- Honeymoon Island State Park
- Caladesi Island State Park
- Clearwater Beach
- Sand Key Beach
- Indian Rocks Beach
- Madeira Beach/John’s Pass
Clearwater, Florida is named that for good reason. The beaches here are some of the best in the country, with white sugar-sand and shallow Caribbean-like water. Look at any ranking of beaches, and you will probably find a beach near Clearwater.
Many of these beaches also promise shallow and calm water, making them perfect for families with little ones.
If your family wants lots of activities to try, you can certainly find something for everyone at the Clearwater beaches. Whether it is nature activities, shopping, music, festivals, boat charters, or kayaking, (or all of the above!) Clearwater has it.
Read on for recommendations for Clearwater’s best family beaches (but know that it is hard to choose!).
Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island ranks first because it promises a huge array of things to do, so even if your family has multiple-ages, everyone can find something to be happy about.
The state park offers a range of outdoor activities in addition to the beach. A 2.5 mile trail leads you through virgin pine forest. Or you can explore the park on a bike, available for rent (Florida law requires helmets if you are 16 years or younger.)
Kayaks are also available for rent, or bring your own and paddle around Pelican cove.
For animal lovers, the park offers your best option to spot a range of animals from Osprey to Armadillos. Visit the Rotary Centennial Nature Center to learn about what you might see in the park.
Want to surf? This is your spot.
You can also try fishing (check local rules to see if you need a license). Or just pack a picnic. There’s more than just a beach at Honeymoon Island (though you can easily spend a day swimming in the beautiful water or picking up shells!).
Caladesi Island State Park
If you want to visit an even more pristine beach and park, you can take a ferry to Caladesi Island from Honeymoon Island. Or, better yet, boat or kayak there yourself.
There are not many amenities at Caladesi, so make sure you pack everything you need. A snack bar and bathrooms are available, as are chair and umbrella rentals.
A favorite activity at Caladesi is paddling in the mangrove forest. You can also hike, fish, and camp in the park, though check the park website ahead of time so you have all the information you need.
You can also visit the ruins of the Scharrer Homestead and learn about the area’s past.
If you want something a little busier, with lots of amenities, shops, restaurants, and events, Clearwater Beach will not disappoint. Kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy this chill beach town.
Pier 60 boasts a giant playground, along with live music most nights. You will also be close to a variety of restaurants if you want to take a break from making sand castles. It is also an excellent place to catch one of Clearwater’s famous sunsets.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is another big hit with families. Learn about rescued animals and make friends with a dolphin.
After that, take a pirate-themed tour aboard a pirate ship sailing out of Clearwater. (Or John’s Pass, see below.)
The beach gets very busy, even during off-peak times, so come early to find parking and a good beach spot. The crowds will thin out slightly as you approach the north end of the beach.
If you want to be out on the water, rent a paddleboard or kayak, or try skimboarding! If you don’t want to do the work, you can book a whale watch boat or another cruise into the gulf.
Clearwater Beach offers a range of lodging options, from hotels to rentals, so you can easily stretch your trip into a long weekend.
Sand Key Beach
Sand Key is just across the bridge from Clearwater Beach, and offers a similar beach experience but with fewer crowds. Plenty of parking is available.
At the beach there are bathhouses, a concession stand, cabana and umbrella rentals, kayak and bike rentals, and a dog park. Keep an eye out for sea turtle nests! These will be protected and maintained by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
You can also rent beach wheelchairs for easy beach and water access.
Sand Key Park offers a variety of activities if you don’t want to spend the day on the beach. You can hike through the salt marsh and look at a variety of birds, or pack a picnic lunch.
Indian Rocks Beach
Down the shore from Sand Key and Clearwater is the quieter Indian Rocks beach. Known for its great restaurants, Indian Rocks offers a great option for those who want to be a little further from the action of the busier beaches.
You can check out the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, which rescues and rehabilitates an average of 2,500 birds each year. Admission is free but donations are welcomed.
Madeira Beach/John’s Pass
“Mad beach” is a beautiful beach situated next to John’s Pass Village, an old Florida fishing town with a boardwalk, surf shops, restaurants, galleries, and shopping. Mad Beach also offers lots of live music options if you are looking for a little nightlife.
If you are visiting in January, don’t miss the John’s Pass Seafood Festival, featuring bands, attractions, and all the best local seafood.
The area gets a little crazy on the weekends. Parking is available at Archibald Memorial Beach Park or John’s Pass Park, but try to arrive early.
Family-friendly beaches in Clearwater are plentiful! You can find your favorite and stick with it, or try out all different beaches if you want to explore up and down the shore.
If you want to venture further out of the Clearwater area, St. Pete’s beach is just a short drive away, or you can take a boat out to beaches at Egmont Key, Shell Key, or Fort De Soto.