Make us your home page

Clearwater Beach named best beach in Florida by USA Today readers

CLEARWATER — Anything but first place just wasn't an option for Clearwater tourism officials.

They used everything in their social media arsenals to get the votes they needed to get Clearwater Beach named the best in Florida.

It worked.

Clearwater Beach was named the state's best beach town in a survey conducted by USA Today, beating out Siesta Key, Key West and South Beach.

"This just verifies what we have always been saying about how great Clearwater is," said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Pinellas County's tourism agency, as well as the area chambers of commerce, used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email and anything else they could think of to remind residents and visitors to go online and vote. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater even hired a plane to fly a banner over the Gulf of Mexico.

In the end, Clearwater won about 25 percent of the roughly 30,000 votes cast, according to the announcement USA Today made Friday.

"It's nice to know that we do have that kind of support, and not just locally, but nationally, internationally and online," said David Downing, the deputy director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

This award will help in marketing campaigns and hopefully draw visitors to the area, tourism officials said.

"If we're saying (Clearwater is the best), it's one thing, but when USA Today and other publications talk about it, it really gives us great credibility," said Bob Clifford, president of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Now it's up to us to take that opportunity to turn it into a driver of the economy and boost tourism numbers."

This isn't the first time Pinellas County has been recognized for its beaches.

TripAdvisor named St. Pete Beach the nation's top beach destination in 2012. In 2011, Parents Magazine named Fort De Soto Park the nation's best beach for families.

Darlene Kole, executive director of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the award is well-deserved.

"We have so much going for us," she said. "Our sugar-white sand, all of our restaurants. It's pedestrian-friendly. When people enter the beach and they park their car, they can't wait to get out and stroll along BeachWalk."

For the mayor, the recognition means a lot, but he said he wasn't surprised.

"I think the beach speaks for itself," Cretekos said. "Just the energy, the sand, the gulf. It's an ideal place to vacation or take a walk after a busy day."

The beach and the nearby shops and restaurants were busy Friday afternoon. The sun was bright and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

It was a welcome change for Bob and Lori Johnson, who were visiting from Davenport, Iowa. (Local weather: 36 degrees.)

Bob Johnson, 58, discovered Clearwater Beach while in Tampa on business a few years ago. This was the couple's second vacation on the beach.

"We just love the powdery sand and that it has all the restaurants and bars right up on the beach," said Lori Johnson, 55. "The water is so blue. It's beautiful here."

Clearwater Beach named best beach in Florida by USA Today readers 01/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kimmins Protégé-Mentor Program a crash course on business know-how



    Williams Landscape Management Company was founded 30 years ago with one employee.

    Marisela Linares and Jorge Castro listen to speakers during a workshop at the Kimmins Contracting Corporation on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.   Kimmins Contracting Corporation is handling road construction projects Jeff Vinik's company as he remakes the Channel District. To do some outreach, the company is partnering with three minority contractors, but it's a unique partnership with Kimmins not only giving them the opportunity, but taking them through a series of workshops. It's essentially providing training to the subcontractors so they will be in position to get other contracts.
  2. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  3. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  4. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa


    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  5. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'


    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.