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Sand Key, Clearwater, Florida

Palm trees in Sandkey in Clearwater, Florida.

The Hubs and I just returned from our third trip to Clearwater, Florida, and we are still hooked on this place like a fish on a line! This time, we set up shop at the Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key, which is just south of Clearwater Beach proper. It’s like the baby brother of Clearwater Beach but with all the same charm and none of the crowds!


The Marriott hotel sits on the bayside, overlooking the water, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of some dolphins swimming around. Just make sure you don’t drop your phone in the water trying to get that perfect Instagram shot! And while the beach is just across the street, be warned, my friends, that staying on the bayside means you either have to bring your own beach set up or pay for a chair. But hey, at least you’ll get a good workout carrying those chairs back and forth!


Now, let’s talk about food, shall we? The Watercolour Grille at the Marriott is a must-try, according to one of the locals we chatted up. Don’t let the fact that it’s in a hotel fool you, folks. The food is top-notch, and it’s definitely on our list for next time! And while the complimentary breakfast buffet wasn’t the best we’ve ever had, it was still some decent breakfast grub to get us fueled up for a day of fun in the sun.

Lower view of Marriott Hotel in Clearwater, Florida.
Poolside area of Marriott Hotel in Clearwater, Florida.

Speaking of fun, the Marriott is family-friendly and has all the amenities you need to keep the whole gang happy. A 24-hour fitness center for those of you who like to stay fit on vacation (we prefer the “vacation bod” look), an outdoor pool with a 35-foot waterfall, and an outdoor bar and seating area for all your poolside refreshment needs. Just make sure you stake out a lounge chair early, folks because they go faster than a hot knife through butter!


But don’t worry, if you need a break from all that pool action, hop on the “Jolly Trolley” to get yourself to the downtown Clearwater area. The best part? The trolley is free when you show your room key! And if you’re a beer snob (like The Hubs), they even have trolley brewery tours. How’s that for a good time?

Palm trees by the shore in Clearwater, Florida

Now, if you’re like me and love a good artsy festival, make sure to check out Clearwater during the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. This year, they had a walk through the decades from the 1950s to the 1990s. I mean, who doesn’t love a good throwback?


And while the Sand Key area may not have a ton of convenient stores, they do have a Dunkin’ Donuts for all you caffeine junkies out there. Plus, there are some cute boutique shops to peruse. And while the beaches in Sand Key may not be the best for shelling, they do have some fun pink and purple clam shells that are perfect for a DIY decor project (or just for showing off to your jealous friends back home).


The only downside we noticed about staying outside of Clearwater proper was that it can take a hot minute to get an Uber or Lyft. You’ll get one, you might just need to try a few times. But hey, with all the fun to be had, who needs a ride anyway? Just grab another drink and enjoy the beach life! Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  The nearest airport is the Tampa Airport but it is a breeze to navigate. 


Sand Key in Florida and Clearwater, Florida are both wonderful destinations, but there are a few reasons why someone may choose to visit Sand Key over Clearwater. Sand Key offers a more laid-back atmosphere than Clearwater. It’s a quieter area, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The beaches in Sand Key are less crowded than those in Clearwater, which makes for a more relaxing and peaceful beach experience. Sand Key offers stunning views of the bay, with the opportunity to see dolphins swimming right outside your window. Plus, the proximity to Clearwater is still convenient, with the “Jolly Trolley” offering free transportation from Sand Key to downtown Clearwater. Sand Key is a great choice for those seeking a more tranquil beach experience with easy access to nearby attractions.

About the Author

Casey Kolp

Cheers! I’m Casey! Get ready for a blog full of wanderlust, culinary adventures, and unfiltered opinions – where I spill the tea (and the wine) on all things food, lifestyle, and travel!

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