Clearwater and Pinellas County...
Clearwater and Pinellas County are very safe so you don't need to be overly preoccupied with safety concerns, but here are some hints and suggestions that are appropriate for all tourists and visitors.
* Keep a local/state map handy to make your trip more relaxing; visit one of our Welcome Centers for maps and assistance.
* You must make a complete stop at all stop signs and stop lights.
* It is legal to turn right on a red light after stopping unless a sign forbids it. A Yield sign (yellow triangular sign) means oncoming traffic has the right of way. Be prepared to slow and proceed with caution.
* The driver, front seat passenger and children under five must wear seat belts. Children under four must be restrained in a car seat.
* Observe the speed limit; it is radar enforced.
* Parking meters are strictly enforced. Be aware of the time available and time remaining before the meter expires. Do not back into parking spaces; enter nose first.
* If you'd like, please browse a Florida Driver Manual.
* In an emergency, dial 911. Be prepared to tell the operator whether you want the police, the fire station or medical assistance. Know the address where you are located. If using a pay phone, addresses are printed on them.
* Carry a minimum of cash and use travelers checks and credit cards. Record their numbers and keep in a different place in case of loss.
* When in your room, close your door securely and use the proper locking devices. Don't forget sliding glass doors or windows. Ask for identification from anyone unfamiliar or unexpected who comes to your door. When returning to your hotel or motel late in the evening, use the main entrance.
* When in public, keep guest room keys out of sight.
* Be aware of your surroundings and what's going on around you. Be observant.
* Keep your purse, wallet, jewelry, packages and other valuables out of sight. It is best to keep all valuables locked in a hotel safe.
* Always lock your vehicle. Lock valuables in the trunk or glove compartment so they are out of sight. However, it is best to never keep any valuables in the vehicle.
* Place maps, travel brochures, etc., out of sight so as not to advertise you are a visitor.
* If you are unsure about the safety of an area, seek the advice from the front desk staff at your hotel, motel or campground.
* Dollar bills are all green and the same size. Pay attention to which bill you give someone. For reference: there are 100 cents in a dollar; the most commonly seen coins are the 'quarter' ($.25), the 'dime' ($.10), the 'nickel' ($.05) and the 'penny' ($.01).
* Use of credit cards is safe and purchases can be verified upon your return home. Mastercard and Visa are the most common cards, although Diners and American Express are often accepted.
* Many of Clearwater's larger hotels provide foreign currency exchange, although some limit the service to hotel guests. All branches of Barnett and Sun Banks offer currency exchange, and some branches of First Union and Nationsbank also do so.
* Paying a gratuity, or 'tipping', is a way of life in America. Unless your party size is large, tips are usually not included in any restaurants or lounge bills and the tip amount is left to the customer's discretion. Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, taxi drivers, and porters should receive a tip for their services; shop assistants and fast food employees should not. In hotels and restaurants, a minimum of 15% of the total bill is generally left as a gratuity based upon service but do check to see that a service charge has not already been included.
* A 7% sales tax is added on to just about everything you buy.
Drinking Age and Regulations
* Florida law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 years of age. Photo identification may be required for anyone under 30 so carry it with you.
* Drinking alcoholic beverages in public, including the beach, is prohibited by state law. It is also unlawful to have an open container of alcohol in any form in a moving vehicle. Open containers may be carried in the trunk or luggage compartment.
* Call (727) 464-3331 for information on the location of the closest consulate/embassy.
Other Helpful Hints
* Florida sunshine is intense. We recommend that you be careful when sunbathing and use sunscreen.
* Nude sunbathing is not permitted.
* Voltage in the US is 110AC so expect a variance in power. Use an adapter if possible.
* Many hotels charge a service charge to use the phone. However, use of hotel phones provides privacy and doesn't require you to have a large amount of coins. '011' is the international access code to dial overseas.
* Larger hotels allow you to charge all hotel charges to your room.
And remember... Americans are very friendly so don't hesitate to ask for assistance!