Clearwater, Florida is one of the most beloved vacation getaways in the United States. With its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico, there is plenty to do in this Pinellas County gem.
Spend your days lounging on the Gulf Coast, or take a day trip to one of the state’s last barrier islands. Come for the beach, but stay for the food, culture, and lifestyle. Here are the top 18 things to do in Clearwater that you’re going to want to add to your itinerary.
CLEARWATER BEACH AND PIER 60
Clearwater is known for its beautiful sandy beach and energetic pier. Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach includes a 1,080-foot fishing pier, recreational park, covered pavilions, and many places to eat and shop. In addition, there is a family playground on Clearwater Beach, one of the largest in the entire Gulf area.
Families and couples can pick up boats for sunset cruises, water sports, guided tours, and more in this area. Beer lovers will find a fantastic beer trail that includes 35 breweries making up “The Gulp Coast.” There are also plenty of nightclubs, cocktail lounges, and dive bars for those looking to really let loose on their vacation.
Whether you are traveling as a couple, family, solo, or group of friends there are multiple activities to meet your needs and interests.
Want to see the beach in an unbelievable way? Soar high above the sights of Clearwater, Florida on a customizable helicopter tour. Captivate your senses and take in the breathtaking views below. With your camera in tow, you’ll have the opportunity to capture stunning images and see the aquamarine and emeralds shimmering beneath the clouds. Book now!
CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a nonprofit aquarium that has dedicated its services to the rescue, rehabilitation, and care of marine animals. Visitors have the opportunity to see dolphins, sea turtles, otters, pelicans, sharks, stingrays, and a whole lot more!
In addition, V.I.P. interactive experiences like dolphin and shark feedings and wild dolphin-watching boat tours are available. A family can easily spend a half-day of their vacation exploring everything this incredible aquarium has to offer.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium was the forever home of Winter, the beloved real-life dolphin from the movie, Dolphin Tale. Although she passed away in 2021, an exhibit has been created in her memory at the aquarium.
Busch Gardens is a premier amusement park located about 30 miles from Clearwater in Tampa, FL. It spans 335 acres and offers 27 unique roller coasters and water rides. An African habitat here features over 12,000 animals. Additionally, Busch Brewery is on-site.
If someone in your party does not like amusement park rides, there are plenty of other things to see and events to attend.
Discount Tickets to Busch Gardens: Save $48 per ticket
CAPTAIN MEMO’S PIRATE SHIP
Time to put on your sea legs when you visit Captain Memo’s Pirate Ship! This family-friendly adventure has offered day cruises for families, weddings, and corporate events for over forty years. Guests enjoy scenic views of the Gulf of Mexico and a chance to encounter wild dolphins.
Their pirate staff will serve complimentary sodas and beer and wine. Snacks are available for purchase. While mostly a spot to take your pirate-loving kids, adventure-loving adults will have an enjoyable cruise as well.
SAND KEY PARK
Sand Key Park has something for everyone. This park features a wheelchair accessible beach that includes bathhouses, a dog park, beach cabanas, a playground, seasonal lifeguards, and epic coast views.
Interestingly, Sand Key Park is a very common place for sea turtles to lay their eggs. Guests are welcome to watch from afar to avoid disturbing the sea turtles.
This park is ideal for enjoying a pristine beach without traveling far from the comforts of downtown Clearwater.
BAYCARE BALLPARK (FORMERLY SPECTRUM FIELD)
Enjoy the all-American pastime at BayCare Ballpark, home of the Low-A Southeast League Clearwater Threshers. The park is also where the Philadelphia Phillies host their spring training.
In addition to watching a ballgame, visitors can enjoy a tiki-hut pavilion, kids playground, fan stores, and state-of-the-art scoreboard. One of the unique elements of BayCare Ballpark is its traditional Floridian architecture. It is a fun spot to catch a great game!
MOCCASIN LAKE NATURE PARK
Moccasin Lake is a popular 51-acre nature preserve and recreational area. In addition to trails and boardwalks under the forest canopy, the preserve houses several injured birds of prey who unfortunately cannot return to the wild.
This is a very simple and quiet part of Clearwater, and a peaceful place to visit.
To combat traffic and over-tourism, the Clearwater Ferry was born. Choosing to use the ferry over a taxi or driving yourself is an affordable and efficient way to experience all Clearwater has to offer, without the headache of traffic. Plus – it is just plain fun to take a ferry for transportation. There are two ferry routes: Clearwater and Dunedin.
The Clearwater route stops in Downtown Clearwater, Clearwater Beach Marina (the Pier 60 stop), North Beach, and Island Estates. Note that North Beach and Island Estates stops must be booked online in advance.
The Dunedin service goes to Clearwater Beach Marina, North Beach, CMA/Island Estates, and Dunedin Marina.
THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
The Florida Aquarium is a short drive away from Clearwater in Tampa, FL. Its mission is to “entertain, educate and inspire stewardship of the natural environment.” The 200,000 square-foot facility houses over 14,000 aquatic and land creatures from both Florida and around the world.
Additionally, families will enjoy a 4-D theater show and “touch zones,” which are included in the ticket price. Guests can take a dolphin viewing boat cruise, dive and swim with sharks, enjoy penguin encounters, and more for an added fee.
The Florida Aquarium is much more than a place for tourist entertainment, though. Their team has worked tirelessly on conservation efforts, including ground-breaking research and rescue efforts that have directly improved Florida’s sea turtle population and coral reef restoration efforts. In fact, in 2019, the Florida Aquarium, in partnership with Project Coral, was the first organization to create pillar coral in a lab successfully. Your visit to the aquarium directly funds essential conservation research.
Whether you are here to learn more or simply take a nice walk through the exhibits, the Florida Aquarium will please everyone’s interests.
TIKI BOAT CRUISE
Whether morning, noon, or night…a tiki cruise is always a good idea! Charter a private tiki boat to take you and your crew around the Gulf! While you are responsible for providing your own refreshments, the tiki boat is outfitted with ice, a cooler, a Bluetooth radio, and a captain. Tiki boats are available for 1-4 hour cruises.
You can request a customized package or choose from one of three pre-arranged tour options: Tiki Fun Tour, Sunset Cruise, or a Swim Tour. The Tiki Fun Tour generally kicks in the morning (mimosa supplies suggested), and the Swim Tour makes stops along the way for you to hop off the boat and cool off in the refreshing Gulf of Mexico.
SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM
Located a short drive from Clearwater in St. Petersburg, is the Salvador Dalí Museum. This museum has been the heart of the greater Tampa Bay area fine arts scene since its conception in 1982. The museum is dedicated to preserving a beautifully curated collection of Dalí works and hosting educational events.
The museum features two main exhibits: The Artist Museum and the Dalí Museum History. The Artist Museum focuses on Dalí’s works, and the Dalí History Museum is centered around his life. The museum also features rotating collections, a garden, and digital experiences.
FLORIDA BOTANICAL GARDENS
Take a refreshing stroll through over 100 acres of plant life at the Florida Botanical Gardens.
The Gardens feature traditional Floridian plant life such as tropical fruit, wetlands, and palm gardens. Guests can also enjoy succulent gardens, herb gardens, year-round butterflies, and more. The Botanical Gardens are wheelchair and scooter accessible.
If you haven’t had enough plants, make the trip to the Sunken Gardens. These 100-year-old gardens are home to some of the oldest living plants in the region.
During your relaxing stroll, you will encounter over 50,000 plants, a butterfly encounter, waterfalls, and flamingos. Optional guided hike or horticulture tours are available.
ST. PETERSBURG BEACH
St. Petersburg Beach was voted America’s #1 beach in 2021 (via TripAdvisor). It is a perfect mix of family fun and a beach-bum paradise.
St. Petersburg Beach, affectionately known as “St. Pete’s,” offers two main avenues of entertainment: Corey Avenue and 8th Street. You can find restaurants, entertainment, shops, hotels, and everything else you would expect of America’s best beach on both streets. A highlight of the main drag is the RumFish Grill, where you can swim with the fish in a massive aquarium before dining.
Additional favorite St. Pete Beach activities include Upham Beach Park, Tradewinds Island Grand, and Postcard Inn. Upham Beach Park is a breathtakingly beautiful beach that is groomed every single morning. Local St. Pete residents say to check out the “Secret Garden” on Upham Beach Park’s north end.
If you are looking to treat yourself, the luxurious TradeWinds Island Grand sells day passes to their top-of-the-line resort facilities, including pools, cabanas, and dining options. Lastly, Postcard Inn is for you if you are just looking for a good cold beer on the beach. This beachy bar offers cold local brews and sand volleyball courts.
Just like Clearwater, whatever you want to find at St. Pete’s Beach – you will find it.
BROOKER CREEK PRESERVE
Explore 8,700 acres of trails in Pinellas County’s most prominent natural area — Brooker Creek Preserve. You may even see an alligator!
In addition to walking and horse trails, Brooker Creek Preserve features an Educational Center that highlights the history and change of Florida’s diverse ecosystem.
CONGO RIVER GOLF
Congo River Golf is a multi-year award-winning miniature golf course in downtown Clearwater. In addition to its challenging holes and adventurous scenery, players have the opportunity to feed live alligators! This delightful mini golf course is an excellent spot for family fun after a long day at the beach.
REAM WILSON CLEARWATER TRAIL
The Ream Wilson Clearwater Trail also goes by the title of Clearwater East West Trail. It is an extensive pathway that will eventually stretch across Florida, from Tampa to the Gulf of Mexico.
Currently, the biking and hiking trails connect four parks. While only 4.4 miles are complete, the path will eventually span 13 miles.
CLEARWATER’S BEST WATER SPORTS ADVENTURES
CLEARWATER JET SKI TOUR
Experience a thrilling tour that takes you along the beautiful clear water of the Florida Gulf Coast. This Jet Ski Tour provides everything you are looking for. Zip through the waves and 360 to your heart’s content then take it on down and chill and observe some of the local wildlife. Allow your experienced guide to get you out on the water so you can enjoy the day exploring the crystalline waters of Clearwater! BOOK NOW
LED ILLUMINATED KAYAK TOUR
Set out on an exciting night paddle under the moon and the stars on this one-of-a-kind Glass Bottom LED Illuminated Kayak Tour! See the barrier island’s unique ecosystem from your see through kayak. Paddle over grass flats, sandbars, and more while you view the wealth of sea life beneath you. BOOK NOW
SUNSET SAILING EXPERIENCE
Set sail aboard the iconic schooner, Suncoast Horizon, the only gaff rigged schooner in the Tampa Bay region. Enjoy a sunset to remember and see a breathtaking cosmic display from a luxury sailing yacht. Sail the smooth, calm waters of Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as you sip on your favorite beverages and feel the warm air on your skin. BOOK NOW
CALYPSO QUEEN TOURS
Looking for a day time adventure? Cast your worries to the wind aboard a deluxe yacht complete with buffet, scenic views, and tropical drinks aboard the Calypso Queen. You’ll journey through calm and tranquil Clearwater Harbor and have the opportunity to see dolphins, pelicans, and possibly even a manatee. BOOK NOW
If you prefer to tour at night, you’ll love the Twilight Tour. Enjoy a festive evening full of good food, delicious drinks, and dancing under the sky, the Calypso Queen is your ticket to a guaranteed great time in scenic Clearwater Beach. BOOK NOW
PRIVATE, CUSTOM WATER BOAT ADVENTURE
Kick back and relax while your captain shows you the water surrounding Clearwater Beach the way locals like to enjoy it! Cruise around searching for dolphins, exploring the islands, and taking in the beautiful scenery. If you are interested in adding a bit more adventure to your charter, the boat is designed to provide the best tubing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing experience available. BOOK NOW
DAY TIME SAILING EXPERIENCE
Set sail aboard the iconic schooner, Suncoast Horizon, and explore the natural beauty Treasure Island has to offer. Hoist the sails and slip away to get up close and personal with the wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Cruise around Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as you sip on complimentary soda and bottled water while you feel the breeze in your hair. BOOK NOW
SUNSET CELEBRATION TOUR
Enjoy a tranquil evening on the water with a Clearwater Bay Sunset Celebration Cruise. Float among the waves while taking in a Florida sunset and if you’re lucky, witness the legendary green flash off the Sun Coast. This cruise transports guests from Clearwater Bay through Clearwater Pass to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and includes a complimentary champagne toast! DISCOUNT TICKETS
SHARK BOAT DOLPHIN ADVENTURE
Get out on the water and ride inside the belly of a beast, a Great White Shark! The Shark Boat is a one-of-a-kind 40-foot tour boat that stalks the John’s Pass calm waterways. The Shark Boat was specifically designed to create a “killer” wake that dolphins love to jump and play in. So don’t miss the fun, book your adventure today and take a ride on the only shark that dolphins love! BOOK NOW
Explore the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico in search of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. This day times cruise departs from the Clearwater Beach Marina and venture through the intracoastal and Clearwater Pass where you’ll be treated to the sights of the bottlenose dolphin. BOOK NOW
You’ll also love the Happy Hour cruise for a twilight experience. Enjoy $5 drinks and free sodas for the kids as you cruise by local area wildlife and stately celebrity mansions. BOOK NOW
STARLITE MAJESTY YACHT CRUISE
Pick from a daytime or dinner cruise option. The daytime option allows you to dance your cares away to the musical stylings of your cruise director and DJ. Enjoy sightseeing on the outer deck of this multi-level yacht as the sunlight and tropical breeze graze your cheek or choose to recline inside on one of the climate-controlled decks. BOOK NOW
The evening cruise features a full cash bar, live entertainment, and a fantastic dinner service. Ideal for a romantic couple’s evening or a group outing, this is the perfect activity for anyone seeking some solace at sea. Enjoy the romance of the fresh ocean air and panoramic views of Clearwater Beach at dusk. BOOK NOW
DAY TRIP TO CALADESI ISLAND STATE PARK
Take a day trip to the serene Caladesi Island State Park. The state park is a hidden gem, with stunning beaches that have not yet become overpopulated. It remains one of the very few remaining underdeveloped barrier islands in Florida.
Caladesi Island State Park is only accessible by boat, which helps keep it more private. If you do not want to pay for the ferry, you are welcome to bring your own kayak and make the paddle yourself.
There are overnight camping spots you can reserve here, however, boats are not allowed to park overnight, so be sure to acquire the proper permits if you are planning on camping. There are also a few 4 and 5-star hotels on the island if “roughing it” is not your style.
All and all, there is an outstanding opportunity for kayaking, hiking, a ferry ride, camping, and time to relax alone on the beach. Caladesi Island State Park is the perfect location to enjoy a quiet day in nature if you genuinely want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO FLORIDA
- DESTIN RESORTS: 6 Fantastic Destin Florida Resorts Perfect For Fun In The Sun
- FLORIDA BEACHES: 17 Best Florida Beaches For Families To Relax and Unwind
- WEST COAST OF FLORIDA: 23+ Memorable Stops For A Perfect West Coast of Florida Road Trip
- CRAB ISLAND RENTALS: Crab Island, Destin Florida: Boat Rentals, Cruises, and 7 More Must-Do Activities
- CENTRAL FLORIDA: 43+ Unique & Awesome Things To Do In Central Florida (Beyond Disney)
WHERE TO STAY IN CLEARWATER FLORIDA
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