Florida Tourist Attractions - Clearwater Beach, Tampa Bay Area
By Kenneth Ng
Despite being overdeveloped and lined with beach front cookie-cutter hotels, Clearwater Beach draws visitors because of incredible white-sand beaches, a large fishing fleet , and it's proximity to Tampa and St Petersburg. It's also a prime area for kayaking, shelling, bicycling and sunning yourself on the beach - which just about sums up the local 'tourist attractions.' Unless you count beach volleyball on Clearwater Beach, which is pretty darn good, too.
This northernmost barrier island is about 22 miles north of St Pete Beach and 2 miles west of downtown Clearwater (a separate city on the mainland) over the Memorial Causeway (Hwy 60). From here the road south is S Gulfview Blvd and north is Mandalay Ave, Clearwater's main drag. Pier 60 is right at the roundabout where these three roads meet. From St Petersburg, it's about a 1/2 an hour drive or a 1 1/2 hour bus ride. Although crowded, the scale of the island is humane (only 3.5 miles long) and it's easy to get around.
- Pinellas Trail
This 47-mile paved bicycle trail, built on the abandoned CSX railway bed, runs from St Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. To date, it's the longest urban trail in the country. It's also very smooth - smooth enough for inline skates or roller skates as well as bicycles. There are lots of stops along the way, with cafes, pubs, bike shops, skate shops and fast-food places. As it's on the route of the old railway, the corridor cuts through widely carnied terrain: sometimes you're in the middle of downtown, sometimes along waterways, sometimes among orange groves and sometimes you're riding practically through people's backyards.
From the Clearwater Beach International Youth Hotel, which rents bikes, head over the causeway, and ride north on fort Harrison Ave and east on Jones St for about three blocks. You'll pick up the southern end of the Clearwater to Tarpon Springs section of the path. It's 13.2 miles from Jones St to Tarpon Ave.
Contact the Pinellas County Planning Department (727-464-4751; 600 Cleveland St, Pinellas; 8am-5pm Mon-Fri) for their free guidebook listing rest stops and local attractions; it also has a mileage chart.
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