Your Guide to Clearwater Beach
The Clearwater Beach coastline stretches for 3 blissful miles along Florida's Gulf Coast. This family-friendly beach offers ample outdoor activities, including hours spent sunbathing or swimming in the Gulf of Mexico's gentle, turquoise waves. Spend a few days here and you'll soon discover why any town that turns sunset into a daily festival, celebrated 365 days per year, racks up major points as a vacation destination. After celebrating sunset, families can dine at any number of restaurants lining the Beach Walk promenade before retiring to comfortable, waterfront lodgings.
Where to Stay
Guests of the luxe Sandpearl Resort will enjoy spacious guestrooms with Gulf, bay, or coastal views when they're not playing on the resort's beach, or swimming in the lagoon-style pool. Kids keep busy at Camp Ridley children's club, while grownups can soothe weary muscles with a spa treatment. As night falls, head to the hotel's fire pit on the beach, or dine at one of 2 restaurants.
Stepping into the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach is like coming home -- quite literally. Each of the 250 guestrooms are fitted with fully equipped kitchens, and you can eat meals or sip morning coffee from a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Unwind at the Sandava Spa, work on your tan at the private beach, or enjoy poolside cocktails from a private cabana.
Whether you sprawl out on a chaise at the outdoor pool, dip your toes in the bubbling hot tub, or rent a kayak and hit the beach, Sheraton Sand Key has your interests covered. After an afternoon of outdoor adventure, relax on your guestroom's balcony or patio then crawl into bed for a solid rest on a Sweet Sleeper mattress. When hunger strikes, you can grab crepes at Rusty's Bistro, or burgers and casual fare at the Mainstay Tavern or Island Grill.
Where to Eat
Cafe Ponte's sleek, open kitchen offers diners a glimpse behind the scenes, to where the culinary magic happens. The contemporary American menu blends ingredients from a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Asian and French. Start with an appetizer of shishito peppers speckled with bits of prosciutto, before digging into miso-marinated sea bass or a hearty, 16-oz. rib eye. Save room for dessert, and savor an after-dinner espresso martini while indulging in the chocolate semifreddo with peanut butter macaroons.
Frenchy's Rockaway Grill dishes up tasty comfort food on the beach, making it the perfect stop after a long day on the sand, or before walking up to Pier 60's activities. Try to stop by in time for sunset over the Gulf and enjoy a cocktail or two while watching Mother Nature's show. Groove to live local music daily while enjoying Florida favorites, like She Crab soup, chargrilled oysters, and smoked fish dip.
Casual fare reigns supreme at Clear Sky, a local's favorite. Stop by in the morning and choose from an immense menu featuring 9 different types of egg benedict (including Tijuana-style, with tequila-lime chicken sausage, green chili and hollandaise), and 7 kinds of French toast. If you like your breakfast with a kick, Clear Sky also pours out mimosas and Bloody Mary's.
Florida's Gulf Coast beaches seem to shine a little brighter than the rest, and Clearwater Beach is no different. The sands of Clearwater are white as snow and soft as sugar, while the water sparkles in blue-green brilliance. The calm Gulf waves are popular with stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers, as well as swimmers. The beach stretches for more than 2 miles, and is flanked by the beach walk, a promenade lined with hotels and resorts, as well as restaurants and shops.
As afternoon fades to evening and the sun begins its dip toward the Gulf of Mexico's turquoise waters, Clearwater Beach readies itself for a daily celebration: Sunsets at Pier 60. The pier stretches out over the Gulf, and each night it fills with street performers, like fire eaters and musicians, as well as scores of locals and tourists celebrating the daily sunset ritual. You'll find artisans hawking their wares, like jewelry and glassware.
If you've ever seen and been inspired by the films Dolphin Tale 1 & 2, which told the stories of rescued and rehabilitated dolphins, than you're familiar with Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The stars of the films, Winter and Hope, call the aquarium home, and are among the many sea creatures rescued and rehabilitated at the aquarium. Visitors can watch stingray feedings, meet sea turtles and otters, and even feed dolphins.