Between the sunset shows at Pier 60 and miles of pristine white sands, we’ve unearthed the worthy pursuits for everyone, from public-art perusers to dolphin aficionados.
Photo © St. Petersburg Clearwater Area CVB
Orientation On the Gulf of Mexico, 20 miles east of Tampa.
Nearby An arm of barrier islands known for their white-sand beaches and St. Petersburg, located 20 miles south.
Date incorporated 1891.
Namesake Originally called “Clear Water Harbor” by early settlers for the freshwater springs that babbled from the banks into the bay.
Notable for The 2013 title of “Best Beach Town” by USA Today and Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail that makes her home at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Walk, cycle, or even Segway along the newly redeveloped Beach Walk that extends along South Gulfview Boulevard with a view of the Florida Gulf Coast. The wide and winding beachside promenade is dotted with palm trees, resting areas, and turtle statues. Another scenic jaunt takes you three miles out to the undeveloped 2,400-acre Caladesi Island, once only reachable by private boat before a storm filled the gap between the two barrier islands. Walking paths and kayak trails take you along the dunes where gopher tortoises burrow and scallop shells and sand dollars lay scattered like confetti.
What started in 2012 as a temporary display of several six-foot-tall fiberglass dolphins at Clearwater’s Pier 60 has become an ever-expanding art exhibit, known as the Dolphins Trail, through Pinellas County. Currently, 101 dolphins (each one sponsored by a different area business) are uniquely painted, decoupaged, or covered in recycled materials like shells and colored glass. Also once a temporary exhibit, Sculpture360 brings larger-than-life art installations to the Cleveland Street District year-round – think an 11-foot-tall twisted aluminum figure and an eight- by six-foot gleaming mural.
The Italians have officially invaded the Cleveland Street District – Clearwater’s retail and entertainment hub known for its walkable urban setting. Gioffre – a women’s clothing designer brand from Milan – specializes in high-style cocktail dresses inspired by a combination of modern trends and 1950s fashion, while Roma N.Y.C. sells the accessory side with Italian shoes, leather bags, belts, and more.
Music & Culture
Flame-throwers, break dancers, magicians, escape artists, and performing pets all gather in Clearwater Beach at Pier 60 for a nightly sunset celebration (inspired by the similar Key West event) that starts prior to sundown and lasts for two hours after. For more national-scale performers, base a stay around October’s four-day Clearwater Jazz Holiday, which has hosted the likes of Tony Bennett, Kenny G, and Natalie Cole.