While most families are finally settling back into a school-dictated schedule, our family took a much-needed vacation.
We were planning to go to Myrtle Beach with my mom to see family there, but Hurricane Dorian changed our plans. The funny thing is, the hotel canceled our reservations when they called for mandatory evacuations, but the weather there ended up being really nice.
With the cancellation, we decided to visit Clearwater Beach, Florida instead. We had a wonderful time, even though I felt a bit unwell for the first several days due to my foolish gluten binge – hello, I LOVE donuts! I couldn’t resist! Surely I’m not the only one who can’t help but indulge in a glazed donut when they’re out in front of me.
But they basically ruin my life for about a week following and I’m typing and wondering if maybe I need to re-evaluate my need for glazed goodness.
Maybe one day they’ll come up with glazed donut flavored herbal tea and then all will be well. Anyway…
The trip was wonderful.
We enjoyed the beach, visited friends, and had an all-around relaxing time. Normally when we go on vacation, we’re here there and everywhere, but this time, we kept our exploration to right in the Clearwater area. We didn’t venture into Tampa this time. I think we just needed to slow down, unwind, and just be together and I’m so glad we did.
About Clearwater Beach
- Located on Florida’s west coast
- Super soft white sand
- Amazing sunsets
- Lots of fun activities for the entire family
- Good local grouper in many restaurants
- Voted best beach in America many times
- Bike friendly
- High rise hotels alongside quaint retro motels (our personal favorite being Brightwater Suites. Our week cost around $600)
- Lots of options for boat tours
- Street performers each night near Pier 60
Its a great place to vacation. If you go in September as we did, do expect to be hot and sweaty. With the humidity, the temperature was at a “feels like” 103 most days. This is definitely something to consider if you have family members who are sensitive to heat. However, if you have no such constraints, it’s also a more inexpensive time to visit and the beaches aren’t as packed.
We took a boat tour on the biggest speedboat in America, called The Sea Screamer. Kat loves it and so did her dad and me. We learned that the Gulf of Mexico is home to fifty species of sharks and there are many dolphins that regularly swim the waters just off the coast of Clearwater. We were lucky enough to see them jump in the wake of the boat! It was spectacular and we’ve all decided we’ll be repeat customers.
Free Fun in the Streets
Each evening, you’ll find ample free opportunities for family fun. I say free, however these hard-working street performers rely on tips, so keep that in mind.
Homeschooling on Vacation
In our minds, one of the perks to homeschooling is being able to travel whenever we can without having to schedule our lives around a school schedule. We prefer to have a flexible, child-centered approach to learning so that even if we are at home, learning isn’t seen as a boring chore to do so she can get back to life. I was schooled. I remember that feeling very well. Her brothers were schooled as well and I remember the arguments we had almost daily about homework.
Even within the homeschool community, many children sit down begrudgingly to “do school.” Because of this, many homeschooling families look forward to a break, sometimes just during vacation, sometimes for entire summers, like their schooled peers. We see vacations as opportunities to have fun and just add to the documentation binder, just like we do any other day!
Traveling gives our daughter a chance to learn from real life. We can slow down and really enjoy watching our daughter discover things that interest her. Sometimes, I’m surprised by what grabs her attention – like sea sponges, for example.
Sea sponges? Yep.
We visited Tarpon Springs, which is about thirty minutes north of Clearwater, where Kat learned about natural sea sponges at the docks.
Did you know they’re antibacterial and they can last two years? We had no idea.
She had fun testing each of them and then making her choice for her own personal bath sponge, which she swears is softer than the wool one I chose.
We spend quite a lot of time in this store, which surprised me. Who knew sea sponges could be so intriguing?
One thing I noticed was that every sponge shop also carried natural soaps and so each one was quite thick with the various scents of essential oils. I love natural soaps and being a dōTERRA wellness advocate, I LOVE essential oils, but I gotta tell you, spending too much time in the shops, especially the small ones gave me a bit of a headache.
That said, I understand the need to the soap smells. We left the sponges in our car overnight and when I opened the door the next morning – shew! The sponge smell was strong. Thankfully all you have to do to get rid of the smell is give them an initial wash with soap and warm water. Easy enough.
Want to catch an amazing sunset?
You can simply lay a towel on the beach in Clearwater, and take in a gorgeous sunset every night, so long as the weather cooperates. Florida is known for it’s evening thunderstorms, but they are generally short-lived, so don’t worry.
For some reason, I had the idea to chase sunsets, so while we enjoyed most of them in Clearwater, we timed a few outings to see the sunset in other towns too. One day, we took a short drive to the quaint town of Pass-A-Grille. It’s been described as a small Key West, and I could see why, with its cute historic homes painted in various colors.
Another great spot for sunsets (and things to do) is John’s Pass. Definitely check out the old stone pier if you visit.
We really had a wonderful time in the area and look forward to going back again soon. The thing is, you don’t have to travel far to explore with your kids. You can explore your own backyard, or take in the sights in your hometown. The world is full of opportunities to play and learn.
All we have to do is see the world through our children’s eyes and explore side-by-side with them.
That’s what it’s all about.