Clearwater Beach

Story highlights:
  • Dig your toes into the sand of USA Today's "Best Beach Town in Florida 2013"
  • Scenic Beach Walk links hotels, shops, restaurants
  • Find everything for a family vacation right here
Links within article correspond to map points.
Clearwater Beach's famous beaches

Once considered a spring break destination, Clearwater Beach has transformed into an award-winning destination for any time of year, most recently being voted the "Best Beach Town in Florida" by USA Today readers in 2013. It beat out nine other top Florida destinations for the honor. This perennially active beach remains paramount for visitors and locals alike, but great food, fun events and major attractions such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium are commanding global attention. On the mainland, Clearwater offers urban amenities and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.

Clearwater Beach

One of the area’s most popular beaches, Clearwater Beach buzzes with activity: swimming, boating, fishing, water sports, volleyball and biking or blading along the Beach Walk promenade. There’s no shortage of beach amenities, from concessions and cabanas to marinas, watercraft rentals and playgrounds. If a day of sunshine, sand and calm waters doesn’t bring you complete bliss, the amazing Gulf sunsets certainly will. Head to Sunsets at Pier 60 for the nightly celebration featuring live music, street performers, craft vendors and more. A free family-friendly movie is screened after sunset here on weekends, weather permitting.

Classic Attractions & Activities

For daytime family fun, board Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise, departing daily from Clearwater Beach. Aboard the “Pirate’s Ransom,” there’s pirate-themed entertainment for the whole family, plus complimentary beer and wine for adults.

Don’t miss Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to the famous Winter the dolphin, who starred in the blockbuster movie Dolphin Tale. Winter's story is unique and inspiring. After losing her tail due to an entanglement with a crab trap, Winter has defied all odds by not only surviving but learning to swim with help from a prosthetic tail. Besides visiting Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, you can also see all the other rescued dolphins, sea turtles, otters and other creatures that call the aquarium home.

Plus, you can save on admission to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium with CityPASS Tampa Bay. CityPASS offers savings off of five local attractions, including the aquarium. Find out more about how you can save with CityPASS here.

Across the bridge in downtown Clearwater, the Harborview Center hosts "Dolphin Tale Adventure," a special exhibit that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the movie with recreated scenes, photos and actual props used in the movie. The exhibit also includes two mini-theaters, an interactive kids' area and more.

Dining & Nightlife

When you work up an appetite, check out Frenchy's, a Clearwater original with several locations throughout town. They’re famous for their casual fresh seafood, from grouper sandwiches to crab legs. There’s also Bob Heilman's Beachcomber, a storied eatery with an upscale twist, and Spanish fare at the waterfront Columbia Restaurant - Clearwater Beach. Don’t want to part with that lovely beach? Grab a table at Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar for some seafood and great beach views. In mainland Clearwater, feast on delectable tapas at Ceviche Clearwater, a local chain that’s rich on ambiance and flavor.

Many hotels and bars here offer laid-back, beachy nightlife, often with live music and drink specials. Don’t miss Shephard's Tiki Beach Bar and Grill, which has an indoor nightclub and outdoor tiki bar for dancing the night away island-style.

Parks & Outdoor Recreation

For a plethora of oceanside fun, bike, blade or stroll along the half-mile Beach Walk stretching from the southern part of the beach to Pier 60. The beautifully landscaped, winding promenade offers public beach access on one side and shopping and dining on the other, with plentiful beach views all around. It's a great place to start your exploration of the beach itself, take in a sunset, or simply people watch.

For a full slate of activities, head to the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center. This multi-use facility features tennis and basketball courts, a boat launch, outdoor deck, fitness center and more. Its crowning jewel is the Family Aquatic Center, a state-of-the-art swimming facility complete with plenty of patio space, six 25-yard lap swimming lanes and a children's water play area that offers squirting fountains, a "raindrop" waterfall, frog slide and a water basketball goal. Nearby, McKay Park has a playground and bocce ball and is a great place for a picnic.

Downtown Clearwater

Oak-lined avenues and streets run throughout Clearwater, the third-largest metro area in the Tampa Bay region. Walk the pedestrian-friendly Memorial Causeway (actually part of the Great Florida Birding Trail) for amazing views of the beach and the mainland. Clearwater's Cleveland Street District is a great place to spend a few hours shopping for everything from home furnishings to sports gear to designer clothing. Built in 1921 and reminiscent of a classic Hollywood theater, the Capitol Theatre on Cleveland Street presents classic movies and live music. Plans are in place to renovate the 655-seat Capitol, one of the oldest operating theaters in Florida.

Live Music & Sports

Clearwater’s Coachman Park hosts numerous outdoor concerts and events throughout the year, including a popular Fourth of July celebration. Stunning views of Clearwater Harbor, a marina and refreshing breezes make it a popular venue. Baseball fans will want to check out Bright House Field, home to Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training games. Minor League baseball's Clearwater Threshers, of the Florida State League, also call the field home.

Major Events

Clearwater’s signature events include the four-day Clearwater Jazz Holiday, which is held each fall and has attracted such legendary talents as Dave Brubeck and Al Jarreau. Also in the fall, the Clearwater Super Boat National Championship Festival speeds into town, bringing with it festivities both on and off the water. Two foodie events not to miss include the Taste of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach Uncorked Wine and Food Festival, also both in the fall.

Nearby Fun

Clearwater’s Coachman Park hosts numerous outdoor concerts and events throughout the year, including a popular Fourth of July celebration. Stunning views of Clearwater Harbor, a marina and refreshing breezes make it a popular venue. Baseball fans will want to check out Bright House Field, home to Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training games. Minor League baseball's Clearwater Threshers, of the Florida State League, also call the field home.

Built on abandoned railway, the 40-mile Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is popular with tourists and residents alike. This multi-use recreation trail is designed for biking, walking, running and skating enthusiasts. It winds through Clearwater on its way from the south in St. Petersburg northward to Tarpon Springs. Nature lovers will enjoy the wide variety of parks to explore, including Crest Lake Park, Moccasin Lake Nature Park and Eagle Lake Park.

Clearwater Beach Travel Tips

Clearwater Beach is west of Tampa International Airport via the Courtney Campbell Causeway, and about 40 minutes north of St. Petersburg. The community is highly walkable, and a trolley connects it to several other towns in the area.



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