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Soak Up the Sun

Clearwater Beach

Courtesy of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

The white sand beaches in and around Clearwater are almost too good to be true.

A mere 20 miles west of Tampa, via the Courtney Campbell Causeway, you’ll find Clearwater: a perfect little no-fuss Florida beach town where the temperature rarely dips below 75 degrees.

Bodies of freshwater springs scatter the bayfront of this small peninsula; hence the name “Clearwater,” a name to the area given by the native Tocobaga people centuries ago. The history of this beautiful area doesn’t end there. Clearwater was used as a fort during the Seminole wars, the American Civil War and WWII. Today, sources everywhere rave about the unassuming Clearwater beaches and the tiny islands that surround it.

The sugary sand and brilliant turquoise waters become the perfect destination whether you are planning a family vacation or a romantic honeymoon. And there is plenty to do once you hang your suit and put the buckets and fishing rods away. The spot has a string of lovely restaurants and cool shops as well as a great nightlife scene.

If you are like most, the thought of endless beaches is as alarming as it is incredible. How do you choose just one? Let us break it down for you:

If You Want to Stick Around:
Clearwater Beach offers endless recreational activities from scooting around on WaveRunners and throwing out fishing line to shelling, swimming and more. With lifeguards on constant watch, you will be rest assured when the kids jump in. If you are simply looking to lounge, head to one of the many spots to rent a shady umbrella and some chairs for the day. Some must-see nearby beaches include Sand Key and Indian Rocks Beach. Did we mention getting around is a breeze? Hop on the Jolley Trolley, a charming little shuttle that runs from your hotel to any one of the local beaches, restaurants, shops and bars.

How to get there: Your best bet is flying into Tampa International Airport. From there, rent a car or hop on your hotel's shuttle and bare the 40-minute drive.

If You are Looking for a Shorter Day Trip:
Caladesi Island has been called one of the best beaches in America countless times. And rightly so; it is shockingly beautiful. The island is located just north of Clearwater (abpproximately a ten-minute drive), but because the spot is only accessible by ferry or private boat, there are fewer crowds than you would find on Clearwater or other coastal beaches. The surroundings are pretty laid-back—no tiki bar serving too-strong piña coladas or powerboat hums echoing from the shore. Enjoy relaxing activities such as shelling, strolling or sprawling. Feeling adventurous? Brush off your sandy bare feet, throw on some shoes, and explore the three-mile nature trail. Whatever you decide, be sure to pack a picnic because there won’t be much to nosh on once you arrive.

How to get there: Make your way to Honeymoon Island by car, bus or trolley. From there you can board a ferry that carts beachgoers to the isle from sunrise to sunset.

If you are looking for a longer day trip:
Fort De Soto Park is a must-see if you are going to be in the Clearwater area for an extended amount of time. The park itself is made up of five tiny, interconnected islands—Madeleine, Mullet, Bonne Fortune, St. Christopher and St. John. Renting a bike is a smart move because it makes it easy to get around, especially if you are fixed on seeing everything there is to see. You can also rent canoes or kayaks, cast a line from one of the two piers, explore the winding nature trails or, for all you history buffs, visit the Quartermaster Storehouse museum. But one of the most popular things to do at Fort De Soto is stroll or bike the seven-mile-long promenade, which boasts beautiful views of the waterfront. If you’re looking to stretch your stay, there are plenty of places to camp out, too.

How to get there: The drive from Clearwater Beach is about an hour. No ferry is needed, but expect to shell out for parking.

A Great Meal After a Long Day
For a more upscale eatery, head to Café Ponte (727-538-5768), and enjoy the renowned Contemporary American fare. For a more relaxed setting, go to any one of the Frenchy’s four locations (727-446-3607), serving simple and fresh seafood. Both are highly recommended and great ways to cap off a long day at the beach.

Find out more information about any of these tempting destinations.

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

Nice article. Please add Sarasota beaches!
5/12/2009 7:59:04 AM

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