Have you been to Clearwater Beach, Florida yet? Have you walked in the soft, white sand, splashed in the warm Gulf Coast water, or watched the brilliant sun dip below the ocean horizon in a light show of cotton-candy pinks and oranges? If not, it is time to plan a trip! Of course, there are plenty of Clearwater beach resorts to choose from, from luxury to budget.
I recently visited Clearwater Beach for the TMS Family Travel Conference and had a chance to spend a couple of extra days enjoyng the area. During that time, I was able to check out three different Clearwater beach hotels, each a good choice for families.
Clearwater Beach Resorts for Families
Note: My trip was hosted by Visit Clearwater Beach and the TMS Family Travel Conference. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.
Residence Inn / Springhill Suites Clearwater Beach
In a whole new hotel concept, the combination Residence Inn and Springhill Suites opened in the summer of 2017 with two hotels in one.
They share a lobby, restaurant, and pool, but each wing has its own personality. The Springhill Suites features 115 studio suites with sleek design, West Elm decor, and small kitchenettes. On the Residence Inn side, there are 140 studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom suites with plenty of room for families.
You don’t even need to go shopping to stock your kitchen! The Residence Inn offers free grocery delivery to make your vacation less work and more fun. I stayed in a one-bedroom suite with a balcony overlooking the bay, perfect for sunrise viewing.
The guest room was spacious and stylish, with a pullout sofa in the living room and a full kitchen. There are smart TVs in the living room and bedroom, so you can watch your favorite Netflix shows whenever or wherever you want.
There is also a large guest laundry room — a necessity for a family beach vacation! And an added family perk, the whole hotel is pet friendly.
Downstairs, there is a fairly large pool for a Residence Inn, complete with food and beverage service. You can also take advantage of the full breakfast buffet for a little cost savings and plenty of tasty selections. The restaurant and bar are also open for dinner.
While the Residence Inn isn’t beachfront, the beach is only a few steps away. Across the street, through the surf shop (or beach access path), and Clearwater’s beautiful beach awaits!
Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach
The Wyndham Grand is a Gulf-front hotel resort offering modern design with a fresh, beach decor. The spacious and airy lobby is luxurious without feeling stuffy.
The 15-story tower houses 343 guest rooms, most with spectacular views of the Gulf and/or the Pier and downtown. With its location on the beach and right next to Pier 60, it is the perfect place to enjoy Clearwater Beach and its beautiful sunsets.
The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated. I loved the walk in shower and the luxury amenities, especially the free bottles of water (that makes me so happy!)
Outside, the pool overlooks the beach and I suppose that white sand holds a strong appeal because even on a crowded holiday weekend, there were plenty of lounge chairs available.
For dining options, there is the large lobby bar, Dock’s Pool Bar & Grill, and the delicious Ocean Hai restaurant (plus in-room dining of course.) I was pleasantly surprised by the options at Ocean Hai.
For a town with its share of tiki bars, the menu featured dishes that were both healthy and delicious. I tried the Gulf Grouper with ancient grains, charred pineapple, spinach, cashew and lobster nage.
The fish was light and flavorful while the balance of texture with the ancient grains and the sweet burst of the pineapple was sublimely satisfying. I would also highly recommend the fried brussels sprout appetizer with wasabi peas and shiitake mushrooms.
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach
While I didn’t get to stay at the Hyatt Regency in Clearwater, I did enjoy dinner and watching the sunset over the water from their rooftop.
I also took a tour of its newly renovated suites. The Hyatt features the largest guest rooms on Clearwater Beach, along with 287 residential-style suites that range from 400 to 1,600 square feet. Perfect for a week-long family vacation, these condo-like units offer fully equipped kitchens and one, two or three-bedrooms to accommodate even large families in comfort.
The Hyatt also offers a full service spa, pool-side cabanas, kid-friendly activities, and Camp Hyatt Kid’s club and children’s pool.
What to do in Clearwater Beach, Florida with Kids
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The most popular attraction in Clearwater (apart from the beach of course), is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The Aquarium is most well-known at the home of Winter, the tail-less dolphin that was the star of the movie Dolphin Tale and Hope, the star of Dolphin Tale 2.
The important thing to remember about the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is that it is really an animal hospital and rehabilitation facility. Don’t go there expecting large tanks full of exotic sea creatures because that isn’t what you will find.
Instead, the goal of the Aquarium is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals. The only animals kept at the aquarium are those that can’t be released into the wild.
Listening to the research and rehabilitation stories, from Cheeto the sea horse to the many sea turtles infected with a debilitating virus, is both educational and inspiring.
However, the real magic is in how the story of Winter and Hope have inspired so many children or adults who have either lost limbs or face their own challenges with horrible diseases.
Plan on spending an hour or two at most at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. However, if you have more time, you can also take one of the many guided boat or kayak tours to explore the nearby marine environment.
Dolphin Watching Tour
There are many ways to get out on the water, from wave runners to pirate ships and everything in between. I tried a dolphin tour with The Tropics Boat Tours. Even if you don’t see many dolphins, they keep the trip fun with a tiki bar and beach music jamming throughout the ride.
Plus you get some really beautiful views of the bay and the Gulf. I went out at lunchtime, so the dolphins weren’t especially playful, but we still spied quite a few from the distance. The great thing about The Tropics is that they guarantee dolphin sightings or you can get a voucher to be used at another time.
If you would rather get further out on the water, consider booking a deep sea fishing excursion with Legendary Adventures. You can catch Marlin, Tuna, Grouper, Snapper, Amberjack, Shark, Barracuda, Mahi Mahi and more.
Sunsets at Pier 60
Every night starting at two hours before sunset and continuing until two hours after, there is a sunset festival at Pier 60. The nightly sunset celebration features artisans, crafters, street performers, and, of course, the famous Clearwater Beach sunset. On weekends, they also host movies on the lawn in front of the Pier.
Even during the day, the Pier is fun for families with inflatable slides and bounce houses, as well as a fun, cover playground for kids. Everything about the beach is family-friendly, from the sea turtles on top of the outdoor showers, to the plentiful bathhouses and beach chairs and cabanas available for rent.
Looking for more great Florida beach vacation ideas? How about one of these:
- Sanibel or Captiva Island
- Things to do in Naples, Florida
- Things to do in Marco Island, Florida
- Plan a Florida Keys road trip
- Panama City beyond the beach