I had never really placed where Clearwater Beach, Florida was until I kept telling my friends and coworkers I was headed to the beach in Tampa for my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party in January. Most responses were, “you are staying in Clearwater, right?” I had no idea how close it was to Tampa and that it was such a popular destination spot.
First of all, if you are looking to leave the cold, depressing weather in the middle of winter (especially if you experience anything like Chicago’s) this is a fantastic place to go in January or February. The weather was in the mid-to-high 70’s the entire weekend we were there and everyone immediately had a smile on their face once we hit the beach.
Where to Stay in Clearwater Beach
We found a great rental house north on the island that was right off of Mandalay Avenue. We were able to walk to all the beach bars on the strip within 10-15 minutes. It was great exercise and was just close enough to get to where we needed to go.
Fun Beach Bars in Clearwater Beach
- Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar – this was my ultimate favorite place to be. Think a nice huge white patio overlooking the beach with live music and a fantastic breeze.
- Jimmy’s Crow’s Nest – located in the Pier House 60 Hotel, this was my second favorite place in in Clearwater. A big rooftop that play music videos on a big screen and overlooks the island strip and marina.
- Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill – this colorful bar had fantastic live music and a great variety of fruity cocktails. It’s also known for some good seafood!
- The Shipwreck – A pirate-like hole in the wall that serves some funny named shots that pack a punch
- Beach Fire Bar & Grill – A smaller beach bar that plays calm, local music
- Surfside Taphouse – If you are looking for beer and a more regular bar feel, this is a great spot to stop
- Marina Cantina – right on the Marina there is a triple-decker set of restaurants that you can go to and hang out on the rooftop, order drinks, food and enjoy the marina
Food in Clearwater Beach
We ate a home a lot during the trip but I must say I had some fantastic Mexican food. Spotted Donkey Cantina in the Hilton had some amazing house margaritas and probably the best white queso I’ve ever had in my life.
We also hit up a popular casual spot called Frenchy’s Original Cafe which had some delicious garlic french fries and fried oreos for dessert.
Cruising Around Clearwater
We also did a booze cruise on the Calypso Queen which was a great deal – all you can eat buffet and all you can drink. We boated around on the ocean for a few hours and passed Hulk Hogan’s house and some other C-level celebrities. Speaking of, apparently Hulk Hogan is a big thing there. He even has his own store.
Pier 60, the main pier in Clearwater, is also a fun place to walk up and down. You can people (and bird) watch.
If I went back to Clearwater Beach…
There are a bunch of spots on the strip that I’d like to check out if I went back to the beach. I was not in a wine mood this weekend, so a lot of the spots I’d like to go center around checking those out!
- Cork & Brew Bistro
- Clearwater Wine Bar & Bistro – won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2016
- Bobby’s Bistro & Wine Bar
- Clear Sky Café
- Eat more seafood
- Go to Tampa and check it out! I’ve actually never vacationed there either!