Gulf Beach Towns - Clearwater?

Discussion in 'Orlando Hotels and Attractions' started by nkereina, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    We visited Clearwater Beach for the first time last week and loved it. Now we're considering combining a beach trip with our next Orlando trip, and wanted to see what everyone's favorite beach town is.

    What we liked about Clearwater is the gorgeous sand, everything in walking distance, and lots of shopping and dining. Are there any other beach towns on the gulf that are similar? Or is Clearwater the largest? We don't mind driving further, but want to be in a place with some "action" like we saw in CB.

    Thanks all!
     
  2. dish rag

    dish rag DIS Veteran

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    I don't care for Clearwater at all. We enjoy Lido Key and Longboat Key. Wont have much action though but St. Armands is very nice with some nice stores and places to eat.
     
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  4. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    Thanks for the suggestions. What is it about Clearwater you don't like? We were only there for day, but the only negative we found (so far) is the traffic. But we intend to park and not move the car until its time to leave.
     
  5. dish rag

    dish rag DIS Veteran

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    Traffic and too built up for my tastes.
     
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  6. pigletto

    pigletto DIS Veteran

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    We stayed at a wonderful AirBnB two weekends ago in Madeira Beach. It was walking distance to the shops and restaurants in St John’s Pass. We ate lunch on the Boardwalk and watched the dolphins play in the water. The beach house itself was less than 2 minutes walk to a beautiful beach. I would highly recommend not only the rental we had, but the area itself.
     
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  7. greenclan67

    greenclan67 Callie35

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    We loved St. Pete' beach. And loved Tradewinds Island Grand. We rented through an owner at a fraction of the cost of online. We loved the atmosphere. The free cabana you reserved online every night. We were just there New Years week. And we immediately booked to return in March. Doing 5 nights st. Pete' and 8 in Kissimmee.
     
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  8. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    Thanks for the suggestions! I've read about Johns Pass and heard it has some nightlife. Size-wise, how would you say the "main strip" of Johns Pass compares to Clearwater? What we liked about Clearwater is that there were more restaurants than we could ever eat at in one trip, so the variety is appealing. Call us crazy, but we like how "built up" Clearwater is because it makes it a happening spot, IMO.

    Is St. Pete Beach where the Don CeSar hotel is? How far is this from the downtown area of St. Petersburg, and does St. Pete Beach have their own strip of restaurants and shops?
     
  9. pigletto

    pigletto DIS Veteran

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    St John’s pass would be much smaller than you are looking for IMO. It’s a lovely area, but cute and quaint, and not too built up. St. Pete’s beach would be way more up your alley. My parents stay at the Don Cesar when they visit my sister who lives down there, and they love how much there is to do in the area.
     
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  10. NinaBella

    NinaBella DIS Veteran

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    I mentioned this on another thread, but Clearwater is very busy and active. My teen and young adult sons like Clearwater. My DH likes the sand at Clearwater better than St. Pete. In the past we visited St. Pete because it was quieter and more relaxed. So it really depends if you want to be in the action or away from the action. Pier 60 in Clearwater has lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance and lots of "boardwalk" activities. Pier60 has Sunset Festivals, movies on the beach, etc. When we stay at St. Pete, there it's a little more spread out so the hotel we usually stay at has a 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, Waffle House, and Beach Store that I would say is walking distance. When we stay at St. Pete, we usually drove to a restaurant for dinner (typically went to John Pass or there is a Mexican and an Italian place we like within a short drive).

    Clearwater = Larger Crowds, all ages but young adults tend to flock here, and more noise (speakers blasting on the beach, etc).

    St. Pete = Lower crowds, more families, less noise and more just "beach time."

    Now we have had college kids on the beach with speakers blasting at St. Pete too, but usually not more than one within earshot. LOL. My daughter will bring her speaker on our next beach trip to Clearwater.

    If you want just the beach, minus tourist-y things to do, Anna Maria is great!
     
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  11. NinaBella

    NinaBella DIS Veteran

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    I worked a conference at Don Cesar. It's not really a built up area. I would say expect to drive during the day if you want to leave the hotel area to go shopping, etc. It's a quieter beach overall in comparison to Clearwater. The hotel we typically stay at in St. Pete is quite close to Don Cesar.

    Don Cesar is not all it's cracked up to be. It is a beautiful hotel. Standard rooms are like a cruise ship room as far as size. The one we had one for the conference I don't think it even had a window. We were treated more like employees by the hotel and we had a room assigned for us to retreat back to during our breaks, change in/out of our uniforms, etc (I was active duty military at this time). We also had to check the VIP rooms for the conference before our guests from various Embassies arrived and the suites are larger and lovely but way out of my price range. I have had a close friend stay there for a special weekend with her hubby and their room only had cold water. When I worked there, we ate at the employee kitchen, etc, so I was in areas most guest do not go into. I would only stay here if I had a great deal on room price. You can buy a "day pass" for Don Cesar to use their amenities. I think last year it was like $50 a person and you had to buy in advance because they only sell a limited number and during peak season they do not sell any.
     
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  12. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    Thanks for the feedback, all of it has been very helpful. Even though we're not young adults anymore, we think we do like the action of Clearwater because we get bored easily. We like having a plethora of options because we don't spend more than a few hours at the beach.

    Now I'm throwing around the idea of maybe 4-5 days in Clearwater followed by 3 days in Johns Pass. Good idea or bad idea?
     
  13. hertamaniac

    hertamaniac Give me 95 degrees everyday

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    We always enjoyed Treasure Island. John's Pass is good, but not sure 3 days is a little much. We've found 1 day at JP was enough.
     
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  14. NinaBella

    NinaBella DIS Veteran

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    JP is tiny. Check out Post Card Inn in St Pete. You can walk to every neighboring hotel beach bars for night life so there are quite a few options.
     
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  15. fla4fun

    fla4fun DIS Veteran

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    Downtown St. Pete is on the opposite side of the county from St. Pete Beach.

    Any of the beaches themselves are nice from St. Pete all the way up to Clearwater, but if you want a more built up and varied area then Clearwater is your best bet. I prefer Madeira Beach, but I like a more laid back beach vibe.
     
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  16. loves to dive

    loves to dive DIS Veteran

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    I love Clearwater Beach, my mother lived there for a number of years and we spent many a hour on that beach. Personally, I enjoy Amelia Island, the beach is nice and if you stay at Amelia Island Plantation Resort it is pretty self contained with lots to do. I also love Jekyll Island in Georgia. I like to stay at the Jekyll Island Club. It's not right on the beach but they have their own private beach and have a shuttle that runs whenever you want it. I'm not sure there is a lot of action there but I tend to go solo so don't need action as much as privacy.
     
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  17. londontime

    londontime DisDad #818. London. Allo Mairee Pawpins.

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    We LOVED Anna Maria. We did 1 week Disney/1 Week beach for 3 years running . We did Siesta Key twice (which was lovely), and Anna Maria Island. We found them both to be great. Anna Maria was like having a private beach, as we were up by Bean Point.
    We are in the Jekyll Island Ocean Club next month, at the end of March, after a tour of Asheville, Charleston and Savannah. Really looking forward to it. Where did you eat on Jekyll Island? In the hotel?
     
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  18. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    @londontime how was Siesta Key in terms of other things to do? I've read about it being the #1 beach, and it also is ironically the location of an MTV reality show, so I've been intrigued. Is there a strip of shops and restaurants?
     
  19. londontime

    londontime DisDad #818. London. Allo Mairee Pawpins.

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    Siesta Key Village has a strip of beach style shops and restaurants. The Lobster Pot is really good, as is Olafs(!) Ice Cream. Another Broken Egg is really good for breakfast and Brunch. There's also a pretty good mexican (the name escapes me), and a good pizza delivery. The beach is beautiful. You can obviously hop back over the bridge to downtown Sarasota and Longboat/St Armands which again have plenty of good restaurants and shops. We filled a week up and we weren't hitting the beach every day.
     
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  20. MommaVail

    MommaVail Earning My Ears

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    If you stayed at the Don Cesar, you’d hop on the interstate to get to downtown St Pete... probably a 15-20 minute drive. Downtown St Pete is busy but it’s on the Tampa Bay and not the Gulf. There’s Water and sand...but not really for swimming ;)
     
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  21. Hootenany

    Hootenany Mouseketeer

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    I grew up close to the Clearwater area and love Clearwater Beach! Tons of fun and lots to do in that area! I know you said that you prefer an area with "action" but know that Sand Key Park beach is just minutes away (right over the bridge) and is beautiful! If you are in need of a break from the excitement, Sand Key is right there! You will have the best of both worlds (busy, fun beach and quiet, serene beach) right there!
    Have so much fun! Try Frenchy's while you are there! Their Grouper sandwiches are amazing- and I don't even like seafood!
     
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