RELAX by the sea, SAIL on a pirate ship, MEET a truly special dolphin and more!
A destination perfect for the entire family that is both luxurious and eco-friendly awaits you at the Sandpearl Resort and Spa (877-726-3111; sandpearl.com) in Clearwater Beach, Fla. The breathe-taking view of the Gulf Coast and sandy white beaches make this just the place for that magnificent home-away-from-home family getaway.
Camp for Kids
Ages 5 – 11 can enjoy lots of activities inside or out — all based on Florida’s animals and ecosystems — from crafting fun, sand castle building, giant chess and meeting the camp mascot, Ridley the sea turtle. The wonderful staff of Camp Ridley keep everything upbeat and fun, even for those afraid to leave Mommy or Daddy. My 5-year-old daughter, Lilliana, cried when we dropped her off, but the staff had her fears thwarted within minutes. When I came back to pick her up, she didn’t want to leave!
Spa Time for Parents
While the kids are at play, parents can relax at the spa. I opted for a facial and the therapist had me in another world fast as lightning. The entire experience is so relaxing from the moment you step through the door, waiting in the lounge sipping on water or tea, the treatment and even leaving. It’s just so peaceful.
Sit pool side and bask in the sun while the kiddos splash around in the kid-friendly, zero-depth entry lagoon-shaped pool. Enjoy a chaise lounge or rent a cabana. When it’s time for lunch, wave over the waiter from Tate Island Grill and order! From yummy sandwiches, salads, appetizers, seafood and great children’s menu options, there’s something for everyone.
Come nightfall, don casual clothes and dine next to a breathtaking view of the sunset at Carretta on the Gulf. This world-class, four-diamond restaurant is so mouth-watering good that you will want to eat there each night to try to taste everything on the menu and portions are enormous. Head to the Marketplace in the lobby for Starbucks coffee and frozen drinks, sandwiches, sodas, candy and more when you want something simple. Of course, there’s always the excellent room service.
For swashbuckling fun with the family, sail on a Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise (727-446-2587; captainmemo.com). Listen to tales, play activities and arm yourself with waterguns for a children vs. adults friendly water fight. Then, cover your ears as the cannon is fired — a tiny reproduction that’s way louder than you think! Be sure to take your camera; sailing along, you just might spot a dolphin or two which are known to swim along the side of the ship. The marvelous ship offers limited seating, so arrive early before spots fill up. Day cruises are two hours and cast off at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.
Ever wonder who takes care of marine animals when they’re injured by boats, oil spills or other dangers? Just a minute’s ride from the resort on the Jolley Trolley takes you to an inspirational place of healing and friendship. At Clearwater Marine Aquarium (727-441-1790; seewinter.com) the staff nurses animals back to health and teaches visitors about the importance of keeping marine wildlife safe while enjoying the sea and beaches. Once an animal is healthy again and shows natural survival instincts, it’s released back into the wild. We saw sea turtles, sea otters, sharks and more. The most impressive encounter we had was with Winter, a rescued dolphin that beat the odds. She’d lost her tail to an injury attained in the wild, but with a prosthetic tail, still swims today. Her story is the spotlight of a new movie coming out this month — Dolphin Tale — where she plays herself in the movie. Sandpearl Resort is also the official resort partner with Dolphin Tale.
If you’re looking for a fall break excursion for your family — or spring or summer — book Sandpearl Resort and Spa. It’s worth it! Your family will not only leave with a freshly revived soul, but with lots of fun stories to tell, too.