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Clearwater Seashore, Florida, Will get 360 Days of Sunshine a 12 months — Methods to Plan the Good Go to

With 360 days of sunshine per 12 months, powder-white seashores, and turquoise waters, Clearwater, Florida, makes for a perfect seashore trip. Positioned simply west of Tampa and north of St. Pete, the under-the-radar cultural mecca has lengthy drawn a mixture of residents from world wide with its strong public transportation system and low value of dwelling, plus heat year-round temperatures, entry to barrier islands, in depth bike trails, and naturally, seashores.

Journey + Leisure turned to Amanda Payne, president and CEO of Amplify Clearwater and resident of Clearwater since 2015, to search out out what makes this metropolis a worthy seashore trip vacation spot. “I really like dwelling in a spot the place folks need to trip — we have now nice colleges and a unbelievable high quality of life the place you’ll be able to see well-known musicians carry out over the water, construct sandcastles within the tender sugar-white sand, meet rescued marine animals, and stand on the shore casting a line whereas wanting down by means of the crystal-clear waters and seeing to the sandy backside,” she stated.

Andrew Beltz, proprietor and managing companion of Keep & Play Clearwater Seashore, instructed T+L he has lived in lots of seashore locations round Florida, however Clearwater holds his coronary heart. In 2012, he relocated right here for work and loves the combo of vacationers and residents from across the globe. When requested what drew him to Clearwater, he stated, “The general public transportation with the Jolly Trolley is phenomenal — you’ll be able to go from right here to St. Pete Seashore with stops at 5 – 6 seashores in between. Every thing on the island is walkable and so accessible.”

High 5 Can’t Miss

  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium is house to Hollywood-famous dolphins Winter and Hope together with all their marine associates at this rescue, rehabilitation, and launch facility.
  • The Market Marie has greater than 100 distributors promoting all the things from handmade ceramics to do-it-yourself canine biscuits.
  • Hit Palm Pavilion to sink your toes within the sand whereas sipping on their well-known Rum Runners.
  • Spend the night time on the custom-built houseboat at Keep & Play, the place you’ll be able to seize a complimentary kayak and discover the various marine setting.
  • Cease at Pier 60 to catch the sundown pageant the place native artisans, avenue performers, and musicians toast the fiery ball descending over the water each night time.

Finest Accommodations and Resorts

Courtesy of Opal Sands

Sandpearl Resort

Nestled on a white-sand seashore, Sandpearl Resort‘s 253 visitor rooms and suites supply panoramic views of Clearwater, Mandalay Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. The property has a 700-foot stretch of personal seashore, water sport leases, a zero-entry lagoon-style pool with cabanas, a full-service spa, and a youngsters’ membership the place little ones can take pleasure in nature walks, arts and crafts, and scavenger hunts whereas mother and father take pleasure in a while off. Payne likes to deliver company to their on-site restaurant, Caretta. She stated, “Many locations serve stone crab, however this spot does it greatest. When on trip, I don’t order seafood as a result of Clearwater has spoiled me.”

Opal Sands Resort

Opal Sands Resort is house to 230 waterfront visitor rooms and suites the place the seashore and sand are the present. However there’s additionally a full-service spa, three eating places and bars, and a zero-entry Gulf-facing pool with cabanas and tropical drinks. Beltz stated, “[This property] is perched on the southern tip of Clearwater Seashore and you’ll see all of the boats coming out and in of the harbor. Their tiki bar, Sandbar, is my primary spot to catch a lovely sundown, with 180-degree views and reside music. You’ll be able to watch the cooks making pizzas, catch a sport, and the ambiance is so relaxed.”

Keep & Play

Just a little additional north and out of the bustle sits Keep & Play Clearwater Seashore. Right here, two restored mid-century properties comprise 13 one-bedroom bungalows and studio suites, many with kitchenettes and water views. However for the perfect water view, Payne suggests staying on the custom-built houseboat. She additionally appreciates all of the actions on supply, together with parasailing, jet ski island excursions, and luxurious golf cart leases. A lush courtyard connects the buildings and encompasses a gazebo, eclectic seating vignettes, and a tv to catch your favourite present outdoor. Or, seize one in all their complimentary kayaks, paddleboards, or seashore cruiser bikes to discover Clearwater Seashore.

Finest Issues to Do

Courtesy of Opal Sands

Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) operates on the “rescue, rehab, and launch” mannequin. Should you’ve watched “Dolphin Story,” you’ve seen the work being accomplished by this nonprofit marine rescue heart. Each the unique and sequel are primarily based on true tales of rescued dolphins Winter and Hope. Guests can discover the world of rescued dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, and extra by means of academic shows, animal care experiences, eco boat excursions, and displays. Payne added, “The work they do is paramount to the group. We have to defend essentially the most endangered animals in our oceans they usually do an excellent job educating the general public about its significance.”

Water Activites

Payne and Beltz suggest getting out on the water, whether or not jet snowboarding, parasailing, or fishing. Beltz loves Salt Cracker Charters for deep-sea fishing the place you’ll be able to scout for grouper. After a day trip casting traces, you’ll be able to dock on the fish camp and get your catch cleaned and cooked. An alternative choice is an Dolphin Island Jet Ski Tour. The 90-minute guided tour takes guests to a few close by islands whereas gliding by means of dolphin pods and studying concerning the delicate ecosystem within the Gulf of Mexico.

The BayCare Sound at Coachman Park

A band shell inbuilt Coachman Park in 1957 began this venue’s storied historical past. In 2023, it grew to become The BayCare Sound, the place a slew of high-profile musicians have taken the stage. Payne famous, “The waterfront venue has a playground, a splash pad, and an amphitheater the place I’ve seen acts like Diamond Rio and Alabama. As an ’80s child listening to them on the radio, I by no means imagined I’d see Diamond Rio in Clearwater overlooking the ocean.” Along with the eclectic musical lineup, a number of meals vans, cell bars, and concession stands supply food and drinks choices whereas having fun with the reveals.

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise

For 40 years, Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise has sailed the seas surrounding Clearwater. The 2-hour cruise contains complimentary lemonade, punch, beer, wine, water gun battles, treasure hunts, face portray, pirate tales, a cannon firing, and extra. In response to Beltz, it is to not be missed, particularly in case you have youngsters in tow.

Hogan’s Hangout

Should you keep in mind Hulk Hogan, a wrestler who captured tv screens along with his feats of power all through the ’80s and ’90s, Hogan’s Hangout delivers the nostalgia. Beltz likes to belt it out on the Monday night time karaoke, the place you would possibly catch sight of Hulk Hogan, Dennis Rodman, or one of many many different celeb drop-ins. The winner, in fact, will get a championship belt, similar to an expert wrestler. There’s additionally a restaurant, a bar, reside music, TVs for sporting occasions, and loads of kitsch from Hogan, a longtime Clearwater Seashore resident.

Finest Procuring

Courtesy of Opal Sands

The Market Marie

Each second Saturday of the month, Coachman Park comes alive with The Market Marie. Greater than 100 artisans and produce distributors line up from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m., with reside music taking part in all through the venue. Payne loves to buy the gathering of small native companies promoting all the things from artwork and cleaning soap to candles and a number of the greatest produce round.

Sunsets at Pier 60

Two hours earlier than sundown each night time, Pier 60 fills with native artists, avenue performers, psychics and tarot readers, native bakers, and clothes tents for the final word artisan procuring expertise. Beltz counts this as a must-stop when on the town, “The Pier traces up with umbrellas promoting native crafts, jewellery, reside music, and generally films within the park. There are household actions, native food and drinks cubicles, and also you get the backdrop of the sundown over the water each night time.”

Finest Nightlife

Courtesy of Opal Sands

Shephard’s Seashore Resort

Should you’re on the lookout for late-night leisure, Shephard’s Seashore Resort has two venues open to the general public and overlooking the white-sand seashores. Tiki Seashore Bar & Grill traces up every day reside music on their live performance stage proper on the water till 1:30 a.m. on weekends. Wave Nightclub gives two ranges of pumping DJ set lists surrounded by a laser present to bop the night time away, or at the very least till 2:30 a.m. on weekends.

Reefers Social Membership

This regionally owned and operated sizzling spot is Beltz’s favourite for a late-night cocktail. On the primary Thursday of each month, a gathering of record-loving patrons deliver their favorites to Vinyl Membership to spin tracks and revel in nice music whereas sipping on Reefers‘ ingenious libations.

Fusion Cigar Lounge

There’s all the time one thing happening at Fusion Cigar Lounge. Beltz loves the chilliness vibe and selection people-watching right here on Mandalay Avenue, “It’s a relaxed place to hold, watch a sport, and catch the exercise going by,” he stated. Count on a big selection of cigars, from Davidoff to regionally hand-rolled sticks, to accompany the in depth spirit and wine choice.

Finest Eating places

Courtesy of Opal Sands

Island Method Grill

When Payne has guests, she steers them to Island Method Grill for recent seafood caught every day. “You’ll be able to’t go unsuitable with a spot that has its personal fishing fleet,” stated Payne. Go for one in all their specialties cooked over an open oak and citrus fireplace pit, just like the black grouper with charred pineapple salsa, or bask in a number of freshly rolled sushi. The partitions are stuffed with native artwork and the sundown views are fiery.

Palm Pavilion

Household-owned since 1926, Beltz and Payne suppose Palm Pavilion is the proper finish to a day on the seashore the place you’ll be able to hold your toes within the sand and seize some tasty grub. There’s reside music most days and the sundown comes free with dinner. Beltz added, “They’ve a scrumptious blackened grouper sandwich and killer wings (get the mango habanero) to fulfill your starvation after a day on the sand.” Seize a Palm Rum Runner, their signature cocktail, to toast one other day in paradise.

Clear Sky Cafe

Positioned within the coronary heart of downtown Clearwater on Cleveland Road, Clear Sky Cafe is one in all Payne’s go-to picks. The worldwide menu contains favorites like Korean barebecue ribs, lamb burgers with tzatziki, and African curry. However Payne all the time orders the identical factor — the Mexican avenue corn salad: “I am a creature of behavior and I simply cannot get away from that blackened hen and charred corn salad,” she stated.

The Bait Home

Opened within the Forties, Beltz loves The Bait Home for its low-key dive ambiance. It serves regionally caught seafood, do-it-yourself chowders, fish tacos, and an assortment of beer and wine. Beltz sometimes goes for his or her signature dish — the drunken shrimp, which is sautéed in a creamy bourbon creole discount and served with toasted ciabatta bread. It additionally sells bait and sort out, runs fishing charters, and tells salty tales of Outdated Florida.

Blinkers Beachside

When Beltz is within the temper for an excellent steak in an upscale ambiance, he heads to Blinkers Beachside. The regionally owned restaurant serves lamb chops, prime rib, and Beltz’s favourite: the bone-in ribeye with truffle cream. It additionally has a number of seafood and pasta dishes, and a Blinkers Beachside menu of smoked cocktails.

Finest Time to Go to

Michela Sieman/Journey + Leisure

One of the best time to go to Clearwater is throughout its shoulder season — early spring or late fall when colleges are again in session, crowds are smaller, and costs are at their lowest. Payne allow us to in some not-to-be-missed occasions that happen all year long. She recommends visiting in April for the Sugar Sand Pageant, throughout which Pier 60 transforms right into a playground for 16 skilled sand sculptors from all around the world. There are additionally free sand sculpting courses, reside music, fireworks, artisans, meals distributors, and extra. November brings the Chalkful of Style pageant to Pier 60. This showcase of native culinary expertise options 30 to 40 eating places from round Clearwater serving bites, reside music, leisure, craft and native brews, chalk artists, and fireworks.

Methods to Get There

When flying into Clearwater, you might have two airport choices: Tampa Worldwide Airport (TPA) and St. Pete-Clearwater Worldwide Airport (PIE). Payne loves TPA for its simple navigation, the wealth of flights accessible, and the truth that it is solely a 25-minute drive to Clearwater. PIE has some benefits, although, with direct flights from surprising locations like Clarksburg and West Virginia, in addition to servicing carriers that supply economical fares like Allegiant and Spirit. PIE can be barely nearer to Clearwater, at simply 20 minutes away by automotive. Each airports have all the key rental automotive counters, and Payne’s favourite shuttle service, Way2Go Rides, runs to and from each airports.

Areas to Go to

Courtesy of Opal Sands

Sand Key

Simply throughout the bridge from bustling Clearwater Seashore sits the relaxed Sand Key. Payne loves this quiet getaway, which incorporates Sand Key Park, a 95-acre minimally developed seashore and park. The park’s nature path and salt marsh entice many species of seabirds whereas loggerhead sea turtles nest on the seashore from Might by means of October. Facilities embrace loos, altering rooms, outside showers, and a concession stand.

Caladesi Island State Park

In response to Payne, in the event you’re on the lookout for stunning views and loads of house to unfold out, Caladesi Island State Park is the place. Though it is usually reachable solely by passenger ferry or boat, at low tide, you’ll be able to stroll to the state park from Clearwater Seashore. The undeveloped, pure barrier island has the standard state park facilities like restrooms, showers, and a concession sales space with meals and drinks on the market plus gear leases resembling kayaks. The 650-acre island additionally has a 2.5-mile path that passes the positioning of the early 1800s Scharrer household homestead and is a cease on the Nice Florida Birding and Wildlife Path.

Honeymoon Island State Park

Recognized for its 4 miles of unspoiled white-sand seashore and clear, calm water, Honeymoon Island State Park is a barrier island that may be reached by automotive. The doorway is situated on the finish of the causeway in Dunedin and guests will discover showers, restrooms, a restaurant promoting meals and drinks (together with alcoholic drinks), and a concession that rents bicycles, kayaks, seashore chairs, and umbrellas. There are paved pathways and an inside nature path that supply views of a virgin slash pine forest. The Rotary Centennial Nature Heart has an elevated statement deck to admire the views and displays that educate guests concerning the historical past of Honeymoon Island and close by Caladesi Island.

Security Harbor

Security Harbor‘s First Friday on Predominant Road is a giant draw for Payne. She loves wandering the brick-lined avenue, having fun with the reside leisure and testing the distributors promoting native arts and crafts. There’s additionally the Tocobaga tribe’s temple mound on the waterfront, pure springs, and the Folly Farm Nature Protect to discover on this charming small city, which lies nearly half-hour from Clearwater Seashore.

Methods to Get Round

In response to Payne and Beltz, there is no want for a rental automotive to get round Clearwater Seashore. The two.5-mile barrier island is walkable, however you too can use Way2Go Rides. For 10 years, the corporate has been shuttling folks up and down the seashore in golf carts and different automobiles. It gives shuttles from each airports plus has an on-demand service that runs seven days every week from 9 a.m. till 11 p.m. for a flat $10 charge.

Payne and Beltz each lauded the Jolley Trolley, a “concierge on wheels” that runs seven days every week alongside the coast, with stops in Clearwater Seashore, Downtown Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, and Tarpon Springs. As a bonus, all Jolley Trolley cross holders can journey the whole Pinellas County bus system as a result of passes are interchangeable.

Beltz stated if you wish to lease a motorcycle, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Path is a 75-mile route stretching from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, with connections to Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Security Harbor, Largo, Seminole, South Pasadena, and Gulfport. Beltz added, “I reside a block away from the route and have biked it many instances. It’s good to shoot all the way down to Dunedin, which is only a 10-minute journey and has an superior downtown with retailers, eating places, and galleries. It additionally runs alongside the coast, so that you get a lovely view on your journey.”

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