Clearwater beach

Amazing things to do in Clearwater Florida

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Dreaming of the Florida sunshine? Why not head to Clearwater in the Tampa Bay area for a beach break in the most gorgeous city in Florida?

Clearwater is a popular tourist destination on the western coast of Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s known for its white sand beaches, exceptionally sunny weather and a wide range of activities – including boating, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and dolphin watching.

This picturesque peninsula averages around 361 sunny days a year. Come for the vitamin D, and stay for the relaxed beach vibes.

If you’re looking for Clearwater Florida vacation tips, check out my bumper Clearwater guide and start planning your Florida holiday now!

Awesome things to do in Clearwater, Florida

Located near St Pete, Clearwater has a fantastic selection of hotels, white sand beaches, boat trips, bars and water sports to keep you entertained throughout the year.

Floridians and international visitors come from all over to experience the ‘best beach in the USA‘ and to visit the many attractions, swish resorts and family-friendly activities in Clearwater.

Why you must visit Clearwater

Travelling to Clearwater will require a little travel planning so you know where you want to visit, where to stay and where you want to eat.

We discuss travel planning on my weekly travel podcast – Travel Goals. If you love listening to travel podcasts, then make sure to subscribe to the Travel Goals podcast.

You’ll learn what’s new in the travel industry on this show. There are also travel hacks, destination inspiration and stories of travel adventures worldwide.

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Spend a day at Clearwater Beach

With 35 miles of soft sand in the Clearwater area, you’ll find the perfect beach to swim, relax and unwind.

Thanks to responsible beach management and strict visitor rules – including no alcohol and no dogs – Clearwater and St. Pete have some of the best beaches in Florida.

Here, you can relax on sugar-white sand, swim in warm Gulf waters and photograph their famous fiery sunsets.

Clearwater Beach things to do

clearwater beaches in Florida

Some of the best-known Clearwater beaches in Florida include:

  • Clearwater Beach
  • Honeymoon Island State Park
  • Caladesi Island State Park

On a barrier island, pristine Clearwater Beach is one of the best beaches in Florida and comprises a glorious 3-mile stretch of white sand, surrounded by upscale hotels and hip restaurants.

Trip Advisor named it the number 1 beach in the USA in 2018 and 2019, and it’s easy to see why. The whole area looks straight out of a glossy holiday brochure.

Clearwater Florida beach activities

Clearwater beach number 1 Trip advisor

Clearwater Beach is one of the top tourist destinations along the Gulf Coast and is a great place to swim, relax or experience swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, and water sports like jet skiing and parasailing.

Looking for a slower pace? You can rent a paddleboard and leisurely paddle along the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway or explore the mangroves and estuaries of nearby nature preserves.

Along with paid activities, walking along the powdery sands at sunset is probably one of the best free things to do in Clearwater, especially if you love photography.

sunset cruises

Clearwater Beach is famous for its colourful sunsets, and what better way to experience them than on a sunset cruise?

Many tour operators offer sunset cruises that take you out into the Gulf of Mexico to witness the breathtaking sight of the sun sinking into the horizon, casting a golden glow over the water and the beach.

Relax on the deck of a Floridian boat, sipping a carefully crafted cocktail and enjoying the warm sea breeze as the sky turns into a canvas of dreamy pastel colours.

Some sunset cruises also offer live music and entertainment if you want a party on the ocean.

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island State Park is a pristine and secluded barrier island located just off the coast of Clearwater that features lush mangroves providing a natural habitat for local wildlife.

Accessible by ferry or private boat, this remote area offers unspoiled beaches, nature trails, and clear blue waters that are perfect for swimming and kayaking.

Here, you can hire deck chairs and umbrellas and spend a day unwinding in the most unspoiled surroundings in Florida.

If you need some ‘me time’, this is the place to soothe your soul and get into a zen-like state of mind.

Kayaking on Caladesi Island

kayak rental Caladesi Island Florida

One of the best ways to experience Caladesi Island is to rent a kayak and explore the island by boat.

Along with a white sand beach, there’s a network of nature trails which allow you to explore its lush and diverse ecosystems.

The nature trails wind through the island’s mangroves, coastal hammocks, and dunes, allowing one to observe the native plant and animal species up close.

Kayak rentals are available on the island, and you can paddle through the calm waters of the bay and the mangroves, exploring hidden coves, estuaries, and tidal creeks

I would really recommend taking a GoPro or a DJI Osmo Pocket with a waterproof case on this trip. That way, you can get some awesome beach and kayak shots.

GoPros are waterproof and shockproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting wet or dropping them in the sand.

How do you get to Caladesi Island?

Caladessi Island ferry Florida

The island is only accessible by boat, which gives it an extra layer of unspoiled intrigue. It’s relatively inexpensive to reach the island as the Caladesi ferry costs $16.00 for adults and $8.00 for children, with kids below five years old going free.

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Trips depart every half hour beginning at 10 a.m and ferry passengers are allotted a four-hour stay on the island.

Go on a Clearwater dolphin tour

Dolphin boat trip Clearwater Florida

Not all Dolphin cruises are created equally. I have been on many a ‘wildlife spotting’ vessel that is overcrowded, noisy and frankly, a shipwreck waiting to happen.

The Little Toot is a far cry from these cowboy outfits. You can enjoy a dolphin-spotting adventure aboard their uncrowded ship and enjoy a beer or two onboard.

Little Toot Dolphin Adventures

The Little Toot Dolphin trip will let you get up close and personal with dolphins in the wild without chasing them and causing them distress.

The Little Toot’s boat is also lower in the water to bring you closer to the dolphins as they leap out of the water.

Little Toot crew were really friendly and knowledgeable about the dolphin behaviour and where they were likely to be. This means that dolphin spotting is almost guaranteed on their trips.

The intrepid dolphin-seeking captain also uses the boat to create a wake for the dolphins to play in, genius!

Go dolphin watching in Clearwater Florida

It was honestly one of the most magical experiences of my life to see dolphins jumping out of the water in a wild setting.

This is the best way to see dolphins in Florida, in their natural habitat and not in an aquarium.

Book your Clearwater Dolphin spotting trip online to secure your spot on one of the best activities in Clearwater.

Dolphins jump out the sea Clearwater Florida

Enjoy Sunsets at Pier 60

Sunsets at Pier 60 is a local institution in Clearwater Beach. This free Clearwater event takes place year-round, weather permitting.

Locals and visitors gather to watch the most colourful and dreamy sunset as the sun dips into the ocean setting the sky ablaze with colour.

The 1,080ft fishing pier is delightfully retro; there is a cafe and a fishing bait and tackle store.

As you stroll, you’ll notice the pier full of local fishermen casting their lines out to sea.

Sunsets at Pier 60 Clearwater Florida

Clearwater Pier 60 things do

One of the best things about Sunsets at Pier 60 is that you can enjoy art stalls, street performers and musicians.

You can buy colourful trinkets, listen to lively music from local performers, and soak up the awesome atmosphere.

Sunsets at Pier 60 Clearwater Florida

It’s worth the stroll down to the end of the pier and takes sunset snaps of the panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

It only costs $1 to go to the very end of the pier, and it is definitely worth it for the stunning ocean views. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Clearwater Beach at night.

Sunsets at Pier 60 Clearwater Florida

If you want to spoil yourself on your Clearwater vacation, why not book a Clearwater helicopter tour?

You will be treated to amazing views of Pier 60 and Clearwater Beach from high in the sky. Can you imagine the awesome photos you will get from that vantage point?

Looking for more Florida travel ideas? Check out my guide – how to have a fun weekend in St. Pete Florida, and get inspired!

Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Located on Clearwater Beach, this renowned, non-profit hub of marine preservation is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing injured marine animals along the Gulf Coast. 

Along with engaging exhibits and interactive displays, there is a strong focus on education – inspiring visitors to make sustainable choices and become stewards of the oceans. 

Here, you can observe the rehabilitation process up close and learn more about the resident dolphins, turtles and playful otters and the specialised medical care they receive from veterinarians and animal experts. 

marine aquarium tickets

Visitors to Clearwater Marine Aquarium can learn about the facility’s important work through educational presentations, exhibits, and interactive displays.

The aquarium offers behind-the-scenes tours, allowing visitors to witness the rehabilitation efforts firsthand and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges injured marine animals face.

Additionally, Clearwater Marine Aquarium provides interactive experiences such as Dolphin Encounters, where you can get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures, and Stingray Beach, where you can touch and learn about stingrays.

If you have the Tampa Bay CityPASS you can visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium along with other fun attractions in the area, including Visit Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Go Kayaking and Paddleboarding in Clearwater Bay

Clearwater Bay offers the perfect kayaking and paddleboarding setting with calm, azure waters, abundant wildlife, and dreamy vistas.

Whether you’re a pro paddler or a beginner, the bay’s calm, clear waters provide an ideal environment to indulge in these invigorating water sports.

Kayaking is a fantastic way to explore the beauty of Clearwater Bay up close and get some gorgeous photographs.

As you glide through the water, you’ll discover hidden coves, mangrove tunnels, and secluded beaches inaccessible by land. You might also spot playful dolphins and manatees swimming alongside your kayak. 

Go on a guided kayak tour

If you want more adventure, consider a guided kayak tour of Clearwater. These tours often include a bit of local history and ecology so you can learn more about the area.

Paddleboarding in clearwater offers a unique perspective of the bay. Balancing on your board, you’ll have a better vantage point to spot marine life beneath the water’s surface. 

Supping on crystal clear waters also provides a great full-body workout and helps improve balance and core strength. 

Have Grouper sandwiches at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill

Enjoy live music with your lunch at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. This uber-cool beach restaurant has a brilliant range of seafood dishes and devilishly strong margaritas.

Rockaway bar Clearwater Florida

Seafood lovers have to try one of their famous grouper sandwiches. These gigantic sandwiches are full of freshly caught Grouper from the shores of Clearwater Beach and are a taste sensation.

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I would also recommend Frenchy’s Garlic Crab Fries, Fish Tacos and Coconut Shrimp.

Frenchy's Saltwater Cafe Clearwater florida

Frenchy’s is a great spot for daytime drinking in Clearwater. The atmosphere is buzzing with bartenders busy shaking up cocktails, crooning from the musicians, and friends’ inebriated laughter.

If you’re looking for a relaxed beach bar with delectable seafood dishes, then Frenchy’s is the place for you. 

beach bars Clerwater Florida

Have a delicious dinner at Casa Tina

The decor definitely has a ‘Day of the Dead vibe with hipster touches and quirky staff shaking up some mean cocktails.

When dining at Casa Tina, you must order the Mole Poblano, one of Mexico’s most beloved dishes. Whilst the dish isn’t exactly what one might describe as ‘Instagrammable’, it certainly makes up for it in taste.

Savour a contrasting blend of chocolate and chillies that make the dish sweet and spicy. It’s served as a chicken or veggie enchilada and was utterly delectable.

Bar hop in downtown Dunedin

While in the Dunedin area, you should definitely bar-hop around the many hip bars and small breweries to discover local drinks and live music.

Dunedin is one of the oldest towns on the West Coast of Florida and is just a short drive from Clearwater.

The town has a great bar scene and is the perfect setting for an evening out in the Tampa Bay area.

bars Florida

Some of the best bars in Dunedin include: 

  • Sonder Social Club – Downtown Dunedin’s first craft cocktail bar, serving beer, wine and hand-crafted, unique cocktails.
  • Dunedin Brewery – Florida’s oldest brewery- offers delicious food and live music. Beers are hand-crafted in small batches, 20 barrels at a time. The tasting room is laid-back in Florida with a Scottish touch.
  •  Woodwright Brewery – located in Downtown Dunedin, specialise in traditional German and European-style beer, served in the tasting room and beer garden.
Cocktails Dunedin Florida

Where to stay in Clearwater

Clearwater has many high-end resorts and affordable hotels to suit your budget and accommodation needs.

Here are some of the best areas to stay in Clearwater:

  1. Clearwater Beach: This area offers a vibrant atmosphere and is the most famous beach in Clearwater. It is known for its lively beach scene, water activities, and many accommodations, including hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals. 
  2. Sand Key: Located just south of Clearwater Beach, Sand Key is a more peaceful and relaxed alternative. This area features luxury resorts and condominiums with beautiful ocean views and easy access to Sand Key Park, a scenic beachfront park with picnic areas and nature trails.
  3. Downtown Clearwater: If you prefer a more urban experience, consider staying here. This area offers a mix of hotels, boutique accommodations, and vacation rentals. 
  4. Belleair Beach: Located south of Clearwater Beach, Belleair Beach offers a tranquil and residential ambience. Accommodations in this area include vacation rentals, beachfront cottages, and small resorts.
  5. Safety Harbor: Situated a short distance from Clearwater, Safety Harbor offers a charming and relaxed setting. It provides a quieter, more laid-back experience with bed and breakfast establishments, boutique hotels, and waterfront views.

You can find a hotel to suit your budget and length of time by using travel resources such as Booking.com to find the best Clearwater hotel deals.

Some of the best hotels in Clearwater include:

Clearwater Florida hotels

Wyndham Grand

Spoil yourself with a stay at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is an ideal getaway for some serious R&R.

This dreamy resort has 343 gorgeous guest rooms that offer incredible views of the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The hotel also has a vast outdoor pool with the best beach views. It was definitely my favourite part of my stay there.

hotel Clearwater

Luxury hotels

You can also feast on award-winning Asian-fusion cuisine at the resort’s signature restaurant Ocean Hai.

There is also poolside casual fare at DocK’s Pool Bar & Grill and cocktails at the lobby bar.

Why visit Clearwater?

Clearwater is a perfect Florida vacation for families, couples and groups of friends.

This pretty beach city has a great range of beach activities, bars, great places to at and the most beautiful sunsets you have ever seen.

Hopefully, this list of some of the most fun things to do in Clearwater, Florida has inspired you to consider a Clearwater vacation or an epic Florida road trip.

whiy visit Clearwater Florida

Where is Clearwater Florida?

Clearwater is a coastal city located on Florida’s western coast and is best known for its immaculate white-sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Situated in Pinellas County, Clearwater is part of the Tampa Bay area, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Tampa.

St. Petersburg is a short drive from Clearwater for a dose of culture and history and a lively downtown area.

As locals affectionately know it, St. Pete has an impressive arts and culture scene and is home to the renowned Salvador Dali Museum, showcasing an impressive surrealist art collection.

The city also offers a variety of dining options, eclectic shops, and picturesque waterfront parks.

Getting to Clearwater Florida

If you are flying to Clearwater, Florida, the major airports near Clearwater are:

  • 10 miles to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE / KPIE)
  • 18 miles to Tampa International Airport (TPA / KTPA)
  • 55 miles to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ / KSRQ)
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If you fly to Clearwater from the UK, there are approximately 37 direct flights between London Airports and Tampa International Airport per week.

You can compare and book flights to Clearwater and Tampa with Expedia. Search for discounted flight tickets from over 400 standard and budget airlines.

If you need to hire a car from Tampa Airport, You can book in advance with Europcar. They have great deals on hiring cars for your Florida vacation.

Clearwater Florida FAQ

Are you planning a trip to Clearwater, Florida? As a popular travel destination on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Clearwater offers many activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.

While planning your Florida vacation, you may have questions, so In this FAQ section, I’ll answer some common questions about Clearwater, Florida, to help you easily plan your trip.

Q: When is the best time to visit Clearwater, Florida?

A: Clearwater, Florida, enjoys a warm and sunny climate year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and interests. The peak tourist season in Clearwater falls during the winter months from November to April when the weather is mild and the beaches are less crowded. However, this is also the most expensive time to visit, with higher hotel rates and increased demand for activities and attractions.

Q: When is the shoulder season in Clearwater?

A: Spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) is the shoulder season in Clearwater and can also be a brilliant time to visit Clearwater, as the weather is still pleasant, and the crowds are fewer than the peak season.

Q: What airport do you fly into to get to Clearwater, Florida?

Clearwater and nearby St Pete are served by St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) and Tampa International Airport (TPA).

Q: Does Clearwater, Florida have public transport?

A: Clearwater does have public transport; you can board the trolley at the Park Street Terminal in Downtown Clearwater or at any trolley stop along the beachfront route. Trolleys arrive every 20 to 30 minutes between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m

Q: Is Clearwater close to Orlando?

A: Clearwater Beach is just over 100 miles (174km) from Orlando. The fastest way to get there is by car.

Q: How do I get to Clearwater, Florida?

A: Clearwater, Florida, is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida and is easily accessible by various modes of transportation:

  1. By Air: The nearest major airport to Clearwater is Tampa International Airport (TPA), which is located about 30 minutes away by car. TPA is a major airport with numerous domestic and international flights, making it a convenient choice for travellers from around the world. You can rent a car from the airport, take a shuttle, or hire a taxi or rideshare service to reach Clearwater.
  2. By Car: Clearwater is well-connected by major highways, including Interstate 275 and US Highway 19. If you’re driving from nearby cities or other parts of Florida, you can easily reach Clearwater by car. The city has ample parking options, including street and paid parking lots.
  3. By Bus: Clearwater is also served by various bus services, including Greyhound and Megabus, which offer connections to nearby cities and other parts of Florida.

Q: Where can I stay in Clearwater, Florida?

A: Clearwater offers various accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Some popular areas to stay in Clearwater include:

  1. Clearwater Beach: Clearwater Beach is the central tourist hub, and it offers a variety of hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and condos within walking distance of the beach, dining, and entertainment options. The beachfront hotels offer stunning ocean views and convenient access to the beach.
  2. Downtown Clearwater: Downtown Clearwater offers a mix of hotels, motels, and vacation rentals, and it’s a great option for travellers looking for a more local experience. The downtown area has a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, and it’s a short drive from Clearwater Beach.
  3. Other areas: Clearwater also has other nearby areas, such as Island Estates, Belleair, and Sand Key, which offer a range of accommodation options, including hotels, vacation rentals, and condos. These areas are slightly away from the hustle and bustle of Clearwater Beach but still offer easy access to the beach and other attractions.
Pip and the City Travel Resources

Recommended travel resources

Flights: To find flight deals, check out sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights to compare flight costs and book.

Accommodation: I use Booking.com for hotel bookings as they have fantastic flexibility and cancellation.

Airport Parking and Lounges: With Holiday Extras, you can save money on airport and travel extras, including airport parking, airport hotels, and airport lounges.

Travel Insurance: I highly recommend you always get travel insurance – I use the Post Office Travel Insurance for single trip coverage and Safety Wing for comprehensive travel medical insurance.

Car Hire: I use Discover Cars to hire cars abroad as they have free cancellation, free mileage and no card fees.

Travel Money: I recommend Post Office Travel Money as you can get competitive rates and 0% commission for your holiday cash.

E-sim Cards: Use Airalo’s eSIM app to buy an eSIM for 200+ countries and stay connected when you travel abroad.

For more travel tools, head to my bumper travel resources page now!

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