Surf & Sun Tampa Style: Cigar City Brewery and Clearwater Beach
Pasco to Salt Lake City (SLC)
SLC to Los Angeles (LAX)
LAX, “The Bump,” and Torrance Marriott
LAX to Atlanta
Atlanta to Tampa
Hotel Review: DoubleTree Suites Tampa Bay
Exploring Tampa Part 1: Honeymoon Island
Hotel Review: Tampa Marriott Waterside
Bern’s Steak House Tampa
Exploring Tampa Part 2: Cigar City Brewery and Clearwater Beach
Hotel Review: Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel
Exploring Tampa Part 3: Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center and Ybor City
Tampa to New York (LGA)
New York to Minneapolis (MSP) to Pasco, WA (PSC)
After spending nearly 6 hours at Bern’s the night before, I was determined to finally make it to Clearwater Beach, since as you my readers told me, “that it where it is going on.”
However, rain was in the forecast for the early afternoon, so I decided it would be a fantastic opportunity to give another reader suggestion—Cigar City Brewery. Living in the Northwest, I am around no shortage of breweries, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what Southwest Florida had to offer.
I took a taxi, and arrived soon to a rather unsuspecting West Tampa facility, which is incidentally not in Ybor city.
I arrived about 10 minutes before the start of the day’s first tour. This worked out well as the $5 cost of admission includes a pint from the tap, and a nifty souvenir glass.
Our tour guide was quite the character. He was very friendly, and claimed he would wear any hat given to him, as evidenced by the Mickey cap on his head. I even asked if I could take his picture, and he not only obliged, he even encouraged it!
In addition, he repeatedly claimed the Tennessee polo I was wearing was actually a John McKay-era Buccaneers jersey. He certainly made the brewery tour fun.
Anyway, we were walked through the various stages of the brewery, and it was a very educational process. I appreciate a good brew, but do not always think about how much work goes into it.
The state of Florida requires them to label each of their tanks, so they decided to go with the following labeling process:
They were even nice enough to open up their walk-in fridge, and crack open several bottles for chugging…I mean sampling. I had a little bit more, but I could have easily had a 3rd pint before I left if I wasn’t planning on driving soon after.
After while I swapped out my used glass for a clean, new one and took a taxi back to the hotel. Could have driven there and back in the first place? Certainly, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, and didn’t want to worry about finding it. Ehh.
I gathered my stuff, and headed out for Clearwater Beach, which on a Saturday took a little bit longer than expected. Eventually, I made it there and found parking. Once finally there, I made a beeline for the beach and hung out there for the rest of the day.
Not that such would even deter me from at least attempting to enter, but upon leaving I noticed the following sign behind the Hilton.
So much for being a private beach!
And yes, I still need to work on my tan! I hung out on the beach for a little bit, then went swimming in the Gulf for a little while.
In my short life thus far, I had somehow never managed to watch the sunset over the ocean. I grabbed a chair from the “private” beach—which I later found out that the Hilton property typically charges for using, and watched the show:
I was getting hungry, and was planning to visit Smoking J’s Barbecue as suggested, about 25 minutes away. However, I called to see if they would have the Final Four on (I’m a sports nut, after all) and they said they would be closing within the hour. Drat–didn’t think I would be able to make it.
So, I wandered into the Hilton property which owns the “private” beach I was on, and inquired about the best places to get some food. Clear Sky Cafe down the main strip if you will, was suggested, Now, I am a little hesitant though, when it comes to eating dinner (or usually lunch for that matter) at a place with the word “cafe,” but it turned out to be a pretty good place to grab some food.
I almost decided to go elsewhere due to the crowds, but one of the waitresses made an extra effort to squeeze me in at the end of the packed bar. I guess during the Final Four I should expect that type of business.
Anyhow, I decided to order an appetizer of oysters, which was served with lettuce and light dressing.
The calamari was a little juicy and paired well with the tangy vegetable.
I generally not a huge fan of ravioli, but since it sounded intriguing, I ordered the lobster ravioli for my main entree. It turned out to be fairly good and moist, and the stuffing plentiful and rich.