This page contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.
The Gulf coast of Florida is home to a cornucopia of beaches, but few can rival the appeal of Clearwater Beach. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the country, it’s not hard to see why. With its pillowy, luminous white sands, clear turquoise waters, and endless entertainment and dining options, these sun-drenched shores deliver the perfect coastal escape for every kind of traveler. So, get to it! Pack your bags for a Clearwater Beach vacation!
Where is Clearwater Beach?
This roughly three-mile-long supercharged getaway in paradise is perched on a slim barrier island that skirts the Gulf shore of Florida. With the popular town of Dunedin to its north and the well-known town of St. Petersburg to its south, Clearwater Beach is located in the vibrant Tampa Bay area.
Its proximity to two airports, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport, makes this waterfront destination easy to reach. Plus, it’s only about a two-hour drive from Orlando so although it is not the closest, but definitely one of the most recommended beaches near Disney World for families.
What is Clearwater Beach known for?
Voted not only among the best beaches in Florida but also in the country, Clearwater sets expectations. But this bayfront stretch does not disappoint. Known for its radiantly white sand, so soft it feels like powdered sugar, there’s nothing quite like walking along this idyllic strand with the sand wrapping around your toes. Pure bliss!
Another big draw is the crystal blue water. While the warm waters set the scene for all kinds of water pursuits, they are also tranquil enough for kids. So, dive into the waters with your entire family and create your own insta-worthy memories at this gorgeous Gulf Coast beach!
Why is Clearwater Beach a good place to vacation?
One of the most popular Florida beaches, a beach vacation at Clearwater offers something for every mood. If your ideal vacation is relaxing on the sand for some shoreline zen, this veritable oasis is perfect. If your pleasures run sporty, Clearwater Beach has that covered too.
Nature enthusiasts can get up close and personal with marine life. And for those wanting to satisfy their inner gourmand, there’s a host of dining options and culinary experiences. What’s more, it is even wheelchair-friendly and offers special wheelchairs that can be used in the water too.
Which part of Clearwater Beach is the best?
The centerpiece of a Clearwater vacation is unarguably the iconic Pier 60. This thriving pier offers a little bit of everything to visitors, from fishing fun to family-friendly entertainment to panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.
There’s so much to do at the pier, you can make a day of it! Stroll on the pier and soak in the views. Or rent fishing gear, buy some bait, and enjoy premier fishing off the pier. Best part? You don’t need a fishing license!
Bringing kids? No worries! There’s a well-equipped playground and large inflatable slides right off the pier that’ll keep them engaged for hours. There are even free movie screenings on select nights.
What makes Pier 60 really memorable is the revelry each evening where the sunset is celebrated with a variety of performers that include magicians, fire eaters, jugglers, and musicians. Be sure to snag a souvenir from one of the local artisans.
What is the best time to visit Clearwater Florida?
Blessed with abundant sunshine, Clearwater boasts warm weather all year round. The best time to take your Clearwater Beach vacation, however, is from October to December.
These months typically offer the best weather with low humidity and daytime temperatures in the warm 70s and 80s. Plus, you’ll find fewer tourists than during the peak winter season. Keep this in mind when planning your beach vacation to these sun-kissed shores and you’re guaranteed to have an epic time!
Awesome things to do in Clearwater Beach
Relax at the beach
With its fantastic white sand -that is actually quartz sand coming from the Appalachian Mountains- it comes as no surprise that Clearwater Beach is among America’s best beaches so missing out on enjoying this fantastic shoreline would be a shame!
You can lounge on the velvety sands and unwind with your favorite beach read while your kids build sandcastles and cavort across the sands. If it gets too hot, just take a dip in the gentle cerulean waters. A gradual slope with a sandy bottom makes this sandy expanse perfect for kids to swim too. What’s more, lifeguards are on duty every single day.
Try water sports
If lying on the beach is too boring for you, no worries! Clearwater offers a host of exciting diversions. You can go kayaking, paddle boarding, or kitesurfing. Jet-skiing is another high-powered option to ramp up your fun.
Those looking to crank up the adventure factor another notch, try a parasailing excursion. The ultimate joy ride! Breathtaking views are complimentary.
Visit Beach Walk
The meandering beachside promenade extending from Mandalay Avenue to South Gulfview Boulevard, the Beach Walk is a lively spot to stop and grab some snacks at one of the many cafés and restaurants or
The paved paths are excellent for biking or rollerblading or just casually strolling along the sun-soaked coastline as you enjoy sweeping vistas of the Gulf of Mexico!
Experience a floating tiki bar
Take your vacation to new tropical heights with a one-of-a-kind Tiki Boat cruise! A unique way to explore the coast while enjoying some snacks and cocktails and floating on the water. You can even bring your own playlist to connect to the Bluetooth speaker on board. What a blast!
Encounter wild dolphins
Hop aboard a dolphin cruise to enjoy watching playful bottlenose dolphins frolic in the wild. An absolute must-do if you’re a wildlife lover or are on a Clearwater vacation with kids. Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture the fun.
Thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf, dolphins can be spotted all year round in the area. Some trips make a stop at the nearby Compass Island too where you can swim, snorkel and collect shells.
Set sail on the Gulf of Mexico on a pirate ship
Get whisked into a fantasy world of swashbucklers and pirates on a fun-filled cruise. With activities like face painting, treasure hunt, and water-gun games for kids, and complimentary drinks for adults at sunset, the cruise is guaranteed to entertain the whole family.
Learn about the area’s wildlife
When sun fatigue strikes, head inland to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, an aquarium unlike any other. Dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of marine life, popular residents include rescue dolphins, sting rays, sea turtles, and otters among others.
Another attraction worth visiting is Moccasin Lake Nature Park located in the heart of Clearwater. A pristine nature preserve with multiple ponds and creeks, nature lovers can hike its many oak-lined trails to enjoy the park’s beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife.
Work a visit to Pier 60
Best of all? The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Pier 60, the 1080-foot-long fishing pier that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, comes alive with its nightly sunset celebration. It’s a free show you don’t want to miss!
Not only does the sun put on a mesmerizing display with its fiery hues as it dips below the horizon, but a menagerie of street performers will keep you oohing and aahing all evening. The well-lit pier is also ideal if you’re interested in some night fishing.
Enjoy delicious food
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the dining scene in Clearwater Beach. It’s options galore! The hardest part is deciding where to go!
From casual dining with a laid-back atmosphere to waterfront dining with stunning views to upscale dining, this vacation destination is chock-full of options. Don’t leave without visiting perennial favorites such as Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and The Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill and Bar.
Recommended places to stay in Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach sits on a narrow barrier island. No matter where you stay, you’re just steps from the shoreline. The obvious question is: Where should I stay? That’s easy!
From luxury resorts to hotels with all-inclusive packages to vacation condos, there’s no shortage of places to rest your head in Clearwater. Let’s see our recommendations!
The beachfront Sandpearl Resort is located just steps from all the action on Clearwater Beach. Perfect for those seeking some coastal cosseting, this luxury resort for families is flush with amenities such as a private beach, zero-entry lagoon pool, a full-service spa, beachside fire pits, and a kid’s club.
Tucked into the resort is also Clearwater’s only AAA’s Four Diamond award restaurant, the Caretta where gorgeous seaside views complement delectable food.
Opal Sands Resort
Offering the perfect blend of luxury and romance, Opal Sands is the perfect choice for couples looking for a romantic getaway. A beachfront property, all of the guest rooms at this resort boast private balconies with glorious ocean views.
In addition to upscale amenities and a zero-entry pool, guests can also enjoy waterfront dining and tropical poolside cocktails. Opal Sands is, however, not just a beach resort for adults; children are welcome too, so it is a great option for family getaways too.
Sheraton Sand Key Resort
Nestled along the Gulf shores of Clearwater Beach with 13 acres of beach access, the Sheraton Sand Key never disappoints. The private beach area makes it less busy than the area’s other beaches.
The hotel offers everything outdoorsy, from an oceanfront pool to three tennis courts and beach volleyball to on-site watercraft rentals. Another huge perk? There are no parking or resort fees at this tropical oasis.
Stay at Salty Sunrise, a pet-friendly vacation house just 7.3 miles from Pier 60. This stunning vacation rental with four bedrooms and three full baths is perfect for families or multiple couples.
In addition to being loaded with basic amenities, this rental also offers a heated pool, a boat dock, a private patio with waterfront views, and barbecue facilities to elevate your stay. There’s even free parking on site.
If you’re traveling solo or as a couple and looking for a budget condo for rent, book your stay at the Florida Unit apartment just steps away from Indian Rocks Beach Access.
This well-equipped one-bedroom, ground-floor unit is only 6.2 miles from Clearwater Beach and has a hot tub, free Wi-Fi, and parking on site. There is even a tennis court for sport enthusiasts.
Is Clearwater Beach safe?
Clearwater is quite safe. However, you need to be educated about possible hazards.
Although low, there is an obvious risk of larceny. Don’t keep your belongings unattended anywhere, particularly on the beach. Keep them close or stored away in the hotel room.
Weather can change quickly in Clearwater, and conditions can deteriorate fast, turning a perfect day into a dangerous one. Avoid being in the water or the beach when lightning is present. Head indoors.
Another possible hazard you need to be aware of is the presence of rip currents that can drag you out to sea. Educate yourself ahead of time on ways to navigate rip currents before panic sets in.
Clearwater gets red tide from time to time. Caused by out-of-control algae bloom, you can develop respiratory issues due to it. Follow local updates to make sure you’re safe.
Clearwater Beach rules
When you are on your beach vacation, you might want to know the dos and don’ts on the beach. Here are some of the important beach rules and regulations.
- No alcohol: First and foremost, alcohol is not permitted on Clearwater Beach.
- No pets: No animals of any kind are allowed in the public bathing area of the beach. Your pooch can accompany you only in designated areas, such as Beach Walk and the north section of the beach past Somerset Street.
- Follow Safe Bathing Limit: Always swim within the safe zone, marked clearly by buoys and pilings.
- Follow Beach Warning Flags: A flag warning system advises beachgoers of ocean hazards and surf conditions. Pay heed to it as water conditions can change suddenly. Check with the lifeguard on duty if you’re not sure.
- No water sports equipment on the beach: Surfboards, sailboats, and personal watercraft cannot be beached in the public bathing area. You are welcome to engage in watersports outside the swim zone.
Is Clearwater Beach dog friendly?
Yes, within limits. Although not permitted in the public bathing area of the beach, your furry companion can accompany you on the Beach Walk.
You can also explore the sand and surf along the north section of Clearwater Beach past Somerset Street. Just be sure to keep your dog leashed at all times.
Miles of drop-dead-gorgeous beach. Fun activities for every kind of traveler. Culinary options to suit every palate. A selection of hotels to fit every budget. Need we go on? Brimming with possibilities for a perfect vacation, it is easy to see why you should visit Clearwater Beach!
Inspired? Pin it!