Clearwater Beach has consistently been ranked the #1 beach in the United States - though the city ... [+] has far more to offer than just its shoreline.
Its no secret that Clearwater is home to some of the nations most picturesque beaches - the soft white sand shore was ranked as the best beach in the nation by the 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards. While the citys natural features are common knowledge, few are aware of the many other gems waiting to be discovered by unsuspecting visitors. Namely, spectacular fresh seafood, outdoor adventure opportunities, and pristine undeveloped islands can all be found in and around Clearwater.
Given the citys reputation, its easy to understand how the shore came to be lined with such luxurious resorts and restaurants. For those in search of a truly opulent experience, Opal Sands Resort stands out as one of the beachs best. Consider a stay in the plush Premium Suite, an immense room complete with full kitchen, king sized bed, and sweeping balcony overlooking the picturesque shore below. Those wishing to escape the sun for a day can book an appointment at the full-service spa, where massages, body scrubs, pedicures, and a wide range of other treatments are available. For a spectacular sunset experience, grab dinner and tiki drinks at Sandbar, the propertys outdoor restaurant, and be sure to end your night with a relaxing dip in the hot tub.
Humans aren't the only inhabitants in the area - bottlenose dolphins can often be spotted surfacing ... [+] by the beach.
Perched on the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater is the ideal destination for seafood enthusiasts, with a wide variety of dining venues ranging from upscale to casual. One particular operation has been a prominent fixture of the coast since 1926: Palm Pavilion. The venue has mastered the art of casual beachside dining, serving up fruity frozen cocktails and a wealth of tasty local dishes, including conch fritters, gator bites, and palm grouper.
Those in search of an upscale dining experience will delight in Caretta on the Gulf, a four-diamond AAA rated restaurant located at the prestigious Sandpearl Resort. While the gulf grouper and Hawaiian snapper are standout menu items, be sure to check out their extensive sushi menu as well. For post-dinner drinks, head to Clearwaters largest rooftop bar: Marina Cantina. Equipped with a lengthy margarita menu, this Mexican-fusion restaurant is one of the beachs cant-miss destinations for nightlife.
Palm Pavilion has been serving the citizens of Clearwater for almost a century.
While Clearwater Beach is perfect for a quiet afternoon of sunbathing, its also a prime location for thrill seekers. Visitors seeking a high-speed cruise across the open ocean should consult BouYah Sports, a local company offering parasailing and jet ski excursions. For those less inclined to breakneck speeds, kayaks and paddleboards are also available for rent. For nature enthusiasts, consider a short trek north to two pristine coastal getaways: Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island. Both are designated as state parks, making them the perfect location to explore old-growth slash pine forests, trek across the pristine sandy shore, or encounter coastal Floridas native birds, reptiles and mammals. While Honeymoon Island can be reached by car, Caladesi is accessible through a short ferry ride past wild mazes of mangroves.
For those looking to further explore coastal Florida, Clearwater is in the perfect location to visit some of the states nearby communities. The city of Saint Petersburg makes for a perfect day trip, especially for art and architecture enthusiasts. The Dal, a surrealist museum featuring a massive tiled-glass entryway and spiral staircase, hosts the largest collection of Salvador Dals works outside of Europe, while Florida CraftArt offers walking and biking tours of the citys extensive collection of vibrant street murals.
A Tarpon Springs sponge diver emerges victorious, having speared his prey.
For a truly unique experience, head north of Clearwater to Tarpon Springs, the sponge capital of the world. Visitors can book an excursion with St Nicholas Boat Line, a local company established back in 1924. The tour includes a cruise through the Anclote River, a thorough introduction to the towns historic ties to the sponge industry, and the main attraction: a sponge haul conducted by a certified diver clad in a late-1800s diving suit. Keep in mind that Tarpon Springs is home to the largest concentration of Greek-Americans in the country - head to Mykonos after the cruise for flaming saganaki and a wealth of other Mediterranean dishes.
While some beach destinations have a limited amount of amenities to offer, Clearwater has developed a wealth of varied activities to suit any visitor. From natural beauty, to thriving nightlife, to palatial resorts, crafting an ideal vacation has never been easier. Though its vital to explore beyond the shore, dont skip it entirely - the soft white sand framed by calm blue water is truly a sight to behold.
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