FAQs and Traveler Tips
Which beaches have the most activities to offer?
Happening Clearwater Beach offers cabana and watersports rentals, volleyball and boat tours, plus shops, seafood restaurants and nightlife. Stroll along the Beach Walk promenade and don't miss the nightly Sunset Celebration at Pier 60. Madeira Beach is home to John's Pass Village & Boardwalk, a hub for shopping, dining and nightlife, and a jumping-off point for fishing charters and boat tours. St. Pete Beach makes it easy to live the beach life. Spend the day shopping on historic Corey Avenue, dine at a waterfront restaurant or spend the day skimboarding. No visit would be complete without stopping by the Loews Don CeSar Hotel. Built during the Jazz Age, the famous "pink palace" has hosted many famous celebrities and has been a beacon of the beach for more than 80 years. To the south, Fort De Soto Park offers a ton of amenities, including bike, kayak and canoe rentals, two fishing piers, a paved bike path, historic fort, boat ramp, dog beach, ferry to Egmont Key and lots more, but the park is so large that it never gets crowded. Click here to read an article about all of our fabulous beach towns.
Which beaches should I visit if I'm looking for peace and quiet?
Award-winning Caladesi Island, which is accessible only by ferry or private boat, is prized for its tranquility. You’ll also find plenty of quiet spots in the sand at Fort De Soto Park and Shell Key. Click here for a listing of some wonderful lesser-known beaches.
Where are the best places to watch a sunset?
With its ideal location on the Gulf of Mexico, the St. Pete/Clearwater area is perfect for watching the sunset, whether you choose a lively beach bar, sunset cruise or quiet park. Read about the best beach sunsets locales here.
Which beaches are best for families with small children?
Many of our beaches are tailor-made for kids, with wide stretches of sand, gently sloped shorelines and minimal wave action. This article details some of the most family-friendly beaches and activities in the area. For more ideas for affordable family fun, click here.
How do I find a place to stay on the beach in St. Pete/Clearwater?
For listings of area hotels and vacation rentals, click here.
Is there any public transportation that serves the beaches?
Yes. The Jolley Trolley runs along the coast from Clearwater Beach north to Tarpon Springs. The Suncoast Beach Trolley (click here to read about it) travels from downtown Clearwater to Clearwater Beach, then south through Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach to Pass-a-Grille. There's also the Clearwater Ferry that runs from downtown Clearwater to the Clearwater Beach Marina, which is a traffic-free route to Clearwater Beach. The ferry runs seven days a week from 8 a.m.-1:30 a.m. and is $8 roundtrip. Ferry riders can park for free in a number of different public lots near the downtown Clearwater marina.
Where can I find beach parking?
With a little advance planning, you’ll find a convenient spot right near your (new) favorite beach. This article will give you the specifics on locations and fees (if any).
What is Beach Renourishment?
We are working to make sure the beaches you love today are here the next time you visit. Due to the natural movement of sand along our shorelines, from time to time we renourish our award winning beaches by pumping sand from one area to another. This restores and widens the beach creating more room for volleyball, sunbathing, romantic walks or just relaxing. In addition to ensuring our beaches are made of fine white sand, wider shorelines also protect dunes and coastal structures, giving great views of sand and surf.
Are beaches open during the renourishment process?
Beaches are wide open during the beach renourishment process. To make it easy for beachgoers, sand ramps are created over temporary construction pipes that are placed from the point of origin (usually offshore) to the area where sand is needed. Any detours or construction areas are clearly marked and fenced off. So, the beach and Gulf are safe and accessible during this time.
Boating & Fishing
Are there public fishing piers?
Yes, with as many miles of waterfront as the St. Pete/Clearwater area has, fishing piers are abundant. Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60, Redington Shores’ Long Pier, the Skyway Fishing Pier and Fort De Soto Park's Gulf and bay piers are just a few of the options you’ll find.
Do I need a fishing license?
In general, if you’re fishing from a boat or land and are 16 or older, you must have a fishing license. For specific information about Florida fishing regulations, click here.
How do I know which fish can be caught and when?
There are seasons during which certain species are available to be fished. There also may be size limits and bag limits for your catch, depending on the species. For the most up-to-date information, click here.
Where can I find and book a fishing charter?
You’ll find listings for St. Pete/Clearwater area fishing charters here.
Where can I book a dolphin or nature cruise? What about a sunset cruise?
Where can I rent a powerboat or sailboat?
Marinas with boat rentals are sprinkled around the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Click here for more information.
Is there ferry service available to local islands?
Egmont Key and Caladesi Island state parks are accessible by ferry service. In addition, uninhabited Shell Key can be reached by the Shell Key Shuttle. There's also a ferry that runs from downtown Clearwater to Clearwater Beach Marina, to avoid parking and traffic congestion. The ferry schedule is from 8 a.m.-1:30 a.m. all week and is $8 roundtrip. Ferry riders can park for free in a number of different public lots near the downtown Clearwater marina.
Dining, Entertainment & Nightlife
What areas in St. Pete/Clearwater have the best restaurants?
It’s hard to narrow down the choices because there are so many wonderful options and it depends on whether you’re looking for a neighborhood coffeehouse, a romantic restaurant or a beachfront tiki bar (or great seafood or Cuban food or …). Click here for a general selection of mouthwatering restaurants.
Where can I find nightlife in the area?
Nightlife comes to life at clubs, restaurants, beach bars and more throughout St. Pete/Clearwater. Click here for more information about waterfront and beach bars and here for a listing of dance clubs, nightclubs and lounges.
Where can I go for waterfront dining?
Waterfront dining ranges from casual classics (think grouper sandwich with your toes in the sand) to slightly fancier waterfront restaurants to favorites in downtown St. Petersburg – a waterfront strewn with parks, shops, museums and, of course, restaurants. Read this article about dining near the waterfront.
Where can I see a play or attend the theater?
The theater options in St. Pete/Clearwater are many and varied. Click here to learn about where to spend an entertaining night at the theater.
What are some of the major events that take place in the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
The Firestone Grand Prix, Mainsail Arts Festival, Tampa Bay Blues Festival, St. Pete Pride, Tampa Bay Golf Championship and DunedIn Highland Games are among the area’s bigger annual events. In addition, art walks, farmers markets, outdoor concert series, half marathons and 5Ks, Tampa Bay Rays baseball games and spring training for two Major League Baseball teams help fill the busy calendar. To see a listing of area events, click here.
Does the area have any cultural festivals?
The Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs, the Dunedin Highland Games and the Florida African American Heritage Celebration are just a few of the area’s cultural festivals. Click here to read an article about the area's cultural festivals. To see a listing of area events, click here.
What fun things are there for families with young children to do?
Many of our beaches are tailor-made for kids, with wide stretches of sand, gently sloped shorelines and minimal wave action. This article details some of the most family-friendly beaches in the area. When it’s time to take a break from the beach, you’ll find lots of fun activities for families with kids to choose from.
Are there any free or inexpensive family-friendly attractions or activities in the area?
The St. Pete/Clearwater area is famous for its award-winning beaches and 361 average days of sunshine, both of which are free. But the beach is far from the only option for vacationers on a budget. Read here about free and inexpensive attractions and activities in the St. Pete/Clearwater area.
Are there any children’s museums in the area?
Great Explorations, The Children's Museum is packed with fun and educational exhibits and activities designed specifically for kids. Across the bay in Tampa, the Glazer Children's Museum includes 14 galleries and more than 175 interactive exhibits for children up to 10 years old.
How gay-friendly is the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
Gay-friendly accommodations are numerous and range from large resorts to intimate inns and B&Bs. When the sun goes down, the night lights up with entertainment, bars and venues where you can kick back and relax or dance the night away. Pride Month in June includes St. Pete Pride – one of the largest such events in Florida, with a lively promenade, street festival, live music and more. In October, enjoy Taste of TIGLFF & Street Festival during the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Also in October, North Pinellas Pride is an action-packed week in Dunedin highlighted by the Miss North Pinellas Pride Pageant, family picnic, tea dance, gay bowling, pool party and much more. For more about gay-friendly activities in the area, click here. For general information about GLBT travel in the St. Pete/Clearwater area, click here.
What parts of St. Pete/Clearwater have the most gay-friendly clubs, accommodations and activities?
The Grand Central District of downtown St. Petersburg, which hosts St. Pete Pride, and the adjoining Kenwood neighborhood are known for having gay-friendly restaurants, cafes and hotels. Dunedin, a Scottish-flavored town in northern Pinellas County, is home to North Pinellas Pride. Several years ago, residents of Gulfport – a sleepy village of pastel cottages, working artists, eclectic shops and a range of great eateries – passed one of the first and most comprehensive anti-bias ordinances in Florida. The beach of choice among LGBT folk is Sunset Beach on Treasure Island. Head to the south end to swim and tan. For general information about GLBT travel in the St. Pete/Clearwater area, click here.
Are there public golf courses that I can play at while I’m on vacation?
The St. Pete/Clearwater area has scores of golf courses, with some for every level of player.
Do you have any golf resorts in your area?
Yes. The best-known are the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club and Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Gold Club.
What museums are in your area?
Our vast collection of museums encompasses world-class art museums, numerous local history centers, children’s museums and many more. The Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg is the best-known museum in the area, but don’t overlook the many other gems: the Florida Holocaust Museum, Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Great Explorations Children’s Museum and scores of others. For more...
Are the museums within walking distance of each other?
Wonderful museums are scattered all over the St. Pete/Clearwater area – a car would be required to see them all – but a handful of museums are clustered in downtown St. Petersburg and you can walk between them. Or take the Looper Trolley – it stops at the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of History and the Florida Holocaust Museum, the fare is 50 cents, there’s service every 15 minutes and the drivers will help you get the lay of the land.
Where is the Dali Museum?
The Dali Museum is located in a stunning building on St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront. Click here for more information.
What kinds of parks are there in the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
Many of our parks are set around bodies of water, whether it’s the Gulf of Mexico, a lake or a bayou. Find information about the great variety and natural beauty of St. Pete/Clearwater area parks here.
Do you have any birding or nature trails? What about canoeing or kayaking trails?
Yes, trails of all sorts crisscross the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Our parks are laced with trails, including a seven-mile paved trail in award-winning Fort De Soto Park and many other rustic trails through coastal habitats. For information about other great places to walk or run, click here. The Great Florida Birding Trail is a network of nearly 500 sites throughout Florida, including the St. Pete/Clearwater area. With kayaking and canoeing along the more than 100 miles of Florida Blueway Trails in the area, your biggest challenge may be deciding which segment to paddle. For information about Outdoors and Nature, including videos, articles and listings, click here.
Where can I find more information about the Pinellas Trail?
Click here to read more about the 38-plus-mile-long Pinellas Trail, a former railroad corridor that now is reserved for biking, hiking, running or rollerblading and is one of our most vibrant and popular recreational areas.
Where can I go camping? Do you have any RV parks?
From award-winning Fort De Soto Park to Anclote Key Preserve State Park to commercial RV parks, camping is a great way to see the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Click here for a listing of campgrounds in the area.
Are there pet-friendly places to stay?
The St. Pete/Clearwater area extends a warm welcome to people traveling with their pets. Numerous hotels, resorts and inns in a variety of price ranges put out a welcome mat for pets. For more...
Which beaches are pet-friendly?
If your dog likes to play in the waves with you, try the dog beaches at Tierra Verde’s Fort De Soto Park and Dunedin's Honeymoon Island State Park. They’re award-winning beaches, so both you and pooch will enjoy your visit.
Are there any local dog parks?
For some tail wagging with friends, pay a visit to the dog parks at A.L. Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs, John Chesnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor, Sand Key Park in Clearwater, Walsingham Park in Largo and Boca Ciega Millennium Park in Seminole. And well-behaved furry friends on a leash are always welcome on the Pinellas Trail.
Are there pet-friendly restaurants in the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
Plenty of restaurants welcome dogs on their patios and other outdoor dining areas.
What about other pet-friendly activities in St. Pete/Clearwater?
Bring Fido along when you head out shopping. Eighth Avenue in Pass-a-Grille is lined with places to tie up a leash while you browse. Similar scenes abound in Tarpon Springs, Gulfport, Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach and John's Pass between Treasure Island and Madeira Beach.
Where can I see a Major League Baseball spring training game?
The area features the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin and the New York Yankees in nearby Tampa. And nine other teams, including Florida Baseball Teams play within a two-hour drive. For more on spring training and Florida baseball teams, click here.
Where do the Tampa Bay Rays play?
The Tampa Bay Rays, the 2010 American League East Division Champions, play at Tropicana Field, west of downtown St. Petersburg, where the famous glowing orange dome shines after every home win. Free shuttle service carries baseball fans from downtown to the games.
Are there tours of the downtown areas?
Find information about walking tours of downtown St. Petersburg here. The Dunedin Historical Museum offers walking tours of that Scottish-influenced town’s downtown area. Ghost Tours of Tampa Bay conducts tours of downtown St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach and John's Pass Village & Boardwalk. In addition, duck tours, pirate tours and more are available.
Where can I find bicycle rentals?
What are the average temperatures?
The average high/low temperatures are: January – 69/54, April – 81/65, July – 91/77 and October – 84/70. For more...
Do you have any live beach webcams?
Yes. Find live beach cams of Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach here.
When is the best time of year to visit?
The St. Pete/Clearwater area has distinct seasons, but there’s no one best time to visit. Dress for the season, and you’ll be ready to make the most of your visit. In late spring and summer, breezy, casual clothes work best. Fall and winter temperatures vary from mild to cool, so determine in advance of your visit whether shorts and sandals are still in season or if it's time to pack a light jacket and pants. For more...
What’s the weather like right now?
For current weather conditions and a seven-day forecast, click here.
When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30.
Weddings, Honeymoons and Romance
Where can I find information on planning a wedding in St. Pete/Clearwater?
Our area, with its spectacular beaches, lush gardens and unique wedding venues for every budget, is a great place to get married. Click here for videos, articles, listings of wedding services and more, and start planning your special day.
What if I want to get married on the beach?
Beach weddings can be as simple or as fancy as you like. You can reduce stress and elope to the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Make it a true “weddingmoon” and stay on the beach afterward. Or get married at sunset on the beach before friends and family. Either way, you’ll be creating memories of your special day to last a lifetime. For more...
Where can I find and book honeymoon or wedding packages?
For information about wedding packages and more, click here.
Winter the Dolphin
Who is Winter the Dolphin?
Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail and an incredible survival story, has become an inspiring worldwide celebrity. In fall 2011, Clearwater's beloved Winter made her big-screen debut alongside Harry Connick Jr. in the movie Dolphin Tale. She appeared in a sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, in the fall of 2014. With themes of friendship, perseverance and hope, the movie carries on the uplifting message that has made its way around the world and back. For more...
Where can I visit Winter the Dolphin?
Winter’s home is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, on the causeway heading out to Clearwater Beach. The Clearwater Aquarium is careful to note that it’s a nonprofit working marine hospital, not a theme park. The animals aren’t trained for shows and tricks. The aquarium is a long-standing attraction with a unique focus: Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release. It prides itself on providing an up-close experience with marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays and more. Whether they’ll be released into the wild or are permanent residents, the animals inspire and educate.
What else is there to see at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium?
Open year round, the aquarium has exhibits and a daily schedule of activities, training sessions and presentations. Meet the three other bottlenose dolphins, including 1-year-old Hope, as well as the other residents: otters, sea turtles, nurse sharks, cownose and southern rays (you can feed them as part of the stingray exhibit) and numerous fish. Sign up for individual animal interactions to get up-close and personal with the dolphins. Or take a Sea Life Safari Boat Tour, a two-hour interactive trip through coastal waters. In addition, visit Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, an exhibit in downtown Clearwater, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the major motion picture, including sets and props used in the movie, re-created movie scenes and early prototypes of Winter’s prosthetic tail.
Getting To and Around St. Pete/Clearwater
Which airports serve the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
Tampa International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport are the closest airports. Click here for more information.
What are driving distances within Florida and from other U.S. cities to St. Pete/Clearwater?
Orlando is about 100 miles (90 minutes) away, and Miami is a 270-mile (4-hour) drive. Atlanta is 470 miles away, and New York City is 1,150 miles away. For more...
Which highways serve the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
Florida is served by two major Interstate highways that originate outside the state – I-75 and I-95 – and one that traverses the state, I-4. I-75 runs the length of Florida's west coast, and I-275 connects I-75 with the St. Pete/Clearwater area. For more...
Where can I find a map of St. Pete/Clearwater?
Click here for an interactive map.
What are the public transportation options in St. Pete/Clearwater?
The Jolley Trolley runs from Clearwater Beach north through Dunedin to Tarpon Springs. The Suncoast Beach Trolley travels from downtown Clearwater west to Clearwater Beach, then south through Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach to Pass-a-Grille (read about the trolley here). The Looper Trolley circulates through downtown St. Petersburg, making 13 stops at major attractions, hotels and restaurants. In addition, buses operated by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority serve the area. For more...
Are there any toll roads?
Tolls are charged on the Pinellas Bayway, which connects St. Petersburg to St. Pete Beach and Fort De Soto Park. Tolls are also charged on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which connects St. Petersburg to points south.
Where can I rent a car?
For a list of rental companies serving the area, click here.
How can I get from the Tampa or Clearwater Airport without renting a car or taking a taxi?
Shuttle and limo service is available. For more...
Order a Visitor's Guide, Sign Up for a Free Email Newsletter, Contact the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)
Where can I order a printed visitors guide?
Click here to order the free 2015 Destination Magazine.
Do you have a free email newsletter I can sign up for?
Click here to sign up for our free email newsletter – you’ll receive news about special deals and stay up-to-date on local happenings.
How do I contact the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)?
Click here to send an email message to the CVB. The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is at 8200 Bryan Dairy Road, Suite 200, Largo, FL 33777; 727-464-7200, 877-352-3224.
Tips for Arranging Travel
- Consider booking travel through a travel agent or other travel industry professional. This provides you with someone to contact in case you run into difficulties.
- When making your reservation, pay with a major credit card. If there is any problem with your accommodation, you can dispute the charge on your credit card.
- Look into buying travel insurance, which will protect against things such as trip cancellations, interruptions, bankruptcy, terrorism and other issues. Policies can be purchased over the internet.
- Verify the business. Florida's public records laws are some of the best in the nation. You can verify a property manager's real estate license with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at www.myflorida.com under License Search, Condos and Community Associations.
- Check the complaint history of a property with the Pinellas County Consumer Protection Agency at 727-464-6200 or go to www.pinellascounty.org/consumer. Another source is the local Better Business Bureau's business report at http://www.bbb.org/west-florida.
Tips for Ensuring a Safe Trip
Beach Safety Tips
- Always wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor containing a high rating such as 15. The sun in Florida is intense, so reapply frequently.
- Drink plenty of water regularly even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Red Tide sometimes occurs during the late summer or fall. Beaches are not closed during Red Tide, and you can find out information about outbreaks from local media or FWC's Fish & Wildlife Research Institute (research.myfwc.com). A red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plant-like organisms). The organism produces a toxin that can affect the central nervous system of fish. At high concentrations (a bloom) the organisms may discolor the water.
- Never swim alone. Stay within the designated swimming area, ideally within the visibility of a lifeguard. Keep a lookout for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone. Sharks are present in the Gulf year-round, but shark bites are rare.
- In the spring and summer, it is recommended that beachgoers do the "Stingray Shuffle." By shuffling your feet as you wade into the surf, you decrease the chance of stepping on a stingray buried under the sand. If stung, go immediately to the nearest lifeguard.
Car & Road Safety Tips
- Ask for directions from the rental car desk or hotel desk before departing and/or use a map or GPS device to plot your route.
- Florida law requires the use of seat belts for all front seat passengers and children under the age of three are required to be in a safety car seat.
- If you plan to drink, take along a designated driver who will remain alcohol free.
- If you get lost when driving, drive to the nearest well-lit public business and ask for directions.
- Always lock your vehicle. If you must leave valuables in the car, lock them in the trunk or glove compartment so they can't be seen.
- If you are bumped from behind while driving, see flashing headlights or see someone who needs help, do not stop. Call 911 on your cell phone if you are able to get reception or drive to the nearest well-lit public area and call from there.
- If your car breaks down, stay with it until help arrives. Raise the hood or tie a white cloth to the door handle. Be cautious if someone seems over-anxious to help, and avoid riding with strangers.
Hotel Safety Tips
- Place all valuables in your hotel safe or safe deposit box.
- Make sure that sliding glass doors, windows and connecting room doors are locked.
- Do not open the door before verifying the identity of the person there. If a person claims to be an employee, call the front desk and verify.
- Do not invite strangers or people you don't know well into your room.