If you are looking for a cheap beach vacation in the US, don’t forget about Clearwater beach in Florida. I read an article in a tourist magazine that said that Clearwater Beach was named one of the best beaches in the US. I have to agree. I have been to a lot of different beaches and everything in the experience receives a rating. I look at the beach access, cleanliness of the beach, beach traffic/parking, beach hotel costs, and the quality of area restaurants. On a trip to visit some friends that live near Tampa, I took my Nana for a short vacation last December to Clearwater.
There are hotels within the $70 – 100 range that are not beachfront hotels but the beach is walking distance. To save some money, we picked an ocean view hotel. The hotel did not have beach access, but we could sit on their patio which overlooked the ocean. We were a less than 5 minute walk from the beach. So I was able to head out to the beach and put my feet in the water. Another plus was that the hotel parking was free. So many times, parking is $20 – 30 range at the nice hotels. And there are plenty of affordable restaurants in the area that are walking distance from the hotels that are along the beach.
The beach itself, the main attraction, was so pretty. I went out several times just to lay on the beach with my eyes closed listening to the waves. I went at dusk to watch the sun set. The sense of tranquility that I felt was from the best type of stress reliever.
Clearwater beach is accessible by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater small regional airport (abbreviation PIE) or Tampa international airport. We used a low cost air carrier Allegiant Air that flew from Greenville, SC into PIE. Using a flight special, the ticket price was $150. I do not know if you have the option of using a carrier like Allegiant Air, but if possible fly into PIE because smaller airports mean less hassle getting in and out. Just to give you an idea of how small the airport was- walking outside to the rental car parking lot was like walking outside of Wal-Mart to your car. There are no parking garages here.
Overall, the beach, surrounding area, hotel accommodations, and total trip cost made this an enjoyable, relaxing beach vacation.