Day trip to Clearwater or Split Vacation?

terri33inne

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 16, 2013
I know this isn't an Orlando attraction so admin please move if appropriate.

My daughter (age 11), and I will be going to Disney for 10 days Feb 2019. I currently have us booked for all nights on property.

I'm looking into going to see the Clearwater Aquarium, and am trying to decide if we should just do a day trip or plan one or two nights in Clearwater.

To do a one day trip I would rent a car (I understand it's almost a 2 hour drive), and just do the aquarium.

To stay overnight I would probably change our flight to fly into or out of Tampa (depending on which end of the trip I do it), and then do the aquarium, the beach, and maybe a dolphin watch. Obviously we would then have to rent a car for several days.

Has anyone done either of these scenarios? Pros? Cons? Last time we did something like this (a DCL), I remember feeling really sad leaving Disney, and was wishing our trip was longer.
 

pooh2001

been there, done that, TRYING to go back
Joined
Feb 16, 2000
With the new pricing - get 4 days at WDW and 3 days where ever you want to go :)
 

jaceraden

Ringleader to 3 kids in a Disney loving family
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
I drove to Tampa and back for a day trip last year and I found it totally manageable. Adding just under an hour both ways would certainly be doable and likely what I'd choose to stay in the bubble. Leave really early on your aquarium day and then have a slower paced day the next to make up for all the driving. It's maybe just me though. I live in a rural area so driving 2 hours in a sitting is just another day to me.
 
  • mel&me

    DIS Veteran
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2003
    Defiantly doable as a day trip. I did day trip to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg which is 25 minutes from clearwater.
     

    JediMom43014

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 20, 2018
    I have done Clearwater/Orlando several times. It is a perfectly manageable day trip. However, if you are beach fans make it an overnight and try to grab some beach time! I had no problems and did not find it at all inconvenient flying into one airport and leaving from another.

    Edit to add: when I was doing a full Disney trip and an extended stay in Clearwater I did Clearwater first to avoid the leaving Disney sadness. Other times, I was just doing Disney for a day.
     
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    Beth D

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 28, 2011
    We do a Clearwater beach day every year during our Orlando trip - we stay offsite at Sheraton Vistana. The aquarium was about a 3-4 hour visit when we were there. The museum is a short walk from the beach, and we parked at the beach, did the aquarium, then took the free trolley over to mainland Clearwater to see the making of the movie museum there. We then walked back to the beach after - parking fills up fast there!

    Either way, you can't go wrong! If you stay a whole day, they have a terrific evening festival called Sunset at Pier 60 where they have crafters, street performers, and lots to see and do.
     

    fla4fun

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 12, 2006
    You could also price out flying into Tampa, doing a night or two in Clearwater, renting a car to drive to Orlando, and then flying out of Orlando at the end of your trip. The extra fee, if any, for the one way rental might not be any worse than a multi day rental. Just another avenue to explore.

    I used to live halfway between Clearwater and St. Petersburg, and we never did a day trip to Disney. We always stayed at least one night. After we moved to the Orlando area, it was the same thing if we went back to visit friends. We would get a hotel and stay overnight. I wouldn’t do a day trip, but that’s just me.
     
  • kathy884

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2009
    We're done Clearwater beach as a day trip from Orlando at least half a dozen times. For all of these days I had a week long rental in a lovely offsite condo and did the trip maybe midweek. It's a long, but perfectly pleasant day and not one I'd mind repeating. If you are up for it and have time, maybe hit the nice beach as well as the aquarium. There is a lot to be said about staying put and not having to pack up and unpack if you are really just looking to spend one day in Clearwater. I think in your shoes (really an Orlando trip with some activities for one day in Clearwater), that's what I'd do. Also (although you are staying at Disney, so this may not be the case for you), in general Orlando is less expensive when it comes to accommodations (price for quality) than Clearwater.

    I did a week long stay in Clearwater once too and another time did a three night stay there in combination with visiting my cousin who lives in Tampa and dropping my son off at a Busch Gardens camp. I love the public beach there and pier. It's a big wide beach with soft sand, calm waters, and lots of activity. I'm one who likes a happening beach vs. a secluded beach. As we loved the Dolphin Tale movie, we checked out the Clearwater aquarium etc. too. Another fun activity, not a must do or anything is to take one of the mansion dolphin tours (just a little boat ride past mansions in the area and lots of dolphins who love to follow the boat -- not overly expensive and can be booked last minute). I'm a bigger Orlando fan (more of a theme park girl than beach girl,) but a day trip to Clearwater is super nice, and it's one of my favorite beaches.
     

    kathy884

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2009
    I think renting a car to go to Clearwater and back from Orlando is a good way to go for a day trip from Orlando and back. A key to its' reasonableness if that you are picking up and dropping off from the same location in Orlando.

    You could also price out flying into Tampa, doing a night or two in Clearwater, renting a car to drive to Orlando, and then flying out of Orlando at the end of your trip. The extra fee, if any, for the one way rental might not be any worse than a multi day rental. Just another avenue to explore.
    I just checked out the above for the first week in March next year, and the car rental for my dates was quite expensive picking up in Tampa and dropping off in Orlando (too rich for my blood). On my next mini stay in Orlando I am flying into Tampa and doing an overnight there (visiting my favorite cousin who lives in Tampa on arrival day, doing Busch Gardens with him for a partial day the next day) and after that I am spending four nights / three days in Orlando -- meeting up with my 23 year old. DH is staying home (doesn't really care for Florida or theme parks) For my stay one way car rentals picking up in Tampa and dropping off in Orlando were really pricey -- like $240 for a two day rental. (no insurance or anything) -- ouch -- even ubers each way wold be cheaper if I could get an uber driver to do it (They prefer to stay local.) What I am doing instead is having my cousin drop me off at the train station in Tampa and doing a $13 Amtrak ride Tampa to Orlando. Then I'll do uber or lyft to my hotel in Orlando (quite inexpensive and easy to do in Orlando for that shorter distance).
     
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    fla4fun

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 12, 2006
    I think renting a car to go to Clearwater and back from Orlando is a good way to go for a day trip from Orlando and back. A key to it's reasonableness if that you are picking up and dropping off from the same location in Orlando.



    I just checked out the above for the first week in March next year, and the car rental for my dates was quite expensive picking up in Tampa and dropping off in Orlando (too rich for my blood). On my next mini stay in Orlando I am flying into Tampa and doing an overnight there (visiting my favorite cousin who lives in Tampa on arrival day, doing Busch Gardens with him for a partial day the next day) and after that I am spending four nights / three days in Orlando -- meeting up with my 23 year old. DH is staying home (doesn't really care for Florida or theme parks) For my stay one way car rentals picking up in Tampa and dropping off in Orlando were really pricey -- like $240 for a two day rental. (no insurance or anything) -- ouch -- even ubers each way wold be cheaper if I could get an uber driver to do it (They prefer to stay local.) What I am doing instead is having my cousin drop me off at the train station in Tampa and doing a $13 Amtrak ride Tampa to Orlando. Then I'll do uber or lyft to my hotel in Orlando (quite inexpensive and easy to do in Orlando for that shorter distance).
    I never think of the train. That is an excellent option!
     

    4kids4karen

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2006
    We love Clearwater Beach. There are many nice hotels near Pier60. Pier60 also has daily sunset festivals (street vendors come out), evening street performers, movies in the park (next to the pier).

    Stay near Pier60 and everything is walkable.
     
  • 1andrea

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 12, 2006
    We usually do a day trip and go on the Seascreamer, it’s a fab boat trip if you’re looking for something extra to do xx
     

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