Clearwater Florida actually does not get its name from how clear its gulf water are (although they are pristinely clear), but rather the clarity of the natural springs that were at one time mottled over the western Florida coast. As Florida was incorporated as a territory in 1822, the settlement (then Clear Water) remained an important military center throughout the remainder of the century, before becoming a tourist destination around the turn of the century. Today it is a top spot for vacationing northerners, with picturesque beaches, great fishing, and all the sun sports you can ask for. Here are ten awesome things to do in Clearwater.
10. Clearwater Marine Aquarium
This attraction is less of an aquarium than it is a conservancy for sea wildlife and hospital for sick or injured animals. Yet they strive to educate the public on hazards to these animals, and by doing so create a fun, instructive experience for visitors of all ages. Rehabilitating sea turtles and dolphins, the aquarium is open to the public for behind-the-scenes tours where patrons can learn more about the aquariums efforts and meet some of its inhabitants, including Winter, a dolphin who starred in the movie Dolphin’s Tale. Admission is $21.95 for adults and $16.95 for children.
9. Early Bird Dinner Theatre
Early Bird Dinner Theatre is one of the more unique tourist attractions in Clearwater. Beginning with a delicious buffet serving food ranging from a fresh salad bar to a varied collection of hot entrees, the theatre then has live acted shows in their theatre adjacent to the dining hall. Overall, the food and entertainment are well worth the $33.50 that is asked of patrons, and since the show times begin so early (weekend matinee is at 11AM, while the main showing is at 4PM), you’ll have plenty left out of your day to spend however you choose.
8. Safety Harbor Site
The Tocobaga people lived off of the Floridian land long before any Europeans claimed it as their own, and this historical site may have served as their ‘capital.’ As the Europeans moved in, the site was subject to several bloody takeovers, with large casualties on both the Tocobagan and Spanish sides. Today, the site serves as a historical reminder of not only the Tocobaga people but the unfortunate casualties of colonialism. Visitors today can visit the site free of charge and walk the grounds while learning about the troubled past of this site.
7. Little Toot Dolphin Adventures
Little Toot Dolphin Adventures offer dolphin-sighting boats tours that are unique due to the size of their main vessel. A small, broad boat, the Little Toot not only allows patrons to observe dolphins from a very close vantage point, but also creates a large wake that tends to attract the dolphins. They even guarantee dolphin sightings or they will provide you with another free ride! There are refreshments available on board, and several tours per day, including a sunset tour, are offered. $21.95 per adult and $14.48 per child.
6. Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach, as might be evident from its name, is the main beach in the area. With many additional attractions within close distance, the beach serves as a central hub for vacationing families, so expect it to be a little busy. With an abundance of great seafood restaurants, and plenty of watersport rentals, this should be your first stop to relax on the sand, play in the water, and get a general taste of all that the city has to offer. There are bathrooms available for use and umbrellas available for renting most times of the year.
5. Pier 60
Jutting out 1080 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, Pier 60 is a phenomenal place to walk out above the water, fish, or catch a sunset. In fact, the sunsets on the pier are so famous that there is a non-profit that has been putting on a sunset festival atop the pier and its surrounding park every day for the past twenty years. With buskers, vendors, food and music, the celebration of the sunset is a great way to spend an evening or two. For those wanting to fish, the pier offers fishing rentals and bait at reasonable prices.
4. Murielle Winery
This winery, located in southeastern Clearwater, is a non-negotiable destination for any vacationer that has even a remote liking for wine. Inconspicuously located in a small strip mall, this winery ferments all of their own wines, to astonishing results. A family-owned business, this winery will not shy away from talking to you about their wines all day. On Saturdays they have wine tastings where visitors can sample the full array of everything Murielle Winery has to offer. This is a great way to spend part of a rainy day!
3. Moccasin Lake Nature Park
Moccasin Lake Nature Park is a small area of preserved natural forest and streams wherein visitors can hike through woods and cool swamps, seeing much of Florida’s diverse wildlife in the process. Generally, it isn’t very crowded and is excellent for a romantic stroll. The park also houses a nature center, which, in addition to educating the visiting public on the various local ecosystems, also cares for injured birds of prey from around the area, nursing them back to health before releasing them back into the wild.
2. SurfStyle Indoor Surfing
If you have adventurous kids or friends, then this stop must be on your list. The waves in at the nearby beach might not always be ideal for surfing, but SurfStyle has a wave that runs 24/7 (although you can of course only use it while they are open!). SurfStyle has a Flowrider – an indoor surfing machine that will allow users to take a small surfboard or boogie board and continuously surf the rushing waters. Open seven days a week from 9AM to 10PM, you will have no issue finding time to make a reservation!
1. Chute ‘Em Up Parasail
There is perhaps no better way to see the coast than suspended from a parasail, hundreds of feet above the Gulf of Mexico. With seamless takeoffs and landings, Chute Em Up is an exceptional experience that the entire family can enjoy, as it can take up to three people at once. Weather permitting, the company gives tours seven days a week and will allow folks to tag along and just ride in the boat for $25. They have two different heights available, with two different prices – 800-foot flights are $69 while 1000-foot flights are $79 per person.
Having been voted as having some of the best beaches in Florida (no small feat), Clearwater lives up to its name. With the Cleveland Street District offering plenty of entertainment and commercial opportunities, the city is easily able to fill any visitor’s desires. Whether you are considering relocating south, you are just looking to play some rounds of golf, or you are just looking to relax and unwind in the sun for a week, there is never a dirge of places to visit in Clearwater.