If you ask anyone that knows me, they’ll tell you that Florida is my second home away from home. I will search out the best beaches around when it comes time for a family vacation or romantic getaway. Clearwater Beach in Florida is a great family-friendly beach destination and was named the Best Beach in the U.S by TripAdvisor two years in a row.
If you’re planning to visit to this area of Florida to soak up the sun in the white sand against the emerald-green waters, you won’t be disappointed. Here is our complete guide to visiting Clearwater Beach.
Best Beaches in Clearwater, Florida or Nearby
Clearwater Beach is stunning, and you could easily spend your entire trip on this beach but there are some other incredible beaches nearby that are worth visiting if time allows.
- Clearwater Beach
- St. Pete Beach (40 mins from Clearwater Beach)
- Sand Key Park (8 mins from Clearwater Beach)
- Honeymoon Island State Park (29 min from Clearwater Beach)
- Caladesi Island State Park (11 mins from Clearwater Beach)
- Sunset Beach (39 mins from Clearwater Beach)
10 Things to do in Clearwater Beach, Florida
There is no shortage of fun things to do in Clearwater, Florida! Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. Attend the Pier 60 Nightly Sunset Celebrations
Every night at sunset the popular Pier 60 is filled with local vendors, live music, street performers and fun activities for the whole family. This fishing pier is a fun place to visit any time of day to take in some of the best views of Clearwater Beach but it’s extra special at sunset.
2. Take a Pirate Cruise with the Family
If you’re visiting Clearwater Beach with kids, especially those 12 and under, you cannot miss taking them out on a pirate cruise! With daily cruises during spring and summer, you will be able to fit this 2-hour long ride into your vacation schedule.
3. Rent a Cabana Near Pier 60
Beach days are the best, however, they are even better when you have your own private cabana to relax under away from the sun when needed. You can find rows of cabanas to rent down by Pier 60, get there early because they do fill up fast. Just pick a cabana and someone will be by later to take payment. These cabanas are $40/day.
4. Visit Sand Key Park
This is a great spot for families to gather and it’s also pet-friendly! Many recommend this park to walk and jog through. Also, there are less crowds at this beach with lifeguards on-duty and beach chairs.
5. Go See Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
If you’re a fan of the famous Dolphin Tales movies, don’t miss your chance to go see Winter and her friends at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This is one of the coolest aquariums we’ve ever visited, and the VIP tour was the best animal encounters we’ve ever experienced.
6. Enjoy a Hike at Moccasin Lake Nature Park
Do you like to hike? You may not think a beach town has a lot of hiking options, but Clearwater does! Hike the trails at Moccasin Lake Nature Park and look for the 9-foot-long alligator that lives on the lake. This is also a great experience for animal enthusiast because this park is home to many rescued animals.
7. Float on a Tiki Bar
Bookmark this activity and don’t forget to plan it! You can take a one-of-a-kind float on the water in a Tiki Bar. Go check out the pictures from Cruising Tikis to see how fun this experience is.
8. Go for a Ride on the World’s Largest Speed Boat
You should have seen my kids eye light up when I told them we were going for a ride on this boat! It was a great way to explore Clearwater and there were people of all ages onboard. Dolphin sightings are likely to occur during your boat ride.
9. Capture Beautiful Sunset Photos
There are so many great locations for sunset photos so I highly recommend reaching out to a local photographer to see if you can book a photo session. These make the perfect souvenirs and are the best way to remember your family vacations or romantic getaways.
10. Plan a Visit During the Annual Sugar Sand Festival
Clearwater Beach is home to the best sand sculpture festival in Florida. These are not like the sandcastles you’ll see while walking on the beach. The sand sculptures are works of art. If you get the chance to visit during the time of the festival, you’re in for a real treat!
Best Restaurants in Clearwater Beach
- Badfins – my favorite restaurant near Clearwater Beach
- Marina Cantina – best date night option with a rooftop bar and incredible views
- Palm Pavilion – right on the beach, a great sunset dinner option
- Columbia Restaurant – another personal favorite. Upscale dining with complimentary valet parking
- Crabby’s Bar & Grill – a delicious breakfast option near the beach
- Lenny’s Restaurant – one of the best breakfast places we’ve ever tried
- Cooter’s – the kids meals come on frisbees for the kids to take home
Best Clearwater Beach Hotels
There are many hotel options in Clearwater, I have an entire list of our family-favorite hotel options here but there is one hotel that I highly recommend:
Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club
This is my top pick because it’s inspired by Winter the dolphin from the Dolphin Tales movies. The heartwarming story of this animal rescue has continued to inspire this entire area of Florida and brought in many visitors to the aquarium which has helped to continue conservation efforts. Staying at this hotel gives you a 20% discount on regular admission to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and will make you feel even more connected to Winter and her story.
This hotel also has a stunning private sandy beach area and is the first CMA-certified hotel that helps to protect marine life. Our family loved our stay at Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club.