An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (2024)

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (1)

Johnny Jet

January 22, 2018

I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge of reward travel, travel credit card deals, travel tips and more.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (2)

This is a sponsored post.

Arguably the most beautiful beaches in the United States can be found on Florida’s west coast. The locals describe the white sand as sugar-like, and although that sounds sweet, in my opinion the description really should be flour-like since it’s that much softer.

My favorite beach town on Florida’s west coast is Clearwater Beach. Clearwater has hotels for every budget including some new luxurious ones that are all relatively inexpensive, family-friendly and easy to get to.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (3)Clearwater Beach will always hold a special place in my heart since it’s where I popped the BIG question to my then-girlfriend six years ago. We went back for the first time in November to speak at a conference (theTMS Family Travel Conference) with our one-year-old and it happened to be the place where he mastered walking. So it’s now special for our whole family.

While there I couldn’t find a lot of good information on where to go, stay and eat, so I did some firsthand research and interviewed a few locals (including an on-duty police officer). Below is the sum of that research: an insider’s guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida. If you want to add anything, please leave a comment at the bottom. (Note:All directions are from the Wyndham Grand, so just change the starting point to the hotel or address you are coming from.)

Getting around

To and from Tampa International Airport
The closest airport to Clearwater Beach is Tampa International Airport (TPA) at 21 miles (30 minutes without traffic). An uberX is the cheapest way to get to and from, as a one-way ride is only $27. If you plan on doing a lot of exploring then you’ll want to rent a car. FYI: The next-closest major airport is Orlando International Airport (MCO) at 109 miles. If you’re thinking about visiting the theme parks while in town, you might want to save for the end and fly out of MCO to cut down your driving time.

Tip: Sometimes a multi-city plane ticket or two one-ways can be cheaper than a traditional roundtrip ticket.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (4)Florida Free Rides
That’s right: You can get all around Clearwater Beach, Island Estates and Sand Key without ever having to drive again, and it’s all free!—a local transportation service that runs from 9am to 3am, seven days a week—offers the service. Just call 727-424-5458 for a free ride.

Clearwater Ferry Taxi Service
Clearwater Ferry Taxi Service is the best way to enjoy Clearwater Beach while avoiding traffic and parking issues. Tickets are available for purchase onboard. Adults: $4 each way. Children (4 to 12): $2 each way.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (5)

Where to stay

Luxury hotels

  • Sandpearl Resort offers stylish rooms, a spa, two restaurants, and an ideal beachfront location. This is usually the hotel where the movie stars stay when they’re in town. In fact, when we got engaged we stayed in the same suite as Morgan Freeman did when he filmed Dolphin Tale. Room rates begin at $244/night.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (6)

  • Opal Sands Clearwater Resort is a chic, brand-new hotel right on the beach. Every guest room, suite and restaurant (and even the fitness center) offers unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. Room rates begin at $250/night.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (7)

  • Wyndham Grand is surprisingly, really grand. It has to be the nicest Wyndham hotel in the world; at the least it’s certainly the nicest one I’ve ever seen. The hotel was built a year ago. Room rates begin at $239/night.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (8)

Mid-tier hotels

  • Residence Inn Clearwater Beach & SpringHill Suites Clearwater Beach Marriott have created a hotel in which the two brands share the same building. The Residence Inn offers home-inspired suites complete with full kitchens and expansive dining bars, just a block away from the beach. Room rates begin at $185/night. SpringHill Suites Clearwater Beach offers spacious coastal suites with an innovative 3-in-1 trundle sofas in separate lounge areas. Room rates begin at $156/night.
  • Edge Hotel Clearwater Beach is a ten-story, 155-room hotel that has spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico. Room rates begin at $161/night.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Clearwater Beach is a 14-story hotel with modern rooms equipped with 42-inch HDTV, ample workspace and free Wi-Fi. They also serve a free breakfast. Room rates begin at $102/night.
  • Pier House 60 Clearwater is a 107-room, mid-range hotel that’s close to the beach. Room rates begin at $160/night.

Budget hotels

  • Pelican Pointe Hotel and Resort is located directly across from the Gulf and within walking distance of hundreds of Clearwater Beach restaurants and attractions. According to its website, the hotel offers “a quiet, family environment. [The] resort is perfect for couples, who prefer a private, intimate setting, or the business executive looking for a relaxing, weekend retreat.” Room rates begin at $89/night.

Once you find a place to stay, the next step is where to eat…

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (9)

Where to eat breakfast

  • Another Broken Egg (470 Poinsettia Ave; 727-240-4682) is located in North Beach on the first floor of the parking garage on Poinsettia by the roundabout. Supposedly, the lobster brie omelet is off the charts but I want to try their chicken and waffles. Directions.
  • Clear Sky on Beach‘s (490 Mandalay Avenue; 727-442-3684) menu is huge, which means there’s something for everyone here, from breakfast burritos to skillets. They’re known for their “Nova Scotia Bennie” aka the salmon benedict ($12.95). Directions.
  • Wyndham Grand Ocean Haihas a great breakfast buffet. The major luxury hotels in Clearwater Beach all have great breakfast buffets, but they aren’t cheap. I ate at the Wyndham’s ($23) and loved the fruit, waffles and eggs. Next time I’ll try the Asian chicken and waffles.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (10)

Where to eat lunch and dinner

  • Salty’s (437 S. Gulfview Boulevard; 727-216-8085) comes highly recommended and is a 10-minute walk from the Wyndham. I’ve heard they have the best Ahi tuna bowls with coconut rice, avocado, cabbage, carrots, wonton strips, seaweed salad, cilantro aioli, and a soy glaze drizzle ($16). Directions.
  • Frenchy’s Original Restaurant (41 Baymont Street; 727-446-3607) is a small, quaint place featuring many Frenchy’s Original menu items—like the smoked fish spread, seafood gumbo, boiled shrimp, and Greek salad—and where the now famous “Super Grouper” sandwich made its debut. Directions.
  • The Bait House (45 Causeway Boulevard; 727-446-8134) is tucked away under the bridge and was recommended by our driver and a number of others. It opens for lunch at 11:30am. To enter you walk through an old-school bait shop. The two waitresses there were amazingly, genuinely friendly. “Drunken Shrimp” and the burger are the two bestsellers. Natalie had the “Drunken Shrimp” ($12.95) and loved it. I had a chicken quesadilla and salad ($7.99) with blackened chicken ($6 more) with raspberry vinaigrette, and it was all so good. They have signed dollar bills stapled to the walls and ceilings to give it an old-school look. The owner thinks there’s around 3,000 of them.Directions(about a seven-minute walk from the hotel).
  • Tate’s Grill at the Sandpearl Resort (500 Mandalay Avenue; 727-441-2425) lets you put your toes in the sand while sipping tropical co*cktails and eating Gulf Coast fare.
  • Ocean Hai in Wyndham (201b S. Gulfview Boulevard; 727-281-9500) is the only restaurant in Clearwater that serves Asian-fusion cuisine. They have sumptuous sushi and sashimi platters and every dish is prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, including seafood and farm-raised meats and poultry.
  • Blinkers Beachside (476 Mandalay Avenue; 727-754-1757) is the Florida home of one of Kentucky’s premier restaurants. The locals say this is the place to get steak (it’s won a local “Best Steak” award multiple years). Directions.
  • Badfins Food + Brew (215 S. Gulfview Boulevard; 727-474-5591) provides great food (seafood selection), value and a beachside location all in one place. It’s next to the Wyndham Grand and thetacos are a local favorite.
  • Cork N Brew (524 Mandalay Avenue; 727-239-0833) cooks on lava rocks and has friendly service and delicious Cuban flatbread and filet mignon. Directions.
  • Clear Sky on Cleveland (418 Cleveland Street; 727-754-7244) is the only restaurant listed that’s not on the beach, but a local raved about it. It’s located in Clearwater’s historical Cleveland Street District and features cuisine from around the globe. The recommendation was—get this—to try the the peanut butter and jelly Brussels sprouts ($8). Directions.


  • Barefoot Beach House (332 S. Gulfview Boulevard; 727-449-8070) only serves ice cream and frozen yogurt, but it’s supposedly darn good (especially the “Salted Caramel Praline”). The place doesn’t have a website, but here’s itsYelp page. Directions.
  • Kilwin’s Ice Cream (391 Mandalay Avenue; 727-400-6802) is a chain that began in Michigan and is now found in over a dozen states. The smell alone of the chocolate and waffle cones will draw you in. Directions.
  • The Donut Experiment Clearwater Beach (674 S. Gulfview Boulevard; 727-455-0772) sells fresh-made cake donuts for which you pick from a huge selection of icings and toppings. Yours can be as simple as plain or glazed or as crazy as Key lime, maple bacon or sriracha. Directions.
  • Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber (447 Mandalay Avenue; 727-442-4144) has been around for seventy years and it’s popular with the locals. It’s worth going to dinner here just for the dessert. Directions.
  • Crabby’s Beachwalk Bar & Grill (333 S. Gulfview Boulevard; 727-608-2065) because you can’t go to Florida without having Key lime pie ($4.99), and Crabby’s supposedly has the best. Directions.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (11)

Food delivery

If you’re feeling lazy like I am sometimes and you don’t want to bother getting in the car (or walk), you can have your food delivered in Clearwater (as in many places). Fortunately, there are multiple food delivery services available. While I was there I used Uber Eats (get $5 off your first two orders with my code: eats-uberjohnnyjet). Our food came within 25 minutes and was fantastic. It’s a great way to experience local food without the effort. It’s also much cheaper than room service (and better food).

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (12)

Grocery/convenience stores

Renting an apartment or just need to stock up on some goods? Clearwater has several grocery stores to choose from. If you’re on the beach then Surf Style Island Market will probably be the closest as they have a couple of locations on the beach. There’s also a Mega Walgreens with a mini grocery store not cheap though our two bananas were $0.99. For a real grocery store go to Publix across the bridge. Directions.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (13)


If you need to wash your clothes and your hotel doesn’t offer washing machines for guests to use (the Hyatt, Residence Inn and Wyndham Time Shares all do), you can go to Clean Jeans Laundry (575 Mandalay Avenue; 727-290-7940). That’s what I did. Clean Jeans will pick up your clothes from your hotel before 9am and drop them back off after 5pm for $5 extra. You can also drop your stuff off anytime for $1.25 a pound.There’s usually a three-hour turnaround.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (14)

What to do

  • Thriller Powerboat Tour (25 Causeway Boulevard; 727-223-4990) is the fastest tour boat in Clearwater Beach. Boats seat up to 30 people and travel at a speed of 50 miles an hour or more.
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium (249 Windward Passage; 727-441-1790) is the home of dolphins Winter & Hope from the popular Dolphin Tale movies. Get an immersive look into the world of marine life rescue at this working animal hospital. Plan your visit with their tips and reminders to enhance your experience. Adults: $22.95. Children: $17.95. Age 2 & under: free. Seniors: $20.95.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (15)

  • Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise (25 Causeway Boulevard; 727-446-2587) has a spirited crew of pirates that are chosen not only for their enthusiastic personalities and immeasurable politeness, but also for their knowledgeable seamanship abilities. Cruises depart daily at 10am (Saturday only) and 2pm.Adults: $36. Children (ages 3-12): $28. Juniors (ages 13-17): $31. Seniors (65+): $33. Baby pirates: (age 2 & under): $11. Champagne cruises (which take approximately two hours) depart daily at 5pm.
  • Makin Waves Jet Ski Rental Clearwater Beach (401 E. Shore Drive; 727-678-2101) offers jet ski rentals! You must be at least 18 to rent a jet ski or 16 with a valid photo ID and a parent or guardian. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, is required to have a boater’s license or take the temporary boat license course at their location ($3 fee pass or fail). Passengers must be 6 years of age or older.
  • The Tropics Boat Tours (25 Causeway Boulevard; 727-442-7433) is theway to see dolphins. “Dolphin Exploration Tours” last approximately two hours and will take you from Clearwater Bay out to Clearwater Pass on the beautiful emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico (weather permitting) in search of the bottlenose dolphin. They encourage guests to bring cash to buy drinks and tip staff.
  • Sunsets at Pier 60 Daily Festival (10 Pier 60 Drive; 727-434-6060) is a nightly sunset celebration that features artisans, crafters, street performers, and of course sunsets. You can check it out every night except the 4th of July from two hours before until two hours after sunset (weather permitting).
  • Free movie night!Every weekend night you can catch a movie playing on an inflated giant movie screen at the end of Pier 60. Friday night is family-friendly and Saturday movies are PG-13. Here’s a list of movies coming up.
  • Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival takes place every April (this year it’s April 13-22) and features eleven world-class sculptors brought in to sculpt elaborate sand sculptures from Clearwater’s famous sugar sand. This year’s theme is “Sea America: A Celebration of America’s Treasures.” Tickets for adults are $10.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (16)

If you’re a baseball fan…

Phillies (and Yankees) Spring Training
If you’re a Philadelphia Phillies fan, you’ll want to go to Clearwater in February and March since it’s the team’s Spring Training home. If you aren’t a fan, you’ll probably want to avoid the beach then since traffic can get crazy (so I heard). The beach might also be crowded with Yankees fans since their Spring Training facility is just up the road (30 minutes) in nearby Tampa.

Have something to add?

Obviously, I can’t list every attraction, restaurant or hotel in Clearwater Beach, so if you want to add anything please leave a comment below so others can see your recommendations.

2 Comments On "An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida"

  1. An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (17)

    B&W Management|

    May 20, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Reply

    There is some great information here about our wonderful Clearwater Beach! I would like to add that as far as places to stay, if you are coming for a week or more, a beachfront vacation condo may be a much better (and more comfortable) choice for most people. Hotels can be great for short stays, but the lack of privacy and chaos can be tiring after a few days. A condo provides all the comforts of home and still has all the beach access and convenience of local restaurants and shops.

  2. An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (18)


    January 19, 2021 at 2:01 am | Reply

    If we’re staying privately at a condo- what are the options for renting chairs for the beach?

Leave a Reply

Advertising Disclosure

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (19)

75,000 bonus miles, at least 2x miles on everything, $0 foreign transaction fees. Terms apply.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (20)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

60,000 points bonus, 3x points on dining, $50 annual hotel credit, 25% award travel redemption bonus. Terms apply.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (21)

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

100,000 bonus points, up to 3x points on travel and on select business categories. Terms apply.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (22)

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 points bonus, 5x points on select travel, Centurion Lounge access. Terms apply.

An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida - (2024)


An Insider’s Travel Guide to Clearwater Beach, Florida -? ›

Insider Tips to Visit Clearwater Beach

What is the best month to visit Clearwater Beach Florida? ›

The best time to visit Clearwater Beach is between October and December.

How early should I arrive at Clearwater Beach? ›

Arrive very early – 7-8 am or earlier – to get the best public parking. I highly recommend staying at a Clearwater Beach hotel with parking or staying at a nearby town and taking the trolley or Clearwater Beach Ferry for lower parking cost and less hassle.

What part of Clearwater Beach is less crowded? ›

While Clearwater Beach is a public beach, the most crowded areas of the beach are South Beach and the areas near Pier 60. As you head further north, the beach will become less crowded.

What are the rules at Clearwater Beach Florida? ›

Clearwater Beach Rules & Information
  • No Alcohol. No alcohol is permitted on Clearwater's public beaches.
  • No Smoking.
  • No Dogs, Cats or Other Animals. ...
  • Always Swim Near a Lifeguard. ...
  • When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors. ...
  • Rip Current Safety. ...
  • Surfing, Paddleboarding, Windsurfing, Skimboarding. ...
  • Do the Stingray Shuffle.

What is the cheapest month to go to Clearwater? ›


What are the rainiest months in Clearwater Florida? ›

July through early September is when the rainy season peaks.

What is the difference between Clearwater and Clearwater Beach? ›

Clearwater Beach, Florida, is the northernmost developed barrier island along the Tampa Bay Beaches. Unlike our other island communities, Clearwater Beach is part of the City of Clearwater.

Can you walk on Clearwater Beach at night? ›

Clearwater Beach Opening Hours

The Beach is open 24/7. You can access the beach at night but it is not recommended for safety reasons.

Is Clearwater Beach free? ›

Clearwater Beach's shoreline boasts white sand, turquoise water and proximity to downtown's hotels, restaurants and attractions, making it one of the area's most popular beaches to visit.

Is Clearwater or St Pete a better beach? ›

Pete Beach was named Tripadvisor's No. 1 Beach in the U.S. in 2021 (and #5 in the world)! Nearby Clearwater Beach also earned accolades as the No.

Is Clearwater a walkable town? ›

Clearwater Beach is very walkable with ample restaurants and shops in close proximity.

What is the best beach to go to in Clearwater? ›

10 Best Beaches in St. Petersburg Clearwater
  • Fort De Soto Park.
  • Treasure Island Beach.
  • Pass-A-Grille Beach.
  • Sand Key Park.
  • Anclote Key Preserve State Park.
  • Honeymoon Island State Park.
  • St. Pete Beach.
  • Sunset Beach.

Can you walk with alcohol in Clearwater Beach? ›

Clearwater Beach: No alcohol is permitted on public beaches. Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island: No alcohol is permitted, although beer and wine are served at Café Honeymoon on Honeymoon Island (and must be consumed on-premises). Belleair Beach: No alcohol is permitted.

Can you swim in the ocean at Clearwater? ›

Average Water Temperatures

Yes, you can swim at our beaches, year 'round! Most visitors find our Gulf water temperatures quite pleasant, especially if they are coming from colder climates.

What is so special about Clearwater Beach? ›

Clearwater Beach's powdery white sand is part of what makes it one of America's Best Beaches. The sand actually comes from the Appalachian Mountains and is made of quartz rather than sea shells.

What is hurricane season in Clearwater Florida? ›

Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30. During that time, tropical weather is possible.

What is the busiest time of year in Clearwater Beach? ›

Winter transitioning into spring is our peak season and the most popular time to visit. The busiest month is March, when you can expect to pay top dollar.

What is the hottest month in Clearwater Florida? ›

  • The average warmest month is August.
  • The highest recorded temperature was 102º in 1997.
  • January is the average coolest month.
  • The lowest recorded temperature was 19º in 1981.
  • The most precipitation on average occurs in August.

What is the warmest month in Clearwater Florida? ›

The month that experiences the highest temperatures throughout the year is referred to as August, where an average temperature of 27.7 °C | 81.9 °F prevails.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gregorio Kreiger

Last Updated:

Views: 5669

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gregorio Kreiger

Birthday: 1994-12-18

Address: 89212 Tracey Ramp, Sunside, MT 08453-0951

Phone: +9014805370218

Job: Customer Designer

Hobby: Mountain biking, Orienteering, Hiking, Sewing, Backpacking, Mushroom hunting, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Gregorio Kreiger, I am a tender, brainy, enthusiastic, combative, agreeable, gentle, gentle person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.