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What to do near Clearwater/Clearwater Beach or nearby?

What to do near Clearwater/Clearwater Beach or nearby?

Dec 18th, 2006, 02:33 PM
  #1  
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What to do near Clearwater/Clearwater Beach or nearby?

We have done a lot of traveling, both in and out of the USA, but have not spent any time in Florida. We're going to a wedding in Clearwater (or is it Clearwater Beach)-- anyway, the Belleview Biltmore Hotel at the end of March. We're thinking of taking a couple of extra days & exploring the area. What to do? (We're not golfers.) We enjoy beach, museums, and good food. We won't necessarily need to continue to stay at the Bellview Biltmore. Any suggestions for a couple of days in the area?
KathyM is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 03:17 PM
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Hi - it happens that I just got back last week from my first visit to Clearwater Beach for a wedding in Clearwater and reception at the Biltmore (the Biltmore was a very pretty historic hotel, especially all decorated for Christmas). Anyway, I'm sure other posters more familiar with the area will have things to add but I thought I'd give my general impressions.

We stayed at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort which is right on Clearwater beach (wedding special rate of $170 with Gulf view). We could have stayed at the Biltmore but decided we wanted to be on the beach as the Biltmore is more landlocked. You might consider staying at the Sheraton if you are staying in this area as we thought it was quite nice (nothing spectactular but a clean standard Sheraton).
It seems that there are not many hotels actually on Clearwater Beach as it is a small strip of land over a bridge/causeway from the actual town of Clearwater. You walk over a very WIDE stretch of beach to actually get to the water but it was still nice and there are seashells on the beach (so I annoyed my husband by collecting and packing home little shells for an future craft project that I'm sure I'll never get around to). I thought the beach at the Sheraton was really quite nice (get the Gulf view rooms) and the pool seemed nice as well.

My friend that was getting married recommended Tarpon Springs (north of Clearwater) as a nice little town with Greek history to visit plus St Pete beach as a nice beach. My understanding from her is that there are more museums in St Petersberg (just south of Clearwater). We didn't go to St. Petersberg due to lack of time but I got the feeling that it may have a slightly more updated downtown (could be wrong so hopefully someone else will comment). We actually spent our extra time driving 90-100 miles (took about 2 hrs due to slowdowns getting through Tampa/Clearwater) to Disneyworld and going to Epcot!

On the way to the wedding, we also passed through a little town/area call Dunedin just north of Clearwater that seemed to have a really quaint downtown with shops, etc.

Hope this helps!
NorCal_Jo is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 04:13 PM
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The idea to stay at the Sheraton Sand Key is a good one. I had some of my wedding guests stay there and they really liked it. Late March is high season around here so you might want to check with the couple if they are blocking rooms for guests at any hotels.

If you head into Tampa, there is Ybor City which is a historic area known for its cigar factories, cool architecture, and the Columbia Restaurant (yummy Spanish food). There is also Channelside which is next to the Florida Aquarium. Channelside is a collection of shops, bars, and restaurants.

St. Pete has the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Holocaust Museum. I have been to the Dali and Holocaust and can recommend both. They are relatively near The Pier which is another shopping/restaurant area.

Tarpon Springs is a really cool Greek area and I like Dunedin too - known for its Scottish heritage and the Highlands Games.

Have a good trip!
coldwar27 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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KathyM:

Think of Clearwater Beach as a seperate city from Clearwater; although technically the beach is part of Clearwater- But NEVER mention that to anyone on the beach side as it considered a serious insult.

NorCal_Jo and coldwar27 both have it right; but I would add:

Clearwater Beach or any Beach city to the south (like Madeira, Treasure Island, St. Pete Beach, Redington will be fine). Ybor (say E-Bore) city is unique and Columbia is a great restaurant. But the best restaurant in the whole Tampa bay area is Bern's Steak House.

I'll second Dunedin & Tarpon Springs. And Disney & Epcot if you feel like driving. You won't find a museum like the Dali anywhere else you've traveled- you shouldn't miss the opportunity to go [unless you don't like Dali!]. And yes NorCal_Jo St. Pete does have a real downtown and a real nice pier (an inverted pyramid) unlike Clearwater which IMO has nothing.

Another unique Florida site is Sunken Gardens in St. Pete (a mile or two North of the Dali).

If you haven't already bought airline tix, you might want to consider flying into Clearwater-St. Pete Airport (PIE) http://www.fly2pie.com/ and save 15-20 minutes over the bridge (plus a few minutes on the tram at the more busy Tampa Airport).
tampatramp is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 06:05 PM
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We went to a place called Fort DeSoto, which was interesting... if you are into history. We also went to some historic house ... wish I could recall the name. It may have been on the other side of the Sunshine Skyway.
TxTravelPro is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 04:03 AM
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Sarasota isn't far and has a great Ringling Museum....both fabulous art/historic mansion and circus stuff.
thurstonbb is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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Thanks to all for the advice so far...I'm going to do a little more research and will probably be back with more questions!
KathyM is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 02:31 PM
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I live in the Tampa Bay area, and as others have suggested Dunedin is VERY cute (nice boutiques, art galleries and restaurants across the street from the waterfront) and Tarpon Springs is also cool. You could drive south a bit and explore downtown St. Pete, which is one of my favorite TB areas...with the Pier, many museums (the Dali Museum is fascinating) and lots of unique and tasty restaurants and wine bars, along with a lovely waterfront park. My husband and I live in Tampa, but like this area so much that we frequently book a hotel room on a Saturday night and spend the weekend...everything is clean, safe and walkable.
sweet_polly is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 04:23 PM
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Any suggestions for hotels in downtown St. Pete?
KathyM is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 04:31 PM
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Kathy, try the Vinoy, the most beautiful and well-situated downtown hotel. Also, little known but new and a great location, the Hampton Inn at First Avenue South and Beach Drive is one I'd check.
There is a Hilton downtown which comes up on Priceline (or I know it used to quite often) for a great price. Not very modern or posh, but a pretty good location (I'd choose the Hampton over it tho if price were the same).

Be careful of the address...you don't want anything on US 19 (which is also 34th Street), because that's not downtown, dicey neighborhoods.
joan is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 02:29 AM
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I agree, the Vinoy is very beautiful if you don't mind dropping some change. i stayed at the Hilton a couple of weeks ago, and thought it was pretty nice. It's older, but has been completely refurbished recently. The rooms are spacious and clean. Service wasn't the best, but we're not too "needy" in that respect. The room cost $135/night. It's the Hilton Bayfront at 333 First Street South. There's also a Courtyard by Marriott in the are, but I have never stayed there (Courtyard St. Petersburg Downtown, 300 4th Street N.).
sweet_polly is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 03:59 AM
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There's also a Columbia Restaurant on Sand Key and one in St. Petersburg (at the Pier). I really like Columbia restaurant b/c it gives you a bit of Spanish/Cuban flair. The food is very good and reasonably priced. If you go to the one in Ybor City, consider going in the evening and make a reservation for Flamenco Dancing - the show is really outstanding. I had never been but recently took an out-of-town guest and we both were pretty impressed. http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/

Downtown St. Pete does have some good museums, including the Salvador Dali Museum. http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org/home.html

Fort Desoto (at the southern tip of St. Pete) is one of the most gorgeous beaches you'll ever find. It's usually rated #1 in the country (or is it world?). http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/05_Ft_DeSoto.htm

Clearwater Beach has a nightly festival called Pier 60. It's a lot of fun and the beach is gorgeous. http://www.sunsetsatpier60.com/
birder is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 04:06 AM
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I forgot to add, I really like taking out-of-town guests to Caladesi Island. You go to Honeymoon Island State Park and catch a ferry there (it's like $8 per person). You take a little boat ride over (watch for dolphins) and then you can enjoy this stunning little island that was voted #2 natural beach in the US. They have nature trails, a gorgeous and usually empty beach, and even a concession stand.

I like it because it's beautiful, it's wild, and it's quiet/uncrowded.

http://www.floridastateparks.org/caladesiisland/
birder is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 09:07 PM
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If you're not too overloaded with ideas, try Old Town Palm Harbor (north of Dunedin, south of Tarpon Springs and right on your way). The city of Safety Harbor also has periodic street festivals and fairs and if you like art glass, there is a very nice gallery that has Dale Chiluly.
kswl is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 05:51 AM
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I have taken many a reluctant guest to the Dali Museum..only to have to pry them out of the museum because it was so fascinating AND to have them tell me later it was the highlight of their visit. I highly recommend it..especially now that they have the "Lincoln" painting back. Fascinating is not the word for the Dali!
tampatwo is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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TxTravelPro - I wonder if the historic house was Gamble Mansion in Ellenton? It's an antebellum (old for this area!) plantation house that the Gamble brothers built on their sugar plantation. Ellenton is across the Skyway Bridge from St. Pete and is in Manatee County.
bellhouse is offline  

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