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Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, fun for families

Clearwater's most famous resident these days is a dolphin with a prosthetic tale named Winter, whose story was told in the hit movie Dolphin Tale with Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman. You can meet her at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium [249 Windward Passage; (727) 441-1790], as well as other marine animals. Clearwater Beach is one of the best beaches for families, and Pier 60 [10 Pier 60 Drive] is ground zero for activity, with a nightly festival that starts two hours before sunset where artisans, street performers and musicians entertain the crowds.

If you're looking for a party, head to Shephard's Beach Resort [619 S Gulfview Blvd.; (727) 441-6875], where a raucous spring break vibe continues year round. The entertainment complex features a hotel, restaurant, lounge, two killer tiki bars, private beach and a double-level nightclub called The Wave.

There are four — count 'em, four — casual Frenchy's Cafe locations crowding the Clearwater Beach landscape [41 Baymont St. is the original; frenchysonline.com], each a little different but all fueled by their own fleet of commercial fishing boats. For fine dining, Shor American Seafood Grill at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach [301 S Gulfview Blvd.; (727) 373-4780] has the total package: great food, great view (don't miss the sunset!). The dining room is spare and open, half the seats with an unobstructed view of the gulf, half the seats with an unobstructed view of one of the area's prettiest exhibition kitchens. And for kickin' it old school (evidence: there's a relish tray), Bob Heilman's Beachcomber [447 Mandalay Ave., (727) 442-4144] satisfies with bronzed grouper, clams casino and a darn good burger.

In Clearwater, Cafe Ponte [13505 Icot Blvd., No. 214; (727) 538-5768] is a yardstick against which the area's other fine dining restaurants may be measured. It has a clean New American palate with Mediterranean, Asian and French influences.

Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, fun for families 08/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 3:46pm]

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