Key West and Palm Beach get all the glory, but Clearwater Beach is the real gem of the Sunshine State. Voted number one beach for TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards by millions of visitors, Clearwater Beach’s soft, sugar-white sand and crystal-clear gulf waters are the essence of paintings and postcards. A picturesque beach town, this vibrant community offers fun in the sun, charming shops and restaurants, culture and arts, and endless entertainment.
Make sure to check out these five must-sees on your visit This SuiteBird city:
#1 Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is an educational and heartwarming experience. This animal hospital and aquarium rescues, rehabilitates, and, if possible, releases marine life back into the ocean. See all kinds of sea life — from fish, sea turtles, and stingrays, to dolphins, whales, and otters.
You may even catch a celebrity sighting at this popular attraction. Winter, the star of the “Dolphin Tale” movies, calls Clearwater Marine Aquarium home as does Harold the sea turtle, who had a supporting role in “Dolphin Tale 2.” Hear stories of survival. Learn about care and rehabilitation of the animals. See medical professionals in action at the Animal Hospital. Get a close-up view of the dolphins in the underwater viewing tunnel. Make sure to take the “Behind the Scenes” tour. It’s well worth the extra $16.
#2 Capitol Theatre
One of the oldest operating theaters in Florida, Capitol Theatre features music, plays, stand-up, and dance. Founded in 1921, this cultural landmark originally hosted vaudeville acts. Capitol Theatre seats 750 people, providing an intimate setting with excellent acoustics. Ticket options include orchestra seating, balcony seating, and private viewing boxes. Enjoy snacks and adult beverages during the show. For a real treat, come early to see the views from Frenchy’s Rooftop Terrace Lounge, which sits atop of the theater and serves drinks and snacks for select shows. Free parking and valet parking are available.
#3 Pier 60
Stretching an impressive 1,080 feet, Pier 60 comes with everything you need for a day of fishing, including a bait shop, rental equipment, drinks, and snacks. Come for the world-class fishing, and stay for the entertainment, breathtaking sunsets, eats, and the daily festival that starts two hours before sunset. Pier 60 features viewing pavilions, souvenirs, a free outdoor movie theater, crafts, arts, telescopes, and entertainers like musicians, jugglers, and fire-breathers. For $1 you can walk to the very end of the pier, a perfect spot for savoring the Gulf of Mexico’s watercolor sunsets.
#4 Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill
This Clearwater Beach landmark has been serving up fresh seafood, signature cocktails, live music, and the quintessential local experience since 1926. A laid-back eatery best known for its grouper sandwich and key lime pie, locals and tourists alike love the nostalgic vibe of this beachfront venue. Guests arrive by trolley, bike, car, and foot to the oldest operating beach pavilion in the Southeast U.S. You’ll get caught up in the fun feeling and good cheer of this local favorite.
#5 The Beach
Of course, no trip to Clearwater Beach is complete without lots of beach time. Don the sunhat and spf and head out for some adventure on the shore. Park for the day at around $3 an hour. Everything is within walking distance. Pitch an umbrella and chair and watch the waves tickle the coastline. Take a dip in the clear, welcoming waters. Grab a bite at one of the nearby restaurants. Wet your whistle at a beach side bar. Pick up some local treasures at boutiques and shops. See for yourself what the Clearwater Beach buzz is all about.