The Best Things To Do on Clearwater Beach
Ok, we may be a little prejudiced…. we live here! On the other hand, we might be able to offer some insight only locals would know about the best things to do on Clearwater Beach. So here goes our best of everything on Clearwater Beach.
Best Upscale Clearwater Beach Restaurants
Oldest of the upscale Clearwater Beach restaurants is Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber restaurant and Bobby’s Bistro located behind the main restaurant. The Beachcomber has a long tradition serving the area, but our favorite place to go with new flip-flops and a clean t-shirt is located a block away. Blinkers Beachside menu includes exceptional steaks and seafood. Both places above take reservations and are along the main Mandalay avenue shopping district about a block apart. Caretta’s at the Sand Pearl Hotel is another excellent choice for dinner – just keep your wallet handy!
Best Tiki Bars on Clearwater Beach
Hands down, our favorite Clearwater Beach tiki bar is the Sandbar located behind Opal Sands Hotel. This remake of a waterfront bar that was once on Clearwater Pass. The hotel and tiki bar is on the site where locals went 30 years ago (Adam’s Mark Hotel). It is almost a perfect re-creation. The Sandbar is a great place to watch boat traffic from the Gulf of Mexico and other sights entering the south end of Clearwater Beach. Just watching the serene waters of the Gulf can be relaxing.
Another exceptional option is Tommy’s Tiki right on the sand behind the Hilton Hotel. You can fill your toes with sand and feel like you have your own oasis right in the middle of Clearwater Beach.
Best Clearwater Beach Casual Restaurants
There are dozens of restaurants on Clearwater Beach. You can hardly walk a few steps before tripping over another sign announcing their presence. Of course, you can go to the tourist-laden places like Frenchy’s or Crabby Bills which both have multiple locations, but you won’t run into many locals. Other chains like McDonald’s, Hooters and Subway can be found along the beach.
Residents tend to look for other options rather than fanny pack bearing, sunburnt traveler’s choices. Try places like The Palm Pavilion, Coco’s Crush Bar, The Bait House or even some Italian food at Cesare’s on the south end of the beach. Want some great pizza? Try the local’s go-to place called Samgelo’s on north beach. Pearly’s Beach Eats has some of the best tacos you can find – if you can find them off the beaten path! For breakfast try Ryan’s Island Café or venture over to Sand Key for award-winning Maggie Mae’s Waterfront.
Best Clearwater Beach Marina Attractions
Smack in the middle of the island is Clearwater Marina. We are fortunate to have one of the biggest fishing fleets on the west coast of Florida along with an assortment of marine activities. You can parasail, ride the Sea Screamer speedboat, rent a boat, go deep sea fishing on the Double Eagle head boat, fish inshore with Captain Gary Folden, rent a floating tiki bar, go to dinner on The Calypso Queen and take a dolphin adventure on the Little Toot!
Don’t like watersports? It is still a fun walk to stroll through the marina. We have some colorful characters working the boats, fish coming in from charters and a few restaurants including The Bait House noted above.
Best Shopping on Clearwater Beach
Who can pass up a Ron Jon’s Surf Shop? Located on Mandalay Ave., Ron Jon’s will have all your beach wear. Down the street, you will find The Friki Tiki Surf Shop. They have all the major brands and it is our local version of a Ron Jon’s. You will also find several Surf Style shops sprinkled throughout the beach including the one next to the Hyatt Hotel that includes a “flowrider” for surfboard riding indoors.
Along Mandalay Ave. you will find a drug store, other quaint shops, clothing stores and entertainment venues like the arcade above The Brown Boxer north. Frenchy has a shop for trinkets and logo shirts on Baymont Street called Off the Hook. The Palm Pavilion has their own gift shop attached to the restaurant.
Best Rooftop Bars on Your Things To Do on Clearwater Beach
In the last ten years, Clearwater Beach has seen explosive growth in hotel rooms. Marriott alone has built three hotels and has three more under construction. Fortunately, several hotels have included rooftop bars offering panoramic views of Clearwater Beach and the Gulf.
One of the first rooftop bars on Clearwater Beach was on top of the Pierhouse 60 Hotel. On the 10th floor of the hotel, Jimmy’s Crows Nest offers unparalleled views of the sunset and beach. The Hampton Inn and Suites has a bar that is the best view of Clearwater Pass and points south. The Edge Hotel has a little higher elevation with views of Clearwater Pass and points east and north. The newest rooftop bar on Clearwater Beach is the Courtyard by Marriott. They have a great view of the bay and main part of the shopping district.
Best Off Beach Things To Do on Clearwater Beach
While recently there was sad news that Winter the dolphin passed away. The top of the list of things to do on Clearwater Beach is still Clearwater Marine Aquarium located a couple miles east on Island Estates along the causeway. Winter was the famous dolphin in the movie Dolphin Tales, but Clearwater Aquarium has expanded to one of the largest rescue aquariums in the country. There is plenty to see.
Of the many other attractions, sports draw fans from around the world. The Tampa Bay Rays baseball team is in St. Petersburg, and the Lightning hockey team is in Tampa. The Yankees and Philadelphia both have spring training facilities in the area.
Tampa has its own attractions just a 30-minute drive away and, of course, one of the world’s most visited destinations is Disney World less than two hours away.
Best Clearwater Beach Hotels
There are dozens of hotels on Clearwater Beach. What is the Best Hotel on Clearwater Beach depends on amenities, your budget, proximity to the beach and your choice of design (high-rise or ground level).
There is only one true resort on the island. Sand Pearl Resort is perhaps the best overall hotel and resort. However, the term “resort” is very subjective. If you are looking for something like the Marriot Resort in Marco Island, The Breakers in Palm Beach or The Omni on Amelia Island, forget it! There are no sprawling luxury hotel entertainment complexes on Clearwater Beach. The Sand Pearl is the best.
If you are looking for Clearwater Beach waterfront hotels, the Hyatt in the middle of the beach, Opal Sands, Hilton and Wyndham Grand will fit the bill. If you want to save a few bucks, and being next to the sand isn’t important, the Holiday Inn, The Hampton Inn and Pierhouse 60 Hotel will do just fine.
If you are looking for that “mom & pop” type hotel, there are just a few left. Try the Sea Cloud Motel, The Clearwater Beach Hotel, The Seaside Inn and on the north end of the beach is the family-owned The Palm Pavilion Inn is reasonable and close to the beach.
For a lot of activity, entertainment and waterfront along Clearwater Pass, Shephard’s Beach Resort may not be the quietest place on Clearwater Beach, but entertainment is lively.
There are plenty of things to do on Clearwater Beach, but the top attraction is the bright white sand. Visit us soon!