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Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

Minneapolis, MN
Level Contributor
117 posts
12 reviews
Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

2 adults, 5 year old and baby. We want to park the car at the hotel and do as much by foot or trolley as possible. 3 day trip. I was initially looking into Anna Maria Island but seeing as the drive from the airport is about half as far to Clearwater beach now I am considering that instead. What are your opinions?

Louisville, Kentucky
Level Contributor
1,984 posts
202 reviews
1. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

I assume you're flying into Tampa and then headed to Clearwater Beach?

Really don't want to throw your plans into disarray, but we've found Clearwater Beach to be a commercialized mess. If your hotel is right on the beach, then that's great. And if you plan on parking your car and walking, even better. Traffic is a nightmare, and you can't see the beach for the condos/resorts/hotels from the road. It's a MAJOR tourist spot ... almost what you'd call a "tourist trap." Lots to do, but it's not a place where we've felt we could relax.

We love AMI ... old Florida feel, and I think your family would love it too. Would recommend you go to the AMI forum, vacation rental, things to do threads and see what you think. It's just a little bit of a distance to AMI from Tampa - not as close, like you said, to Clearwater Beach, but the whole "vibe" is completely different.

There are no hotels per se on AMI ... either condos or homes for rent. Some are on the beach, while others are within steps. There's a free trolley that runs the length of the island, and - depending on where you're staying - numerous restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Minneapolis, MN
Level Contributor
117 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

Thank you, this is good advice. I was initially thinking Saturday through Tuesday and since we won't be there too long and the kids have never flown I thought cutting down on driving may be a good option but I definitely appreciate the feedback! I don't mind the hustle and bustle of somewhere tourist-y, but tourist trap doesn't sound very good.

St. Petersburg...
Level Contributor
588 posts
10 reviews
3. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

I love Anna Maria, I favor it over any other beach. Treasure Island is another beach that would offer many options to walk to and there's a trolley ran by PSTA in the area.

Mississauga, Canada
Level Contributor
1,843 posts
10 reviews
4. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

I've stayed at both and much prefer Clearwater Beach-much more to see and do. When I hear "tourist trap" I hear "ripoff"...I disagree totally. There is no difference between the two in price and you can walk about to numerous shops in CWB (not so at AMI). As for the traffic-this year was the best traffic-wise at CWB in the past ten years due to several factors; the Clearwater Ferry, 700 new parking spots opened on Poinsettia and the installation of a fence in the traffic circle to stop pedestrians from crossing.

If you want peace and tranquility (and possibly boredom) then its AMI. If you want things to do with an equally beautiful beach-Its CWB.

Level Contributor
1,684 posts
154 reviews
5. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

It depends on what you're looking for, but Clearwater Beach is one of our favorites. We do not like to be bored while on a beach vacation, so that's why we like Clearwater Beach. We like places to visit and things to do. We can only sit on a beach for so long and then we're ready for some fun times!

Level Contributor
97 posts
8 reviews
6. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

tourist trap is not how I would describe Clearwater Beach at all, when I mentioned to my sister that our family was coming she immediately told me about Indian shores and a few other less crowded beaches( she lives in Tampa) I looked into them and they were just not a fit for my family. Clearwater Beach is a total relaxation vacation for us, but we also like to go out to eat and do things too. we stay about 1/2 a mile from the pier on the Bay side so its much more relaxed and quiet at night.I personally think it just really depends on what your looking for. My family definitely can relax and enjoy CWB.

Level Contributor
466 posts
138 reviews
7. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

Just returned from an American road trip finishing in Clearwater. We started in Longboat Key, next door to AMI . Initially we thought it would be too quiet but by end of our week we kind of fell into the 'peaceful way of life' Beautiful beach but possibly not the area for kids. We travelled down the Keys to Key West, definitely not quiet, up to Naples and finished our trip in Clearwater. We were regular visitors in Clearwater a number of years ago and were looking forward to returning. We had been warned of all the big hotels at the front and yes it is difficult to park. However , with a lot of research we found an old style, but modernised motel just 2 blocks from the beach with a lovely pool and spotlessly clean with free parking. We were on bayside and had wonderful views of boats coming and going. The beach is still as wide, white and wonderful as we remembered. We watched a beautiful sunset on our last evening in Clearwater while many families were still on the beach swimming and enjoying the cooler air. It still has something special and I'm glad we returned .

Bradenton Beach...
Level Contributor
29 posts
13 reviews
8. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

It's not even close - if you're looking for a family oriented, quiet place with fantastic beaches, it's Anna Maria Island. Less busy, better beaches, and we have a free trolley so you can get around without driving. With kids, this is the place.

And I really like Clearwater, but it's Apples and Oranges.

9. Re: Clearwater Beach vs Anna Maria Island

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