On this particular business trip, I picked up a rental car from National at (actually near) the Tampa International Airport. The National rental station is not located on the airport, so if you are arriving, do not follow the signs to the rental car facility, as it will not be there. Instead, go to the signs that indicate ground transportation and courtesy shuttles. You will see the Alamo|National courtesy shuttles and then head on over.
The first stop at the facility is for Executive Selection, then Emerald Club, then National, then Alamo.
I paid 36.00 a day for a midsize, and 9.00 a day for a GPS system.
If you are looking for public transportation in or around Clearwater, your best bet is to check out the bus route and schedule from PSTA.net. PSTA is the transit authority for the area, and when I was driving around, there were plenty of these buses running. It seemed that every major thoroughfare had one visible at most times, so this is likely a good choice for those looking to save a dollar or two.
It appears for travelers to the area, that the "GO card" is the way to go, no pun intended. It is currently (Oct. 2008) a $4USD card with reduced fare options for seniors that are $2. The current single ride fare is $1.25 or $.75 for seniors.
The first stop on my trip to Clearwater, FL occurred when I landed in the area at Tampa International Airport. I arrived via American Airlines from Dallas Fort Worth, which has multiple flights per day. I landed at gate 79, which is considered the "Blue Section" of the baggage claim area. From there, I headed out to the onsite car rental area to find out that my rental car company is not located onsite, despite the information my travel agent told me. If you exit in the blue area, there will be several onsite rental car agencies, but if you do not see yours, then you have to head around the corner to the left to the offsite courtesy shuttle section (there are no signs for rental car agencies).
The airport itself is an old battle tested location, with some beautiful Florida-like pink highlights. There is also a shuttle in between the gates and the check in area, so make sure you allocate enough time to get to your gates.
Although this being America it is common to hire a car, we found it quite easy to get around using the local buses. They are quite efficient but it takes that bit longer to get anywhere. You can buy a day ticket for unlimited travel
There are a couple of trolleys that service the entire area. Any hotel will have schedules & all info needed. A trolley ticket is only $1. If you're really into sightseeing (& letting someone else doing the driving) you can ride all day for a whopping $3. The trolleys are cheap & provide a great service, but not always exactly on-time. Just know this in advance. Relax, and don't stress out over a 5 or 10 minute delay!
WARNING!!!! There is a lot of construction taking place in and around Clearwater beach. The new Memorial causeway is under construction now. This is the main route to and from the beach. In order to construct the new bridge ( the current one is a drawbridge) there was a need to close off one of the main access roads. This has resulted in almost all the traffic going to Clearwater beach, being routed through downtown Clearwater along Cleveland Street. This will inevitably cause large traffic jams on the weekends, especially during spring break, and the summer. The new bridge construction, while impressive, has caused many traffic jams. When combined with a limited number of parking places on the beach, and the current construction on North Mandalay Blvd., it can create a traffic nightmare at times. The city is advising the travel times to the beach may take as long as 1 hour or more. Here are a few tips to hopefully get through the traffic smoother.
1) Travel to the beach from the south side, over the Sand Key bridge. It is not used nearly as much, and can save you a very long traffic pileup.
2) Try to make it to the beach before 9:00 A.M. on the weekends to increase your chances of getting a parking place.
3) If you are coming over the Memorial Causeway, there is a little parking area on the south side of the road, just before the small bridge onto Clearwater beach. This is a sort of overflow parking area, but it is free, and is only a real short walk to the beach ( over the small bridge, and the beach is straight ahead about 2 blocks.
4)When you are leaving the beach over the Memorial Causeway, take a right on Osceola Ave (the traffic light at the top of the hill.) Take this to Court street, turn right, then an immediate left. This takes you one block over to Chestnut street, which is one way heading away from the beach and downtown. This way will save you a whole lot of wait time and traffic jam headaches.
Currently it is spring break for the Tampa Bay and Clearwater area. Spring break usually means that multitudes of people ( many of them high school and college students) will desend upon Clearwater beach during the next month and a half. This always results in very long driving times to and from the beach. Give yourself plenty of time to travel to and from the beach. There is also a very limited amount of parking spaces there. If you are planning on a beach trip on the weekend, it is best to get there before 9:00 A.M. This will give you the best chance of finding a parking place, and hopefully you will not get caught up in a big traffic jam. It seems that the traffic pattern switches around 3:00 P.M. or so. Most of the traffic heads away from the beach in the mid afternoon, so you may want to take this into consideration. Many people find that this is actually the best time to go to the beach, because parking spaces start to appear, and you can get some sun, have a great time, and watch the evening sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Hope this tip helps you beach driving experience.
You can fly into Tampa's International airport (TPA) or Clearwater/St. Petersburg airport (PIE). Both are convenient, and nice airports - just pick the best airfare. (Clearwater's airport is a lot smaller, but very nice.)
Another option - this area is only about 1.5 hrs. from Orlando, driving time.
Rent a car - a convertible if you can. Otherwise, there is only bus service and taxis as alternate transportation. There are agencies that rent high-end cars (i.e. a Porsche or Viper), and at least one Harley-Davidson rental agency, but these can (of course) be expensive.
The Jolly Trolley serves Clearwater Beach, Memorial Causeway, and
Cleveland Street to Park Street in Downtown Clearwater. The Clearwater
Beach terminal is located at 483 Mandalay Avenue in the Pelican Walk Plaza
shopping center. For more information, please call (727) 445-1200.
Sand Key Park Beach
Located just south of Clearwater Pass Bridge on Gulf Blvd., Sand Key is
rated as one of the top 14 beaches in the United States. The 65 acre park
is part of the Pinellas County park system and offers swimming, beach
showers, fishing, picnic areas, life guards, metered parking, and
restrooms. The park is open daily until dark and is served by the Jolley
From the end of Clearwater Beach you can take the trolley bus which takes you quite a way down the coast. You can drop off at various resorts and shopping malls
We flew to Tampa on United via Chicago. From there you can get a bus to Clearwater, but we took a taxi as it was late at night and it seeemed easiest
BEHIND THE PIER
YOU WILL FIND RESTAURANTS
NICE STORES TO SHOP
ESPCIALLY THE STORE WAY COOL
RIGHT THERE ON THE OCEAN