Best places to stay in Clearwater Florida – Top areas and best hotels
Clearwater Beach is today one of the best beach destinations in the world, ranking constantly on the top of the U.S. beaches in the Traveler’s Choice Award (TripAdvisor).
As a result, the city has become a vacation hot spot for beach goers, with accommodations in constant demand.
The best places to stay in Clearwater Florida are certainly on the barrier island where you will find 3 miles of sugary white sand that feels like you’re walking on powdered crystals.
Moreover, South Beach is probably the best area for an overall experience.
In saying that, there are different options that may work better if you are after some private time, a secluded getaway, or on a quiet family vacation.
Are you traveling on a budget? You may want to stay inland, where you can find great value for money hotels and vacation rentals.
Without further ado, let’s get into every single area with advantages and drawbacks for each of them.
Clearwater South Beach – The best place to stay in Clearwater overall
South Beach is the best place to stay in Clearwater because:
- It is the most vibrant area of the city
- Mandalay Avenue and South Gulfview Boulevard offer a variety of cafes, some of the best restaurants in Clearwater, and bars to spend the day and night.
- It is the best area for shopping and nightlife
- Easy access to the airport or drive your car.
- The beach has lovely white sand and Pier 60 is a must visit
- proximity to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The weakest points:
- The priciest area of the city
- South Beach is notorious for its parking issues, book your spot in advance or with the accommodation
Visitors stream in all year to this bustling beach for its myriad of activities – be it parasailing, jet skiing, paddle-boarding, or simply relaxing on the soft, white beach.
The beach is well maintained, being combed every morning.
Sunsets here are pristine – and it’s recommended that you check it out from Pier 60 where people gather for street performances, and opportunity to shoot great pictures from the viewing decks.
There are vendors and artisans all over the beach, offering great food, art, crafts as well as gifts.
Many of the artifacts in the gift shops are made from pearls, shells and sea glass.
Entrance on the Pier is $1, and you can also acquire some fishing equipment to catch some fish.
Sure, there are lots of people- but you still get enough space on the beach so you won’t keep bumping into each other.
The kids’ playground keeps the little ones busy.
There are plenty of pelicans and seagulls flocking here – where you can watch them diving into the ocean for fish, and you can even spot dolphins.
You can also head with the children to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see the animal rehabilitation center and have a behind the doors tour.
Note that the parking immediately next to the Pier is usually full. That’s unless you’re very early and willing to battle it out with other enthusiasts (and they are many).
There are other parking spots that are like a 15-minute walk back to the Pier
Overall, this is the best area to stay in Clearwater.
Suggested accommodations in South Beach are
The Sandpearl Resort offers spacious guest rooms overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Mandalay Bay or the lagoon-style outdoor pool.
When you’re not hitting the waters or lounging on the beach, take a dip in the pool itself- which comes with poolside dining.
Get pampered in the resort’s full-service spa.
Traveling with your kids? The resort comes with daily programs for the little ones.
Finally, dine as you enjoy views of the beach
The resort service is premium in line with the Hilton brand – from the cabana rental booth and balcony restaurant, to the valet desk.
Most of the rooms come with a balcony, and you can choose between different views – from the Gulf view to the Harbor or park view.
Enjoy the outdoor pool, watch the sunset right at the Tiki Bar or walk for just 5 minutes to Pier 60 for the Ocean views.
Beside the room service, you also get resort service when you’re at the pool and at the beach as well – so soak in that sun and sand while drinks are delivered to you.
Here you get a condo in a beachfront resort – which is right on the Gulf Coast.
The spacious living, dining and kitchen areas give you a homely feel.
Wake up to elegant views of the beach and harbor, soak in that Florida sun by the pool that has its pool bar for drinks, and get luxury treatment at Pallavi Spa.
The rental comes with two bedrooms and bathrooms, which allows for ample space for those traveling with families or as groups of friends.
Clearwater North Beach – Where to stay in Clearwater for families or a quiet stay
North Beach is the best place to stay in Clearwater because:
- Houses are spacious enough to accommodate a large family vacation or a group of friends
- Parking spaces are plentiful in the yard if you’re traveling by car
- Almost all accommodations are located right on the beach or close to it
- It is a popular choice for a family vacation
The weakest points:
- It is a residential neighborhood, there are no coffee shops or restaurants nearby (they start from Idlewild Street)
The further you head North, the less crowded it becomes.
This translates to more room for you to enjoy the sand and play with your kids and pets.
Less action here means that vendors and rentals are also few.
You will probably have to carry your own beach chair and umbrellas, so picking your stay at a place that has them will be a plus.
The waters are shallow for quite some distance out.
Nights here are quieter, given that most night clubs and party areas are on South Beach – making this the spot to be if you want to enjoy calm nights as you gaze at the stars and listen to the waves lapping away in the Gulf.
This is the best area to stay in Clearwater for families with small kids
Here are 3 amazing houses/villas that you should check out
The beach is just steps from this house, which is both spacious and fully furnished, with amenities that include a dining table that can seat 10 individuals, Weber gas grill, all through to an outdoor play area for your little ones.
Speaking of which, there is a child safety fence around the pool to protect the kids from accidentally falling in.
This is an ideal relaxing spot, whether you’re soaking in beach views from the wraparound upper deck, or lounging at the back patio deck – which is next to the heated pool.
Feel at home in this massive house with separate living rooms, hot tub, private patio and grill.
One of the best full kitchens for a vacation rental, very well stocked, and outdoor shed that has beach essentials gives you all you need for your stay.
You can book the house together with the cottage if need be.
The setting is in a quiet, residential area – and the Gulf Beach is right across the street.
Emphasis on quiet – so you can’t book here if you want to throw a loud party. You can also dine out on the patio as you enjoy the breeze, or take a short walk to nearby restaurants.
Stepping into this cottage, you’re greeted by a spacious living room with plenty of natural light getting into the space, courtesy of the high number of windows.
It’s fully furnished – from the pull-out sofa (queen-size) to the dining area that can seat 8 – making it great for families, to the deck area that comes with its patio furniture and grill.
There are lots of beach chairs and umbrellas available, and the property has a very convenient location, just a mere 100 feet from the Clearwater Beach access – with a handy pizza place right across the street.
Sand Key – Best place to stay in Clearwater for seclusion
Sand Key is the perfect place to stay in Clearwater because:
- it is the most secluded and isolated beach in Clearwater
- it has amazing resorts
- perfect for a romantic stay
The weakest points:
- isolation, very limited selection of restaurants or bars around, you would need to take a taxi to South Beach for that (2 miles). In saying that, if you are not after seclusion, then you should not stay in Sand Key Park.
While most of the tourists head to Clearwater beach, Sand Key is a hidden gem that barely sees traffic.
Well, during the weekends and high tourist seasons, the numbers will pick up here as well, but it’s nowhere near the levels of Clearwater Beach.
Yet you still get similar features: from the typical white sands of Clearwater Beach, to the pristine sunset Ocean views and way more picnic areas.
Endangered birds and sea turtles lay their eggs here, and the South Key Park is actually home to the county’s artificial reef program.
Sand Key is open from 9 am to sundown – and you don’t want to remain here long into the night, otherwise you’ll get fined.
After around half an hour from sunset, simply dust off and leave the area.
Two amazing beach resorts are located in this area
This is a beautiful beachfront resort, with amenities ranging from a luxurious spa, fitness center to 3 tennis courts.
It comes with an oceanfront pool – and you can take pool toys for a small resort fee.
From the poolside to the Gulf is all sand – and you can get a shuttle ride or take the 3-minute walk.
To grab a bite, head to the Poolside Cafe and get drinks at the Turtle Bar, or go for fine dining at Rusty’s Bistro.
Note that there isn’t food service for the beach – so bring your snacks with you.
The suites here come with a private balconies, from which you get great views of the Clearwater Bay sprawled out in front of you.
This great hotel has its own coffee house and ice-cream shop, and comes with a lagoon pool that has a waterfall.
Right next to the pool is Kokomo’s Bar and Grille for you to get your snacks, and guests can also check into Antonio’s Salon and Day Spa to pamper their bodies during their stay.
Clearwater Point – Where to stay in Clearwater Florida with friends for a big condo
Clearwater Point is the best place to stay in Clearwater because:
- there is a good choice of big homes available for rent, either in condos or townhomes
- it is walking distance to South Beach and the restaurants/bars area
- easily accessible by car
The weakest points:
- not cheap
- make sure parking is included, otherwise it is hard to find
At the south end of Clearwater Beach across from Sand Key Sanctuary is Clearwater Point, an area of high and mid-rise condos, and a few fantastic townhomes
It’s located in the southernmost side of Clearwater Beach, just after South Beach.
The condos tend to be bigger in Clearwater Point, 3BR or even more, and they are perfect if you are travelling with a few friends
You will find a few bars and restaurants in the area like:
- Jimmy’s Fish House & Iguana Bar, with its beautiful outdoor waterfront seating and live music, perfect on sunset time for a few drinks. Food is also top-notch, although prices are on the high side of the spectrum.
- Cabanas Coastal Grill, one of the best restaurant in Clearwater. They serve both fresh seafood and meat dishes, besides vegetarian. Food quality and service are of the highest quality at a reasonable price
- Speggtacular, the perfect place to go for breakfast, brunch, coffees and juices
There are small beaches east and west of the Sand Key Bridge, but they are all private and you can access them only if you stay in the resort or condos facing that beach.
Here are two amazing value accommodations.
This 6th-floor condo gives you 360-degree views of the Gulf of Mexico.
The condo features a large balcony from which you can take your meals as you watch the sunrise and sunset. You can even see dolphins swimming from up here. Each room comes with their own flat-screen TVs.
Once you get here, you’ll likely not need a car for the rest of the stay, since everything is a short walk away – from the beach, shops with essentials, to the restaurants and spas.
When looking for a luxury stay, that’s “home away from home“, then this right here is a real deal.
Four bedrooms – each with their flat-screen TVs and stereo systems, a grand master suite that comes with a jacuzzi and two ceiling windows bathing the interior in natural light, to the ten-foot ceilings for the dramatic effect – it’s all here.
Enjoy views of the waterway and the Gulf right from the balconies, and watch the sun sinking into the horizon from the roof terrace.
The private elevator connecting the garage to the other levels of the townhouse adds to that luxurious feel.
Gulf to Bay Blvd – Where to stay in Clearwater on a budget
Along the Gulf to Bay Boulevard is the best place to stay in Clearwater because:
- you can find a budget stay with a few cheap hotels around
- clean no frill accommodations
- traveling by car in Florida, plenty of parking provided at the accommodation
- easy access to and from the airport, if not traveling by car
The weakest points:
- They are mostly the typical Inns with their standard design, on a big road
- You need a car to the beach or downtown restaurant area (Cleveland Street)
The Gulf to Bay Boulevard (SR 60) is the main road that starts on the Ocean Coast of Florida, in Vero Beach, and finishes in Clearwater Beach, going through Tampa.
Along this road, and more precisely, past the Old Tampa Bay, you will find the best budget hotels in Clearwater.
These aren’t the most unique accommodations, but they are clean, offer a decent amount of space, and are perfect for a short stay, or even for a long stay at a reasonable price.
Typically, they are all in an Inn format, meaning you can drive in and park your car, which is a huge benefit.
Many also have an outdoor swimming pool, albeit of a small size.
The Tropical Inn option described below is actually quite close to Cleveland Street, the downtown area where you can find plenty of restaurants and bars.
These accommodations may just be what you’re looking for if you don’t need a boutique hotel, but are looking for a nice clean place to stay.
If you’re interested, make sure you book early since these deals tend to disappear quickly
This is a well-maintained property, with a lovely courtyard and an outdoor pool. There is plenty of seating area, tables and swings for you to relax outdoor. The palms all around add to that beach feel.
The premise has been remodeled to spice up guest experiences. Rooms in this motel have their private bathrooms, flat screen TV, a microwave and a refrigerator, and you get free wifi as well as bed linen and towels.
You get a comfortable stay at a fair price, a great option in the cheap hotels area.
A relaxing pool and hot tub, proximity to the beach and with cute tiki huts set up all over – Days Inn serves its purpose of delivering a calm and conducive atmosphere to lounge back during your stay at the beach.
It gives you value, and it is in a convenient area. Guests here have access to BBQ facilities, and each room comes with its ironing units.
Still undecided on your stay in the Florida West Coast?
Anna Maria Island, a barrier island with wide beaches, will leave you also open mouth
The remote Cedar Key with its charming rentals and Inns will take you back to the old Florida, as it used to be
Best Clearwater beach hotels
Here below are the 3 best beachfront resorts you can find in Clearwater.
I already mentioned the Sandpearl Resort, right in South Beach, with its stunning private beach access.
It’s also within walking distance of all the best cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs
Here are the other 2 beach resorts
You get luxury treatment on this beachfront property, whether you’re having a massage at the full-service spa, dining right at the waterfront in the site restaurants, downing a beer at the Gulf-front Tiki-bar, or sipping some cocktails by the outdoor pool.
Soak in the views from the balcony, enjoy your meals in the restaurant with ceilings so high that you feel like you’re outside, and kick back in your room with its large flat screen TV to remain up to speed with your favorite shows and games.
This is one of the best luxury hotels you can find in Clearwater.
Get facials and massages at the Sandava Spa – with treatments being extended to private suites.
Dine in the Tropico Cantina with its Gulf-front views, take a dive in the rooftop pool, and be sure to catch the sunset at the sky terrace – or even sunrise if you get up early while on your vacation here.
There are contests for guests that keep you engaged and entertained, including games for the kids.
The guest rooms themselves are huge, from the walk-in showers, separate bedroom, 2 full bathrooms and even a miniature kitchen – making you feel like you’re in your own apartment.
Where to stay in Clearwater, Florida – FAQ
What is Clearwater Florida known for?
Clearwater Florida is famous for its 3 miles white sandy beach, always rated between the best in the United States.
Pier 60 is also an iconic destination you should visit.
What is the best month to go to Clearwater Florida?
The best months are in Autumn and Spring. You will find low humidity and the area is not as busy with travelers.
Is north or south Clearwater Beach better?
South Beach is better in low and mid-season. Plenty of events around. Bars and restaurants are busy but not packed.
North Beach works best in peak season, when South Beach is a bit crowded. North Beach is more residential and quiet (if this is what you are looking for)
What is the main strip in Clearwater?
In Clearwater Beach, the main strip is Mandalay Avenue and in minor scale South Gulfview Boulevard.
In Clearwater Downtown, the main strip is Cleveland Street, with many shops and restaurants