CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. — It may be mid-February, but Clearwater Beach is getting ready for a record breaking number of visitors.
Monday the city launched a 10 week free park and ride program. You can now park for free in several downtown Clearwater parking lots and ride a bus or the trolley to the beach without shelling out a dime.
David Reynolds was one of the first people to take advantage of the free program. He's learned in past years how difficult traffic and parking can make a trip to the beach.
“Frustrating, yeah. That’s the word for it," he said with a chuckle.
Reynolds says last spring break he dropped off his wife at a restaurant and started the endless search for parking.
“I kept driving around and driving around," he explained, “meantime she’s waiting there at the restaurant.”
He finally found a spot, a whopping 30 minutes later and more than 4 blocks away.
"I felt like I was wasting my time," Reynolds added.
This year, Reynolds knew he wasn’t going to do that again. Instead, following signs to park and ride to the beach for free. Over the next 10 weeks, 4 trolleys will constantly shuttle riders back and forth.
The Clearwater Ferry is also doubling up their boats in time for Spring Break. The ferries will shuffling you from downtown to the beach for $4 each way for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children.
“It’s going to be busy, but we’re excited. That means more people coming to Clearwater Beach which is good for business,” Camille Hebting the marketing manager for Clearwater Ferry explained.
Business is so good, the ferry is about to expand service connecting Dunedin to Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, and are considering other stops at Caldesi Island, Indian Rocks Beach and Bellaire Bluffs.
If you’re headed to the beach over the next month, get ready for record breaking crowds. Clearwater Beach was just ranked the 2nd best Spring Break spot in the country by Forbes Magazine. Trip Advisor also ranked Tampa Bay in the top 10 Spring Break destinations.
There are also now 3 new hotels on Clearwater Beach that weren’t open (or weren't fully open) in time for last Spring Break: Edge Hotel Clearwater Beach, Residence Inn/SpringHill Suites by Marriott Clearwater Beach, and the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach which partially opened last February but weren't yet open at full capacity.
That means hundreds more people filling the roads, parking spots and that sugary white sand.