Visit Clearwater Beach!

Visit Clearwater Beach!
Settle In For A Relaxing Stay | Tropical Breeze Airbnb

Traveling with friends to Clearwater Beach, Florida? Book with Airbnb host Lea for a room in the beautiful Tropical Breeze apartment building-turned-quasi-hotel. With the bay nestled right behind you and the beach just a few blocks’ walk, you’ll be surrounded by all the natural Florida beauty you came here for. Watch boats float lazily through the glittering water or take a dip in the private pool just steps outside your door—you can’t go wrong!

The room comes equipped with two beds and a futon, which you’ll offer to sleep on so your friends have more room to spread out. You don’t mind a little discomfort—you’re just happy to see palm trees brushing the windows and feel the southern sun on your skin.

Remember to send a text to your boyfriend back home. Remind him to feed your cat and spend plenty of time with her—this is the longest you’ve ever been away from her, even if it’s only for a few days. Tell him you love him, even though you were never quite sure that was true.


Venture Out And Explore The Shore | Clearwater Beach

Take a walk down to Clearwater Beach, the strip of sand the whole barrier island was named for. You have to walk through the surf shop to access it—try on kitschy baseball caps and make note of the large beer section for later. Point at weed-themed souvenirs and laugh—you and Katelyn are 21 and Paige 22, but you’re not too mature to be above stupid jokes. Feel the air conditioning fade behind you as your feet touch the sand. Squint your eyes against the Florida sun and take in the beauty of the blue-green water. Seagulls flock above your head; saltwater laps at your ankles, floating seaweed tangling around your feet. Take pictures of the ocean and pretend that nobody’s ever taken the same one. Send the pictures to your boyfriend, along with one of you and your friends. Don’t wonder where he is when he takes too long to respond.


Wind Down And Head Out For A Drink | Coco’s Crush Bar Original

When the sun goes down and your skin is dry and darker from the day, shower the sand out of your hair and pick out a tank top and jean shorts for a night out at the beach. You thought that’s what this vacation would be—bar-hopping and drinking with your high school friends—and you weren’t exactly wrong, but you find out from a quick Google Maps search that everything closes before midnight. Thankfully, Coco’s Crush is only a short walk down the road, and they stay open until three in the morning!

Walk through the open-air entrance and head straight for the three open seats at the bar—there’s a fan pointed right at you there, and you’ll need it to keep from sweating in the leftover humidity. Order a vodka RedBull to keep yourself awake and ignore the bartender when he calls you “babe” and “beautiful.”

Coco’s Crush stands out as a fun nightlife spot for their nightly live music. The performer tonight is an older man with a guitar around his shoulders and sweat beading down his forehead. When he stops his set to yell out to the bartender for two shots of tequila, twist your torso and watch him upend the yellowish bottle into two small glasses. When the performer gestures to a girl in the front row and says, “You, come up here,” give your friends a look out of the corner of your eye. Even if you hadn’t known them since you were fourteen, they would still understand what you’re thinking in that way all women do. When he hands her a shot and asks her how old she is, don’t tense your shoulders when she says twenty-five and he responds, “How do you feel about guys twice your age?” Look anywhere but her eyes as she stands quiet, frozen. “Come on,” he’ll chide her into the microphone, the bar packed with people all turned toward the stage, “just for one night.” Order a shot and think about something else.


Return To The Clear Blue Waters | Clearwater Beach

Head back to Clearwater Beach once more, this time with a blanket and a tent in tow. Tie your swimsuit straps tight and crack the top of the High Noon you bought at a corner store. This is your time to soak in the Florida sun. Feel the sand forming to the shape of your body under the blanket; brush off the wet grains of it sticking to your feet. The beach isn’t overrun with people—a haven in the midst of an overpopulated tourist state on Fourth of July weekend—but a reasonable crowd will amass. Come prepared with premade turkey sandwiches wrapped in cellophane so you don’t lose your spot. When the inevitable craving for coffee kicks in, walk a block over to the McDonald’s and come back with a full drink carrier.

When Katelyn’s friend, a girl you all went to high school with but you never knew very well, joins you, tell her about your life after college. She moved to Tampa recently but you’re still in Pittsburgh, living with your boyfriend of a year and a half. Tell her, “It just sort of happened.” Explain, “It helps a lot with the rent.” Don’t tell her about the doubts you’ve been having since long before his clothes took up half of your closet. Don’t tell her that he works at a restaurant until late, that he stays out drinking every night of the week and comes home smelling like cigarettes, that he seems more interested in the waitresses at work than he does in you. Don’t tell her that hardly a week after your dad died, he left you to go to the bar while you cried so hard in your bed that you couldn’t catch your breath. Don’t tell her that when your mom called you and told you your dad had overdosed, that it killed him this time, he said he was too busy to talk about it. He had water boiling on the stovetop across the room. Tell her, “I don’t know where it will go.” Lie in the sun for hours without sunscreen. Feel your skin tighten against your bones. Smile at the heat that fills your blood.


Coco’s Again? Why Not! | Coco’s Crush Bar Original

What’s the point in trying out a new bar when you’ve already found the perfect spot? Head back to Coco’s Crush again—why not, you’re on vacation!—where the bartender will be waiting to serve you free drinks all night. When he reaches his hand across the bar for you to hold for the fifth time, turn him down for the fifth time—you have a boyfriend, and even as a joke, you don’t want to entertain his flirting. Sure, he’s handsome in a dark-haired, Florida-tanned way, with upturned lips and subtle wrinkles. You think he’s probably twenty-nine or thirty, but you’ve never been the best at guessing ages. When you ask him and he tells you he’s forty-one, wonder how old he thinks you are—twenty-two in five days, but he didn’t ask for your ID when you ordered your drinks the first night.

When an acquaintance from college asks if she can call you, tell her yes without hesitation. Step away from the bar toward the empty side of the building—everyone has crowded toward the stage where the live performer just started his set. When she tells you through tears that your boyfriend is cheating on you, that it’s been going on for weeks, thank her for letting you know. Assure her that she did the right thing. Hang up the phone and text your boyfriend to move out of your apartment as soon as possible.

Make it into the bathroom with your friends before you cry. It’s the best location for it—crickets chirping around the sink and drunk girls smiling at you as they step out of the stalls. Call your mom—she’ll put things into perspective. “You didn’t even like him that much, anyway.” Tell her you’re more offended than you are hurt. Tell her you feel stupid that you didn’t know sooner, that you didn’t expect this even though it was obvious. Let Katelyn and Paige remind you that you deserve better. Take turns crying and laughing. You can already see the humor in the situation.

When you sit down at the bar again, forget how old the bartender is. Order enough drinks that you won’t remember the night. Try the white tea shot—it’s their specialty! Try it a few more times—five or six or maybe seven. When you get your receipt and your total for the night is less than ten dollars for enough drinks that you can’t stand up without your friends at either arm, try not to slur your words when you tell the bartender you’ll tip him. When he says, “Don’t tip me, just write your number on there,” try to focus your double vision enough to write each digit. When your friends drag you back to your beautiful room at the Tropical Breeze Airbnb, do everything they tell you—brush your teeth and change into your sleep shorts, drink a bottle of water—so they’ll give you the ‘Guest Check’ slip where the bartender wrote his own phone number. Send him a text before you go to sleep. Don’t think about your boyfriend—your ex-boyfriend—back in Pittsburgh. Sweet dreams!


Take Advantage Of Your Bayside Stay | Tropical Breeze Airbnb

Tired from a long day in the sun? Hungover from your long-distance breakup at the beach bar down the street? Call the local Mexican restaurant and order delivery straight to your room! Sit on the floor with your friends and eat your overpriced quesadilla with a vodka soda from the fridge to help your headache. The cold tile will soothe your sunburnt legs, and the chill will clear the clouds from your mind. Don’t wonder how you’ll cover your rent now. Don’t regret moving in with him at all. You’ll have plenty of time for that later.

Open your phone and check your texts from the bartender. Tell your friends he took the night off from work, that he wants to show you bars farther down the strip before you go home. Tell him you’ll see him later.


Enjoy A Change of Scenery! | The Brown Boxer

Show up to The Brown Boxer ready to party. This arcade-style bar will surely be filled with people in an hour or two, but it’s still early, so you have the place mostly to yourself. Take a look at the people around you—more of them your age than anywhere else you’ve been, but still not a great selection—and decide that even though he’s older than you (nineteen years older, to be exact), the bartender is your best option for distraction. Look around at the flashing lights and black barstools. Order a vodka cranberry and listen to your friends talk. Try not to think about how the rest of the night will go.

When the bartender shows up, pretend like you weren’t waiting for him. Don’t make it seem like you’re uncomfortable, even though you’re realizing that you might be. Smile and laugh at the things he says. When he orders you a drink, say thank you and accept it.


Stroll Down The Strip For A New Vibe | Jamminz

It turns out there is more to this beach than just Coco’s Crush! Just down the street, you’ll find another bar you didn’t notice on Google Maps. On the walk to Jamminz, an 80s-themed bar with loud music and cheap drinks, make a joke that Katelyn is only sixteen. When the bartender’s face pales under the streetlight glow, try your best not to notice the irony of the situation.

At the bar, head straight to the back, where you’ll find built-in beer pong tables, and strike up a game with your group. Partner up with the bartender, because any other pairing wouldn’t make sense. Squint against the blinding neon dotting the dark crowd. Lean in close to hear your partner talk beneath the blaring speakers. Let your arms brush together a few times, just to check how it feels. Notice the space closing between you as the game goes on.


Circle Back To Your Home Away From Home | Tropical Breeze Airbnb

Let the bartender walk you back to your Airbnb. Stop thinking about all the Dateline and 20/20 episodes your mom has summarized for you over the years. Seriously, stop thinking about that. Lock your door later and get over it.

Hang back when your friends disappear into the room. When the bartender asks you, “Want to make out?” don’t be disappointed that he sounds like a frat boy. Don’t pull away immediately when he feels stiff and unfamiliar pressed against you. Don’t blame yourself that you expected age to equate to maturity. It’s not your fault that your dad died four months ago and he never showed you an example of a good man anyway. It’s not your fault that you’re the worst kind of cliche now.

Let the kiss last for a few minutes, even as you regret every second. Pretend like you don’t know Paige and Katelyn are watching you from the window. Don’t post the video they take of you on your private Snapchat story for your ex-boyfriend to see—but of course, you’ll do that no matter what I tell you.

Say goodnight to the bartender. It’s the last time you’ll ever see him in person, but you’ll keep in touch for the next few weeks. He’ll text you later that night to meet him at Clearwater Beach, but that one thing, at least, you’re smart enough to say no to.


Say Goodbye To Sunny Florida | Tampa International Airport

Make sure to arrive a few hours early for your flight home from Tampa International Airport, nonstop to Pittsburgh International Airport. You’ll need that time to get through security, buy dinner at Dunkin’ Donuts, send Snapchats of you and Katelyn to the bartender, who tells you he loves you and insists he’s not joking.

When you get home, your apartment will be half-empty and too quiet. You’ll unpack your suitcase, and you’ll move forward. For now, don’t think about what happens next. Don’t worry that you’re destined to live in this cycle forever. Watch the palm trees sway outside the windows. Enjoy your last moments in Florida before they’re gone. We hope you’ll return to sunny Clearwater soon!



About the Author

Bailey Sims is a writer and editor from Pittsburgh, PA. She is currently finishing her MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University, where she specializes in fiction and is an adjunct English professor and the Head Copy Editor of The Fourth River literary journal. She also runs an editing business called Lena Creative Solutions ( Her poetry has been published in Last Leaves Magazine and The Field Guide Magazine and her fiction is forthcoming in Your Impossible Voice. You can find her on Twitter @baileylsims.


Originally posted to Flickr by Michel_Rathwell at