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Tinik/ Getty Images

Key Info

1 Causeway Blvd.

Price & Hours

$8 per vehicle
8 a.m.-sundown daily

Details

Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

This picturesque island is named for its role as the honeymoon destination for winners of Life magazine's newlywed contest in the early 1900s. Since then, it has remained a popular vacation destination thanks to its romantic white sand beaches. It's no wonder why the protected part of the island, Honeymoon Island State Park, continues to be one of Florida's most-visited state parks.

A short 11-mile drive north of downtown Clearwater Beach, this natural barrier island's state park features more than 4 miles of beaches and a 3-mile-long nature trail. It offers an educational nature center and access to bike and kayak rentals as well. Plus, the park is home to numerous animal species, including manatees, dolphins and bald eagles, which nest in the surrounding trees from October to May. You may also spot ospreys, great horned owls, herons, egrets and various songbirds while trekking the park's Osprey Trail or the Pelican Trail.

Although the park draws families to its calm water year-round, previous visitors suggested avoiding late summer visits because of the increased amount of mosquitoes. They also advised packing snacks or using the on-site picnic areas – which have barbecue grills – since there are no food stands within the park. The island's only restaurants, Cafe Honeymoon and South Beach Pavilion Cafe, are located at the southern end away from the park's entrances. If you're keen on seeing manatees, consider arriving in winter when the creatures typically swim closer to the island.

Honeymoon Island State Park is open every day from 8 a.m. until sundown. Entrance to the park costs $8 per vehicle (or $4 for a single-occupancy vehicle). For more information about the park, head to the Florida State Parks website.

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#1 Clearwater Beach and Pier 60

Clearwater Beach's shoreline boasts white sand, turquoise water and proximity to downtown's hotels, restaurants and attractions, making it one of the area's most popular beaches to visit. It's backed by the pedestrian-friendly Beach Walk and offers both sand volleyball courts and excellent conditions for a variety of water sports, including snorkeling, Jet Skiing and parasailing.

One of the main attractions at this beach is Pier 60, which draws visitors in with the promise of spectacular sunset views and keeps them coming back with its entertaining events and amenities. Located off of Causeway Boulevard about a mile west of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, this pier overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, making it a picture-perfect stop.

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