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Clearwater, known for its beautiful white sand beaches, is a popular Florida destination. Its namesake beach is often ranked among the best beaches in the US. When considering the best time to go, I am looking for warm, not uncomfortable, weather, avoiding hurricane season and seasonal crowds. I’m also on the hunt for the most engaging things to do. Here’s what I found.
The Best Time to Go to Clearwater
The best time of year to plan a getaway to Clearwater may be in the winter peak season or during a shoulder month when crowds are less, and prices are cheaper.
My friends at Sand Pearl Resort and Opal Sands Resort, both in Clearwater, say the best time to go to Clearwater is in February due to the warm weather and waters. The beach is still relatively quiet from its Floridian winter.
WalletHub ranked Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater destinations #11 out of 37 Best Winter Holiday Destinations. This rating was based on the cheapest U.S. destinations that are also the easiest to reach. The report focused primarily on the cost and convenience of traveling to a location as well as its affordability. It also ensured the number of attractions and variety of activities kept everyone busy and entertained throughout the trip.
The Weather in Clearwater
The average high temperatures in Clearwater are:
- Spring – 70 to 86 degrees
- Summer – 90s
- Fall – mid-80s to mid-70s
- Winter – low to mid-70s
The hottest months in Clearwater are June, July, and August, with temps in the 90s.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season
The official start of Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 and ends on November 30, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with peak activity between late August and September. While hurricanes can affect any part of Florida, the eastern coast of Florida, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, is often more directly in the path of storms coming from the Atlantic. However, hurricanes are unpredictable and can impact any part of the state.
The Peak Season in Florida
The peak season in Florida generally occurs during the winter months, typically from late November to early April. During this time, the weather is most pleasant, with temperatures ranging from the high 60s to the low 80s (Fahrenheit).
Winter is also a popular season because of numerous events and festivals near Clearwater, including the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the Daytona 500.
Additionally, the holiday season from late November through New Year’s is particularly busy, with many people visiting the area’s theme parks for special holiday events.
Clearwater is a popular spring break destination for college students and families. The beautiful beaches are busy with sunbathers, volleyball players, and water sports enthusiasts. The city hosts live music concerts, beach parties, and festivals. Its proximity to Tampa and St. Petersburg makes it a convenient base to explore other attractions. Be sure to plan ahead, as it can get crowded with rowdy youngsters.
Snowbirds Go To Florida
During the winter months, snowbirds, usually retirees from the Northern United States and Canada, migrate to Florida to avoid the cold weather. The peak season for snowbirds is from January to March, but some arrive as early as October and stay as late as April.
As a resident of a snowbird state, Arizona, I found the best time for snowbirds (me included) is from October through April. I live in the Valley of the Sun, near Phoenix, year-round. Temps rise to triple digits for weeks on end in the summer.
The Off-Season in Florida
The off-season in Florida is typically in the summer months between late April and early November. The weather can be hot and humid, with a higher chance of rain and hurricanes. However, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and tourists in the off-season, and you might find better deals on accommodations and attractions.
How to get to Clearwater
Fly and Drive
If you include Disney World on your trip, consider flying into and out of Orlando International Airport. Using this airport allows you to conveniently get your mouse ears before or after your visit to Clearwater.
Tampa International Airport is less than 20 miles east of Clearwater across the causeway on the Gulf Coast. You can have your toes in the sand on Clearwater Beach in less than an hour after arrival.
Miami International Airport is about 300 miles southeast on Interstate 75, about five hours by vehicle. I mention this here because I’m road-tripping from the Miami area on the Atlantic Coast during my visit to Florida this winter.
If you drive from anywhere in the U.S., Interstate 75 is the primary transportation corridor from the north and the south. Connect to Interstate 275 and go west on Highway 60 at Tampa.
What to do in Spring in Clearwater
Sugar Sand Festival
The Sugar Sand Festival is a well-known annual event on Clearwater Beach. It is a 10-day celebration held in April each year, named after the sugar-like white sand of the beach. The festival’s main attraction is the massive and intricate sand sculptures created by world-class sculptors, which can reach several feet high. These are not just ordinary sandcastles but rather beautiful works of art.
The festival offers more than just sand sculptures, however. Visitors can enjoy live music, a wide selection of food vendors, fireworks, sand sculpting classes, and a designated play area for kids. It’s a great event that the whole family can enjoy, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Marine Life in Clearwater
Clearwater boasts a thriving marine ecosystem with a diverse range of species. From playful dolphins and gentle manatees to graceful sea turtles and sleek stingrays, you can encounter a variety of marine life here. The area is also home to several types of fish, including tarpon, snook, and redfish. If you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll have plenty to see as well – keep an eye out for pelicans, herons, and egrets among the many species of birds that call this area home.
Sightseeing and Things To Do in Clearwater
Downtown Clearwater offers a variety of activities. For those interested in arts and culture, the Ruth Eckerd Hall hosts numerous performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, and comedy acts. The Capitol Theatre, one of Florida’s oldest functioning theaters, also offers a range of entertainment options.
Downtown Clearwater is also known for its dining scene, with various restaurants offering everything from fresh seafood to international cuisine.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Coachman Park provides a beautiful waterfront setting for picnics, walks, and occasional concerts and festivals. The Pinellas Trail, a 38-mile-long biking and walking trail, also runs through downtown Clearwater.
Visit Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is a fantastic destination for many reasons. Clearwater Beach is just a short drive or trolley ride away from downtown, offering beautiful white sand beaches and water sports, like parasailing, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. The area is also home to wildlife, including dolphins, which you can often see from the shore or on a boat tour.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must-visit for marine life enthusiasts. It’s home to marine animals, including dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, and sharks. The aquarium is also known for its rehabilitation and release program for injured marine animals. It’s an excellent place for both education and entertainment, suitable for all ages.
One of the most famous residents of the aquarium is Winter, the bottlenose dolphin with a prosthetic tail because she lost her tail in a crab trap. Her story was featured in the movie Dolphin Tale.
Pier 60 is a popular tourist destination in Clearwater. It’s a fishing pier that extends over the Gulf of Mexico, offering stunning views, especially at sunset.
The pier is part of the larger Pier 60 Park, which includes a playground, pavilions, and a beach. Every evening, the pier hosts a festival called “Sunsets at Pier 60,” which features street performers, artisans, crafters, and sometimes even outdoor movies. It’s a great place to relax, enjoy the beach, and experience local culture.
Fishing for the Modern Female Traveler
My friends at FishingBooker tell me that Clearwater is a paradise tailored towards the modern female traveler with many unique experiences for women looking to make the most of their vacation.
Based on the wealth of local expert insights, April and May emerge as the best time to go to Clearwater Florida. They hold the perfect balance between comfortable and milder weather, great value for your money, and, with a bit of luck, the potential to escape the spring break crowds.
Did you know that according to the 2023 Special Report on Fishing, a partnership project between the Outdoor Foundation and Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, there are 19.8 million lady anglers in the U.S. waiting to reel in that big one.
May marks the opening season of Florida’s favorite game fish–Tarpon and Red Snapper, highly coveted by every angler. Competitions with hefty payouts may be a consideration if you are really driven.
Neighbors to Clearwater
Sand Key is a barrier island on the west coast of Florida, located just south of Clearwater. It’s known for its beautiful white sand beaches and clear, turquoise waters. The island is home to Sand Key Park, a popular destination. The park features a large beach area, picnic shelters, a dog park, and a nature trail. It’s also a nesting ground for sea turtles.
Sand Key is also known for its high-end condominiums and resorts. The Clearwater Community Sailing Center is also located on Sand Key, offering sailing lessons and equipment rentals.
St. Petersburg, often referred to as St. Pete, is a vibrant city in Florida known for its pleasant weather, hence its nickname “The Sunshine City.” Located on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Pete is famous for its cultural scene, with the Salvador Dali Museum being one of its top attractions because it houses the most extensive collection of Dali’s works outside Europe. The city is also home to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Florida Orchestra.
The downtown area is vibrant, with various restaurants, shops, and nightlife options. The thriving craft beer scene boasts numerous local breweries. I always enjoy trying new brews, but I usually fall back on my favorite, a hazy IPA.
About 87 miles east of Clearwater, Disney World is about two hours away. Because of all there is to see and do at Disney World, consider adding a few days before or after your visit to Clearwater to “do” Disney World.
The best time to go to Clearwater Florida is in the spring, fall, or winter to avoid the heat and humidity during hurricane season.