Did you know that Florida experienced 36 million visitors just in the first few months of 2022? Florida is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the United States, but what are the best parts to visit?
If you’re looking into a visit to Clearwater, Florida, there’s a lot for you to know, including:
- What are the best times to visit, and when would your visit be the cheapest?
- What are the important local factors to know before visiting?
Booking your trip to Clearwater is stress-free if you know what you’re getting in to. Read on to learn more about what you should expect from a trip to Clearwater.
Afterward, be sure to stay tuned for a brief FAQ. There’s plenty on your plate for your Clearwater trip, so let’s dive in!
Why You Should Visit Clearwater
To start, what are the main attractions of Clearwater, Florida? When most think of Florida, they think of the famous theme parks in Orlando. Universal Studios and Disney World entertain millions worldwide.
But in Clearwater, you’re more than 100 miles away from these parks! Others may think of the nightlife of Miami or the concert-heavy college town of Tampa.
What does Clearwater offer that these places wouldn’t do better? For starters, Clearwater has one of the most beautiful beaches you can find in Florida. The sand is super-fine and sugar-white with a view of the Gulf Coast.
In contrast, the sand of East Coast beaches is coarser, has more shells, and is a tannish color. The beaches of Clearwater are also free of litter. Tourists tend to go to East Coast beaches, Miami beaches, or areas further north.
Most tourists, sadly, leave trash on the beach that then gets buried or pulled into the ocean. Additionally, Clearwater has a family-friendly nightlife full of restaurants and entertainment.
The seafood in Clearwater is among the best you can find on the peninsula. Many also come to the Gulf for fishing, surfing, and wakeboarding. No matter what brings you to Clearwater, it’s one of the most pristine parts you can find of the Sunshine State.
Overall Best Time to Visit Clearwater
Now that we know why to visit, we can cover when to visit! Several factors will help you judge when to come to Clearwater. For one, Clearwater is relatively free of Spring Break crowds.
Most Floridian college students aim for other, less family-friendly beaches for their Spring Break. Non-Floridians tend to stick to the northern beaches like Pensacola rather than travel so far south for the beach.
If they do go south, they’ll generally go to Miami or Tampa, which provides richer nightlife. Because you don’t have to worry about Spring Break crowds, Spring is a great time to visit.
But the best time to visit overall is between October, November, and December. In Florida, the autumn months don’t generally bring cold temperatures.
You may experience a few days in the mid-60s, but the water remains warm until late December and early January. These milder months will help you avoid the worst of the humidity while still enjoying the warm sun.
Additionally, most tourists don’t come during these months. One thing you’ll encounter is the snowbird demographic. Many people, particularly retirees, spend their winters flying to the warmer parts of Florida.
This trip helps them escape the snow and spend their winters in warm comfort.
However, there aren’t enough snowbirds to crowd the beaches or make long waits at your favorite restaurant. If you want the best general time to visit, you can beat most crowds by coming during this window.
Cheapest Time to Visit Clearwater
The cheapest time to visit Clearwater is from early July to late September. Unfortunately, this is also unarguably the worst time to visit Clearwater.
July is one of the hottest months in Florida. While heat on a beach is fine, the incredible humidity and high temperatures make the outdoors uncomfortable.
Even Florida natives tend to spend their summers indoors or at the relatively cooler freshwater springs in the state. Furthermore, September is peak hurricane season. Clearwater is south enough into the state that hurricanes will almost always affect the state in some way.
If a storm is in the Gulf, it’ll likely have an impact on Clearwater. A large enough hurricane going through central Florida will send smaller rainstorms across Clearwater as well. Because of these storms, most prefer to avoid Clearwater in August and September.
However, these two factors combine to make Clearwater much less busy. You’ll find cheaper hotel rates, no wait at most restaurants, and discounts for other entertainment options. Airfare is also cheaper.
Least Busy Time to Visit Clearwater
Clearwater doesn’t have much of an off-season as other beach cities do. Due to being so far south, it rarely experiences cold temperatures as north beaches like Pensacola would.
Many from out of town prefer to come to Clearwater during the summer months. Most Florida natives avoid the beach during these sweltering months. The heat rises to a point of being truly unsafe, but tourists often underestimate this heat.
The least busy time is undoubtedly hurricane season. Hurricane season in Florida stretches from late May to mid-September. October generally marks the end of hurricane season.
Still, you can often find the beaches less crowded in late January or early February. Early January is still busy with tourists that are spending their New Year’s in Florida. Snowbirds also haven’t usually left yet.
The temperatures will lower in December, January, and February. While cold days are rare in Clearwater, you can often find the beaches more sparse in these winter months.
Worst Time to Visit Clearwater
The worst time to visit depends on your preferences! Many choose not to visit during hurricane season for safety and convenience. You, however, may prefer to visit during this time for fewer crowds and lower rates.
As far as enjoyment goes, summers in Clearwater are often a no-go for many locals. Several factors contribute to this. For starters, many choose to spend their summers on Floridian beaches.
These crowds consist of locals and a huge percentage of tourists. Many visit Orlando for a weekend to hit the parks and then travel to one of the coasts for a beach holiday.
Because of these crowds, Clearwater is an incredibly packed beach. To make matters worse, you can only reach Clearwater via a bridge from the mainland.
At peak traffic, it can take more than an hour to enter or exit the island. On top of the traffic, summer brings ridiculously hot, humid days. Peak temperatures enter the high 90s with heat indexes in the triple digits.
In short, visiting Clearwater in the summer brings uncomfortably hot, humid days and massive crowds. It’s better to visit toward the end of hurricane season. By then, temperatures are lower, crowds haven’t returned, and the risk of severe storms is lower.
Things to Consider
Now that we know the times to visit, what are the other things to consider? Here’s a quick checklist of questions to ask yourself before you visit. Note that some things on this list apply to specific times of the year!
- Am I prepared to face high temperatures or severe storms?
- In case of severe weather, do I know the safe route of evacuation?
- How far is my hotel from my most desired destinations?
- What’s my method of transportation for this trip?
- What sports (fishing, surfboarding, etc.) do I intend to enjoy?
- Will my days have a schedule or am I taking the days in stride?
- What restaurants should I prioritize to enjoy Clearwater’s cuisine?
- Will I spend my entire trip in Clearwater?
- Am I staying on the island for my Clearwater trip, or commuting from the mainland?
- How long is my planned stay?
Frequently Asked Questions
With so many things to think about, there are always a few questions bouncing around! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding a Clearwater trip:
Where is Clearwater beach less crowded?
The southern and central beaches of Clearwater are exceptionally crowded. Near Pier 60, one of the biggest tourist attractions, the crowds are at their peak.
To escape these crowds, it’s best to stick to the northern beaches. The northern parts of Clearwater have less entertainment and nightlife. As a result, the crowds tend to avoid these areas.
What time should I arrive at the beach?
If you’re spending your day at the beach, it’s crucial to arrive early. You should try to arrive close to 10 AM, but earlier is better. If you’re near a hotel access point, you may have reserved seating on the beach. Still, this seating isn’t unlimited!
Arrive at the beach as close to sunrise as possible to make sure you have a good, comfortable spot. As the crowds come in, you may begin to feel crowded. There’s no set time to leave the beach. However, you should plan your departure either before or after peak times to avoid heavy traffic.
Can I enjoy the beach at night?
Yes! Clearwater’s public beaches are 24/7. That said, that doesn’t mean that it’s always safe. Beaches are incredibly dark at night due to light laws that don’t allow lighting fixtures. Swimming is dangerous at this hour due to peak shark feeding times. Additionally, getting disoriented and lost in the dark is highly common.
Enjoy the beach safely and make sure you know how to handle any emergencies. If you’re near Pier 60, you may be asked to leave the beach at a certain hour. Though the beaches are 24/7, these businesses shoo away people so that they can close their doors.
Is there a curfew for minors in Florida?
Yes, Florida has a state-wide curfew for minors. A minor cannot remain in a public place between 11 PM and 5 AM, Sunday through Thursday. Holidays remove this curfew. If your child is with you, the curfew is unlikely to be enforced.
However, many places become less family-friendly around 11 PM anyway. While it’s unlikely an officer will insist you take your children home, it’s best to plan around this curfew. That way, you aren’t caught off guard by a sudden bedtime.
Is alcohol permitted on Clearwater’s beaches?
No. Alcohol isn’t permitted on Clearwater’s beaches. The alcohol ban is in place to keep the area calm, family-friendly, and to cut down on litter. Some areas will sell alcohol near the beach.
It’s best that you finish your beverage before heading down to the beach. If a local officer spots an alcoholic beverage, they’ll tell you to toss it and can ticket you.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Clearwater Florida?
Clearwater beach is best during the early Autumn months. Coming to Clearwater between October, November, and December will avoid the heavy humidity, high temperatures, and huge crowds.
Going during the summer invites enormous crowds, devastatingly high temperatures, and uncomfortable humidity. So, with so much to see and do, and with no real bad time to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Clearwater today!