Family Guide to Clearwater, Florida

Sunshine, sugar sand and warm waters make for an awesome beach trip. This guide has all you need to start planning your next family vacation.

Often voted one of the best beaches in America, Clearwater Beach shines with sparkling sand, turquoise waters and fiery sunsets. Plan your family vacation to Clearwater, Florida for fun in the sun, fresh seafood, family entertainment and plenty of rest and relaxation. Temperatures hover in that blissful range between 55-90 year-round, with February and March highs in the 70s.

Located on the state’s western coast, Clearwater is easily accessible by two airports, St. Petersburg/Clearwater and Tampa International Airport. Artsy St. Petersburg is just 24 miles away and Orlando is only a few hours’ drive. Dive into fresh Gulf seafood and catch an MLB spring training game to round out the perfect trip. 

Play 

Clearwater Beach

Photo credit: Cortney Fries

The beach is the main draw in Clearwater, and you’re going to want to put phones and pressures from the outside world aside so you can soak up time in the warm waters and soft, white sand. Bask in the sun, wade in the shallow surf or walk the promenade. Rent a beach cabana and have it made in the shade while your kids create sand castles. Surf shops and restaurants dot the area.

Pier 60

Pier 60 is renowned for their nightly sunset celebrations. As the sun bows vividly into the horizon, fire-breathers, jugglers and escape artists entertain as spectators gather. Vendors line the pier, selling souvenirs and trinkets. Kids will be excited to explore the covered playground or bounce on the giant inflatables. Sugar Sand Festival runs April 7-23. At this sand sculpting festival, you’ll not only admire impressive sand creations, but you can listen to live music, watch fireworks and take a sand sculpting class. 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium 

If you’ve seen the movies “Dolphin Tale” or “Dolphin Tale 2″ starring dolphins Hope and Winter along with Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr. and Ashley Judd, you might be familiar with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine animals. Winter the Dolphin inspired millions around the world. She lost her tail after becoming entangled in a crab trap line; yet she thrived with a prosthetic tail. Unfortunately, Winter passed away in late 2021, but her recovery story continues to encourage others. A visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium includes live presentations on turtles, stingrays, sharks and dolphins. Swing for virtual reality tickets and immerse yourselves in an underwater experience. Swimming with Whales VR feels like you’re in the ocean alongside giant, majestic creatures. 

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise

Clearwater Marina is packed with all sorts of excursion options. Kids especially love Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise because water guns, face painting, and a treasure hunt keep the dolphin cruise entertaining. Parents can enjoy adult beverages on board. 

Captain Bligh’s Landing Mini Golf

For good times as “par” as the eye can see, go “fore” mini golf Captain Bligh’s Landing. Eighteen holes of pirate-themed miniature golf with a hole on a pirate ship, caves and a real parrot—talk about a hole in one! 

MLB Spring Training

The Philadelphia Phillies baseball team spring trains at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater. Spectate a spring training game late February through March and enjoy a sunny day at the ballpark.

Eat 

Frenchy’s 

You simply can’t miss Frenchy’s Restaurants when you visit Clearwater. There are several locations, but Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is the largest and located on the beach. Their grouper sandwich is raved about and kids get a kick out of the fish-shaped soft pretzel appetizer. This open-air restaurant buzzes with live music and rum drinks a-plenty. 

The Cooler

After dining at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, treat yourselves to ice cream, Hawaiian ice or acai bowls at The Cooler, a walk-up stand that also serves hot dogs. Pitaya is dragon fruit. I highly recommend a coconut pitaya bowl. Topped with granola, sliced bananas, strawberries, mango and toasted coconut, it’s a healthy treat that looks as beautiful as it tastes.

Ocean Hai 

Photo credit: Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

Located in the Wyndham Grand, Ocean Hai is an upscale, Afro-Asian fusion restaurant with a jazzy, elevated vibe. Chef Nana Darkwah serves up inventive sushi, pho with tasty Thai basil cilantro broth, and appetizers like Wagyu beef with yucca fries. Don’t miss the giant fortune cookie for dessert. The coconut cookie is surrounded by mango and passion mousse and filled with a fortune that will brighten your day.

Columbia Restaurant 

Spanish-Cuban cuisine is served overlooking the Clearwater Bay at Columbia Restaurant, just over the bridge in Sand Key. Columbia’s Original 1905 Salad is tossed tableside with their famous garlic dressing. Try a handful of tapas, from croquettes to empanadas, or order up a chicken and yellow rice. Churros “Tres Amigos” is a sweet way to end your meal. Dip fried dough into warm chocolate, guava and caramel sauces and try not to fight over the last bite.

Dock’s Pool Bar and Grill

Photo credit: Cortney Fries

Nothing says vacation like ordering drinks and food while lounging around the pool. Dock’s is the poolside restaurant at Wyndham Grand. Munch on appetizers like chicken lettuce wraps, flatbreads with mushrooms and truffle oil, Asian salads with wontons or Greek salads with feta cheese and sandwiches (including vegan options!). You can also order off the kids menu, desserts, frozen cocktails and craft beer.

Ice & Cream Creamery

I don’t know about your kids, but my children don’t consider a vacation complete without ice cream. Ice & Cream Creamery creates inventive ice cream flavors using local ingredients and serves them up with a smile. With 36 ice cream flavors, hand-spun milkshakes and twisters mixed with candy and toppings, everyone will find a drool-worthy dessert to cool off with.

Stay

Photo credit: Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

The newest AAA Four Diamond resort on the Gulf, Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach boasts an exceptional location with beautiful views and easy access to the beach, Beach Walk, marina, pier, playgrounds and more. Dive-in movies play at the pool on Friday and Saturday evenings. Yoga classes help you ease into Saturday and Sunday mornings. Indulge in luxury treatments in the serene Pallavi Spa. Sleep in Winter the Dolphin or Mavis the Turtle themed rooms. Dine at chic Ocean Hai or in a lounge chair at Dock’s Pool Bar & Grille.

Sandpearl Resort features suites with kitchens, dining rooms and balconies. Spread out, cook your own meals and even bring the pooch. Sandy beach, a lagoon-style pool, kids’ club and water sport rentals mean you can either be super chill or chase thrills.


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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.

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