Destinations / North America / Florida

15 Wonderful Things to do in Clearwater with Kids (and Their Parents!)

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We’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know all of the kid-friendly places in Florida over the last few years, but one spot we haven’t gotten to yet is Clearwater. Located just 30 minutes due west of the Tampa airport, it’s a really popular spot for family getaways! It’s easy to get to and can be extra budget-friendly if you have a Southwest companion pass.

Since we haven’t made it down to Clearwater yet, I’ve asked Alex of Second Dad to the Right to share his family’s top things to do in Clearwater with kids. He’s come up with a great list that has something for everyone, from toddlers to teens… and their parents that chaperone them. Get Alex’s in-depth perspective on choosing Clearwater Beach hotels for families, what to do in Clearwater and family-friendly dining options in the area.

Clearwater Beach in Clearwater, Florida is an award-winning beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It has 3 miles of beaches and an amazing array of hotels, restaurants, and activities. We visited there for Spring Break and all of my kids had an amazing time. It’s just west of Tampa and 2 hours southwest of Orlando, so this prime beach destination for families is easy to access either as a stand-alone trip or as a beach trip after visiting Walt Disney World. Check out my tips to make the most of your Clearwater Beach vacation!

Best Clearwater Beach hotels for families

First, which Clearwater Beach hotel you choose matters. There’s a huge selection of hotels on the Clearwater coast, but the beachfront ones obviously offer better views and location. The large resorts also offer tons of amenities for kids – that’s the route that we chose. However, a private house rental or a smaller resort might offer more respite from the large crowds on the beach if you’re visiting at a busy time like spring break.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort And Spa and had an amazing time. We booked a one-bedroom suite on points transferred from this credit card and were upgraded for free into a 2-bedroom suite with an ocean view (thanks to a Guest of Honor award a friend gave me). Our room came with a full kitchen, allowing us to save some money on a few meals. It was perfect for our family of five!

Unfortunately the kids’ club at Hyatt Regency Clearwater closed several years ago and hasn’t returned but it still has several other amazing features for kids. The 8th floor boasts a rooftop pool with a sundeck overlooking the ocean. My kids loved the view, the pool, and the restaurant up there. On the 16th floor, there’s a rooftop hot tub with views of both the ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. 

The Hyatt Regency is also beachfront and has discounts on beach chair,  beach cabana, and bike rentals. It also sits on top of two very kid-friendly restaurants (pizza and burgers), and next to an amazing beach supply store with indoor surfing.

Want to learn more about how you can stay here for free? Read up on the best credit cards for family travel!

Sandpearl Resort

Another great resort with an even more upscale feel is Opal’s Sandpearl Resort. It has won several awards from distinguished publications such as Condé Nast. Hyatt may have a rooftop pool, but the Sandpearl has a zero-entry pool and many more options for water sports rentals. 

The Sandpearl also has something most of the resorts don’t have: a private beach. My wife and I explored the Sandpearl while getting massages there, and the crowd was much smaller than at the Hyatt or Wyndham (which both serve as public beach parking and access points). The Sandpearl also has a kids’ club for ages 5-10.

Having the right resort will make an amazing experience for your kids. The Sandpearl also has yacht parking, so if that’s you, this is the place. If you need to get around on land, your room key from Sandpearl includes Jolly Trolley access for four people.

Best things to do in Clearwater with kids

One tip to keep in mind: the cost of doing lots of tours and activities in Clearwater and nearby can add up. If you plan to spend at least some of your time in other parts of Florida, consider the Tampa Bay CityPASS or the GoCity Orlando Explorer Pass. Both of these Florida discount cards include some Clearwater activities too!

Dolphin watching boat tour

There is an abundance of bottleneck dolphins in the intracoastal waterways and shallows of Clearwater Beach. I highly recommend hopping on a boat tour that will take you out to see them!

We booked the ultra kid-friendly Mega Bite boat tour to go see the dolphins – it’s actually shaped like a shark! Whether they’re toddlers who love “Baby Shark” or tweens who are into “Jaws”, it’s a crowd pleaser.

This sunset cruise gave us unbelievably close encounters with dolphins as the tour guides pointed out landmarks and celebrity houses, like Hulk Hogan’s. At one point the captain got a pod of dolphins to chase the boat, jumping repeatedly in our wake. While we were out there, we saw the pirate experience (see below), several other dolphin encounter boats, and floating tiki bars. It was amazing!

Pier 60

One of the central locales for Clearwater is Pier 60, named for the state road 60 that dead ends into Clearwater. This 1000+ foot long pier has amazing fishing, festivals, live acts, a covered playground, and amazing inflatables for kids to play on.

We hit the playground and inflatables several times and saw the Sugar Sand Festival that boasted amazing sandcastles. They also have plenty of souvenirs and food, and even a Ferris Wheel! My daughters and niece loved the ferris wheel and enjoyed great views of the island.

Be sure to swing by in the evening for the nightly musical performances and general lively atmosphere. You can actually access the first half of this massive pier before paying admission, making this one of the best free things to do in Clearwater Beach with kids!

Get Ice Cream

Nothing says vacation for kids quite like a great ice cream shop. There are plenty of places to grab ice cream in Clearwater. Just underneath the Hyatt Regency where we stayed, Beverly’s was a big hit for our kids.

Go the Beach

Obviously, the main reason you go to Clearwater is for the beach. With relatively flat sugar sand beaches, gentle Gulf waves, and plenty of activities like water sports rentals and volleyball, Clearwater has everything you’re looking for.

The public beaches have chair rentals (again, discounted if you’re staying at the resorts), and the experience was amazing for us. Since Clearwater is exactly west-facing, the beach also has amazing sunsets every night. My family never wakes up in time for sunrise, so a sunset view was perfect for us!

Pro tip: If you want to experience Clearwater Beach as empty as the photo above, don’t go over spring break! The weather is still great in early fall and the crowds are much thinner.

Rent a Bike

Just behind the beach, Clearwater has a wide thoroughfare for walkers and bikers. If your kids can ride a bike, you can rent bikes to ride along this paved path and see the ocean without the difficulty of navigating through the sand (or the hassle of parking at the beach). Again, many resorts offer discounts on bikes. In the case of the Hyatt Regency, you get one hour free.

Go to the Clearwater Aquarium

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is another great attraction for kids. It exists to rescue and rehabilitate marine life. It’s home to rescued dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, otters, and other sea creatures who are being rehabilitated or can’t return to the wild due to injuries.

There are amazing shows, interactions, and viewing of the marine life, sure to capture the wonder of your kids. A highlight for many people is the dolphin shows where the dolphins show off their tricks. It’s also a great way to get out of the sun for a little bit.

Go Parasailing

If your kids aren’t scared of heights, one of the great beach adventures is parasailing. Strapped to a parachute on the back of a boat, guests can enjoy amazing views of the ocean and Clearwater Beach from 200 or more feet in the air. We saw so many people doing this from our hotel balcony. The minimum age is just 5 years old!

Pirate Cruise

Another great experience for kids in Clearwater is Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise. Onboard a replica pirate ship, all ages can enjoy complimentary beverages (including alcohol for adults), pirate games, water gun fights, and more. This is a spectacular adventure for kids and adults alike. We were jealous watching the galleon go by during our dolphin experience.

Sand Key Park

Just south of Clearwater across the bridge is Sand Key Park. If you’re looking for a great beach away from the crowds of the main beach, check it out. It has lifeguards, playgrounds, and plenty of sugar sand. If you go from April-October, you might even see some nesting sea turtles.

Moccasin Lake Nature Park

If you’re looking for something in nature to do that’s out of the direct sunlight, check out Moccasin Lake. It has 51-acres of trails, boardwalks, and green space that allows plenty of opportunity to encounter wildlife.

If you want something more guided, they also have camps, classes, and more at the Moccasin Lake Discovery Center.

Great kid-friendly restaurants in Clearwater

Good Stuff Eatery

Good Stuff is perfect for kids. Amazing burgers, chicken, and fries, and incredible milkshakes! It has a diner feel and the food comes pretty quickly. And, it’s a step up from a typical burger place. With creative burgers made from farm fresh ingredients, this was quite a surprise. It was a big hit for my whole family. It sits just under the Hyatt Regency next to an equally good pizza place, right on the water.

Crabby’s Bar and Grill

If you’re looking for casual, beachfront seafood with beach drinks and good kid’s menu, Crabby’s took care of us. My fish tacos were amazing. It was easy to get a table, even during Spring Break! They have lots of outdoor seating, and eating great food while watching the sunset was a perfect way to end the night. Bring your sunglasses.

A lot of seafood places boast fresh seafood, and Clearwater restaurants are particularly proud of their grouper. Crabby’s was no exception. If you and your kids enjoy fresh seafood, start there! 

Getting around Clearwater

If you don’t plan to explore outside of Clearwater Beach – which is fine for a quick getaway – you can get by without renting a car. That’s a great way to save on your travels! Just take a taxi or rideshare from the Tampa airport – be sure to read up on Uber with car seats.

Once you’re in Clearwater, you can get around on foot, by rental bike or one of the two trolley lines that run in the area! That’s right, you can take either the Jolly Trolley or the Beach Trolley depending on where you want to go. The trolley ride alone is a delightful family activity in Clearwater Beach. Kids 8 and under ride free on both trolleys.

For those planning to venture outside of Clearwater, like to explore Sarasota or go swimming with manatees, you’ll want to rent a car. Beach parking isn’t terribly expensive but can get crowded during peak times – it may be better to park at your hotel and walk or take the trolley when going to nearby beaches, saving car trips for further away restaurants in the evening (for example).

Planning your trip to Florida

Clearwater is an amazing destination for all ages if you like a lively beach with tons of activity. It’s also not quite as wild as the more famous panhandle beaches. As a bonus, it’s close to the Tampa airport, which makes it easier to access than many beaches with smaller airports.

If you’re headed to Clearwater in the near future with your kids, I hope this article steers you in the right direction for some fun activities to create core memories with your kids. While you’re in the Sunshine State, be sure to visit these awesome kid-friendly locations!

About Alex Smith
Alex has three kids and an amazing wife, and he’s spent a lot of time at Disney Parks and on Disney Cruises with them. He loves Disney and wants to share tips, insights, and funny stories to help parents everywhere navigate the Most Magical Place on Earth. Find him at Second Dad to the Right!

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