Tag Archives: vacation

Seven Dwarfs sand

Fairy Tales in the Sand at Clearwater Beach

Fairy Tale Beach

Three Little Pigs in sandDo you remember the Three Little Pigs? Goldie Locks? Rapunzel? The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf? The Princess and the Pea? Clearwater Beach, Florida brought those and a host of other fairy tales into the realm of three dimensions at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival . At a mere ten dollars a ticket, visitors gained entrance to the large tent protecting the sand sculptures. A path led through the artwork, the trail composed of nothing more than ordinary beach sand which is there all year round. Guests were treated to close up encounters with their favorite fairy tales. Viewers discussed each pieces, many trying to recall the names of certain fairy tales or quotes from the stories. Sculpted into the sand of some of the pieces were their titles, helping guests along while presenting some striking three dimensional fonts. Colored lights alternated from one shade to another, helping to enhance the shadows. pinoccioTo immerse spectators further, a soundtrack played in which snippets of fairy tales were read. The walkway wound end to end inside the very large tent. The trail led guests through the fairy tale renderings, passing by a photo op in front of a fairy tale castle at one end, and a sculpture contest at the other. Loads of interesting sculptures waited in between, making a visit to the ten day Sugar Sand Festival a worthy outing for both area visitors and local residents.

 

Unique Sand Sculptures

sand sculptureThis year marks the centennial anniversary of Clearwater, Florida. The one hundredth birthday of the community was marked with a sand sculpture of a giant birthday cake at the exit to the event. Another local feature that made its welcome return to the Sugar Sand Festival was Winter the dolphin, this time with her friend Hope to help her along. The two real-life dolphins star in the Dolphin Tale movies which have brought a dose of unexpected fame to the area. Sand sculpting contestThe other sculptures that did not follow the fairy tale theme were those from the sculpting contest. A handful of artists pitted their skills against one another at the south end of the large tent. All contest designs were well done, as you might imagine, some including remarkably intricate detail. The the contestant themes ranted from  mechanical structures to the abstract art in three dimensions. Visitors were encouraged to vote for their favorites.

 

Sand Sculpting Artists

GoldielocksOne of the best features of the 2015 Sugar Sand Festival was the upkeep of the sculptures. Not only were sculpted pieces maintained and repaired throughout, new pieces appeared all week long. Team Sandtastic, a traveling group of sand sculpture artists, was responsible for the majority of the sculptures seen at the event. A talk with one of the team members revealed some interesting tidbits. Fairy Tale CastleThe one sculptor we spoke with was responsible for several tons of sculpted sand within the tent. The event itself boasted a weigh in of 1000 tons of sand. An interesting and interactive feature was the chance to get a photograph in front of a giant fairy tale castle made by the team. Guests could take home the photo from a booth outside that also sold photo booklets from the event.

 

Pier 60 Festivities

Sugar Sand FestivalPier 60 was bustling all week long. On an ordinary day, souvenir vendors line the pier for four hours a night at the Sunset Festival. Street performers entertain the crowds juggling fire, tumbling, dancing, or displaying a host of other talents. For the Sugar Sand Festival, vendors set up all day long, every day of the festival. Evening is always the prime time for street performers, but one or two could be found at almost any hour during the ten day event. In addition to the additional availability of souvenirs, a number of food carts set up along the sidewalk and on the sand to serve treats to the passing crowds. TPier 60 Sugar Sand Festivalhrown into the mix was a swimming pool where visitors could float in giant inflatable bubbles, an interactive drum circle, a sand castle building area for the kids, and even a mechanical “bull” in the shape of a shark. On the two weekends, bands play on a stage set up on the beach. The sands of Clearwater Beach were the venue for those who attended the shows. The extra activities, the food, and the music surrounding the sand sculpture tent made the event a thrill to visit.

 

Sugar Sand Festival

Little Boy Who Cried WolfThe Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival was as fun as expected. Last year set a high bar that this year’s event succeeded at meeting. The event drew plenty of extra attention during a time of year that ordinarily sees fewer visitors. Artists transformed the beautiful white sands of Clearwater Beach into fairy tale sculptures, while the grounds outside took on a carnival atmosphere. For those thinking of coming to Clearwater Beach, or one of the nearby beaches in the area, April might be the month to consider. If you enjoy fascinating art and a dynamic atmosphere, the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival is for you.

 

Genie in the lamp Pinoccio whale Banner for Sugar Sand Festival Thumbalina

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Holiday Lights in the Garden

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

 

North Sandbar Anclote Key

Sandbar Island Paradise

Island in the Sun

North Sandbar IslandNorth Sandbar is a place that lives in all of our imaginations. Dream of a tiny island, one where few people go, but which is a safe place to be. Cover it with soft white sand and paint clear turquoise waters around its shores. When you are done, you might have come close to North Sandbar. It is a tiny island located off of the coast of Tarpon Springs, Florida, a fun little tourist town on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It is to the north of such famous places as St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park, and Honeymoon Island State Park. When you go through that list of names, you will realize that the island called North Sandbar is located in the midst of a popular vacation destination. However, if you make your way to this remote sandbar, you will find that you are nearly alone. With absolutely perfect beaches of soft, white sand, it is a destination you might want to include in your travel plans.

 

Remote Destination of North Sandbar

island boating FloridaThe only access to the uninhabited islands of our area is by boat. While Caladesi Island is a popular boat destination, you can walk there from Clearwater Beach. Honeymoon Island is connected by a bridge. Go farther north, however, and you will not reach the islands without crossing the water. Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sandbar are the three most northern points of land. All three enjoy a low visitation rate, due to the difficulty of getting there. If you do not own a boat, you have to rent or charter one. While you can kayak there, the trip is not recommended for beginners because of the open water between, which is exposed to wind and waves. The photos in this blog were taken on a trip with Private Island Charters. The coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a boaters’ paradise, with endless locations to visit. On holidays, the little island can fill up, but on most other days of the year, it is a gentle, soothing place to soak in the sun and sea. The northern barrier islands are a perfect destination for a day of boating.

 

The Evolution of an Island

North Sandbar of Anclote KeyNorth Sandbar appears as though it might be an extension of Anclote Key to its south. The sand extends in a long bar, easily a mile in length. At its northern tip, North Sandbar rises out of the water to become a tiny island, complete with mangrove bushes and grass. Google Earth has this sandbar listed at Rapp Island, although we found no other source on the whole of the Internet that confirmed the assignment of that name, casting doubt on the title. While it seems as though the sandbar might become part of Anclote Key, the matter is debated by locals. The conflicting forces are the accumulation of sand rising to the surface and a strong current that runs between the sandbar and Anclote Key. A study of the history of Honeymoon Island formation suggests that the sandbar might become a northern extension of Anclote Key, as a nearly identical formation was in place at Honeymoon Island a mere thirty years ago. In that case, the sandbar did become part of the island, despite the channel that flowed between. Time will tell if the joining occurs, and if North Sand Bar will eventually come under the title of Anclote Key, enjoyed by future boaters who might never know the two keys were ever separated.

 

Enjoying the Shores of North Sandbar

North Sandbar of AncloteThe shores of North Sandbar are some of the most beautiful you will find. The beaches are formed by the lightest sands, those most susceptible to movement in the currents, deposited onto a sandbar that has risen from the waves. That makes the grains among the softest you will find. The white color is remarkable, dazzling to the eye and cool to the feet. When the sand is submerged in shallows, it illuminates the water to a sparkling turquoise color. The island is perfect for sitting on the sand or strolling the shores. However, a walk around the island will only take a few minutes, so plan for a large dose of relaxation. The shallows are expansive, making wading and swimming conditions perfect. If you head south toward Anclote Key, you can stroll with your ankles in the water for nearly a mile. So, if you share the inclination to restore your soul on the shores of a remote island, you should give this tiny gem a try.

 

Private Island ChartersThis trip to the islands was provided by Private Island Charters (727-534-8818) (Facebook link)

 

 

North Sandbar trip

North Sandbar

North Sandbar Anclote

North Sandbar

Boating to Anclote Key sandbar

North Sandbar

Island Paradise Central Gulf Coast of Florida

North Sandbar

 

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

 

vacation rental

Vacation Rental Frequently Asked Questions

Ask Questions Before You Book Your Vacation Rental

A vacation destination sets you free to explore a new piece of the world. Unfortunately, it also comes with challenges. In order to know what you are getting into, you have to ask a lot of questions. Here is a short list of questions which we handle often.

 

Vacation FAQs

vacation rental condoWhere is my vacation rental? Well, that’s important, isn’t it? You need to know not only the town, but where specifically in that town you will be staying. Are you on the beach? Are you near it? That’s matters. In fact, it’s vital information that can make or break your vacation plans. Be sure to nail down exactly where your accommodations will be. Your vacation rental company should provide a map with the exact location marked.

How far ahead should I book? Unfortunately, that question is often asked too late. If you intend to visit a popular vacation destination during its peak season, you had better book ahead a full year. For the less traveled seasons, or less known destinations you will want to book three to six months ahead. If you miss those deadlines, you may wind up booking at higher, last-minute rates.

vacation rental condoHow many does it sleep? Knowing the number that the unit sleeps is key. Be sure your rental will accommodate your party. Some rentals consider an overcrowded unit to be a breach of contract by the renter. If you want to stay cheaper, try to find places that utilize sofa sleepers for extra guests.

What size are the beds? Questions regarding bed size aim at personal taste and type of party. Some couples want king size beds, others are fine with queen size. When bed size can really come into play is when two families travel together, which includes the extended-family vacation. You may want to make sure that the couples each have a king or queen size bed. You can also ask for units that have more than one master bedroom. They are less common, but they do exist.

beachfront accommodationsQuestions about money. Questions about money are perhaps the most important. Aside from the obvious “how much” inquiry, you will want to know how payment is made. Is it all up front? Is there a deposit? Is there a penalty for cancelling? Is the money refundable? Those are all important details. The company you use should be able to answer them easily. Be sure to validate that your company is the real deal, especially if they are asking for a full payment up front.

How do I know my vacation rental company is real? That is a question you will want to answer before you pay. Don’t use non-official, garage-sale style sites to book a vacation rental. A week at a beach condo can cost in the thousands. You should know your company is legitimate before paying. Check the BBB, make sure the rental company has a website, and look online for reviews.

beachfront condoWhere do I check in? Not knowing where to check in can throw a wrench into your first day of vacation. Ask the booking agent where you need to arrive then check it on an online map. If it doesn’t seem right, be sure to call them back for specific directions.

What is the layout of the vacation rental? This is more than one question really. Does it have a kitchen? How many bedrooms does it have? Will the dining table seat your group? Does the unit have a washer and dryer? Does it have a balcony or patio? What floor is it on? What is the view? Where do I park? Those are all very important details that you need to know. Write them down before you call so you don’t forget to ask. A good online directory should tell you all those things. So should a good booking agent.

vacation condoWhat can you expect to find inside your rental unit? Will it have a dishwasher and an icemaker? Can you expect beach towels and beach chairs? What about toilet paper, paper towels, and soap? Those answers vary greatly between rental agencies and even between units rented by the same company. Knowing those answers ahead of time will help you prepare. The agent you contact should be able to tell you what will be waiting for you and what you need to bring.

What activities and attractions are nearby? An agency, even an online one, should have an idea what you will find nearby. That is why you are booking that unit in the first place! Clearwater BeachThe online booking site should answer at least some of those questions. An over-the-phone agent should also have an idea of what you will find outside your door. After all, the things-to-do list is one of the most important features of most vacations. You should be able to receive a short list, at the very least, before booking your vacation rental.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams

Accommodations or Flight, Which to Book First

St Petersburg Florida

For the Love of Speed – Fast Cars and Fun on the Florida Gulf Coast

Festival of Speed

race carTwo automobile events hit the Tampa Bay area this spring. The first is the Festival of Speed. This event displays the high priced cars and boats we all would love to own. The car show runs from March 6th to the 8th and is held outdoors at Vinoy Park. Attend the Festival of Speed to see for yourself where auto meets art.

 

Grand Prix of St Petersburg

race carThe second exciting event for lovers of speed is the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. This race is held on the streets of St Petersburg, with the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay within view. Watch professional racers zip through the streets of one of America’s favorite vacation destinations. This event hold all the thrills you are looking for in professional racing.

 

Illuminated Light Parade

Set on the beautiful St Petersburg waterfront, the 2015 Illuminated Night Parade is a night time treat. This grand display of lights travels through the streets of St Petersburg, each float casting bright light into the coastal towers of St Petersburg, Florida. Enjoy floats, marching bands, dancers, and race cars in town for the Grand Prix of St Petersburg. This is definitely a great weekend to visit this Gulf Coast city.

St Petersburg Florida

Downtown, St Petersburg, Florida

St Petersburg Florida

Downtown St Petersburg, Florida

 

Downtown St Petersburg, Florida

Downtown St Petersburg, Florida

 

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Clearwater Marine Aquarium

9 Need to Know Differences between Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

 

Kite Festival

Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition

Beach Kite Festival

kite festival Treasure IslandThe Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition flew over the Florida Gulf Coast again this January, lighting up the daytime sky with bright colors. The day started with mild breezes, not the kind you want for a kite competition, or for flying the giant sized kites. Fortune was on the side of the kite flyers, however, when the afternoon weather brought winds that were perfect for kite flying. The skies were partly cloudy, and it the type of day where some people wore shorts and others light jackets. Crowds lined the sidewalk, using the wall at the edge of the sand for seating. The turnout was fantastic, with the beach restaurants and bars filled to capacity. The large crowds lent an atmosphere of excitement to the event.

 

Sport Kite Competition

sport kitesThe completion portion of the festival was as fun to watch as ever. One of the events that drew the most comments was the children’s kite races, where youngsters, holding kites several times their size, raced across the sand. Other competitions included synchronized kite flying, sport kite flying, and flying sport kites to music.

 

Giant Kites

giant kitesWhile the sport kites were flying, all manner of non-competition kites were sailing over the beach at Treasure Island. The giant octopus kite was a favorite again. Many new kites made their first appearances as well. The kite receiving the most comments was the figure of a scuba diver with a shark swimming just behind him. A kite premiering at the beach was the image of a geisha with the flowing tail of the kite representing her dress.

 

Perfect Beach for Kite Flying

kite at Treasure Island BeachWith kites filling skies over the beach, it was easy to enjoy a walk across the sand. The combination of large, colorful, slow moving kites and racing sport kites created a mesmerizing effect.

The location at Treasure Island Beach was well chosen, the sand being wider than any other location on the coast. Plenty of fun shops and restaurants are nearby, as well as tourist activities like fishing charters and day cruises. The festival comes to the beach each year in January, providing a great excuse to get out to the shore at this great beach community.  If you are considering a trip to the Florida Gulf Coast for the winter, the Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition is an event to keep in mind.

 

 

Treasure Island Kite Festival Videos

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Sky Surfing Clearwater Beach

A Beach Less Traveled

Secrets of the Fall at Clearwater Beach

 

Clearwater Color Run

Clearwater Color Run Strikes Again

Clearwater Color Run

Clearwater Color RunThe Color Run arrived in Clearwater, Florida again this December, turning the runners and the pavement a variety of bright shades. The 5k race, touted as the Happiest 5k on the Planet is a variation of the standard foot race in that the course has color stations. Each station holds a different vibrant hue of chalky dust, thrown at the racers when they pass. Set up like a gauntlet, race volunteers hurl or squirt day-glow powders onto the happy racers. This December’s race had four checkpoints, making the runners a living pallet of shades.

 

Color Run Racers

Clearwater Color RunThe Color Run painted the streets of Clearwater last year in January, making the gap eleven months rather than twelve. The turnout was just as good as last year, if not better. The streets were filled to the horizon on several Clearwater streets. Police helped with traffic at the corners, some, apparently, winding up with colors on their uniforms before the race was over. The Color Run was as good a time as always, with the racers smiling and waving as they went by. The volunteers also appeared to have fun pitching the powder onto to the runners.

 

Coachman Park Party

Clearwater Color RunThe race started and ended in Coachman Park, at the foot of the bridge to famous Clearwater Beach. The park is below the Clearwater Public Library, and next door to one of the trolley stop that takes tourist to see Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies.  The park is on the waterfront, with a dock and marina, making Coachman Park a great place for any event. An after-party happens each year on the park grounds, where anyone missing some colors on their clothing or hair is finished off. Plenty of race day souvenirs are available on-site. The park provides a perfect party-like atmosphere to end off the lively Color Run race.

 

Clearwater Florida

Coachman ParkClearwater is a great destination for a Florida vacation, with some of the most famous beaches in the USA on its doorstep. Nearby, visitors can find Fort De Soto Park, St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Caladesi Island State Park. The City of Clearwater is one of the big three of Tampa Bay, the other two being Tampa and St Petersburg. It is a lively metropolitan area that has great fishing opportunities, nearby wilderness, and fantastic resort beaches. It is easy for visitors to find the attractions that make them happy in Clearwater.

 Clearwater Color Run video


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Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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5 Most Exciting Beach Activity Rentals at Clearwater Beach

 

 

Sand sculpture at Treasure island

Treasure Island Sanding Ovation Festival Takes Sand Sculpting Art to a Science

Sanding Ovation 2014

Go with the Flow sculptureThe Sanding Ovation sand sculpting competition returned to Treasure Island Beach again in November. The event gave residents and visitors a good reason to visit the area’s largest beach. With an enormous expanse of sand available, the event had plenty of space. Artists set up on the north end of the outdoor venue, with vendors streaming southward, the southern end capped by a stage for live music. With music streaming overhead, visitors were treated to a huge assortment of goodies to browse in the vending tents, while smoke from the food vendors wafted through the air. Live bands, food, and souvenirs added to the allure of thes sand sculptures, creating an event that drew large, happy crowds.

 

Beach Treasures and Cuisine

Food tent at Treasure IslandThe array of vending tents and food stalls were impressive at the Sanding Ovation event. Set up on the sands of Treasure Island Beach, the wares were arrayed in long lines, displaying every type of beach themed merchandise imaginable. Beach dresses, sculpted wood home décor, jewelry, art, curious, and toys were among the many choices. For those who were hungry, the Sanding Ovation event was the right place to be. Brats, fresh seafood, Greek food, and local grouper fish sandwiches were all within easy reach. Food vendors at Sanding OvationOf course, iced tea, lemonade, snow cones, and ice cream were also on the menu. At the north end of the event, a large tent held a full bar which served soft drinks as well as alcohol. Although the sand sculptures were enough to lure the crowds to Treasure Island, the extra goodies at the Sanding Ovation festival put the finishing touch on the event.

 

Sand Sculpting Contest at Treasure Island Beach

Divided Self sand sculptureThe key attraction of the Sanding Ovation event was the collection of sand sculptures. Artists from Treasure Island and across the globe converged on the beach to put their talents to the test. The Sanding Ovation artists did not disappoint. Sand sculpture entitled ForbiddenThe artistic ideals were pretty heavy, in fact, visitors commented on how much interpretation was available for each piece. One portrayed rediscovering self, another a “Divided Life,” set alongside a sculpture entitled “Forbidden,” which displayed a woman holding a ball and chain as if it were precious. An area nearby offered visitors a chance to pose alongside a snowman and snow woman crafted from sand. The logos of area businesses who sponsored the event were displayed, as you might suspect, in sand. Large crowds milled around the artwork, discussing which they liked best, what each piece might mean, and peering at who had earned the highest marks in the sand sculpting contest.

 

Sanding Ovation Sand Sculpting Contest Winners

1st Place Winner & People’s Choice Award

Love Never Dies sculpture

Love Never Dies by Jonathan Bouchard

2nd Place Winner

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

3rd Place Winner & Sculptors’ Choice Award

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

 

Treasure Island, Florida

Finding Your Old Self Again sculptureTreasure Island sits on the northern reaches of the Central Gulf Coast, enjoying the renowned white sands and beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It his home to great beach shops, ideal beach restaurants, and cool beach bars. It borders famous John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk which is home to waterfront dining and souvenir shopping. Nearby attractions are Fort Desoto Park and Clearwater Beach. If you are looking for a fun vacationTreasure Island Beach spot, take a closer look at this active beach. The sands are wider than any other beach in the region and it boasts plenty of the great tourist attractions that go along with a memorable beach vacation. One more reason to visit? The Sanding Ovation festival will return to Treasure Island again next year!

 

Sanding Ovation Video

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Super Boat Races 2014 at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

 

Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Discovering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass a Grille Chowder ChallengeThe Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge happened last weekend, November 8th and 9th, bringing a lively event to a beach community that is a bit different from the rest of its neighbors on the coast. Pass A Grille is a laid back Florida beach community, sitting on a relatively small section of island. It is the southernmost inhabited section of the barrier islands along Florida Gulf Coast of Pinellas County. It is located just south of St Pete Beach and just north of the uninhabited Shell Key. Pass A Grille might not be the kind of place where you wind up often, it being the end of the road, with no way out other than the way you came in. The fantastic white sands of the Florida Gulf Coast line its shores, with beautiful views to the south of the barrier islands there. In the heart of Pass A Grille you will find Hurley Park, with a picnic pavilion, a basketball court, and a baseball field. On November 8th and 9th this year, Hurley Park became the staging ground for the annual Chowder Challenge, a chowder cook-off that set area restaurants against each other in a very friendly competition.

 

Entering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Chowder Challenge desertsWe arrived at the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge as inexperienced novices, new to the ways of the competition. Hurley Park was filled to the brim with chowder lovers who had arrived before us. Vender tents lined the perimeter, with the rest of the grass area occupied by dining tables, every one filled with chatting chowder challengers. Souvenirs were available along with an inviting table of deserts just outside the gates of the baseball field. Entering the main event area cost $20, an entrance fee that purchased a wristband pass into the chowder sampling area. We paid while still in mystery as to what we would get. To put it simply, the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge wound up being more than worth it.

 

Serving up the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Chowder Challenge chowdersEntering the baseball diamond we saw the participating restaurants for the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge lining the outer edge. Plenty of room was left over for milling in the center of the field, a space used by many to aim for the next bowl of chowder. We were handed rectangular trays with papers set on them that showed the names of the competing Tampa Bay area restaurants. The labeled tray was accompanied by a score card. It took only a moment to understand the game. Under pop up canopies the restaurant representatives waited with vats of chowder ready to serve the hungry crowds. When we visited the first table, we were served a tiny cup of chowder, placed carefully over the restaurant name. We went from table to table, collecting more of the small cups, placed over the corresponding names of the restaurants. Then it was off to taste the chowder at the dining tables spread across the lawn. It was time to decide who was king of the Chowder Challenge.

 

Chowder Challengers at Pass A Grille

The Chowder Challenge had some great competitors, including some of the best restaurants in the Tampa Bay region. One of the remarkable characters of the event is that every single booth had smiling participants, happy to talk to event attendees or pose for photos.

  • Chowder Challenge LoewsShells Chowder ChallengeBilly’s Stone Crab
  • Brass Monkey
  • Crabby Bills
  • Gennaro’s
  • Jackie’s on Corey
  • Leverocks Seafood House
  • Loews Don CeSar Resort & Spa
  • Middle Grounds Grill
  • PJs Oyster BarFriendly Fisherman at Chowder ChallengeNori Thai
  • PJ’s Oyster Bar
  • Rick’s Reef
  • Ricky T’s
  • RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost
  • Salty Rim
  • Shark Tales of St Pete Beach
  • Shell’s Seafood
  • Salty Rim at Chowder ChallengeLeverocks at Chowder ChallengeSt Pete Produce & Deli

 

We did our best to catch every name, and to taste every chowder! If we missed your restaurant at the Chowder Challenge or somehow left off your name, please let us know and we will add you to our list!

 

Choosing the Chowder Challenge Champion

Chowder Challenge votingOur attempt at picking a winner at the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge went well – at first. With the first eight chowders to choose from, we picked our winners. When we went back to sample eight more, the trouble began. There really weren’t any bad chowders. On the higher end of the tasting scale were some of the best chowders we’d ever tried. Some topped out the list on traditional style chowders while others served up recipes we hadn’t heard of before, such as the Rumfish version of Caribbean Lion Fish Chowder or the Nori Thai chowder which included coconut. By the time we were done with our second tray of samples, we had to go get more score cards because our first ones were destroyed with too many conflicting marks – and yes, they had chowder on them. The final scoring was tallied via plastic gold coins, handed to us when we purchased our entry. Attendees received only three of the golden coins with which to vote. Each restaurant table had business cards or menus to remind us who they were, but they also had plastic beach buckets. The buckets were for the gold coins. Attendees were to choose their top chowders and drop the coins off at their three favorite restaurant booths. Chowder Challenge Chowder choiceWe grudgingly eliminated the runners up and dropped off our coins. Because we also made a mess of the second score cards, we can no longer tell you where those coins went. Our personal favorites were Ricky T’s, Salty Rim, Shells Seafood, Brass Monkey, Leverocks, and Loews Don CeSar, with our unique-recipe favorite going to Rumfish Restauant’s Lionfish Chowder. We hope the others will understand. We left the Chowder Challenge with full bellies and smiles on our faces, thanks to all the great chowders.

 

​Official Winners of the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

The official winners according the official Chowder Challenge Website were:

Golden Ladle:  RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost for its Caribbean Lionfish Chowder
Peoples Choice 1st Place:  Shells for its New England Clam Chowder
People’s Choice 2nd Place:  Gennaro’s for its Gennaro’s Clam Chowder
People’s Choice 3rd Place:  Friendly Fisherman for its Clam Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Choice:  Shark Tales for its Fresh Seafood Clam Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Honorable Mention:  Lowes – Don CeSar for its Conch Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Honorable Mention:  Shells on St Pete Beach for its New England Clam Chowder

 

Looking forward to the Next Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Billys at Chowder ChallengeWe will return next year to the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge and here is why. The food was remarkable, giving us a wide variety of the best chowders our region had to offer. Despite the miniature size of the bowls, we were eventually unable to get to the bottom of the final samples, so it was satisfying for the big eaters too. The restaurant participants were all smiles, happy to be there and very personable when approached. Further, and possibly best, were the fellow attendees. The tables were large, fitting more than one group at a sitting. When we sat down, the conversations were easy to start because each person attending was also sampling the chowders. Don Cesar at Chowder ChallengeThe exchange of ideas began immediately, concerning which chowders were best, and which restaurants had cooked them. Because of the constant flow of attendees moving from the chowder serving area to the seats outside the baseball field, we wound up sitting in two different locations, each time striking up conversation with other happy chowder tasters.

For all of those reasons, we are looking forward to the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge next year and we hope to see you there too.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

John’s Pass