Destin vs Clearwater Beach: Which is Better for a Vacation? - FloridaTripGuide

Destin vs Clearwater Beach: Which is Better for a Vacation?

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Destin vs Clearwater Beach for a vacation? If you are planning a vacation to Florida and looking forward to enjoying seaside bliss, then these two beach destinations naturally come to mind, and with a good reason.

Destin & Clearwater Beach, are both known for their immaculate white sand beaches, fishing, family-friendly vibe, and activities for everyone.

Even though both are great beach destinations, they are unique in their own way and offer amazing activities that are sure to make your summer a memorable one.

Here’s an honest and in-depth comparison of the two beach cities to help you choose!

ParticularsDestinClearwater Beach
The average cost of a 7-day trip 💵$3317 (For couples)$3368 (For couples)
Known for 👍Fishing, Family-friendly vibe, soft white sandy beaches, Golf courses Water sports & fishing festivalsPristine white sand beach, swimming, boating, kayaking, Nightlife
Beaches 🏖Soft white sandy beaches with Emerald blue-green watersWhite sand beaches with the crystal blue water of the Gulf coast
Popular Tourist Attractions 🏛Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Henderson State Park, Miramar Beach, Big Kahuna, Crab islandPier 60, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Park

Destin vs Clearwater Beach

Who has the best beaches? 🏖


Henderson State Park Destin

The Emerald Coast on the Florida Panhandle is home to some of the best beaches in the world and Destin well and truly is the gem of the Emerald Coast.

The soft powder-white sand, crystal-clear water, and plenty of sunshine make it a paradise for beach lovers. However, with so many beaches to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit.

If you are looking to get away from the claustrophobic vacation crowd and spend a relaxed time enjoying the seaside bliss, then Henderson Beach State Park is a great option for you and your family.

Destin’s James Lee Park provides a more conventional beach experience. This beach, located in the middle of Destin, offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico and includes all of the amenities you’d expect from a beach, such as showers, restrooms, a picnic area, concessions, and parking.

Last but not least, there is the stunning Miramar Beach. Miramar Beach, located just a few miles from the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, is regarded as one of the best beaches in the world due to its beautiful powdery white sand and brilliant blue-green waters. Fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are also available to visitors.

If you decide to visit only one beach in Destin, then make it this one.

🏖 Relevant reading: 7 Best Public Beaches in Destin Florida for Families in 2023

🏖Related post: Destin vs Sandestin for Vacation? An Honest Comparison to Help You Choose!

🏖Related post: Destin vs Panama City Beach: Which is Better for a Vacation?

Clearwater beach

Clearwater Beach

Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida along the Tampa Bay area on a barrier island, Clearwater Beach as the name suggests is known for its 2.5 miles of pristine and soft white sand beach with crystal clear blue waters and a lively atmosphere.

Owing to its incredible beauty and ‘clear waters’, Clearwater beach is consistently recognized as one of the best beaches in the world and among the top five in the US by travel agencies and magazines like USA Today, Tripadvisor, and Travel Leisure year after year.

Although similar to the beaches in Destin in many aspects, the beach in Clearwater Beach is known for its bluish-green waters in contrast to the Emerald green waters of Destin’s shoreline and is a renowned destination amongst water sports enthusiasts for activities like parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing.

Clearwater Beach offers everything that you would expect from it, fantastic restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, cafes, spas, and hundreds of entertainment options lining the beach.

Owing to its city-like feel and vibe, Clearwater beach attracts lots of young crowds during spring break, and many times the party can get loud and last till the wee hours of the morning. So, if you are looking for a lively beach vibe with a vibrant party scene, then Clearwater beach is the perfect beach for you.

Finally, due to the lively vibe, it is often difficult to locate a peaceful location to relax on the beach, and the water frequently becomes murky after a peak tourist season.

👉Related post: Clearwater Vs. Tampa: Which is BETTER for Vacation?

👉Related post: Is Destin Expensive in 2022? Average Cost of a TRIP to Destin!!

🏖 Related post: Sarasota vs Clearwater Beach: An Honest Comparison to Help You Choose!

Who has the best nightlife? 🍻


The fun in Destin doesn’t end with sunset. As the sun goes down in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” that’s when the fun is just getting started! 

Whether you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene or just spending your time stargazing on the powdery beaches of Destin, there are plenty of things to do in Destin at night.

For fantastic sunset cocktails and live music head to Clayton’s Beach Bar & Grill or The Landing for an amazing night of live music alongside an outdoor deck with a stunning view of the harbor.

If you’re looking to dance the night away, then head to Fat Tuesdays and Club LA

Destin offers plenty of bars and restaurants with picturesque outdoor seating and a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico for those looking to just unwind and enjoy the seaside bliss.

🏖 Related post: 11 Best Things to do in Destin at Night with Family

Clearwater Beach

Nightlife in Clearwater Beach reflects the lively and energetic vibe of the beautiful coastal city.

As the sun goes down, Clearwater Beach comes lively with the tunes of exciting live music and drinks in several restaurants, bars, and nightclubs that line this amazing beach.

For those who want to dance their night away to tunes of live music then Shephard’s Tiki Beach Bar & Grill is the perfect spot with a spacious dance floor and a vibrant atmosphere.

If dancing is not your thing and you just want to have a relaxed evening then head to Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe. The open-air setting and variety of cocktails with stunning views of the Gulf make it one of the best places in Clearwater Beach for couples. 

Activities & Best Things to do 🏄🏼‍♂️


Destin fishing

Destin is a beautiful Florida beach town that is known for its sugar-white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Owing to its popularity as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village🎣”, Destin is renowned for fishing, boating, and other water sports.

The crystal clear waters are perfect for swimming and enjoying the Florida sunshine. And speaking of sunshine, the beaches in Destin are some of the best places to soak up some rays.

The first stop for many visitors to Destin is the Destin Harbor, where you can find charter boats for fishing, Parasailing, and dolphin-watching cruises. 

You can also rent jet skis or take a ride on a pontoon boat. If you want to stay on land, there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the harbor.

Another popular activity in Destin is visiting the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Here you can see penguins, alligators, sea lions, and other marine life up close.  

The park also has a stingray touch pool and an amazing dolphin show.

For those who want to experience the natural beauty of Destin, Henderson State Park is a must-see. The park has miles of hiking and biking trails as well as an observation tower with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Need a break from the beach?

Head into town to browse the unique shops, or parks to enjoy live entertainment, and of course, no visit to Destin would be complete without sampling the fresh seafood at one of the many fine restaurants along the Destin Harbor boardwalk.

🦀 Related post: The Ultimate Guide to Fun on Crab Island, Destin Fl

🏖 Related postThe Ultimate Guide to Destin Seafood Festival 2023

🏖 Related post: Destin vs Orange Beach: Which is Better for a Vacation?

Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 - Destin vs Clearwater Beach

Thanks to the soft white sand beach and calm turquoise blue waters of the Gulf, Clearwater Beach has gained popularity throughout the years as the go-to destination in Florida for enjoying amazing water sports and seaside bliss.

One of the best things to do in Clearwater Beach is spending a day at Pier 60. Pier 60 is located on Causeway Boulevard about a mile west of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and is a popular attraction to enjoy stunning sunsets, fishing, shopping, and delicious seafood.

Another must-see sight is the Clearwater Aquatic Aquarium, which is dedicated to saving endangered marine life as well as teaching people about the influence of human interference on local marine life.

You can observe sharks, dolphins, stingrays, sea turtles, otters, and birds that were rescued and treated by experts before being released back into their natural habitats through interactive tours led by experts.

Honeymooners will especially love to spend their time at the honeymoon island state park due to its romantic white sand, beautiful nature trail, and sun activities like bike and kayak rentals. 

The park is nestled in a secluded spot away from the bustling life in CB with fantastic marine life like manatees, dolphins, and other sea creatures which makes this park a haven for honeymooners.

And if you are someone like me who enjoys spending some quiet time soaking in the beauty of your surroundings away from all the hustle and bustle, then the Caladesi Island State Park offers an amazing natural environment with a laid-back setting to relax for a day.

No matter what you looking for, there is everything that you would expect from a coastal city like Clearwater Beach from lively beaches, restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, museums, and parks to fantastic nature trails to make your vacation an unforgettable experience.

Conclusion 👍

If you want to enjoy a laid-back beach vacation experience with access to plenty of pristine white sand beaches, world-class Golf courses, exciting fishing festivals, plenty of activities on and off the beach, and still a lot more to explore, then Destin is your cloud nine.

If you are looking for a vacation that revolves mainly around the beach and you want to enjoy amazing beach activities with more lively and energetic crowds and a vibrant nightlife that gears more toward young adults than seniors, then Clearwater Beach is the perfect place for you.

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About the author
James Williams
Hey there! I'm James Williams, the guy behind I'm a born-and-raised Floridian, and I'm stoked to share my travel adventures with you. On my website, you'll get a taste of Florida through my eyes – the places I love, the hidden gems, and the stories that make the Sunshine State special. Join me on this journey as I take you through the heart and soul of Florida, one post at a time!

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