My husband (68 years young, retired), and myself (56, teacher), are looking to explore the Gulf coast area for the first time. We like beaches on the quiet but not too quiet side, not high rises, not real busy traffic areas, but still having easy access, even walking, to good restaurants, beach shops at night, ice cream or a fun beach bar at night, etc. We have booked the Bilmar for 9 nights ( things are getting booked) June 18.- 27. I wanted to be at Clearwater Beach because it was voted #1 US Beach by TripAdvisor, but could not find affordable beachfront condo or hotel availability for our dates. Questions:
1. If we want to explore Clearwater, because it was voted #1 beach, should I pursue finding a place there, splitting our trip into 4 or 5 nights at Treasure Island and 4 or 5 nights in Clearwater, or will be better to just stay the whole time in Treasure Island and drive up to Clearwater for the day? I wanted to explore Pier 60 at Clearwater and the famous beaches at Clearwater , which was voted #1, but why?
2. We are renting a car. I was thinking of doing a day trip to explore St. Petersburg beaches, a day trip exploring beaches up to Clearwater( Madeira, Redington, Indian Rocks, Sand a Key) and a day trip to Clearwater Beach area if we don’t divide our trip into 2 places to stay. The rest of the days will be at Treasure Island and open for anything else within an hour drive. Not interested in Tampa or tourist attractions like Bush Gardens, Disney, etc., just mainly beaches, water, etc. Anything you would add or subtract to this plan?
3. Should we do the Dalí Museum? If so, is that a whole day, a half day?
4. Should we / can we use the trolley for any exploration out of Treasure a Island? Last year, we dvided our vacation into 2 stays, Sanibel for 4 nights( day excursions to Naples, Venice) and then Siesta Key ( day excursion to Anna Maria and Sarasota ) for 5 nights and did exploration from Sanibel, but parking was a hassle at times, worrying about running back to pay the meter, plus we lost time in moving to a second property. We loved Siesta Key. The shelling at Sanibel was really great, too. Exploring all the beaches in between was fun.
5. What are some restaurants we should definitely hit? We like good food, where we can see the ocean, but not fancy. Something where shorts and tee shirts are welcome. Bar b q, Mexican, Thai are some of our favorites.
6. Our last day we need to be at Tampa Iarport around 6:30 pm. Any suggestions of what we could do that day after check out ?
6. Any other advice, tips much appreciated. Thank you so much, trip advisors! Your input is so valued.