Discover cool vibes and great beaches in the St. Pete/Clearwater area, just 90 minutes west of Orlando.
A cool breeze washes across your face, and the only sound you hear is the soft rising and falling of waves against the shore, punctuated by the occasional squawking sea gull. The kids are quietly making sandcastles, and your partner is doing the crossword puzzle.
With award-winning beaches and endless opportunities for relaxation and fun, the sister towns of St. Petersburg and Clearwater—between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico—make for an idyllic getaway. Just 90 minutes west of Orlando, it’s the perfect place to wind down after energetic days at Walt Disney World Resort.
Here are some of the top reasons why families are choosing to spend several days in St. Pete and Clearwater.
America’s Best Beaches
With white-sand beaches that feel like you’re walking on powdered sugar, and clear blue-green waters that stay warm year-round, it’s not surprising that Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach were both recently named the top beaches in America (number one and number four, respectively) by TripAdvisor’s traveler community. In all, there are 35 gorgeous miles of white sandy beaches on the peninsula, where families can unwind, build castles, beachcomb, or do nothing at all. You’ll even find beaches that will welcome Fido: Fort De Soto Park and Honeymoon Island State Park. (Frisbees not included.)
Fabulous Activities for Families
Off the beach, the area offers plenty of different ways to entertain the whole family.
The Social Scene on St. Pete’s Central Ave.
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The main artery of St. Pete, along historic Central Avenue, is alive with activity—perfect for strolling and socializing with locals. Great bars and indie restaurants serve up creatively prepared fresh seafood, vegan fare, and cuisine from the islands. You’ll also find locally owned coffee shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and galleries that specialize in glass art. In fact, you can check out the Chihuly Collection and the Duncan McClellan Gallery, where the “Glass Coast” movement began, and even try your hand at making something out of glass at the Hot Shop at the Morean Art Center. Then dig into history and culture at the new James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art or head to Haslam’s—Florida’s oldest and largest bookstore for new and used books—to discover your next beach read.
Buzzy Craft Brews on the “Gulp Coast”
St. Pete/Clearwater has evolved into a craft-brewing mecca, with more than three dozen local breweries making artisanal beers with local flavors like key lime, dragon fruit, and passionfruit. There’s even a St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail and a special Gulp Coast Craft Brewery passport, so you know where you’re headed (and where you’ve been). It’s an hour-long drive from end-to-end, but there’s no rush to do it all at once: Many breweries have outdoor seating and feature live music, so grab your growler and give it a go.
So. Many. Festivals.
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Because sometimes relaxing means wandering around with others who are doing the exact same thing, there are laid-back festivals nearly every weekend for lovers of food, art, music, and more. Come for the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival, where world-renowned sand artists create dazzling sand sculptures. The Tampa Bay Blues Festival and the nationally known Clearwater Jazz Holiday feature headliners like Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, and Chicago. There’s an all-local festival, Localtopia, and a Shine Mural Festival, which celebrates St. Pete’s 500-plus murals (and unveils new ones each year). And that’s just a sampling of the year-round festivals here. Because in St.Pete/Clearwater, festival season is always right now.
For more great reasons not to miss this magical part of the Gulf Coast, check out Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
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