Situated on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s West Coast, Clearwater Beach is about 20 miles from Tampa International Airport. The weather is typically comfortable year-round and I found it to be much less humid than Orlando. The silky white sand stays cool so you never burn your feet even on a hot day. Small, colorful shells shimmer like jewels in the sand.
Besides the magnificent beach, Clearwater has a pedestrian-friendly waterfront filled with shops, restaurants and hotels.
The resort’s daily activities include kayaking and yoga. I didn’t have time for those but I did have an 80-minute Signature Perfect Massage treatment at the onsite spa facility.
Meals at the hotel’s restaurants were delightful. Tate’s Island Grille is a poolside eatery serving grouper sandwiches, burgers, crab cakes, salads and more. Caretta on the Gulf serves a good breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner. I especially enjoyed a steak salad with bleu cheese dressing for lunch. I’m not a very adventurous eater, but for those who are, Caretta’s menu includes duck, blue point oysters and Hawaiian sea bass.
A silver LEED-certified resort, the Sandpearl offers free behind-the-scenes tours that show guests how the property earned this recognition. Chilled water air conditioning, an ozone pool sanitizing system and low emission construction materials are among the many factors making the resort environmentally friendly.
Segways are a fun way for ages 12 and older to explore the area. The 7.5-mile guided tours begin with instruction (it’s a short learning curve, promise!) then riders cruise by beaches, up the Clearwater Memorial Causeway for panoramic views, down to the marina, and through the historic Harbor Oaks neighborhood and public fishing dock.
Be sure to bring a small camera or your smartphone. There are plenty of photo opps!
Established in 1926 and in the hands of the Hamilton family for 50 years, the Palm Pavilion is the kind of casual beach eatery where kids, parents and grandparents show up in shorts and flip-flops and blend in with the locals. Budget-friendly meals include fish tacos, burgers, steaks, ribs and crab chowder. A children’s menu offers chicken tenders, sliders and macaroni and cheese. Live music, prime beach spot and amazing sunsets make this an ideal family restaurant.
Located on the waterfront, Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber serves full-course steak, fried chicken and seafood dinners and a la carte items in the main dining room. The rather sophisticated children’s menu includes fish, chicken, prime rib and burgers. Heilman’s adjacent bistro has a more casual ambiance with a menu of gourmet