Spring Break: the term brings to mind bikini-clad collegiates, wild parties and raucous antics. And while many Spring Break destinations market specifically to this audience, Clearwater Beach does not.
Clearwater Beach is different than other destinations. While there’s certainly a fair share of Spring Breakers, the area doesn’t just promote Clearwater Beach to just college students. High schools are out, colleges in a couple of weeks. Families come. There’s a variety of Spring Break traffic. Hotels on the beach are always completely occupied from mid-February onward. There is not even one room available in March. People who come will book a room probably a year in advance. There’s pretty much a 100 percent occupancy starting right after Valentine’s Day. A lot of people are from out of the area and will come to the beach to just stay for the day. There’s not even a high season anymore because Clearwater Beach is so beautiful and popular.”
In fact, Clearwater Beach was named the top beach in the United States in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, better known as “Dr. Beach,” has evaluated and rated beaches throughout the world for more than 23 years. He pronounced Clearwater Beach Florida’s best beach town in USA Today in 2013. And both 10Best and USA Today declared Clearwater Beach The Best Place to Watch a Sunset for people, including ‘romantics, dreamers, nature lovers and photographers.’
In 2014, Travel Channel’s Best Beach Awards named the beach the Best Family Beach because of the baby powder-soft sand and the gradual slope to the warm Gulf waters, making it an ideal beach for small children.
There are so many activities – paddle boarding, Segways, parasailing, jet skis, a variety of boat rides, dinner cruises. The beaches have concession stands and lockers, beach chairs and umbrella rentals.”
Because the beach offers so much – accommodations and food for every budget, it appeals to everyone.
This destination is also known for being pedestrian-friendly. Beach Walk, which starts just south of the central round-about, continues southward on South Gulfview Boulevard to where the road starts to curve.
Another contributing factor to the beach’s popularity: the availability of alternate transportation including the Jolley Trolley (www.clearwaterjolleytrolley.com) and Florida Free Rides (www.floridafreerides.com), where participating hotels and restaurants offer free rides to other locations in the vicinity.
And avoiding those long lines of traffic over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway from downtown Clearwater? It’s recommended that people come over in the early morning if driving. During peak times, traffic can back up for 45 minutes or more. Visitors can also come over the Belleair Causeway via West Bay Drive in Largo and arriving from the south. Parking is available at Sand Key Park and the trolley runs to Clearwater Beach.
The Clearwater Ferry (www.clearwaterferry.com) also has water transport from downtown to Clearwater Beach.
There’s a parking garage at Pelican Walk Plaza at the north end of the beach.
Collegiate Spring Break typically runs from as early as mid-February to late April because of the tiered vacation dates of various schools. For a list of 2020 breaks for U.S. colleges and universities, visit www.ststravel.com/college-spring-break-dates.
It is important to know that there is no alcohol allowed on the beach. Clearwater Beach is not like other areas in Florida, such as Downtown Disney, where you can walk around with an open container. People cannot leave a facility that sells alcohol with their drinks. Extra police details are provided during this high-traffic time.
The college kids typically hang out at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, Shephard’s Beach Resort, Jimmy’s Fish House or Palm Pavilion. The volleyball courts are popular. Volleyballs are available for rent or people bring their own balls.
There are wall-to-wall people everywhere – on the pier, businesses and on the beach. But the beauty of Clearwater Beach is that there are bistros, pubs, and places for everybody to enjoy.
For more information, visit The Clearwater Beach Chamber at www.beachchamber.com or check out the Ultimate Guide to Spring Break on Clearwater Beach.