Just north and west of St Petersburg and Tampa, respectively, you’ll find the beautiful sandy beaches of Clearwater spread along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. The area has a balmy, subtropical climate, so it’s always a pleasure to cool off in the water – but don’t skimp on Clearwater’s inland attractions. Hop on the Jolley Trolley to tour the town in chauffeured comfort, or take a stroll on historic Cleveland Street to enjoy a thriving entertainment district. Follow our lead with these can’t-miss things to do in Clearwater, Florida.
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Best Things to Do in Clearwater
What is it? A family-friendly white-sand beach with shallow water and active nightlife.
Why go? Follow the causeway to this barrier island for the area’s best sandy beaches and a nightly sunset celebration at Pier 60. You’ll find beach volleyball tournaments, kids playing in gentle waves, and lovely sugary sand. Sunset festivities include street performers and free outdoor movies.
What is it? A casual waterfront eatery serving fresh seafood and signature cocktails.
Why go? Locals know this is the best place in town for great food in a relaxed environment. It’s been that way since it opened in 1926. Their grouper sandwich is a popular favorite, but you also won’t want to miss the house burgers served on toasted brioche buns. Save room for tasty key lime pie.
What is it? An award-winning craft brewery with all-day pub fare.
Why go? Big Storm Brewing Co is part of the local Craft Beer Trail, but this is the must-visit watering hole if you only have time for one round. In addition to a huge variety of stouts, ales, and lagers, you won’t want to miss the menu of shared plates, local seafood, and grass-fed beef burgers. Drop in for trivia night and order a beer flight to sample Big Storm’s most popular brews.
What is it? A historic art deco-style theater now hosting musical acts and classic films.
Why go? Step back in time at the old-school Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater. The venue opened in 1921 as a home to vaudeville performances and movies, and reopened in 2000 after extensive renovations. Take a balcony seat for a night of live jazz, touring comedians, or a movie like ‘The Sound of Music’.
What is it? A family-owned micro-winery producing small-batch low-sulfite wines.
Why go? It may feel like a scavenger hunt as you navigate through an industrial complex to find this hidden Clearwater gem, but your reward includes sipping free samples of award-winning wine. The behind the scenes tour is extremely popular, providing guests a thorough winemaking experience topped off with a flight of five wines. Be sure to try Chocolate Grand Finale – a classic port for chocolate lovers.
What is it? An aquarium focused on rescuing and rehabilitating local marine life.
Why go? Remember the Warner Brothers film, ‘Dolphin Tale’? It was filmed right here at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and there are plenty more inspiring stories to take in during a tour. Whenever a local critter is injured or ill, this team of biologists and veterinarians work to rehab the wild sea creature so it can return to its original home. All the while, guests are invited to visit the dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays, and more.
What is it? A colorful beachfront dining venue with pool tables and live music.
Why go? Pull up a chair on the back patio for great views of the beach along the Gulf of Mexico. This casual eatery focuses on local seafood and specialty salads, though the tacos pair nicely with a rum runner from the bar. Daily live music adds to the cheerful community vibe here, and the service is top notch.
What is it? A dog-friendly county park with nature trails and wildlife across more than 25 different gardens.
Why go? This free-admission 120-acre park is open year-round and it’s perfect for leisurely strolls with the family. In addition to aromatic rose gardens and butterfly habitats, the park is home to hundreds of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Catch a glimpse of an alligator, explore the tropical fruit garden, or follow the Art in the Gardens trail.
What is it? A popular beachfront bar and grill with live music and dancing.
Why go? Shephard’s is the go-to spot for live reggae and rock on a waterfront stage. Join the party on the dancefloor or kick back on the patio to watch the sunset with a margarita in hand. No need to dress up. Resort-casual is the norm, with beach bums and vacationers mingling with locals. Curb late-night hunger with fish tacos, chicken wings, and Angus beef burgers.
What is it? An annual food, wine, and microbrew festival celebrating local chefs and restaurateurs.
Why go? For two days each year (dates vary between November and December), thousands descend on Clearwater Beach to nibble, sip, and celebrate regional culinary excellence. Local chefs compete and provide cooking demonstrations while Clearwater residents take part in unlimited wine tastings. Insider tip: don’t miss the dessert tent!