Clearwater is much more than a tourist destination with beautiful white sandy beaches, awesome nightlife and wide range of eating establishments; it is also a great place to live, whether you are empty nesters or raising a family.
When I mention Clearwater, most people automatically visualize the beautiful white sandy beaches, awesome nightlife and wide range of eating establishments all on a scenic peninsula sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Clearwater is much more than a tourist destination; it is also a great place to live, whether you are empty nesters or raising a family.
Where else within one or two hour plane rides, or easy family drives from most of the East Coast can you lay on the beach in the middle of winter? The Gulf of Mexico in this area is shallow and warm inviting wading and swimming in milder winters. Some people complain that it is too warm in the summertime, but living so close to the water, there is always a breeze. Besides, there are swimming pools everywhere! If you are not lucky enough to have one, most likely your neighbors will.
The fact that Clearwater has beautiful weather and blooming flowers all year round has not gone without notice by those people who live in the northern climates of the United States and other countries. It is an extremely popular tourist 'escape' for the frigid winter months, including lots of senior 'snow birds'. While these tourists and snow birds bring welcome financial resources to the area, all those happy tourists can and get in the way of residents trying to get home from work or to the grocery store. Every car trip takes a little longer between January and April in the Clearwater area.
There are many beautiful views and it can be hard to choose a favorite spot for brisk morning walks or spots to take in the evening sunset. There are great views of the water from everywhere you look, since Tampa Bay is to the east and the Gulf of Mexico is to the west. Along with those awesome views, there are so many diverse species of wildlife that I never get tired of scoping them out. I have regularly seen egrets, herons, eagles and even wild parrots flying around town; there are beautiful birds that live in the neighborhoods and will come right up to you. Out on the water, it is fairly common to glimpse all sorts of fish and turtles and graceful dolphins. Of course, there are lots of crustaceans of all types and cute little lizards. One of my favorite things to see are the pelicans hanging out with fishermen; often they wait for the catch to be reeled in before they swoop down and grab it.
Clearwater can be really tiring! You could literally run nonstop and never get any rest in this town, there are that many things to do and so many temptations. I love to be outdoors, and the shear amount of different outdoor activities and places to go and see, in Clearwater itself and nearby areas, will overwhelm most people. If you only have a week or two to spend in this area, you probably will be planning your return visit before you leave.
From the sundown celebration at Pier 60 to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to the beautiful parks at Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands, your days will be filled with sunshine, sand and surf. There are jet ski and kayak rentals available for you to explore the nearby smaller islands, as well as fishing and scuba diving charters. If you just want to sit back and relax, you will likely enjoy one of the leisurely 'dolphin spotting' boat rides that depart from the Marina right near Pier 60. After your day at the beach or on the water, there are great restaurants within walking distance where you can get fresh Gulf seafood caught the same day. The She-Crab soup at any of the Frenchy's Restaurants will become an instant favorite. Crabby Bill's, next to the marina, is another popular spot for a nice dinner. If you are more interested in nightlife, there is plenty of that as well! Frenchy's on the Beach, the Palm Pavillion, and Shepherd's are the places to be when the sun goes down, especially on weekends.
While Clearwater has some awesome wildlife, there are some facts of life on the Gulf Coast that can be annoying. Some people do not like Florida because they say the bugs are horrible, but for the most part, that is untrue. Love bugs are little flying pains in the butt that hang out in swarms, and sometimes show up at the most inopportune times.
There is nothing like a sunset on Clearwater Beach or any of the other barrier island beaches on the Gulf of Mexico for that matter. No matter how bad your day is, getting to a beach right before sunset and watching the sun melt into the Gulf will instantly relax you.
If you live in Florida, or visit Florida, you need to be aware of your surroundings when you are near a freshwater lake, river or even a drainage canal. Most alligators will not bother people at all, but every now and then one goes a little crazy, and you should be prepared to move quickly when one is around.
There are lots of great parks in the area, from the beach parks to Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg and little waterfront places tucked away in residential areas as well. If you have a furry family member, there are lots of nice dog parks and even doggie beaches.
Like many people, I am forced to split my time between a northern state and Clearwater, and I hate it! For now, my husband's work keeps us in Ohio in the warmer months of the year, but luckily we can spend the cold winters where it is warm.
Clearwater is an awesome place to visit and a great place to live. With a population of a little over 100,000, Clearwater is not a large city, but it is within easy commuting distance of both Tampa and St. Petersburg, with the added cultural elements that those larger cities add to the region. Other reasons to love the area: no state payroll taxes, inexpensive housing and low property tax. Overall, Clearwater is a pretty spectacular place to be!
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