The Ultimate Beach Makeover

In an attempt to escape the ravages of homework, I set out to see the new Beach Walk in Clearwater.

Those familiar with Clearwater Beach know two things: It’s a major tourist attraction in desperate need of additional parking and it is laden with contruction. These two factors definitely kept me from visiting the beach in the past few years

But now, I’m in love with the place.

The new Beach Walk gives the beach a whole new appeal. It is a winding, paved walkway with a original look, as if someone placed plastic bags over the cement, lifted them up and left crinkles to give the cement a unique texture. Lined with mini light poles, sunset will give the walkway a romantic ambiance.

Beach Walk is a great place for a first date. Pick up an ice cream cone at Barefoot Beach House, walk down to Pier 60 where there is free entertainment and then watch the sunset. (Men, you can thank me later for the cheap-date pointers.)

The best part about my Beach Walk experience, other than dragging my mom with me, was looking at the enormous sun-dial in the middle of the walkway. I take that back. The best part was when a man walked up to us and asked if the sun-dial was working. Enough said there.

And the most surprising part? How fresh Clearwater Beach looks. More sea oats, sand dunes, Bird-of-Paradise and palm trees made me feel like I was in Hawaii and Miami simultaneously. There is plenty of seating, especially in the new medians that, according to my Mom, look like mini Central Parks.

Parking still seems to be an issue even with new metered spaces along the median. There is a new parking lot on the south end of Beach Walk that is still under construction.

There are showers along Beach Walk that all share an adorable eccentricity; a plush-looking sea turtle sits atop the showers. The turtle is sitting on one shower and on another he is in a dancing position.

As much as Clearwater Beach changed, the old beach aura that we all know and love still exists. Sun-baked babes continue to play volleyball, get henna tattoos at a pagoda, eat at the same beach-side restaurants and browse the artisan vendors on the boardwalk pier.

The entertainment is all around and the beach is a prime spot to people-watch. Besides New York City, it is one of the few places to see Captain Jack Sparrow and a man dressed in military garb, painted in a bronze shade and standing as a statue within 20 feet of one another.

Do not worry. Clearwater Beach maintains its classic features.

My mom said it better than I could: the beach had a major face-lift.