Clearwater Beach is one of the best family-vacation destinations in Florida — and these are its most family-friendly places to stay.
The luxurious Sandpearl Resort is right on the beach, on the site of the historic Clearwater Beach Hotel. The 253-room property has some of the best features around, such as a large lagoon-shaped pool with wading areas for children, yoga classes, a luxury spa, and several on-site restaurants, including a fine-dining spot with lovely vistas. A kids’ club operates daily throughout the summer and on weekends during winter. Standard in-room amenities include flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, Keurig coffeemakers. Suites add full kitchens, washer/dryers, tubs with separate showers, and separate living rooms with sleeper sofas. The best rooms overlook the Gulf of Mexico and its spectacular sunsets.
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa is an upscale family-friendly hotel close to all the action. Note that while Sandpearl is right on the beach, Hyatt guests must cross a street to get to the sand. The hotel is packed with amenities, such as multiple on-site restaurants, a luxury spa, and an eighth-floor pool deck with amazing sunset views. There's no kids' club (stick to Sandpearl for that), but Hyatt does offer a kids' pool and babysitting services. All 287 rooms have fully-equipped kitchens (granite countertops, full-size refrigerators, microwaves, and stove tops), as well as flat-screen TVs and upscale furnishings. Private balconies showcase views of the white-sand beach below and brightly colored sunsets in the evenings.
The upscale Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key sits right on Clearwater Bay, and has wonderful waterfront views from its 220 suites. It's a 10-minute walk to Sand Key Park Beach, and free beach shuttle service is provided. The family-friendly hotel features a kids' club, water-sports rentals, and a year-round outdoor pool. Dining options include a steak house, bar, poolside bar, and cafe -- all with lovely bay views. Homey suites have separate living areas and balconies overlooking the bay. Some of the suites could use a refresh, so it might be worth comparing rates with the Hyatt, which has updated furnishings in the rooms.
Packed with amenities for families, Sheraton Sand Key Resort features a beachside pool, a kids' pool and playground, three tennis courts, a rooftop gym and spa, and five restaurants and bars. Activities include beach volleyball, Jet-Ski rentals, and other water sports. Rooms are typical for an upscale hotel chain, although views vary greatly, and some rooms have no views at all. While the hotel advertises that there are no resort fees, there are fees for Wi-Fi, breakfast, the use of beach chairs and umbrellas, and renting a mini-fridge (mini-fridges are free at Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites).
On the beach within walking distance of Pier 60 Park, the 25-room Palm Pavilion Inn is popular budget hotel. The simple rooms come with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, free W-iFi, and daily housekeeping. The one-bedroom apartment options have fully equipped kitchens. The hotel's restaurant, Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar, is located in a neighboring building right on the beach; it has live entertainment daily and plenty of outdoor seating with fantastic ocean views. In addition to direct beach access, Palm Pavilion has an outdoor pool and a rooftop deck. Families wanting more of a resort stay might prefer Sheraton Sand Key, which has tennis courts and water-sports rentals -- just note that it's about a quarter-mile from the beach and not directly on it, like Palm Pavilion.
Pelican Pointe Hotel and Resort makes a practical base for no-frills comfort. What the 60-room condo-motel lacks in features, it makes up for in room size. Starting at 345 square feet, Pelican Pointe's spacious condo units are well-suited for families. All rooms come with a small kitchen, a separate seating area with a futon, a flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi. The best views of the Gulf of Mexico are on the fourth floor, but oceanfront buildings block the view in many rooms, including some that claim to be ocean view. Property highlights include a heated pool and coin-operated laundry facilities, but travelers looking for a better glimpse of the Gulf should look at Palm Pavilion Inn, which has lower rates and direct ocean views.
Pier House 60 is a family-friendly hotel located across the road from the water and close to Clearwater Beach's shopping and dining district. The 107-room, mid-range hotel offers freebies such as breakfast and Wi-Fi, and its top-floor bar and restaurant, Jimmy’s Crows Nest, provides tasty cocktails and sweeping views. Some rooms also have nice views, and all have been updated with modern amenities. One disadvantage here is the fee for self-parking (Pelican Pointe offers free parking).