Clearwater Beach

One of the Tampa Bay area's most popular beaches, Clearwater Beach is a vibrant destination for a Gulf Coast beach vacation. It's perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, water sports, volleyball and biking or blading along the Beach Walk promenade. Beach amenities are plenty, including concessions, cabanas, watercraft rentals and playgrounds, plus nearby marinas that serve as a great starting point for many water excursions, from pirate cruises to parasailing to dolphin watches. The nightly Sunsets at Pier 60 celebration is a must-do. Go for the unbelievable sunset, but stay for the live music, street performers, craft vendors and more.

Downtown Clearwater

Clearwater is the third-largest metro area in the Tampa Bay area and home to the annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday in downtown's Coachman Park. The main attraction for visitors is the nearby beach area, but downtown is a great place to spend an afternoon, especially when there are events and festivals in progress. Walk the pedestrian-friendly Memorial Causeway, which is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, for stunning views of both the mainland and Clearwater Beach. In the Cleveland Street District, spend a few hours shopping for everything from home furnishings to sports gear to designer clothing. The Capitol Theatre on Cleveland Street, which was built in 1921 and inspires visions of old Hollywood, presents classic movies and live music. Plans are in place to renovate the 655-seat theater, one of Florida's oldest.

Clearwater and Clearwater Beach are both located in easy driving distance of the many beach getaways near Tampa, as well as the eclectic communities of nearby St. Pete, Gulfport, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin and more.