Recently named one of the best beach towns in America, Clearwater Beach is the perfect family vacation destination. It’s full of beautiful sandy beaches along with delicious places to eat and loads of activities to do with kids!
It’s been a month or so since I had a quick trip to Clearwater, Florida for the Sugar Sands Festival. It’s the first time I had visited this area of Florida and I left with a deep desire to buy a winter home here and visit every weekend. This is likely not to happen for many years if ever so I’ll have to settle for some family vacations or quick girls getaway weekends.
While I was visiting I stayed at the Hyatt which is right across the street from the beach, it’s a beautiful hotel with amazing views of the water, delicious restaurants, refreshing pools and much more. The rooms are incredibly spacious and gorgeous.
I ended up with a last minute upgrade to a suite with two bedrooms and bathrooms, all I kept thinking was it would be a perfect room to have if I brought my boys back. There was so much room for everyone to spread out and very similar to the Hyatt Regency we stayed in when we visited Phoenix last year.
Between the sugar sand beaches and the amazing restaurants in Clearwater, I was in heaven! Here are just a few of my favorites from the trip. I’m guessing you will want to add a few of these to your bucket list when you visit too.
Sugar Sand Festival – Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival is a ten-day beach-wide celebration that pays tribute to Tampa Bay’s two most valuable assets: our sugar sands and our sunsets!
While I was there, the theme was “Sea America,” with American sights recreated using the soft sand of Clearwater Beach.
The Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline, as well as monuments like Abraham Lincoln in his chair, and American idols such as Marilyn Monroe and Mark Twain, were featured in the Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit. It’s hard to believe that these are created with just sand and water when you see the scale of some! This festival itself is worth the trip to Clearwater!
The Little Toot – Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the trip was our boat ride and dolphin spotting on The Little Toot. Because of the “tug boat” shape and power, the boat is able to produce huge wakes that the dolphins love to play in. They even guarantee that you will see dolphins or your next trip is free!
The Little Toots dolphin adventure begins at Clearwater marina and heads out for a 1 hour to 1&1/2 hour narrated tour starting in Clearwater harbor.
Make sure to take a phone or camera because it’s easy to get great shots of the dolphins as they jump alongside your boat!
The Donut Experiment – I’ve grown to love checking out local donut shops when I travel. I love how each destination has their own donut experience that they’re known for like The Donut Experiment. I left Clearwater with the deep desire to own a franchise and eat donuts every day of my life.
The Donut Experiment is a hidden gem located in a small strip mall of Clearwater. Each morning fresh donuts await you to pick your favorite toppings and boy do they have a selection! Everything from fruity pebbles to sprinkles. You can create your favorite combination!
Delicious Meals – Clearwater Beach is actually an island, and what else would you expect from an island than the freshest seafood around? Grouper is the local specialty, and you’ll find it any way you can imagine. Of course, my favorite way to eat any fish is fish tacos so I was always on the lookout for these!
One of the local favorite restaurants is Cooter’s, it’s a family-owned business that’s been in Clearwater for many years. I enjoyed some of the freshest crab legs around on the evening we dined at Cooter’s. They’re also known for the BEST Grouper sandwich in Clearwater!
Clear Sky Beachside Cafe, which touts itself as “upscale with a twist.” You can pick its beach or downtown location and enjoy an award-winning menu of pizzas, tapas, paninis, seafood, and more.
When it comes to fine dining, head to the Beachcomber, which has been serving the community for more than 85 years. It will take 20 minutes for the Beachcomber cooks to create its famous fried chicken dinner for you, and boy is it worth the wait!
Clearwater Aquarium – Another fun and a very educational stop was Clearwater Marine Aquarium. In fact, the aquarium is actually an animal hospital and rehabilitation center and not an aquarium at all. It’s home to the world-famous, Winter, the dolphin that stars in Dolphin Tale.
The staff works hard to save other dolphins, sea turtles, pelicans, and even otters with the intent to return them to their natural habitat.
Clearwater, Florida is one of my favorite destinations. The beaches are nothing short of perfection, the sand the whitest and most beautiful that I’ve seen. Three days was definitely not enough to see everything that Clearwater has to offer so a trip back with the family is in order soon!
Disclosure: I was hosted by the gang at Visit Clearwater, Florida, to give you fine folks the scoop on where to eat and what to do when you’re in town. All opinions and photos are my own! #MyClearwater #BestBeachTown