By  Mike Miller  Updated December 12, 2023

Clearwater, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Clearwater and Clearwater Beach are on the Gulf of Mexico about 23 miles north of St. Petersburg.  The population of Clearwater, including Clearwater Beach, is almost 120,000.

Clearwater Beach Pier 60Clearwater Beach Pier 60
Photographic Destinations by Bob Kyle

Downtown Clearwater is separated from Clearwater Beach by the Intracoastal Waterway.  The city's next door neighbor to the north is Dunedin.


The town location was once the home of the ancient Tocobaga tribe of Native Americans.  The United States Army built Fort Harrison in this area as a fortified outpost during the Seminole Wars.  

In 1842, the federal government began offering 160 acre homesteads to any pioneer who agreed to arm themselves and cultivate the land. 

The earliest settlers included families whose names are still familiar around Clearwater to this day:  McMullen, Stevens, Sever, and Stevenson.

Clearwater Beach in an Earlier TimeClearwater Beach in an Earlier Time

The first railroad came to Clearwater in 1888 on its way to St. Petersburg. 

Tourism began to boom when Henry Plant built a beautiful resort hotel on the south edge of town known as The Belleview Biltmore.

Belleview BiltmoreBelleview Biltmore

The building was an artistic and historic treasure until it finally closed in 2009.  It began to deteriorate badly and local groups tried to raise the funds to save it.

They were not able to pull it off, and it was almost completely demolished for a condominium development. 

The good news is that a portion of the original building was restored and is open today as a boutique hotel named the Belleview Inn.

Downtown Clearwater and Bridge to Clearwater BeachDowntown Clearwater and Bridge to Clearwater Beach


Siple's Garden Seat was an iconic Clearwater restaurant that operated for more than 70 years.  Learn more about this long gone but treasured restaurant:  SIPLE'S GARDEN SEAT

Kapok Tree Inn was another world famous restaurant in Clearwater that operated from 1958 until 1991.  Learn more about this long gone but memorable place:  KAPOK TREE


Downtown Clearwater has been revitalized in recent years.  They have created a "Cleveland Street District" that has attracted many restaurants and shops.

Downtown ClearwaterDowntown Clearwater

The city has also created a mural program that has transformed many older Clearwater buildings into works of art.  An example is a downtown parking garage.

Clearwater Parking Garage MuralClearwater Parking Garage Mural

One of the historic downtown buildings is the Fort Harrison Hotel. 

It was opened in 1926 and for a time it was operated by Ransom E. Olds, inventor of the Oldsmobile.

Fort Harrison HotelFort Harrison Hotel

The hotel had become badly run down by the 1970s and was purchased in 1975 by the Church of Scientology

They use the building to feed, train and provide lodging for visiting members of their church.

It also serves as the Church of Scientology's spiritual headquarters building. 

Controversy has surrounded the building in recent years.  You can learn about these incidents by reading Wikipedia's accounts of the Fort Harrison Hotel.

Clearwater BeachClearwater Beach

The beaches across the Intracoastal Waterway are on a three mile long barrier island.  There are dozens of small mom and pop motels here as well as larger more luxurious lodging choices.

These soft sand beaches are part of the spectacular area known collectively as the Pinellas County Beaches.


Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Located at 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, this aquarium is home to Winter and Hope, the main stars of the Dolphin Tale movies. It offers a unique experience of interacting with marine life and learning about wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

Dali Museum: Situated in St. Petersburg, just a short drive from Clearwater, at 1 Dali Boulevard, this museum houses the largest collection of Salvador Dali's work outside of Europe. The museum's building itself is a work of art, and inside, you'll find intriguing and surreal paintings by Dali.

Clearwater Beach Scavenger Hunt: Perfect for adding some fun to your beach day, this adults-only scavenger hunt offers entertaining tasks and challenges. It's great for bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, or simply making your beach visit more exciting.

Clearwater Beach Boat Tours: With several options available, including Mega Bite, Little Toot, and the Sea Screamer, you can embark on dolphin and sunset boat tours. These tours offer a chance to observe dolphins playing in the wake and provide informative insights about the area.

Clearwater Beach Dinner Cruises: Enjoy a delightful dining experience aboard a cruise ship. Calypso Buffet Cruise offers daytime and evening casual dining with captain narrations or a DJ and a tropical buffet. Yacht StarShip Dinner Cruise features a buffet-style menu with seafood and non-seafood options, including an open bar.

Weeki Wachee Springs: Located within a 1½-hour drive from Clearwater Beach, this natural spring park offers various activities. You can reserve a spot for kayaking or paddleboarding along the crystal-clear river, enjoying the shallow waters and bringing along snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Explore St. Petersburg: Just a short distance away, St. Petersburg offers a plethora of attractions, including adorable boutiques, fun bars, excellent cuisine, breweries, coffee shops, and a vibrant art scene. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the renowned Dali Museum and immerse yourself in the city's charm.


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