How to Save Money on a Clearwater Beach Vacation

A vacation to Clearwater doesn’t have to break the bank if you know how and where you can save money.

I’m sharing tips that can help make your vacation dreams a reality.

How to Save Money on a Clearwater Beach Vacation

Thanks again to Clearwater Beach for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links.

white sand in Clearwater Beach

Enjoy the Gorgeous Turquoise Water and White Sandy Beaches

There are many reasons travelers come back to Clearwater, Florida year after year.

One of the biggest is for gorgeous turquoise water of the Gulf and the white sugar sand beaches.

Turquoise water Clearwater Beach

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the beach and let’s be honest, it’s the biggest why you would visit Clearwater and it’s FREE.

Save on lunch by packing a cooler (just don’t pack alcohol or glass) and save on parking by walking instead of driving from where you are staying.

lifeguard stand Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach has lifeguards on duty 365 days out of the year

The water is warm enough to swim in comfortably.  The “sugar sand” is even the theme used to create the incredible Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival in April.

There are plenty of free activities that go on as part of the festival. There is a kids’ play area, fireworks, live music, sand sculpting class, demos, and more.

How to Save on Admission to The Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit

The 21,000 sq ft tent features works by sand sculptors from around the world.

Present a valid ID to receive a discount for:

  • AAA Members
  • Seniors (60 & up)
  • Active & Retired Military Personnel
  • Police
  • Fire
  • Educators
Golden hour clearwater

Chase the Sunrise and the Sunset

Each sunset and sunrise in Clearwater is so unique. I try to do my best to adjust my schedule so that I have time to watch them whenever I’m near the ocean.

I’ll even sacrifice sleep if it means getting up early to walk on the beach.

sunset dinner in Clearwater

Keep your phone handy to capture the moment. I highly recommend enjoying the magnificent beauty of the golden hour each day.

Pier 60

Explore Pier 60

Walk down the pier for another perspective of the waterfront. You can pay an additional dollar to walk to the very edge of the pier.

This is a great spot to get a closer look at the fishermen’s catch of the day.

Pier 60 at night

Kids will also enjoy playing at the nearby covered playground and open green space.

Sunset Festival Pier 60 Clearwater Florida

Nightly Sunset Festival at Pier 60

364 days a year, weather permitting the Sunset Festival takes place at Pier 60.

The Nightly Sunset Festival takes place two hours before and two hours after sunset.

Sunset Festival in Clearwater Beach

The Pier 60 festival is free to the public.  You might want to bring some cash in case you find a special item that you want to purchase from a local artisan.

It’s also nice to have cash if you want to tip one of the street performers.

Stop at Clearwater Visitor Information Center at Pier 60

Whenever possible, I try to stop at the local Visitor Center when I’m visiting a destination for the first time. They are a great resource for local events, attractions, and local restaurants.

We asked for restaurant recommendations and the best way to make use of our time during the weekend. My husband and I booked a boat tour and dined at two restaurants based on his wonderful recommendations.

The Clearwater Visitor Center is conveniently located within close proximity to the pier. They are also a great resource for budget-friendly dining options and attraction discounts.

Free movies in the park in Clearwater

Watch a Movie for Free

Save on evening entertainment by watching a free movie at the Sunset Cinema, an outdoor movie theater under the stars located steps away from Pier 60.

(You can find dates and more information here)

beach view Sand Key Park in Florida

A Lesser Known Beach in Clearwater

Most people are familiar with Clearwater Beach but there is another option if you prefer to get away from the crowds.

Sand Key Park at lifeguard stand

Spanning 95 acres, Sand Key Park provides guests with two parks in one which is the best of both worlds …and it has plenty of parking for only $5 a day!

3 trees at Sand Key Park

You have access to the beach and there is also a separate park area that has a playground, dog park, two picnic shelters with grills, and a restroom if you want some additional recreation options beyond the beach.

boardwalk Sand Key park

There are 2 bathhouses with separate changing stalls and restrooms onsight and the beach vibe is more rustic in its surroundings absent of high concentration of shops and restaurants that you find at Clearwater Beach.

You can visit the concession, watch wildlife on benches at the salt marsh, walk the nature trail, or rent a kayak or bike.

Deep sea fishing in Clearwater Florida

Budget-Friendly Ways to Go Fishing in Clearwater

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to go fishing in Clearwater. There are several options available for your vacation style and budget.

Fishing off of Pier 60 in Clearwater

Go Fishing off of Pier 60

If you want to go fishing shoreside it’s really affordable to go fishing at Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach.

Super Queen fishing boat in Clearwater Florida

Daily prices are $8 for adults, $5.25 for kids under 15.

If you plan on going fishing several times during your visit, the weekly pass might be a better value. If you don’t have gear, you can rent a rod for $8.

Deep Sea Fishing on the Super Queen

Take an Off Shore Fishing Trip

An offshore deep sea fishing trip on the Super Queen fleet is a great option for families and novelty fishermen for so many reasons.

You can choose the option of half-day or full-day with Queen Fleet Deep Sea Fishing.

  • You can purchase food and drinks on the boat or you can bring your own. The party boats can hold a larger amount of passengers which helps keep the costs down compared to a private charter.
  • Everything that you need to fish is supplied for you including the fishing license.
  • The half-day 4-hour trips go up to 10 miles offshore and you get about 2 hours to dedicate to fishing.
  • There is a restroom on board which isn’t always the case for smaller boats.
  • The boat has seating with tables inside and benches to fish from on both sides of the boat.
  • There is a sun deck with lounge chairs available for guests who want to soak up the sun.
deep sea fishing trip Florida

What I love about this option is that it’s great for families and travelers who want to choose their own adventure.

fish caught deep sea fishing Florida

Half-day Fishing

The half-day is a great option to get a taste of deep-sea fishing, if you want a taste of fishing but don’t want to commit your whole day.

off shore fishing in Florida

For guests that have a wide age range of kids, multi-gen travelers, a party that is split on wanting to fish, half-day fishing is a great way to make everyone happy.

lounge chair on the deck of the Super Queen

If someone in your party doesn’t want to fish at all, they can just relax on the sun deck and enjoy the ride.

How long you choose to fish is also up to you. Staff members are very helpful during the process. They also tag your fish so that you can take them with you afterward.

Adventure Mom fishing in Clearwater

Photo Tips With Your Fish

Try to avoid what I did in the picture above…I obviously don’t fish a lot.

You want to keep your fingers under the fish and away from the camera so that your hand/fingers don’t look larger than the fish.

To make the fish look larger, hold the fish away from your body closer to the camera.

drinks on The Tropics Boat Tour

Other Ways to Save On Sightseeing Boat Tours and Attractions in Clearwater

Start looking for additional discounts on GrouponTravelZoo, and LivingSocial as soon as you book your trip. You can find great deals on boat tours, kayak and paddleboat rentals and more if you start doing your research ahead of time.

Make sure that you pay close attention to the terms of service of each offer to make sure that it will be valid during your visit.

window views from The Tropics Boat Tour

We enjoyed a sunset cruise with The Tropics Boat Tours that even included a special dolphin sighting.

If you plan on drinking more than the champagne toast, you might want to consider a drink package for additional savings.

Sea life safari

Sea Life Safari

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is the home of Winter the dolphin that is world-famous because of the movie Dolphin Tale.

For the best value, opt for a package that includes a tour add on.  I recommend the Sea Life Safari that is both educational and interesting.

Sports fans can catch a Clearwater Threshers (Philadelphia Phillies Class A Affiliate) game.

The tickets start around $10 and they offer different promotions throughout the season like dollar hotdog night and a summer concert series.

View from the Super Queen

Most Affordable Sightseeing Tour by Boat

The most affordable way to have a boat experience is on the Clearwater Ferry. 

With one way fares as low as $4 for adults and kids 3 and under FREE you can’t beat the price and it also doubles as a great way to get around the city with multiple route options (see here)

Dolphin art in Clearwater

Enjoy Free Art Exhibits Around Clearwater

Dolphin fans will LOVE discovering more than 120 dolphin sculptures located throughout Clearwater on the Clearwater Dolphin Trail.

The creativity and personality that local artists designed on each dolphin sculpture make every dolphin sighting a joy and fun photo op.

Save money on Dining in Clearwater e1552163348728

How to Save Money on Dining in Clearwater

One of the first ways that you can save money is by choosing a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast.

My teenage boys know how to EAT and this is always a cost saver.

the edge hotel

For example, the Edge Hotel, Pier House 60 Clearwater Beach Marina Hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites & the Hyatt Regency offer complimentary breakfast.

room at the Edge Hotel

How to Save Money on a Hotel or Airbnb in Clearwater, Florida

Many hotels also stock their rooms with a mini-fridge and microwave and some of the hotels even offer kitchenettes (Hyatt Regency and Residence Inn Clearwater Downtown) so that you can save money by cooking your own meals.

If you like to be near the action and only want to park once try to find a hotel within close proximity to Clearwater Beach.

the edge hotel

Compare prices for Hotels and Airbnbs in Clearwater, Florida.

I like to save money on dining by eating breakfast at the hotel and then packing a light lunch/snacks and go out to eat for dinner.

The reality is that I still really don’t want to cook on vacation.

catch and cook cooters

Take Advantage of the Catch and Cook Program

Save money on your meal by supplying your own catch of the day to be prepared by a local restaurant.

Catch and Cook program Clearwater

You can find the list of participating Catch & Cook restaurants here. 

We brought fish to Cooter’s where we had the option of fried or blackened with sides.

Fish at Cooter's in Clearwater

The fish was cooked perfectly and I highly recommend trying their beans as a side and their grouper cheeks as an appetizer.

Drink local Clearwater

Take Advantage of Happy Hour & Daily Specials

If you don’t mind eating a little earlier or a little later, you can take advantage of happy hours specials that will save you money on food and your drinks.

Rumba Bar & Grill and Salt Cracker Fish Camp offer happy hour specials on select drinks all-day, every-day.

Frenchy’s Original Café on Clearwater Beach run daily specials and you can also find the daily specials at Cooters here.

Read about more of my favorite places to eat from previous visits here.

Jolley Trolley Clearwater Beach

Transportation Options in Clearwater

Clearwater is a very walkable city and you really don’t need a rental car if you are planning on staying close to the beach.

If you don’t want to worry about finding parking during your visit you have several affordable options.

The Jolley Trolley makes multiple stops along Clearwater Beach for a low fee.

Florida Free Rides runs from 9am to 3am 7 days a week, and operates on sponsors and tips.

Clearwater Ferry is convenient for visiting the Aquarium.

Flight Options to Clearwater

You can save on flights to Clearwater by using discount airlines like Frontier and Allegiant to fly into Tampa.

Super Shuttle, Uber and Lyft are great options if you are flying to/from TPA  (Tampa) and PIE (St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport) if you don’t have a vehicle.

View of Clearwater Beach

When is the Best Time to Visit Clearwater Beach?

You can save money on your vacation by visiting during the off-season from October-January.

Fun Things to Do in Clearwater Florida

More Information on Clearwater

Should guests need more information, they can visit

More Related Articles

Things to Do in Clearwater Florida 

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3 thoughts on “How to Save Money on a Clearwater Beach Vacation”

  1. We used to go to Destin/Panama City for years when I was a teenager. I haven’t been back since then but I would love to go back. It’s a beautiful area.

  2. We have went to Clearwater for several summer vacations! We love it there! But the hotels along the beach are getting pricey. The Hilton is our favorite but a king with Gulf view it like $500 a night now! I am considering going to Destin. Have you ever been there? Is it comparable to Clearwater? I like how Clearwater has everything right there along the beach! No need for a car!

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