7 Best Things to Do in Clearwater Beach, Florida
By Wayne Kask
My friends and I took a day trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida on New Years’ Eve 2020. I loved it here, and in this post, I’ll be sharing some of the best things to do in Clearwater, such as the beaches, Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and Pier 60.
What Is Clearwater Famous For?
Clearwater is famous for its white sands and clear blue waters on the Gulf Coast. Both the beaches in Clearwater Beach and sunset out at the pier make this area of Florida a must-see.
Whenever I talk to friends about my favorite Florida beaches, I always tell them that I typically like the Gulf beaches better than the ones on the Atlantic side.
For me, there’s just something more peaceful and serene about the waters on the Gulf coast.
My friends and I took the hour and a half drive from Orlando to Clearwater Beach to spend our New Years’ Eve afternoon at the beach.
The drive from Tampa to Clearwater Beach has some nice views and you’re often surrounded by water and go over some long bridges.
Clearwater Beach is known to have some of the best beaches in Florida, and this was the perfect place to take a day trip!
1. Go to the Beach
This one is pretty obvious right?! Clearwater Beach is beautiful with its soft, white sand, and you could spend your entire day trip here, just relaxing.
The beach is really clean and there are plenty of umbrellas to relax under in the shade. There are also plenty of places to stay right at the beach, since the area is lined up with hotels and resorts.
The weather here was a nice and sunny 82 degrees on New Year’s Eve. However, the water is a little chilly this time of year, around 60 – 65 degrees.
Clearwater Beach is not only one of the best beaches in Florida, but it’s often considered to be one of the best beaches in the country. The beach is about a half hour away from both Tampa and St. Petersburg.
It can be a little difficult to find a parking spot right at the beach. The area of the beach we were at shares parking with Frenchy’s and other restaurants, so it was full and we weren’t able to park there.
However, there is a parking ramp just a couple blocks away in the downtown area. The cost there is $3 an hour.
2. Go on a Boat Cruise or Do Some Water Activities
Clearwater Beach is popular for year-round water activities such as parasailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and jet-skiing.
There are scuba diving and fishing charters in the area, as well as sightseeing boat cruises and boat rentals.
3. Get Some Food by the Beach
We got a late lunch at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. It’s a bar and grill right on the beach just a couple hundred yards away from the water.
This place is well known for its local caught seafood and different Grouper sandwiches. They have a large selection of drinks at the bar, from fruity beach drinks to taps beers and wine.
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill was also featured on the food tv show, Food Paradise.
The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining. Their patio is a popular place for watching sunsets and they often have live music.
It was about a 45-minute wait for a table, so it gave us some time to hang out at the beach for a little while before eating, and also grow a larger appetite.
My friends and I went all out on the food. We got the baked and steamed oysters, as well as Crab fries. I got the Cajun Grouper sandwich.
You can also get this grilled, fried, Caribbean style or Buffalo. Or you can even try the Grouper Reuben sandwich.
I really love the food and drinks here. The Grouper sandwiches are really good and I see why they are famous for them. Definitely one of the best things to do in Clearwater Beach!
My friend thought the food was good and even liked his Grilled Grouper sandwich, but he likes the food more at Grills Tiki Bar, near Cocoa Beach.
They are both excellent places for seafood, just on different sides of Florida’s coast.
There are five Frenchy’s restaurants in Clearwater Beach and Dunedin Causeway. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is the biggest restaurant.
And just a couple blocks away from the Rockaway Grill, in downtown Clearwater Beach, is the original Frenchy’s Cafe.
Other restaurants in the area include Poke Havana, Crabby’s Beachwalk Bar & Grill, and Sharky’s Beach Bar.
4. Go to Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach
The Clearwater Beach, Florida beaches are known for their beautiful sunsets over the Gulf, and there’s probably not a better place to watch them, then right here at Pier 60.
Pier 60 Clearwater is about 3/4 of a mile down the beach from Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. It’s a great place to walk around and check out the dolphins and fish in the water.
The pier has vendors selling their arts and crafts, and oftentimes performers as well. Many people also come here for the fishing.
Clearwater’s Pier 60 has fishing year-round and sell everything from daily, weekly and monthly fishing passes, as well as equipment and bait.
Currently, the pier is operating at reduced hours and is only open every day from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Popular fish caught here at Pier 60 are Grouper, Whiting, Bluefish, Seatrout, Redfish, Black Drum, Snook and Spanish Mackerel.
5. Explore North Clearwater Beach
A day trip to Clearwater wouldn’t be complete without checking out North Clearwater Beach!
The north beach area is really nice and is only a block or so from the beach. As I mentioned they have the original Frenchy’s Cafe here.
This is right around the corner from Mandalay Drive, which is the main street at the northern part of the beach. They have several other restaurants and bars on the main drive, too.
North Clearwater Beach also has Pelican Walk, which is a plaza with two floors of shops including a surf shop, pizza place, ice cream shop, arcade, spa, bars and more. They have a DJ here on weekends, too.
I’ve always been a big wrestling fan and I grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan so it was nice seeing that they have a Hogan’s Beach shop here at Pelican Walk. You can buy memorabilia, clothing and other merchandise.
6. Have a Drink at One of the Bars
A couple doors down from Hogan’s Beach Shop is Hogan’s Hangout, which is a bar and grill right on the corner of Mandalay Drive. We stopped here for a couple drinks.
It was ironic that they have this Hulk Hogan statue at the door telling you to mask up, since this wasn’t enforced while we were here.
It seems like this area is pretty laid back about masks, as are many places in Florida.
The bar area is nice and one side opens to the outside so people can enjoy their drinks outdoors while sitting at the bar.
It’s a pretty fun and lively area, especially at night. They also have a little shop section here where you can buy a Hulk Hogan shirt.
Next door to Hogan’s Beach Shop is The Brown Boxer, a sports bar and grill. They have live entertainment every day and the arcade that I mentioned, also. Outside at The Brown Boxer is dog friendly.
7. Clearwater Marine Aquarium
We didn’t get a chance to make it here during this trip but I wanted to recommend the aquarium since it’s often ranked as one of the best things to do in Clearwater Beach.
At the Clearwater Aquarium, you can see rescued animals such as dolphins, sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, pelicans and otters.
They have several different exhibits here. A couple of these include Dolphin Terrace where you can watch the dolphins and learn about them, and Otter Oasis, where you can see the otters play.
Tickets are $24.95 for kids, $26.95 for seniors and $29.95 for adults. Hours are 10 am- 6 pm.
Clearwater Beach was a really great place to go to and take a day trip. There are plenty of fun things to do and the Clearwater, Florida beaches are amazing.
Everything we did here was within walking distance. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is about a mile and a half away from the downtown activities.
Check out Clearwater Beach!
Wayne Kask is the author of the popular Always on the Shore blog at https://alwaysontheshore.com/
Video credit: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater