The Ultimate Beach-Lovers' Getaway in St. Pete/Clearwater

Follow this itinerary to fill your days with sun and fun on America's Best Beaches.

Girl running on the beach toward parents under an umbrella

Fort De Soto Park's North Beach has won multiple awards – and it's easy to see why.

Up and down our coast, beachfront hotels and resorts provide the perfect launch pad for exploring our stunning, sugar-sand shoreline. Check out the SandPearl in Clearwater Beach, the DoubleTree Beach Resort in North Redington Beach, the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island or TradeWinds Island Grand and the Don CeSar, both in St. Pete Beach, just for starters. For more accommodations options, check out the full list of Beachfront Places to Stay.

Day 1: Dunedin & Clearwater Beach

The beaches of St. Pete/Clearwater stretch for 35 miles from north to south, so divvying up your days by geography is your best bet. We suggest starting at the north end of the region, where beachscapes in Dunedin and Clearwater offer two very different experiences.

Kayakers taking a break in Caladesi Island.

Accessible only by ferry, private boat or kayak, uninhabited Caladesi Island is a great place to relax and unwind.

Morning

  • Start your first beach day by picking up breakfast goodies to go from Dunedin Coffee Company & Bakery, a hip indie coffee shop in Dunedin, then drive west across the Dunedin Causeway to Honeymoon Island State Park. At this popular park, wander the long, undeveloped shoreline, explore shaded nature trails and take advantage of the park’s many amenities, including a café, nature center and equipment rentals. Want to really get away? Hop aboard the ferry and head to award-winning Caladesi Island State Park, where natural beauty and enchanting wildlife take center stage. Relax under a beach umbrella rented from the concession near the ferry landing, or rent a kayak and paddle along shaded mangrove trails.
Family toasting at open-air table overlooking the beach

Frenchy's Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach serves up fresh seafood right on the beach.

Midday

  • Your next destination is too-pretty-for-words Clearwater Beach, which has been named the No. 1 beach in the U.S. three times. Work up an appetite with a beach volleyball game or a swim in the gentle surf, then dig into a grouper sandwich at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, set right on the sand. Next up, head to Clearwater Harbor to board the boat tour of your choice. Opt for an eco-tour, a speedboat adventure aboard the Sea Screamer, or Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise, a perennial kid favorite.
Fire juggler entertains a crowd at sunset

Celebrate under an amazingly vibrant backdrop at Sunsets at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach.

Evening


 

Day 2: Sand Key, Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Shores & Madeira Beach

The beaches that make up this stretch of St. Pete/Clearwater’s Gulf of Mexico shoreline promise a laid-back, family-friendly experience. They’re low-key and loved by locals, and you’ll always find great dining spots just steps from the sand.

A wooden boardwalk leads past palm trees to the beach.

Just across the bridge from Clearwater Beach, quiet Sand Key Park is a world apart.

Morning

  • Get a solid start to your day with a hearty breakfast at Maggie Mae's Waterfront or pick up a breakfast sandwich or wrap from Shorty's on the Deck before heading out for some serene shoreline-wandering and shell-collecting. Explore Sand Key Park, a stunning expanse of undeveloped shoreline just south of Clearwater Pass that offers nature trails, lifeguards and concessions. Then, meet members of the local avian population at Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, a nonprofit bird hospital and rehabilitation center in Indian Shores that cares for sick and injured local birds.
Wooden boardwalk in John's Pass Village and seafood restaurant

A casual spot with great views, Sculley's in John's Pass Village & Boardwalk serves surf and turf with tropical cocktails.

Midday

  • Spend the afternoon at John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, a nautical-themed waterfront attraction on Madeira Beach’s southern tip. Start with lunch at Sculley's or one of the other celebrated restaurants, then rent jet skis or paddleboards, book a fishing charter or head out on a parasailing tour to get a birds-eye view. If it’s a pirate’s life the kiddos seek, check out the Pirate Ship at John’s Pass, which sails four times daily. This is also an excellent place for a bit of retail therapy – find souvenirs and stylish beachwear.
A yellow surfboard with "Caddy's" at a casual restaurant with picnic tables on the beach

Caddy's Treasure Island is a casual spot with unbeatable views.

Evening

  • Toward day’s end, enjoy tropical cocktails, dinner and panoramic sunset views over the Gulf at the Ember Rooftop Lounge at the Cambria Hotel, or dine at family-friendly Caddy's, a two-level, open-air spot on the beach. Find a table on the upper deck, snag a shaded picnic table or settle into a cabana in the sand. Nightly live music adds to the festive vibe.

 

Day 3: Treasure Island, St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille & Tierra Verde

From secluded beaches to loads of kid-friendly activities, the southernmost beaches of St. Pete/Clearwater invite beachgoers of every stripe for hours of beachfront fun.

Couple sits under an umbrella on a wide, white-sand beach

It's easy to spread out and relax at Fort De Soto Park, home to award-winning North Beach.

Morning

Kites fly over a wide white-sand beach with sea oats in the background

Treasure Island's vast expanses of white sand are tailor-made for kite-flying.

Midday

  • If there’s a good breeze – and there usually is – pick up a kite at Windworks and head to Treasure Island around 112th Avenue. The extra-wide beach there gives you plenty of room to stretch out. In the mood to chill? Rent a cabana from a vendor behind the Bilmar Beach Resort. Active sorts can rent paddleboards or beach cruisers at Suncoast Surf Shop, which also has fashionable beach wear from stylish surf brands. When tummies rumble, head to Sloppy Joe’s (at the Bilmar) for crowd-pleasing options, or to VIP Lounge for Mexican food and margaritas. Thrill-seeking beach-lovers of all ages will love sliding down the giant inflatable waterslide directly behind the public beach access – you can’t miss it.
Plates of seafood on a table overlooking a beach sunset

Combine great food and fabulous sunset views at The Dewey in Pass-a-Grille.

Evening


 

BEYOND THE BEACH

We know that it can be hard to tear yourself away from the beach, but we promise that the rest of St. Pete/Clearwater is just as worthy of exploration – and you don’t even need to drive. From Clearwater Beach, the Jolley Trolley will take you to walkable downtown Dunedin and the Greek community of Tarpon Springs. A ferry shuttles across to downtown Clearwater, where you can check out brand-new Coachman Park. If you’re hanging out in St. Pete Beach, board the SunRunner to be whisked away to must-see St. Pete spots including the Grand Central District, Tropicana Field (where the Tampa Bay Rays play) and the Central Arts District.

Learn more about transportation in St. Pete/Clearwater


 

BEACH PARKING ESSENTIALS

Wherever you’re staying along the beach, the Suncoast Beach Trolley will transport you up and down the coast, and you won’t have to worry about parking. Catch it at stops all along Gulf Boulevard, from Clearwater Beach to St. Pete Beach. If you’re driving, you’ll find paid parking areas up and down the beach as well. We recommend getting there early, as parking spots tend to fill up by 10 a.m., busy season or not.

Here’s a full guide to beach parking in St. Pete/Clearwater.