Nestled along the coast of central Florida lies the beach community of Clearwater. This popular tourist destination offers easy access to the beach and nearby city of Tampa with all its attractions and activities. Located on the western side of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater vacation rentals include condos on the beach, as well as family homes in the downtown area. You and your family can enjoy the week on the beach or explore the town. Here’s a quick guide to the top nine things to do with your kids while staying in Clearwater.
1. Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a small space with only a dozen or so species of animals on display, including dolphins and the massive sea turtles. If your kids have seen the Dolphin Tale movies, they’ll get to meet the real rescued animals at the center of the stories at this aquarium. You can see the area where parts of the movie were filmed before moving on to the lower viewing tanks. After seeing the dolphins, you can make your way to see the otters and other aquatic animals.
2. The Florida Botanical Gardens
Drive a couple of miles inland for an afternoon at the Florida Botanical Gardens. These gardens maintain mostly local flora and fauna, and much of the presentation centers on conservation efforts. This garden offers a special children’s trail led by an iconic flower named Flora. The trail stops in the butterfly garden, where your kids can play the musical instruments, solve the butterfly puzzle, and possibly have a butterfly land on their shoulder or finger.
3. Clearwater Beach
No stay in Clearwater would be complete without a day on the beach. Pack your sunscreen and cooler before leaving your vacation rental, and drive over to Clearwater Beach or walk out the back of your condo if you’re on the beach. Pass the day playing in the water, soaking up the sun, and helping your kids bury your husband in the sand. If you packed a lunch, you can spend the entire day or leave the beach for a meal at one of the locally-owned restaurants nearby.
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4. Beach Walk
Stretch your legs and partake in a little retail therapy along Beach Walk, which winds its way through the Clearwater beach area. You’ll see plenty of palm trees lining the walkway, and artwork crops up in little nooks and crannies. When the children get restless or tired, you can stop at one of the quaint ice cream shops or get a meal from one of the family restaurants. No matter what you’re looking for in a souvenir, you’ll find it at one of the eclectic shops along the Beach Walk.
5. Pier 60
Organize your fishing gear and take the kids over to Pier 60. If you need some extra supplies, stop by the bait house for some last minute bait or lures. After dropping your lines in the water, there’s a chance that you could catch some mackerel, snook, spotted trout, and snapper. Take a cooler so you can take your catch back to the vacation rental for dinner. Wait until sunset to leave because the pier comes alive with a variety of street performers.
6. Pinellas Trail
You have a lot of options for visiting the Pinellas Trail. You can put on sturdy shoes and walk a portion of it, or rent bikes and feel the wind in your hair—you can even put on inline skates and cruise. This 38 miles trail runs along an old rail line and stretches from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg. There are several places where you can hop on and ride or walk almost any distance. It’s all up to you!
7. Lowry Park Zoo
Let your kids hang out with some of their favorite animals at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Covering 63 acres, this zoo has a behind the scenes tour, where your kids can pet giant turtles, and enjoy an up close and personal experience, where each of you can let a giraffe eat out of your hand. The Africa Expedition Company offers a 15-minute tram ride through the safari area with a live commentary that helps your kids learn more about the animals and their natural habitats.
8. Clearwater Farmers Market
Create an amazing farm-to-table meal for your family at your vacation rental after an afternoon at the Clearwater Farmers Market. You’ll find the freshest vegetables and fruits from local farmers. Let your kids help you pick out their favorites for dinner or to snack on. There’s also a variety of homemade baked goods for your dessert. Several booths offer handicrafts, honey, salsa, and jellies and jams.
9. Cleveland Street District
At the top of a 30-foot bluff, the Cleveland Street District offers an eclectic variety of shopping and dining. This is a popular spot for locals to meander around in the evening or for tourists to indulge in some people watching. You and the kids can enjoy the stunning views and check out the installations from the public art program.
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