Best For: Laid-back, water-loving families who would much rather sleep on the beach if they could.
Stay: A steel-drum band on the eighth-floor pool deck of the new Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach will have you thinking you’re in the Bahamas. Tots have their own gated (and shaded) play area with a pool and water toys. Upstairs you’ll find what one guest dubbed “hotel rooms on steroids.” The huge spaces have full kitchens, so kids can snack—or heck, make their own breakfast—while parents sip their morning joe on balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Play: A day in Clearwater goes like this: beach, pool, frosty drink, beach, seafood, sleep, repeat. For- get worrying if your kid is too loud—this place is crawling with pint-size people. They’re in the tidal pools on the beach and tied to body-boards in the surf. They’re digging holes and making racetracks with plastic shovels. The only thing calm about this place is the water—except when a faux pirate ship fires its cannons.
Cheesy, But Kids Love It: Come sunset, the action continues on the new winding Beach Walk that leads to Pier 60, home of Disney-like pirates (“Ahoy, mates!”), glass blowers (“Ooh, ah”) and also hair braiding stations (“Can we? Please?”).
Eat: Anything with the word “Frenchy’s” in the name is a good bet. And the family-owned restaurants boast colorful decks with railings supported by fish-shaped wooden cutouts. (Try the colossal Buffalo grouper sandwich—it’s worth every bite.) If the wait’s too long at all four locations, head to Cooter’s for the clam chowder. Save your resort wear for the Island Way Grill and its macadamia-nut-crusted mahi and mussels in spicy coconut-milk. Nightlife here consists of early bedtime— ’cause tomorrow you’ve got to do it all again. For more information, please visit: visitclearwaterflorida.com.
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