Visiting Clearwater Beach, FL with Kids

Leaving the cold of Michigan to visit sunny, warm, Clearwater Beach…yes, please!  The kids were off the entire week of school for mid-winter break (why didn’t I become a teacher), so we chose this time to head south and get some Vitamin D.  Of course, the main attraction is the sun and the beautiful white sands of Clearwater Beach, but in case you need a break from the pool or beach or the weather doesn’t cooperate with you, here’s a list of things you can do in Clearwater, Florida and the surrounding areas:

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Attractions in Clearwater Beach

  • Rent jet skis or a boat – check with your hotel or you can find a company right on the beach
  • Take a ride on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise or the Calypso Queen
  • Play at the Pier 60 playground
  • Jump on the inflatable bounce houses on the beach (there is a cost for this)
  • Enjoy the kids show and vendors at the Pier 2 hours before and after sunset (and catch an amazing sunset while you are there)
  • Visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and visit Winter from the movie Dolphin Tale
  • Play mini-golf at Captain Bligh’s Landing
  • Go parasailing
  • Check ut the indoor Flowrider surf simulator at Surfstyle.  This is a shop right on Gulf View Drive where you can buy souvenirs, clothing, groceries and catch a wave all in one place.  It was closed for cleaning when we went in, but the kids did get a few souvenirs with their money, one being a boogie board for them to catch some waves at the beach.
  • Take a ferry to Caladesi Island:  Here you can find 3 miles of pristine beaches (and usually fewer tourists than on Clearwater Beach) and enjoy snorkeling, shelling and sunbathing.
  • Take a Segway Tour
  • Countryside Mall – If it’s raining and you need a break, this mall has a movie theater and an indoor skating rink!

Restaurants in Clearwater Beach

We found most restaurants served the same fare.  Mostly fried and grilled options of fish, chicken, and hamburgers.  Here are a few of the more famous attractions and restaurants that we ate at:

  • Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe (they have a few different locations)
  • Clear Sky Beachside Cafe – we had a great breakfast here
  • Jimmy’s Fish House and Iguana Bar – this was at our hotel so we did eat here twice
  • Cooters –
  • Gondolier Pizza – we had this delivered to our hotel when the kids were to whipped from all the swimming
  • Crabby’s Beachwalk Grill – I add this more as a no need to go here kind of place 🙂
  • Jimmy’s Crows Nest – This is a rooftop bar and is worth the visit up for the great views of the beach and the Pier

Places to visit outside of Clearwater if you have a car

    • Tampa Aquarium – we did not visit this aquarium on this trip but visited when my daughter was 3 and had a great time
    • Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL– your hotel may have discounted pricing for this attraction
    • St. Petersburg – Museum of Fine Arts, Florida Holocaust Museum, Boyd Hill Nature Park and The Dali Museum
    • Tarpon Springs (approx 20 minutes north of Clearwater)- rich in Greek culture and is famous for its Sponge Docks.
    • If you are planning on visiting more than one of these locations (including Clearwater Marine Aquarium) I recommend a Tampa City Pass.  You can get more information here –

Additional Clearwater Beach Tips and Resources

  • It is not necessary to rent a car if you plan to stay on Clearwater Beach.  Access to everything is in walking distance.  You can get a shuttle from the Tampa airport to your hotel for approximately $60 one-way.
  • Most hotels have a “sight-seeing” card rack in their lobby that offers discounts on many of the local attractions
  • We stayed at the Holiday Inn because it suited our budget, timeframe and accommodated 5 people.  However, there are many local vacation rentals, air BnB rentals, and hotels in the area that are available for rent.
  • Beach rentals:  Clearwater beach has cabana and umbrella rentals.  You receive two beach chairs and the cost was $30 a day and went down to $20 a day after 2:00.  You just grab one when you get to the beach and someone will come by and take your money (either cash or credit).