As I’m writing this, it’s a record temperature of -25 here in Chicago, so I’m going to tell you about Charlotte’s and my first couple days in Florida last May; then, I can reminisce on the warmth. We flew into Tampa with my parents and stayed at the Quality Inn and Conference Center, which had an awesome courtyard with a pool for day and night use. Since we arrived a bit later in the day, we bummed around, ate dinner nearby, and went swimming at night. The hotel breakfast the next morning was large with a nice assortment of food and drinks.
Before our trip, I had seen a video on Facebook of the best beach in the U.S., Clearwater Beach in Florida. It just so happened that this beach was only 45 minutes from Tampa, so we had to stop at it before heading north to The Villages where my grandparents live. We had to drive on one road connecting the two towns, which left us surrounded by water and nothing else. A little anxiety-provoking but worth the view.
You can tell by the photos that the beach lives up to its name, and let me tell you, the water felt great under the hot sun. They have a gift shop, concessions, and jet ski rentals too. My dad, Charlotte, and I rented one to share for 30 minutes. It was my first time on one, and it was a ton of fun. We had to stay within the boundaries and stay a certain distance from the others or we’d get warnings (we got one for being too close to another person!), but despite the rules, we could go as fast as we wanted, which gave me a small adrenaline rush. It was quite bumpy at times and my sunglasses almost fell off, but I’d sure do it all again, even if it meant tasting salt water again too.
From there, we drove up the coast to Tarpon Springs, a town resembling a Greek village and known for its sponge docks. It’s a cute town with gift shops, authentic Greek cuisine and pastries, and waterfront views. We stopped at Taste of Greece for some pastries before heading back inland to The Villages. I highly recommend getting a dessert from there if you ever visit the town!
After that, we found our Airbnb in The Villages and prepared for the rest of our stay, visiting with my grandparents and uncle and hitting Disney and a state park, which I’ll cover in my next posts!