When Orlando visitors have had their fill of the pool and are in the mood for a beach day, they often head to Cocoa Beach or Daytona on the east coast. While a trip to the Gulf Coast may take some extra time, the beaches that line the Gulf of Mexico aren’t just beautiful with their sugary sand and crystal clear water. You can also do some serious offshore fishing, dig into seafood that is fresh off the boat, and check out some main attractions that will help you appreciate Florida’s aquatic life.
While you will certainly be drawn to the beach, where you can spread out your towel and soak up the sunshine, there are other beachside activities that will help you get your fill of fun and sun. Start at the Clearwater Beach Welcome Center to design a plan to meet all of your vacation needs, taking into account the city’s main events, tastiest restaurants and hottest beaches.
Stretching several miles, Clearwater Beach is perfect for shelling, water sports or just relaxing on your beach chair underneath the hot sun and calming palm trees. This seaside town has been recognized nationally as one of the best beaches in America because of its charm. It isn’t just about the beach though. Enjoy Clearwater’s natural scenery by visiting the Moccasin Lake Nature Park, a showcase of the plant and animal species local to the area. With various nature trails, you can view the birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles that call Clearwater home.
Don’t Miss This At Clearwater Beach
You can’t take a trip to Clearwater Beach without making a pit stop at one of the restaurants in the Frenchy’s chain. With four beachside locations to choose from, a healthy portion of seafood that is fresh from the ocean is the draw of the menu. Along with the Famous Smoked Fish Spread and Florida stone crab claws, Frenchy’s is well-known for its Super Grouper Sandwich, which claims to include “more fresh grouper than the law allows.”
Not only can you fish off of Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60, but it’s also known for its nightly sunset festivals that take place from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Family and friends come together to celebrate the end of the day with this free event that features musical entertainment, artisans, street performers and crafters. Along with the sunset celebration, all are welcome to attend free film screenings at the pier every Friday and Saturday. Popcorn and beverages are available so make sure to bring your loved one and have a relaxing movie night on the beach.
The best part of a visit to Clearwater Beach is that you don’t have to drive everywhere you go. Many of the city’s most visited areas are easy to walk to, or you can take the Jolley Trolley to your designated visiting sites. The trolley provides simple and efficient transportation around the community.
St. Petersburg Beach
Less than an hour away, continue your vacation days in the sunset capital of Florida – St. Pete Beach. With exciting events taking place all year long and stretches of beach that call for jet skiing, fishing and more, St. Pete Beach is also home to over 3,000 vacation accommodations available to every visitor.
St. Pete Beach hosts a variety of concerts and festivals, including Harry’s Annual Sand Dance, which celebrates the beginning of summer on June 6. Also in June is the annual St. Pete Pride Street Festival and Promenade – one of the largest pride celebrations in Florida. Kicking off on the last Saturday in June, people fill seven blocks of downtown St. Pete celebrating with live music, food and drink concessions, exhibits and activities. Enjoy a relaxing and stress-free getaway at Pass-A-Grille, a beachfront paradise located at the southernmost end of St. Pete Beach. Guests can park their car and walk to the beach, boutiques, outdoor art markets, restaurants and much more. Dine literally on the beach at Paradise Grille from 8 a.m. to sunset. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are a variety of low-budget food options available on the menu.
More Than Just A Beach
With a creative arrangement of world-class museums, festivals, dining and white sandy beaches, St. Petersburg definitely has everything you could want in a vacation, whether you’re a laid-back beach bum or an active adventure seeker.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
One of the most exciting attractions in Clearwater Beach is Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin and the set of the Dolphin Tale movies. The aquarium features Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, an authentic, behind-the-scenes experience of the movie. You will even have a chance to meet Winter, the world-famous dolphin that inspired the movie.
Explore the marine life at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which features activities and shows for the whole family. The aquarium provides a unique experience for all ages by offering guests a view of the inner workings of a marine life rescue facility. Take a tour of the animal hospital, where sick of injured marine animals have been rescued, rehabilitates and safely released. There are also plenty of opportunities to get up-close and meet the many friendly otters, stingrays, sea turtles and sharks.
Not only will there be animal encounters and lessons about the rescue and rehabilitation program, but Clearwater Marine Aquarium also provides kayaking opportunities and boat tours. The Explore-A-tour turns guests of all ages into working marine biologists, studying dolphins, seabirds and the environment in the field. During this one and a half to two hour tour, guests have the opportunity to see bottlenose dolphins and participate in an active population study using dorsal fin identification, use binoculars and field guides to identify and pinpoint bird-nesting sites and participate in scientific testing of the estuary’s water quality to help keep the bay clean.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium isn’t just fun. It’s an interactive and educational experience for the entire family.