“I’m sooo impressed,” is what my mother and I keep saying since our weekend getaway to Clearwater Beach, which was recently named America’s Best Beach by TripAdvisor. With beautiful white sugar sand and clear, shallow aquamarine water that could rival the Caribbean, this beach is an ideal playground for families, couples, friends … you name it.
The South Florida city of Clearwater is also laid-back and pristinely clean. The local food delicious and there are lots of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Here’s everything you need to know to spend a great weekend in Clearwater Beach:
Where to Stay in Clearwater Beach
Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach– With an oceanfront setting located directly next to the popular pier and beach, we couldn’t have asked for a more convenient location. From the moment we entered the open and spacious lobby we felt like we truly on a tropical vacation.
All 343 beautifully designed rooms feature a spectacular view of the water or nearby marina. Our room included a balcony overlooking the resort pool and beach, and easily accommodated two adults and two children.
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And while most big name hotels have a standard spa of some sorts, the Pallavi Luxury Spa is quite impressive. It’s very modern and much larger than I was expecting. They also have the latest holistic offerings and spa technology. I experienced their salt therapy bed and the results-driven HydraFacial, which combines cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection for clearer, more beautiful skin. The treatment is soothing, moisturizing, non-invasive and non-irritating. So go ahead and treat yourself!
Where to Eat in Clearwater Beach
- Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe – a family-friendly, laid back place offering open-air dining inside and outside on the wrap around patio. Saltwater is the originator of the Grouper Rueben sandwich and features other unique items such as octopus dishes, conch fritters, buffalo shrimp and specialty salads. The fish-shaped pretzel app above especially pleased the kids and made for a fun photo.
- Cooters Restaurant – With friendly service, a lively old-Florida atmosphere and great food, it’s no wonder why locals and tourists have been dining here for 25+ years. The Hot and Crabby Shrimp Dip on Garlic Toast and their famous Wings are a must to start, followed by King Crab Legs. Also, the Scooby Snack shot in their souvenir light up shot glass is amazing, just sayin!
- Extreme Pizza – While this is a nationwide chain, the Clearwater Beach location is right where you want to be and we loved their gourmet pizzas. Great for the family, people watching on the patio and for a beer.
- ClearSky On Cleveland – This is such a great find as brunch in their hacienda-themed back area was a delight. The hardest part was deciding on just one item to order as everything is great. Oh, and by the way, it’s called Cleveland because of the street name, not the Ohio city.
What to do in Clearwater Beach
Getting around Clearwater is easy thanks to the Jolley Trolley Even though we had our car with us, we left it parked at the hotel for the duration of our stay and used the trolley, which has a stop at the Wyndham or we simply walked to our destination. My boys really enjoyed riding the trolley and best of all, it’s only $5 for an unlimited 24/hr pass and children under 5-years-old ride free.
Our first destination on the trolley was to the Clearwater Aquarium home to Winter & Hope from the films Dolphin Tales. It’s a small aquarium, but interactive and with live shows inside and out. Definitely worth a visit.
Obviously water sports and activities are a plenty on Clearwater Beach. From parasailing to fishing, you name it.
Come sunset, Pier 60 hosts a nightly festival with street performers and craft vendors. Also, at the entrance to the pier are two large playgrounds that my boys didn’t want to leave. The pier has inflatable slides and more, but ticket purchases are required to ride.
Also, there is a sunset sail aboard Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise, which is entertaining for the children and most importantly keeps your goblet full of grog. Argh!
Looking to explore more of Florida? Do check out our family guide to Ocala.
A mom of twin preschool boys, Tara often travels with her family utilizing local advice and insider tips along the way. From popular hot spots & secret entrances, to off-the-beaten-path restaurants & sights, Tara likes to be “in the know” when she travels. You can read more about her adventures over on her lifestyle and parenting blog, When Tara Met Blog and follow along at @TaraMetBlog.