If you’re looking for the best beach vacation, most likely Clearwater Beach is going to be on the top of your list. For two years in a row, this gorgeous, white-sand beach has been named the #1 beach in America by TripAdvisor’s millions of travelers. So if it wasn’t on your list before, it should be now! It is the perfect beach for tourists, with plenty of resorts and restaurants right on the water. Though we’re not tourists, we make the occasional visit to Clearwater Beach for a date night or the Sunsets at Pier 60. However, if we’re going to the beach, we usually stay clear of Clearwater Beach, ESPECIALLY DURING SPRING BREAK. OMG. We’ll never make that mistake again! So I’m here to tell you all about three beaches that are just as fabulous, if not better, for soaking up the rays and splashing in the waves than Clearwater Beach. Everyone needs to experience Clearwater Beach, but after you’ve been there and done that, you may want to escape the crowds and enjoy what the locals enjoy. And…. they’re all within about a ten-minute drive from Clearwater Beach!
- Sand Key Park
This Pinellas County park is more than just a beach. Located just 2 miles from Clearwater Beach, it is just a short drive if you’re staying in Clearwater, and it has all of the amenities. And I don’t just mean showers and restrooms…I’m talking pavilions, picnic areas, and a dog park. If I could ever convince my family to have our family reunion in Florida, I would have it at Sand Key. Another thing I love is that all the sightseeing boats come out of Clearwater Bay into the ocean through Clearwater Pass, which is adjacent to Sand Key Park. If the Little Toot tugboat (the BEST dolphin tour in Clearwater, by the way) is out on a tour, you’re sure to see dolphins jumping in its wake. There is sometimes a food truck on the beach, as well, if you’re looking for a bite to eat. There is almost always parking available, and it’s just $5 per vehicle for the entire day.
- Morgan Park Beach
An employee at MavRealty told my husband about this little-known gem, and I’m actually a little nervous about spreading the word to all of you because selfishly, I don’t want it to get busy. This is our family’s go-to spot when we head to the beach now. Because it’s not usually too busy, there’s usually parking available. There are restrooms and showers and a small pavilion with picnic tables too. Parking can cost a bit more than Sand Key, depending on how long you stay, but it is a much shorter walk to the water than Sand Key.
- Indian Rocks Beach
This is one of the best beaches in the area, in my opinion, and though it’s the farthest from Clearwater Beach out of the three I listed, it’s still only about a 10-minute drive. The facilities have always been clean when we’ve gone, and they have showers to rinse off. Parking can be sparse, though. The pay lot is moderately-sized, and if you get there in the morning before the rush, you can usually snag a spot on your first lap of the lot. If you don’t need the facilities, though, there are additional small FREE public lots north and south of the pay lot.
So if you ever find yourself wishing you weren’t a sardine on Clearwater Beach, head over to one of these beaches. One of them might just become your new favorite.
Blog Post By: Shannon Glonek