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Florida Vacations: Clearwater Beach, Florida

Updated on March 3, 2012

Clearwater, FL vacation

Who doesn't love Florida vacations? Clearwater Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire state of Florida. Located near Tampa and St. Pete, Clearwater is a must-see spot if you’re ever in the area.It's a quick drive from Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, New Port Richey, St. Pete, and Tampa. You’ll think you’re in the Bahamas or on some other Caribbean island because of the turquoise water, the palm trees, and the balmy weather. The atmosphere of Clearwater Beach, however, is not nearly as laid back as most Caribbean beaches. Clearwater Beach is very active and is a “happening” place. Lots of young people go there to meet members of the opposite sex, but there are also plenty of families with kids and senior citizens in the mix. Clearwater Beach is a melting pot of cultures and generations, where many go to enjoy the natural scenery and the amazing water.

Clearwater Beach, Florida - on the bay.
Clearwater Beach, Florida - on the bay.

Beaches of Clearwater

This beach isn’t called “Clearwater” for nothing! The water is crystal clear and flanked by soft white sand. Clearwater Beach has three miles of beautiful beach, and it’s all public, so you’ll find plenty of access ways. Choose the gulf beach, the bay, or pristine Caladesi Island.

Much of the parking is paid, and the prices can be rather expensive. If you look hard, however, you can find some free parking, even at peak times. You might have to hike a couple of blocks, though.


Lexi at Clearwater Beach.
Lexi at Clearwater Beach.
Cameron loved Clearwater Beach!
Cameron loved Clearwater Beach!
Audrie at Clearwater, Florida.
Audrie at Clearwater, Florida.

Things to do at Clearwater Beach

If you’re a real beach lover, you might not need to ever leave the glorious beach or water to be perfectly entertained. You can swim, snorkel, boogie board, play volleyball, build sandcastles, toss a Frisbee or football, collect shells, ride a skim board, or soak up the rays. You can also go parasailing, or you can rent a jet ski. You’ll find vendors along the beach and at the marina.

You can also locate a beach vendor who rents bicycles. Part of the beach, just above the tide line, is usually firm enough to support cycling along the shore. This provides biking at its best – the wind in your hair, the salt air, and the sound of gulls screaming overhead.

On the weekends, Clearwater Beach can get very crowded. If that’s the case when you visit, you might want to mosey over to the beach on the bay. You’ll still find beautiful water and a sandy beach, but it’s rarely as crowded as the gulf beach.

Another beach you might want to check out is Caladesi Island. It’s located at the northern tip of Clearwater and in 2008 was proclaimed the BestBeach in America by the famous Dr. Beach. You can take the ferry to Caladesi Island, or you can walk over at low tide. Caladesi IslandState Park has picnic areas, showers, a nature trail, restrooms, a snack bar, and a playground for kids.


Make a new friend at the Clearwater Aquarium.
Make a new friend at the Clearwater Aquarium.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The aquarium at Clearwater is a great place to visit. Here, marine animals are rescued and rehabilitated, making the facility much more than just an aquarium.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to Winter, a dolphin rescued when it was just a baby. Poor Winter got her tail caught in a crab trap, and as a result, the tail was lost. A prosthetic tail was made for her, and the dolphin now serves as an inspiration to thousands. You can meet Winter, wade with the dolphins, feed the stingrays, see sea turtles, and watch shark feedings. Animal shows are performed throughout the day, too.


Cruise the beautiful waters of Clearwater, Florida.
Cruise the beautiful waters of Clearwater, Florida.

Day Cruises in Clearwater

Clearwater Beach offers several different cruises that range in length. Choose a sightseeing cruise, a romantic sunset cruise, a dinner cruise, or a snorkeling cruise. One daytime cruise offers sightseeing plus a tropical lunch buffet for passengers. At night, you might prefer a rowdy party cruise, complete with karaoke.


Sail into the sunset in Clearwater with Captain Memo.
Sail into the sunset in Clearwater with Captain Memo.

Pirate Cruise at Clearwater


Join Captain Memo and his crew of cutthroats for a cruise aboard Pirate’s Ransom – a pirate galleon. Everyone on the ship gets into the action, with muskets, swords, and pirate hats. Water play, storytelling, face painting, and dancing are all included, and of course, the scenery is gorgeous. The pirate ship has clean restrooms, too. This is a great adventure for kids!

Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach.
Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach.

Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach

As the sun begins to sink into the gulf, head to Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach for some free family fun. The celebration takes place every night and features arts and crafts, local artists, street performers, and other forms of live entertainment. There’s no telling what you might see: balloon artists, marionettes, acoustic guitarists, rock and roll bands, magicians, stilt walkers, fire swallowers, dancers, escape artists, jugglers, or furry entertainers. The fun starts two hours before sunset and lasts two hours after sunset. On the weekends, you can enjoy a free movie!

Also at Pier 60 is a playground for kids, with slides, swings, and a concession stand.


Enjoy a Clearwater Beach dolphin encounter.
Enjoy a Clearwater Beach dolphin encounter.

Clearwater Dolphin Encounter


Who doesn't love dolphins? These friendly sea mammals are fascinating and fun to watch as they frolic in the waves. To see dolphins up close, book passage on one of the dolphin sighting boats. Some are specially designed to get into the shallows, while others create just the type of wake that dolphins love to play in. Some of the boats serve soft drinks, beer, and bottled water. This is a great way to enjoy the waters off the coast of Clearwater Beach.


Ride the Sea Screamer in Clearwater.
Ride the Sea Screamer in Clearwater.

Sea Screamer in Clearwater


A tour on the Sea Screamer is a great way to view the Clearwater area. You’ll see homes of the rich and famous, historic landmarks, and dolphins. If you don’t see a dolphin, your ride is free! The Sea Screamer is the largest speed boat in the world, and riding it is like being on a high-speed amusement ride. Don’t worry - the boat is perfectly safe for all ages!


Land a cobia on the flats near Clearwater.
Land a cobia on the flats near Clearwater.

Fishing near Clearwater

The waters near Clearwater Beach are abundant with many fish species. Cast a line from the pier, fish in the bay, or hire a professional fishing guide for inshore, offshore, or deep sea fishing. You’ll have a great chance of landing tarpon, reds, trout, grouper, cobia, snapper, and sharks.

If you book passage on a fishing boat, you can choose a private charter or a party fishing boat. Many of the fishing charters and party fishing boats allow kids, so this would be an unforgettable experience for anglers and potential anglers. No experience neccessary!


Congo River in Clearwater.
Congo River in Clearwater.

Miniature Golf and Amusements in Clearwater

IF your kids tire of the beach, take them to one of Clearwater’s miniature golf facilities. You’ll find several nearby.

Celebration Station – This place has miniature golf, carnival rides, bumper boats, laser tag, go-karts, batting cages, an arcade, air hockey, and more. There’s an on-site restaurant that serves pizza, wings, sandwiches, burgers, chicken fingers, tacos, nachos, funnel cakes, and fries – all your carnival favorites! Celebration Station is located in Clearwater, on Highway 19.

Captain Bligh’s Landing – Captain Bligh’s Landing is located in Clearwater, on Gulfview Boulevard. It’s between Parkway Drive and Bayway Boulevard. Join the captain for some miniature golf and video games.

Congo River Golf – Congo River is in Clearwater, on Highway 19, so it’s easy to find. There’s an awesome miniature golf course with waterfalls, caves, jungles, and rocks. The facility also offers gem mining, treasure hunting, and a challenging arcade. Congo River has something else that makes it different from other miniature golf courses – live alligators! Best of all, you’ll have the chance to feed them.

The Gulf Oil Spill

 You might be wondering if the oil spill or oil leak in the gulf will affect your Clearwater vacation. Luckily, the oil spill is nowhere near Clearwater. We just returned from that area of the gulf, and we saw no tar balls or oil, nor did we smell any oil. The oil spill is not projected to reach this area. Go ahead and make your Clearwater vacation plans without worrying about the affects of the gulf oil spill or oil leak here.

Get Free Coupons for Your Clearwater Vacation!

 If you're planning a vacation in or near Clearwater, look online for free coupons. You can find discounts for all kinds of activities, accommodations, and food. Why not take advantage of money-saving coupons? Every penny you can save on your Clearwater vacation will certainly help your vacation budget!


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