We tasked the husband-and-wife couple behind the travel brand The League Collective with taking to the open road for a long and secluded weekend getaway. Their point A to point B? Clearwater Beach south to Sarasota along the Gulf Coast of Florida. The result? The perfect marriage of freewheeling and comfort-seeking.
All Photos © The League Collective, @leaguetravels
DAY ONE | P.M.
On the first evening, check in at Opal Sands Resort, offering 230 guest rooms and suites all facing out to Clearwater Beach. Evening relaxation comes in the form of a game of cornhole and a coconut daiquiri at Sandbar, the resort’s beachfront tiki bar, followed by pan-seared hogfish at the resort’s signature restaurant, Sea-Guini.
DAY TWO | A.M.
(Left) A swim in the pool – featuring a deck that cantilevers over the ocean – will certainly wake you up if the smoothies and freshly pressed juices from Opal Sands Resort’s smoothie bar don’t. (Right) Your road trip south to Sarasota officially begins this morning, but on your way out of town, be sure to actually hit the town. Clearwater’s Cleveland Street District boasts boutiques, architectural landmarks like the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, and plenty of public art. And it wouldn’t be a visit to Clearwater Beach without a stop at Pier 60. The long concrete pier punctuates what has been ranked “The Best Beach in the Country” by TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards for the last two years.
As you continue to head south, a pit stop for lunch is in order. Just north of St. Pete Beach, BRGR Kitchen & Bar at Treasure Island Beach Resort serves up gourmet burgers made from custom grinds and local ingredients – including herbs and arugula grown in the on-site garden.
DAY TWO | P.M.
Downtown St. Pete is next on the itinerary, particularly for the 50 large-scale murals splashed across the buildings of Central Avenue. It’s an Instagram influencer’s dream backdrop and a worthy detour before continuing south to check in at Zota Beach Resort in Sarasota for the night.
DAY THREE | A.M.
(Left) There’s no better way to plot the day ahead – which will be spent hitting up the sights of Sarasota – than over a poolside breakfast of eggs served atop warm baby spinach, tri-color quinoa, and applewood-smoked bacon from Zota Beach Resort’s Viento Kitchen + Bar. (Right) Zota Beach Resort’s secluded stretch of beach lets you soak in a little vitamin D beside the sea.
Once you’re back into road-tripping mode, head just a mere eight miles south to St. Armands Circle, which offers up European ambience with a promenade of sidewalk cafés, lush courtyards, statues, and upscale boutique shops.
DAY THREE | P.M.
(Left) On your way into Sarasota proper, take in the sunny view of Sarasota Bay, the coastal lagoon home to a large local population of dolphins. (Right) Welcome to downtown Sarasota. While it may look like the jungle, it’s actually just the looming moss-draped oaks and palms that pepper the colorful bohemian enclave of Towles Court Artist Colony, located at the edge of town.
You’ll find a circus mecca just another five miles away in northern Sarasota on the grounds of The Ringling Museum. Sitting on the waterfront, the 36,000-square-foot Ca’ D’Zan is a behemoth Venetian-inspired palazzo that was the winter home of American circus owner John Ringling.
The best way to end your road trip? Back at the modern-meets-casual Zota Beach Resort with a sunset stroll on the powder-soft white sand. Thanks to the secluded barrier island location, don’t be surprised if you have the private stretch all to yourself.
**Please confirm details with business/attractions prior to visiting due to possible restrictions.
Where to Stay
The Gulf Coast of Florida is home to a whopping seven Opal Collection resorts. That means you can mix and match where you stay each night, or even extend your road trip to include more stops between the towns.
BELLEAIR, FL Belleview Inn
TREASURE ISLAND, FL Treasure Island Beach Resort
Other Articles in This Series
- Two Road Trips & Two Lakes in the New York Adirondacks
- A Tale of Two Coasts: Sampling Both Sides of Florida on an Open Stretch of Road
- Finding Maine Along Coastal Route 1
- A Southernmost Road Trip: Delray Beach to Key West on the Overseas Highway