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Connections: Clearwater — Go for the Coastal Vibe

By Jennifer Ward, 09/28/23, 10:45AM EDT


Upgrade your race weekend in this beachy locale with our top picks.


SEPT 28, 2023

This article is presented by United Airlines.  

Clearwater, Florida is synonymous with play—relaxing in the sunshine by day and winding down with a cold drink at sunset. It’s the home of music, art, and food festivals on the beach, making it a favorite spot for retirees and active people alike. But this city by the sea is not just about jazz and sunsets—it's also the ideal place to run, and it’s the home of the newest namesake race on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series circuit. So hop off your United flight and jump right in! 

“Clearwater has a great athlete culture,” says Casey Taker, a runner based in the city. She’s an active part of two run groups—both based out of local breweries. Clearwater-based runners can choose from parks, beaches, and causeways with ocean views. Whether you’re in town for the half-marathon or the 5K, here are a few more ideas for how to fill your time—and see the best of this coastal city. 

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Shake out run 

Once you arrive in town, take your pick from Taker’s two favorite running routes: "Sunsets at Clearwater Beach are some of the best in the world,” says Taker. “I call it the money shot,” she says of the sunset views over the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Tampa—one of her favorite routes. “There’s just blue ocean exploding in front of you.”

Another one of Taker’s favorite places to run is Phillippe Park, on the coast of Tampa Bay’s Safety Harbor. This park features big mossy oak trees and old stonework.   

Beach fun and water sports 

Clearwater Beach is the crown jewel of the city, where visitors can bask in the sun, swim in the emerald waters, or build sandcastles with family and friends. There are plenty of water sports to choose from, including parasailing, jet skiing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. You can rent equipment from various vendors along the beach, making it easy to enjoy these activities.

Sail out of Clearwater Beach Marina on the Schooner Clearwater for a relaxing, romantic sunset cruise. Or, set sail on the Pirate Ship Royal Conquest out of John’s Pass or Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise from Clearwater Marina. These pirate-themed ships offer all the treasure hunts, face painting, water gun battles and pirate stories your kids can handle. Learn more about all these excursions and more here


Caladesi Island State Park 

For a more secluded beach experience, venture to Caladesi Island State Park. Accessible only by boat, this peaceful island offers nature trails, birdwatching opportunities, and some of the most pristine beaches in Florida. Hiking, shelling, and picnicking are popular ways to whittle away an afternoon here. 

Clearwater Beach Walk 

Clearwater Beach Walk is a scenic promenade that stretches along the coastline. Ideal for walking, jogging, or biking, it offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and easy access to restaurants and shops. This is a perfect way to stay active while enjoying the oceanfront scenery. 

Biking on the Pinellas Trail 

The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a 47-mile-long paved trail that winds its way through Clearwater and neighboring communities. Rent a bike or bring your own to explore this scenic route, passing through parks, historic sites, and charming downtown areas. 


The Pinellas Trail

Fishing charters 

Fishing enthusiasts can embark on deep-sea fishing charters departing from Clearwater Marina. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, these trips offer the chance to catch a variety of fish while enjoying the Gulf's beauty. 

With so much to do, you’re likely getting hungry! Thankfully, Clearwater’s diverse food offerings won’t disappoint. Read on for our favorite picks in the area. 

Hidden hot spot 

For something a bit more tucked away, Taker recommends hitting The Cooler on Clearwater Beach. “They have the best açaí bowls ever—a lot of people will go run or swim then grab one,” she explains.

Taker also loves Clearwater Bagel. “It’s this hole in the wall with takeout only, but they’re the best bagels you’ll have. They sponsor the Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving, do a ‘beer and bagels’ at one of the local breweries off the route,” she adds. For a real gem that Taker is almost hesitant to mention, the Tin Can right near Clearwater is a “solid little diner-style breakfast spot.”  

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Frenchy's famous grouper sandwich.

Fresh seafood 

No trip to Clearwater is complete without savoring the fresh seafood at Frenchy's. With several locations around Clearwater Beach, this local favorite serves up Gulf-to-plate goodness. Try their famous Grouper Sandwich or indulge in a seafood platter with a view of the Gulf. 

Cuban delights  

Experience the flavors of Cuba at the Columbia Restaurant in Sand Key. This historic restaurant offers a diverse menu with Spanish and Cuban dishes. Don't miss the paella or the sangria for a true taste of the Mediterranean. 

Farm-to-table excellence   

Island Way Grill is a fine dining establishment that focuses on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Their seafood is exceptional, and the sushi is a must-try. Enjoy a meal on their waterfront patio for a memorable dining experience. 

Burgers and brews 

Located right on Clearwater Beach, Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar is a casual beachfront spot known for its juicy burgers and a wide selection of craft beers. It's the perfect place to unwind after a day of outdoor activities. 

Sunsets and seafood  

Salt Cracker Fish Camp offers a rustic, waterfront dining experience with a menu featuring Southern-inspired seafood dishes. Watch the sunset while indulging in shrimp and grits or their signature lobster mac 'n' cheese. 

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Ice cream delights  

For a sweet ending to your meal, head to The Gelato Bistro in downtown Clearwater. They serve a delectable array of gelato flavors and homemade desserts, perfect for cooling down on a hot Florida day. 

Craft beer and spirits  

In a sea of destinations offering good craft beer, St. Pete/Clearwater is truly a stand-out. Here, more than 35 locally owned breweries make up what we call the "Gulp Coast" – an incomparable vacation spot where you can sample the unique creations of talented brewmasters. Get our free digital passport and take advantage of rewards and prizes! St. Pete, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island & Madeira Beach 

Suggested itinerary: South Region

From craft beer icons such as Green Bench and 3 Daughters Brewing in downtown St. Pete to intimate breweries along our beautiful beaches, the South Region is well worth the trip. Make a day of it and pair your brewery experiences with a visit to a museum or an afternoon by the shore. Dissent Brewery in St. Pete is an off-the-beaten-path nano brewery with an excellent selection of brews on tap. For a list of family-friendly breweries, click here.

Clearwater, Florida, is a paradise for runners seeking a blend of outdoor adventures, natural beauty, and coastal charm. From the stunning beaches to the adrenaline-pumping water sports, the city offers a diverse range of activities for all ages and interests. Whether you're an avid golfer, a water sports enthusiast, or a nature lover, Clearwater has something special in store for you. So, pack your bags, soak up the Florida sunshine, and embark on an unforgettable active adventure in this coastal gem. Clearwater is more than a destination; it's an experience waiting to be discovered. 

United Airlines is the Official Airline of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series. Let United join you on your journey toward the finish line and check out the Rock 'n' Roll Running Series website to find out how you can receive exclusive flight discounts.  

Keep an eye on the Rock 'n' Roll Clearwater event page for other local discounts in our Runner Perks section. 

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