Clearwater Beach with Kids: Top 30 Things To Do on a Family Beach Vacation
Known for its white sand beaches, gentle waves, and breathtaking sunsets, Clearwater Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast is one of the top beaches in the United States and makes for a great family-friendly vacation destination. This Florida beach has a variety of seaside hotels and beach resorts for families to choose from and plenty of activities for all ages. We've listed some of our favorite things to do in Clearwater Beach below.
Many travelers love how easy Clearwater Beach is to get to, with direct flights from large cities to Tampa International Airport plentiful and inexpensive. From there, just a 30-minute shuttle or taxi ride will have you at the beach. The gentle waves and warm, shallow waters make Clearwater a great choice for families with young children.
Clearwater Beach is half an hour from Tampa and about two hours from Orlando, so it can be a good home base for trips to big attractions like Disney World or Legoland Florida. Playing all day at the theme parks and coming back to the beach to relax is a vacation that my family certainly enjoys.
Note: All families should consult local travel advisories before considering travel during the pandemic, wear masks, and maintain recommended social distancing measures.
Pier 60 is known not only for its spectacular views but also its amenities including playgrounds, telescopes, two massive inflatable slides, public restrooms, Photo courtesy of Pier 60
1. Pier 60
Enjoy nightly sunset celebrations at Sunsets at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach, complete with street performers, musicians, artisans, and a large playground for the kids. Families can also enjoy free movies in the park on Friday evenings during the summer months.
Meet the residents at the Clearwater Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
2. Clearwater Marine Aquarium
See Winter, the star dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale, at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s newly renovated and expanded facility. Watch a dolphin show and learn about all the other marine animal rescues at the aquarium.
Take a cruise on the Mega Bite, a shark-themed boat in search of dolphins. Photo courtesy of the company
3. Dolphin Cruise
Reel in a big one on a three-hour Florida fishing charter perfect for kids.
5. Shell Key Preserve
6. Wildlife Tour
Or take a Wildlife Boat Tour, led by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where guests can travel to a bird sanctuary island and learn about the local dolphin population.
Test your surfing skills at the indoor FlowRider at Surf Style, a local beachwear and souvenir shop.
Jump the waves as a family at h20 Jet Skis. Photo courtesy of the company
8. Jet Ski
Kids ages 14 and 15 can drive a rented jet ski with a parent as a passenger. Kids as young as 5 can ride with an adult for an exciting ocean outing.
9. Indian Rocks Beach
Go snorkeling at Indian Rocks Beach, a pretty spot just 8 miles south of Clearwater Beach.
10. Swim with Manatees
Book an expedition to swim with the manatees at Crystal River.
Come face to face with pirates on Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise. Photo courtesy of the company
11. Pirate Cruise
Argh, mateys! Channel your inner pirate aboard Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise.
Take to the skies on a parasail flight.
13. Mini Golf
Challenge the family to a mini-golf competition at Captain Bligh’s Landing.
14. Baseball Game
Visit the ballpark to cheer on the Clearwater Threshers, the local minor league baseball team.
15. Free Taxi Rides
Go anywhere in Clearwater for a flat fee of $10 (but do tip your driver) with Way 2 Go Rides.
The Dali Museum hosts free family programs almost every day to help introduce young children to the world of Salvador Dali. Photo courtesy of the museum
17. Dalí Museum
A short trip to St. Petersburg can reward families with a visit to the Salvador Dalí Museum filled with the Spanish artist's surrealist paintings and more creations.
18. Morean Arts Center
Next up? Visit the nearby Morean Arts Center where kids can participate in seasonal hands-on workshops and check out the exhibits, too.
19. Tarpon Springs
Visit the breathtaking Caladesi Island State Park for a day off-grid. Photo courtesy of Florida State Parks
20. Florida State Parks
Pack a lunch and visit Honeymoon Island State Park for swimming, fishing, bicycling, and shelling. From Honeymoon Island, take a ferry ride to Caladesi Island State Park, an unspoiled island accessible only by boat. It was voted one of the top beaches in Florida.
21. Ice Hockey
Watch the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightning in action at the Amalie Arena.
22. Moccasin Lake Nature Park
See birds of prey and other wildlife at Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater.
Have a real racing experience that puts you behind the steering wheel of an Italian-manufactured vehicle. Photo courtesy of Tampa Grand Prix
Race the family in electric go-karts at Tampa Bay Grand Prix.
24. Busch Gardens
Take a day trip to see the animals and ride roller coasters at the nearby Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
25. St. Pete Pier
Enjoy a full day of family fun at the brand new St. Pete Pier, complete with a unique playground, splash pad, discovery center, and a variety of vendors and dining options.
Great Exploration is where kids come to learn and play! Photo courtesy of the museum
26. Great Explorations Children's Museum
Rain in the forecast? No problem! Take little ones for some indoor fun at Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
Take a stroll through the lovely Sunken Gardens. Photo courtesy of the garden
27. Sunken Gardens
Explore tropical plants and cascading waterfalls while strolling through the pretty Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg.
Hold an alligator if you dare! Photo courtesy of the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center. Photo courtesy of the center
28. Feed an Alligator
29. Empower Adventures
For an adrenaline rush, embark on a zipline experience 60-feet above a natural preserve at Empower Adventures Tampa Bay.
30. Dinosaur World
Have a little dinosaur fanatic? A day trip to Dinosaur World Florida will be the highlight of their trip.
A version of this article was first published in 2012 by Anna Fader. It has since been updated and revised.