exactly family friendly but they had the best chicken nachos I have ever had. We ate there twice. The first time our service was pretty iffy at the fault of the waiter, and the second time we had great service. Both times we had the chicken nachos, and let me tell you they are AMAZING! I ate the fish tacos the first time around and the second time we all got fish and chips. P.S. They are dog friendly!
My favorite breakfast spot would have to be Another Broken Egg Cafe! This place was absolutely adorable an had large windows that opened so you could be immersed in the beautiful weather. The menu is a breakfast lovers dream and a reasonable price. My first experience there I had the Lemon Blueberry Goat Cheese Pancakes with a side of the best sausage I have ever had! I also had a grapefruit mimosa. My second time visiting I had the Pancake Trio with the Banana Foster (my second favorite), Peach Cobbler and the Lemond Blueberry Goat Cheese Pancakes; again with the best sausage I have ever had.
If you are looking for a buffet styled meal I highly recommend Shepard’s Ocean Flame. We went for dinner one night outside on the patio, and to our surprise the tiki bar that was attached to the hotel had an outdoor band playing that night. We got the best of both worlds: a great buffet dinner (with crab legs) and entertainment of the outdoor stage. The buffet was very good and everything was very fresh; we also paid the up-charge for crab legs which were maid fresh for every order.
One day we took a trip down to the St. Petersburg are for the shopping area Johns Pass and the Sunken Gardens; on the way back up we stopped at a higher end restaurant RumFish Grill. It was one of the coolest places I have ever been, and you may have even see on the show Tanked. In their main dinning room they have a 33,500 sq. ft. fish tank that you can reserve swim times in! Sadly, I didn’t get to swim in the tank, but I am putting it on my bucket list. They also have Guy Harvey’s, a Jamaican wildlife artist, art all over the restaurant. Our appetizer was the Smoked Fish Dip which was delicious! My brother had the RumFish “Cioppino” which was very good. I had two apps as my main meal I had the Tuna Poke and Muscles which were great. It was on the pricey side, but if you’re looking for a nice meal I would recommend it!
During out stay we had a nice hotel and a nice pool, but the hotel next to us had a roof top pool with a bar. So, the boys and I snuck into their pool. They had two pools one large on in the center of the roof top and one that meets the edge of the roof. The bar they had was very nice and I am not much of a drinker, but I found my new favorite drink! They called it a Twisted Bellini; it was made of Prosecco, Titos vodka and Peach Snaps. During our visit to the neighbor pool we tried their Buffalo Chicken Dip which is one of my favorite appetizers and they definitely met my standards of BCD.
On my last day of the trip I finally got the tacos I was looking for, and I only found them at one place Crabby’s Bar & Grill. Everyone in my party was looking for Mahi-Mahi tacos with a mango pico de gallo on top, and oh boy! We found them! I also had a mimosa to accompany my tacos. I would say best tacos on the beach hands down. My other favorite part of the deck area was that they had hibiscus flowers, and I stole one for my hair. We enjoyed the joint so much that we even bought a shirt. Best way to end my vacation was enjoying the early afternoon at Crabby’s.
Things to Do
On our first full day on Clearwater Beach we went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It was a very fun day trip, but maybe would have been more suitable for younger children. We still enjoyed ourselves watching the dolphin show and exploring the many rooms of the aquarium. We saw Winter the tailless dolphin and in their enclosures after the show they were all happily performing their tricks. My two favorite parts: the dolphin show (warning you will get soaked) and the stingray enclosure. In the stingray enclosure you can not only watch, but you can stick your hand in the tank which lets the stingrays graze around your hands.
The boys favorite part of the vacation was hands down the jet ski tours guided by H20 Jet Ski Rentals. We rented two ski’s. Thankfully my jet ski did not flip, but the other ski we rented flipped so hard it through both passengers a good 50 yards. However, they said it was the best part of the whole trip. I don’t remember who our guide was, a younger dude, but he was a great guide. He knew where the sand bars were so we could avoid them, as well as how fast we could take turns and even hit some waves that made us jump. I would not say this would be the best option for kids 8 and under; but if they are older it should really be the only option of rental places. We played follow the leader until we got out the open ocean and then we got to play in the open area for about 30 minutes, we then played follow the leader back to the dock. I have been on a few jet ski tours and this trip topped all of them. It was all they talked about the rest of the trip, the plane ride home, and once they got back to their houses. We had a blast.
One of the days we took a day trip down to the St. Petersburg area to check out some different check points along the way to Sunken Gardens. We stopped by Johns Pass to do some shopping; the shopping area here was definitely the coolest walking district in the Tampa area. I stopped by a spice and tea shop to pick up souvenirs, as well as a couple of small jewelry shops. We had ice cream at small ice cream parlor down there that I cannot think of the name, but they had this awesome mermaid painting on their wall. We walked along the board walk area for a while, and if you need to do some souvenir shopping I highly recommend this area.
I will save my favorite part for last which was Sunken Gardens. This site was one of the things I wanted to tour around so badly, and I am so happy that I got the chance. The garden was founded by a local plumber, George Turner, Sr., in 1906 when the property was bought. In the 1920’s he started charging his neighbors to walk through his beautiful garden that was full of tropical plants and flowing rivers. The garden was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in real life. The photos do not give it justice to its true beauty. If you are a gardener like myself or just enjoy tropical foliage, then the Sunken Garden needs to be a stop on your next vacation to the Tampa area.