You can’t visit the St Petersburg/Tampa area and not spend a day in Clearwater. There are tons of things to do in Clearwater Beach you’ll wish you stayed longer.
On our last trip, we stayed in St. Pete Beach and ended up by Clearwater Beach for three out of seven days. We loved the beach and amazing restaurants in Clearwater, and there were so many things to do in Clearwater we think next time we’ll stay here to explore more. Here are some of the best Clearwater Beach attractions you won’t want to miss.
1. Visit Clearwater Aquarium
If you’re looking for a rainy day activity, Clearwater Aquarium might be the perfect way to spend the day. This is more than just an aquarium. It is a marine hospital that helps to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured marine wildlife.
The aquarium is home to many rescued dolphins, sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and more. Inside, there are countless educational exhibits and interactive displays. They even run boat tours into Tampa Bay to teach guests about the local ecology in a more hands-on way.
If you stay in St. Petersburg long enough, check out their week-long kids’ summer camps! They’ll love snorkeling, kayaking through marine grass beds, and seeing marine life in its natural habitat.
If you were hoping to see their famous dolphin Winter, sadly, she passed away in November 2021. To learn more about Winter’s story click here.
2. Helicopter over Clearwater Beach
Get a unique perspective on St. Petersburg by seeing it from high above, and book a helicopter ride over Clearwater Beach. It definitely is one of the coolest things to do in St Petersburg. Whenever we get a chance to get a helicopter, we do it!
Several aviation tour companies in Clearwater offer short and exciting helicopter tours over the beaches. There’s no better view than the one from above, where you can really appreciate the color of the water and the expansive beaches that cover Florida’s sunny coast.
Tours last from 15 minutes to half an hour. Many flights will take you high enough to get a great bird’s eye view but low enough that you can spot lots of marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, sharks, and manatees!
3. Soak up the Sun on Clearwater Beach
It’s not a visit to Clearwater without visiting its namesake beach. Clearwater Beach is probably the most popular beach attraction in the whole area, which is understandable as it was recently named the #1 beach in the United States and one of the best beaches worldwide. It is also the perfect place for a Florida spring break trip.
It’s located in a fairly touristy and busy area, so this isn’t the spot for a quiet, peaceful day at the beach. It’s also a very popular spot with students on spring break, so do your research before you go if you want to avoid those crowds. There are resorts, restaurants, bars, and cafés just beyond the sand, but at least anything you might need is never far away! You can also rent chairs and umbrellas at the beach to get more comfortable.
Aside from the exceptionally warm, crystal blue waters and soft white sand (Florida is famous for its beaches, after all), this is a beautiful place to watch the sunset, look for shells, and if you’re really lucky, you might spot some dolphins playing in the water.
Make sure to stop by one of the best restaurants in Clearwater. If you’re looking for some great food right on the beach, head on over to French’s Rockaway Grille.
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4. Ride the World’s Largest Speedboat Sea Screamer
Hop on Clearwater’s Sea Screamer, the world’s largest speedboat. It’s a smooth, fast ride at 35mph on the waters around Florida. This is great for all ages. Kids love the speed, and so do adults! Lifejackets are provided, and rides are always safety-focused, with as much speed and excitement as possible.
You can book dolphin sighting tours on the Sea Screamer, where you’re guaranteed to spot a few of these friendly sea creatures. Sightings are guaranteed, or your next trip aboard is free of charge. Check out this full-day excursion from Orlando, which offers a trip aboard the Sea Screamer as part of the package.
You can purchase tickets online here, Adults 12+ $25, Kids 4-11 $20, Toddlers 1-3 $15, Under 1 FREE.
5. Pier 60
Pier 60 is one of those must-see attractions in Clearwater. This 1000-foot pier is popular for fishing, with plenty of tackle shops nearby, but the real fun happens when the sun sets, and the Sunset Festival (18:00-21:00 every night) begins: when street performers, artisans, and live musicians begin their work up and down the pier.
There are magicians, jugglers, and singers, and handmade goods like jewelry and home goods can be purchased all along the pier. There is also a huge playground that can keep kids happy for hours, with inflatables, slides, climbing gyms, and even a castle turret.
There are family-friendly movie nights on the sand on the weekends, so bring a blanket and some snacks for a great time.
If you’re here during the day when things are a bit quieter, you’ll see many people fishing off the side of the pier. It’s a very popular spot for catching mackerel, snapper, redfish, flounder, and sheepshead, to name a few. You’d think the busy nightlife would turn fishermen away, but the bright lights make nighttime fishing much easier.
6. Florida Botanical Gardens
Halfway between Clearwater and St. Pete Beach, and about a five-minute drive inland from the coast, is one of the most spectacular things to do in Clearwater. The Florida Botanical Gardens is a 120-acre park of lush, tropical plants that makes a great daytime activity when you want a break from the beach but you still want to be outside.
The gardens are bursting with colorful flora native to Florida, expertly arranged in beautiful courtyards, gardens, and flower beds. A wide variety of plants can be observed here, from spiky cacti to the largest succulents you’ve ever seen. There’s even a butterfly garden and a formal wedding garden for a romantic place to get married.
The best part: admission is FREE, and the gardens are open every day from 7:00 to 17:00, except for holidays. There are plenty of easy-to-navigate walkways, and your dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a leash.
7. Take a Ride on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise
This is the perfect daytime cruise for families that your kids will love. Complete with costumed pirates, Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise is a fun, pirate-themed activity cruise.
Navigating around the Gulf of Mexico for two hours of swashbuckling fun, with the cast members inviting kids into their scenarios. There is lots of running around and playing pretend. Kids will be able to participate in treasure hunts, face painting, and even water gun battles.
As a bonus, there is unlimited complimentary lemonade for kids and beer or wine for mom and dad. We went on the sunset cruise at 5 pm and highly suggest getting out on the water this time of day. Prices vary based on the time of the day and the cruise selected. Check rates and book online here: Adults $37-40, Juniors 13-17 $31-35, Children 3-12 $30, Children 2 and under $11.
8. Stopover at Honeymoon Island
Just a half-hour drive from downtown St. Petersburg, Honeymoon Island is a paradise you have to visit. It’s just over the Dunedin Causeway from Tampa, with some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.
Honeymoon Island is a state park, open every day until dark. There are over four miles of beach and a 3-mile long hiking trail through beautiful pine forests that are home to many species of birds including horned owls and eagles. The Rotary Centennial Nature Center on the island has educational services on the history of the park and its natural resources.
This is also the connection point where ferries take passengers to nearby Caladesi Island (below).
9. Visit Caladesi Island
Caladesi Island is accessible only by ferry from Honeymoon Island, but it’s worth the trip. This pristine island is a nature lover’s paradise. Caladesi Island has some of the clearest water in Florida. It is gorgeous.
Explore the island’s unspoiled white sand beaches, kayak through a mangrove forest, or follow the nature trail through old-growth pine trees to reach the historic ruins of an 18th-century homestead.
The beautiful untouched beaches are a huge appeal of Caladesi Island. Fishing, beachcombing for shells, swimming, and boating are all popular things to do on the island. Don’t miss the chance to explore a paradise of forest and shoreline on Florida’s coast. Click here for the Caladesi Island ferry schedule and ticket prices.
10. Make a Splash at Splash Harbour Waterpark
If the Clearwater beaches weren’t enough for you, St. Petersburg even has a huge waterpark. Perfect for all ages (even young children), this is the best way to spend a vacation day.
Our two-year-old son loves waterparks, and visiting Splash Harbour is one of the best things to do in Clearwater with kids. Make sure to check out our article on planning a family Clearwater beach vacation. Here we included where we stayed, ate, and did everything.
The Splash Harbour Waterpark has a 42-foot high inner tube slide, a single-rider speed slide, a lazy river, and an interactive splash zone with a dumping bucket and mini slides. After you’ve dried off, check out their mini-golf course or the indoor game room.
There’s a snack shack on the deck, interactive mining games for kids eager to learn, and a drink shack making fresh fruit blended smoothies.
If you are staying in Clearwater for the weekend, a week, or a month, or you live in Clearwater, they are ticket options for everyone. There are several membership passes too, which makes it a great price, click here for prices.
*Update – On a recent trip back, we actually stayed at the New Hotel Collection Harbourside, which is attached to the waterpark, and daily passes were included in our 2-bedroom unit. We had a huge two-bedroom unit with a full kitchen, living room, washer and dryer in the unit, two bathrooms, and more. The price was amazing. We booked online here only two weeks in advance and paid under $200 a night.
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11. Ride the Mega Bite Shark Boat
Take a ride on this 50-foot speedboat, with a front bow built to resemble the open jaws of a Great White Shark. Called the Mega Bite, the boat creates a unique wake behind it that attracts dolphins who jump and play in the water.
A tour on the Mega Bite not only gets you dolphin sightings but a front-row ticket to peeking at the celebrity homes that line the private coastline.
Tours last one hour, and the boat has padded seating and a covered area for really hot and sunny days. Click here for the best prices and to book online.
10. Largo Central Park
If you’re looking for a one-stop spot to spend the day with the family and keep your kids entertained, Largo’s Central Park is the perfect place. Located in Largo, just a few minutes’ drive south of Clearwater, Central Park is 70 acres of lush grounds with a lot to do and see.
There are eight picnic pavilions, bathrooms, and a large playground (it’s disabled-friendly, too). There’s even a kid-size train ride at the Largo Central Railroad where kids can hop aboard a small locomotive that runs on a real track. There’s also an outdoor workout zone with workout stations very similar to what you can find in most gyms.
If you visit during the holiday season, come by the park to see it all lit up with thousands of Christmas lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, and even a light-up Ferris wheel.
12. Sand Key Park
Up in Clearwater, there’s plenty more to do. Sand Key Park is a great example of the perfect beach outing (for families, too) with an unbeatable view. There’s both a beach area and a park area.
The park area has covered picnic areas with grilling stations, bathrooms, a playground, and a dog park. There’s also a nearby salt marsh where you can spot many different varieties of birds that are native to this area, like herons, spoonbills, and great-horned owls. There are also seasonal lifeguards, which many beaches don’t have. It’s an added feeling of safety knowing another person is looking out for your kiddos.
There are plenty of other amenities at Sand Key Park Beach, like outdoor showers, beach umbrella rentals, and even beach wheelchairs for those who need them. If you want to get out on the water, ask about kayak rentals, or rent a bike and follow the boardwalk to the nature trail. If you really want to see something special, this is one place where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs, and the hatching and return to the sea is something many visitors love to watch.
13. Heritage Village
Heritage Village is a living museum, an authentic recreation of what life was like in the late 1800s. It features dozens of restored buildings (like a grocery store, general store, gas station, and houses) across 21 acres of land. Step back in time and experience life well before the technology of today.
In the center of all these fascinating buildings is the main attraction: the historical museum. With two indoor galleries that host exhibits on activities from the time period like spinning, weaving, and other such pastimes from decades ago, it’s a very cool way to immerse yourself in what life was like over a hundred years ago.
The village is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and is open from 10:00-16:00, Wednesday through Saturday, and 13:00-16:00 on Sundays. Best of all, it’s a free attraction meaning no entrance fee, but donations are welcome and go towards keeping the village operating.