Let’s take an imaginary boat cruise down the barrier islands of Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay area starting at the northernmost developed island, Clearwater Beach. We will take a look at each beach town all the way down to Pass-a-Grille and the voyage to Egmont Key.Clearwater Beach is world famous for its large, white sand beaches and clear blue Gulf of Mexico waters. Awards bestowed on this Gulf coast resort city include Best City Beach, one of America’s Top Family Beaches, one of the TopSinglesBeaches in Florida and one of the Best Beaches from Maine to Hawaii. Despite the bustling nature of the area, seabirds and shorebirds abound on both the gulf side and on Clearwater Bay.
Dining options are many and some of the most popular eateries are far from the most expensive. A must on your visit might be one ofFrenchy’s Clearwater Beach Restaurants for a great grouper sandwich. Popular and easily affordable beach food can found at Detroit Coney Island, Pearly Beach Eats and Clear Sky Café. Also highly rated are the Clearwater Wine Bar and Bistro andCesares at the Beach.
You might be staying at one of the many resort hotels, motels or rental condominiums on this busy and extremely popular Beach. The area offers a variety of accommodations, from bed and breakfast establishments, excellent â€œMa and Paâ€ motel/hotels and rental condominiums of all kinds. High end beach front resort hotels include the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort, Holiday Inn & Suites, Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key, Sheraton Sand Key Resort and the SandPearl Resort. Many affordable rentals are on the bay side, offering a very scenic view of Clearwater Bay and an easy walk to the beach.
If you venture east on the Clearwater Marine Causeway toward downtown Clearwater, Island Way Grille on Island Way is a worthy dining experience.Next door to Island Way Grille is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a non-profit organization that houses and rehabilitates dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, sting rays, fish, coral reefs, mangroves and more. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium was made famous by Winter, the bottlenose dolphin with the prosthetic tail from the movie Dolphin Tale, and Hope, a young rescued dolphin that has become Winter’s best friend.
Sunsets at Pier 60, a nightly celebration featuring artists, street performers and live music starting two hours before sunset and ending two hours after sunset, is a fun and memorable experience for locals and visitors alike. Pier 60 is near the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Resort and Spa, across Gulf Boulevard from the picturesque Clearwater Municipal Marina.
Clearwater’s annual Fun â€˜n Sun Festival, a music series featuring classic rock, country and Latin music concerts, happens in late April and early May. If you are a blues lover, don’t miss the annual, mid-February Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival for two days of seafood and a variety of nationally recognized blues artists. Be sure to check out what is happening at the beautifully renovated Royalty Theatre (opened in 1921 as the Capitol Theatre) and its schedule of live musical performances and classic movies. For sports lovers, take in a Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training game from February to April at Brighthouse Field, also home of the minor League Clearwater Threshers. Clearwater has been the spring home of the Phillies since 1948.
As we move at idle speed slowly from the Clearwater Municipal Marina, we pass through shallow waters by a small island covered with mangroves and inhabited by scores of white egrets and blue herons. Picking up speed, we pass under the Sand Key bridge and into the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.