About Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is part of a barrier island on Florida’s central west coast and is a three-minute drive from land. It is a thoroughly developed tourist destination and remains busy year round.
The white sand is powder soft. There are few dunes on the 2.4km (1.5 miles) of Clearwater Beach, but planted palms dot the sidewalks. Because the land is flat, beachgoers can wade hundreds of yards into the warm Gulf, which experiences bath-warm waters in the summer months. There are food and watersports concessions, toilets and showers on the beach. Pier 60, used by anglers, extends into the water. At casual restaurants, such as iconic Frenchy’s, you can dig your toes in the sand while eating and drinking.
Beyond the beach:
Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 3.2 km (2 miles) across a busy causeway, is where injured and ill sea creatures are brought for help. The star resident is Winter, a young bottlenose dolphin fitted with a prosthetic tail; she has inspired thousands of humans facing similar mobility challenges. Southeast, in St Petersburg, is the Salvador Dali Museum, which holds the largest collection of the surrealist master’s works, and the home of the Tampa Bay Rays major league baseball team. Pro hockey’s Lightning and football’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers play farther east, in Tampa.
About 12km (8 miles) south, on the main beach road, is the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary (www.seabirdsanctuary.com), said to be the largest wild bird hospital in America. Admission is free to see hundreds of waterfowl and land birds brought here for help. Or you can book aboard boats in the Clearwater Harbor for fishing or dolphin-spotting cruises.
About 40 km (25 miles) to the east is bustling Tampa, which offers a taste of its late 19th-century Cuban heritage in Ybor City, with cigar rollers, a museum and landmark restaurants such as Columbia (2025 East 7th Avenue). A few miles north of Ybor is the fine Lowry Park Zoo. And a few miles south of Ybor is the entertainment district called Channelside, which is home to the highly regarded Florida Aquarium, the bowling alley/restaurant/rock music venue Splitsville, several themed restaurants and bars, and a multi-screen cinema.
When locals want to impress the neighbours, they simply say, "We went to Bern’s." This Tampa restaurant is widely considered the best place for steak in Florida. Diners order their aged prime cuts by thickness and weight, but Bern’s (1208 South Howard Avenue) also offers 21 kinds of caviar, organically grown veggies from its own farm, fish from its saltwater tanks, and a wine cellar of more than 6,500 labels. The upstairs dessert room also has several dozen food items and 1,000 after-dinner drinks.