Clearwater Beach is a clear winner
Clearwater Beach is so renowned within the United States, its status is just about mythical. In 2016, the beach was ranked the best in the country by TripAdvisor reviewers, not to mention #20 in the world – all with good reason. These pristine white sands stretch on for six and a half kilometres and lead out to the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico. Squint your eyes and you might see a few dolphins riding the waves.
If you find yourself in Clearwater, odds are, you're there for the beach. That's where the majority of the action is, as restaurants and bars have gathered along the back of the waterfront to take advantage of the gorgeous setting. Sunbeds and umbrellas are also available for hire, so you can take full advantage of the scenery as well.
Watersports of every sort
It really isn't an exaggeration to say that watersports practically grow on palm trees at Clearwater Beach. Just about every variety of sea-born activity is available here, ranging from leisurely to the positively heart-racing.
Let's start with the basics. You can go all out and charter a private yacht or join a whale and dolphin-watching tour. Things move up in pace with snorkelling and scuba diving excursions, then get a little hectic with jet skiing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Finally, the adrenaline in Clearwater hits an all-time high with parasailing adventures.
Floribbean and more
With Clearwater's prime location along the Gulf of Mexico, you better believe its restaurants are privy to some seriously tantalising seafood. A huge portion of them are right along the waterfront or not far off, so you won't have trouble getting to them after a long day at the beach.
Florida's cuisine is often a blend of fresh seafood and Caribbean flavours, collectively known as 'Floribbean' – the odd dash of fried food isn't all that uncommon, either. Clearwater is also the home of the Frenchy's empire. It's a local brand that started as the original Frenchy's Cafe, and has expanded to include four other locations dishing up its signature seafood, plus a gift shop and even a motel.
On the whole, Clearwater hosts fare from all over the world. Within its borders, you'll find everything from steak to Italian, Mexican to sushi and Chinese. The atmospheres are just as varied, and the range of cuisines on offer make it easy to please little ones if you're planning family holidays to Florida here.
Pier 60 and the Beach Walk
Beach activities in Clearwater aren't just limited to the beach itself. Clearwater's popular Beach Walk is a waterfront promenade for pedestrians, cyclists and roller-bladers to move along Clearwater Beach with unimpeded views of the water. Along the way, you'll pass local art and upscale hotels – combined, it's a lush way to view the city.
Walking along Clearwater Beach, you'll also notice a lengthy pier extending into the Gulf of Mexico – that's Pier 60, a central hub for activity along this part of the coast and a popular spot to hang out at for visitors on family holidays to Florida. On it are a playground, souvenir shop and snack bar, plus a nightly market with goods from local artisans. It's also where a daily event called Sunsets at Pier 60 takes place, which features musical acts and street performers.
St Petersburg nights
Much of Clearwater's restaurants transform effortlessly into the city's nightlife scene, as many have full bars and stunning views of the waterfront. There are a few strictly bar and clubby spots, if you're not looking for an appetiser with your rowdy night out.
Otherwise, your nightlife options multiply next door, in the town of St Petersburg. That's where you'll find an even further array of live music, themed dance nights and some serious cocktails.