A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Clearwater vs. Destin for Beaches, Food, Resorts, and Families

Should you visit Clearwater or Destin?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Clearwater and Destin. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Clearwater

Clearwater is a relaxing, beautiful, and outdoorsy coastal city. It's also known for nightlife, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

Destin

Destin is a peaceful, family-friendly, and beautiful beach town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for food, beaches, and shopping.

Clearwater and Destin: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Clearwater or Destin?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Clearwater. Although Clearwater and Destin are both popular with visitors, Clearwater has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Clearwater is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches, while Destin is known for its impressive beauty. Clearwater is popular for its beautiful white sand beaches, laid back atmosphere, and watersports. It is also home to Clearwater Beach. Destin is popular for its powdery sand and turquoise water, its kid-friendly environment, and its local waterfront seafood restaurants.

How is Clearwater different from Destin?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Destin and Clearwater. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Clearwater or Destin?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is notable for its sights and museums. However, Destin does not have museums and landmarks.

Many visitors head to Clearwater specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. Perhaps most well known is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, but there are also a surprising number of museums nearby such as the Dalí Museum, the impressive Chihuly Glass Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Destin does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Clearwater or Destin? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is notable for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Destin is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its restaurants.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Clearwater makes for a great culinary experience. Head to the waterfront for some of the best seafood. Unfortunately this is also where you'll find the highest prices. Shrimp, crab, and a fresh catch of the day are common on many menus.

Destin has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. The area has great seafood including crab chowder, seafood gumbo, and fried fish. You can find wonderful local restaurants that have waterfront views and menus that feature freshly caught seafood. Many restaurants also have kid-friendly menus. During peak season, reservations are recommended.

Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Nightlife?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is very good for nightlife. However, Destin is a mediocre beach town for nightlife and partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Clearwater. You'll find laid back beach clubs, glitzy wine bars, and relaxed bars where you can spend a nice night out.

Destin doesn't offer many options. The region is more popular as a family-friendly beach destination than it is for it's nightlife. Head to the Harbor area for the most lively nightlife.

Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Resorts?

Clearwater
Destin

There are high quality resorts to choose from in both Clearwater and Destin.

There are plenty of resorts in Clearwater to choose from. You'll find a number of nice resorts along the coastline. Some of the most popular are the Sandpearl Resort, the Opal Sands Resort, and the Clearwater Beach Marriott.

Destin is known as a popular and fun resort destination. Popular options include the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, as well as Hilton Sandestin Beach, Golf Resort & Spa. Most of the accommodation in the area is in the form of condos that include a kitchen and separate bedrooms. Most of these complexes also have pools, hot tubs, and even kids clubs.


Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is very good for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. However, Destin is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's worth going snorkeling or scuba diving in Clearwater. There's both snorkeling and diving nearby. Some of the best dive spots are within and hour of the shore and you'll find diving shops that offer trips.

Destin is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Beaches?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is terrific for its beaches. Also, Destin is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for the beache.

With world-famous beaches, Clearwater is a very popular vacation destination. Clearwater Beach is on many lists as one of the best beaches in America. It's the most popular beach in the area and it spreads out over 2.5 miles. Sand Key Beach is another popular destination as is the pristine Caladesi Island State Park.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Destin. This area is famous for its powdery white sand, beautiful blue waters, and calm waves. The beaches are large enough that they never get incredibly crowded, but you will find the largest crowds during the summer months. These beaches are particularly popular with families and seniors.

Is the Shopping Better in Clearwater or Destin?

Clearwater
Destin

Both Clearwater and Destin are good shopping destinations.

Clearwater is a great destination for shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping options in the area such as malls, shopping centers, and outlets. Westfield Countryside Mall is a popular destination as is the Cleveland Street District.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Destin. In the shopping centers around town you'll find a number of unique boutique shops that are fun to explore. They have boutique-style beach clothes, local art, and any beach supplies that you may have forgotten.


Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Families?

Clearwater
Destin

Both Clearwater and Destin are high quality family-friendly destinations.

Clearwater is a very family-friendly place to visit. Check out the playground and activities around Pier 60. Less crowded and family-friendly Sand Key Park is another favorite spot and the playgrounds at New Coachman Park and Crest Lake Park are also fun. Clearwater Marine Aquarium is another popular attraction for visitors with kids.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Destin is very family-friendly. The area has beautiful sandy beaches, calm waters, and plenty of activities for kids like Big Kahuna's Water Park. This is one of the more kid-friendly areas in Florida and many families return year after year with their kids. There are also many condos available for rent and kids can have their own room, kitchens are available for meal preparation, and there are washers and dryers to clean clothes. Many of these condo complexes also have kid-friendly pools

Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Couples?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is notable for romance. Also, Destin is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its romantic activities.

Clearwater is a very popular place to visit for couples. There are beautiful parks and beaches as well as romantic activities like sunset cruises and dolphin spotting tours. Couples will also enjoy dining on local seafood and shopping at the local venues.

Destin makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. For a relaxing beach vacation, this is a nice option for couples. A lot of the accommodation is in the form of condos, so it may not have the romantic resort vibe you're going for though. There are many great seafood restaurants and quiet beaches that have beautiful sunsets.

Is Clearwater or Destin Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is a moderate coastal city for its public transit. However, Destin is a mediocre beach town for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit is generally limited in Clearwater. The Clearwater Jolley Trolley connects some of the area's highlights. There are also public buses that run several routes through town.

Public transit is quite limited in Destin. There is almost no public transit so a car is essential. Some condo complexes do over golf carts to get around the grounds.


Is Clearwater or Destin a more walkable city?

Clearwater
Destin

Clearwater is very good for its walkability. However, Destin is a mediocre beach town for its high level of walkability.

Clearwater is somewhat walkable. The waterfront and downtown areas are surprisingly walkable.

Destin is not a very walkable coastal city. The area is very spread out and not walkable so you'll need a car to access restaurants and most forms of entertainment.

For even more information, also check out Is Clearwater Worth Visiting? and Is Destin Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Destin or Clearwater?

How long in Clearwater or Destin?

Both Clearwater and Destin have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Destin than in Clearwater. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Clearwater, and 5-7 days is enough time in Destin.

Families should spend more time in Clearwater than Destin. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Clearwater, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Clearwater than Destin. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Clearwater that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Clearwater than Destin if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Clearwater.


  • How many days in Clearwater or Destin? Ideal Length of Stay
    Clearwater 3-5 
    Destin 5-7

One day in Clearwater or Destin?

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Clearwater. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

With shopping and food around the relaxing beach town of Destin, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Clearwater or Destin?

Clearwater is a great place to explore. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

With food and shopping around the destination of Destin, there's plenty to do. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.


Five days in Clearwater or Destin?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Clearwater. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Most people come for the beaches. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Destin, a popular beach town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this beach town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Clearwater or Destin?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the beautiful destination of Clearwater. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Destin is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this beach town makes for a great vacation. One week should give you a good understanding of everything this beach town has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America, The Best Polar Tours & Cruises in United States of America, The Best Walking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Destin or Clearwater?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Clearwater is $309, while the average daily cost in Destin is $187. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Clearwater and Destin in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Clearwater $141
    Destin $111
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Clearwater $282
    Destin $222
Compare Hotels in Clearwater and Destin

Looking for a hotel in Clearwater or Destin? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Clearwater


Hotels in Destin


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Clearwater Hotel Prices and Destin Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Clearwater $221
    Destin $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Clearwater

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Clearwater:

  • St. Petersburg to St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) - Departure Private Transfer: $63
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to St. Petersburg - Arrival Private Transfer : $63
  • Private Transfer from St Petersburg Clearwater Airport to St Pete Beach: $75
  • From Orlando: Clearwater Beach Day with Transfers and Lunch: $100
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to Clearwater Beach - Arrival Private Transfer: $101
  • Private Airport Transfer to St. Petersburg or Clearwater Beach : $103
  • Private Transfer from Clearwater to Tampa Airport: $120
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to St. Petersburg - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $126

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Destin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Destin:

  • Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport One Way Transfer: $119

Is it cheaper to fly into Clearwater or Destin?

Prices for flights to both Destin and Clearwater change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Clearwater $46
    Destin $51

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Clearwater

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Clearwater.

  • 2 Hours Beach Bites & Brews Food Tour in Gulfport, Florida: $69

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Destin

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Destin.

  • 3 Hour Destin Dinner Cruise: Solaris Yacht in Miramar Beach: $128
  • 3 Hour Sunset Dinner Cruise by Solaris Yacht in Miramar Beach: $128
  • 3 Hour Sunset and Fireworks Dinner Cruise Solaris Miramar Beach: $128

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Clearwater -
    Destin -

Tours and Activities in Clearwater

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Clearwater are as follows:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Clearwater by Operation City Quest: $10
  • St. Petersburg Jungle Prada Site History Tour: $14
  • Clearwater; Aspirations Winery Tour and Tasting Experience: $21
  • The Coastal Sip 'n Roll: Jolley Trolley Beer Adventure: $25
  • Clearwater Daytime Yacht Sightseeing Cruise with Optional Dining : $27
  • Daytime Yacht Sightseeing Cruise with Optional Dining : $27
  • Clearwater Beach: Dolphins & Donuts Morning Cruise: $28
  • Shark Teeth and Shells, Dolphin and Shelling Tour Boat Clearwater Beach : $28
  • 1-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Adventure Cruise from Madeira Beach: $28
  • Mega Bite Dolphin Tour Boat in Clearwater Beach: $28
  • Clearwater Beach: Dolphin and Sandbar Boat Cruise: $28
  • Clearwater Beach: Sunset and Harbor Lights Cruise: $28

Typical Entertainment Prices in Destin

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Destin are as follows:


  • 1 Day Rental Umbrella and Chairs
    $40

Tours and Activities in Destin

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Destin are as follows:

  • Flippers Adventures Dolphin Cruise: $25
  • Dolphin & Sunset Cruises: $32
  • Destin Harbor Sunset Eco Dolphin Cruise: $35
  • Kayak Adventure in Destin and Fort Walton Beach : $35
  • Chakras Sound Bath Meditation Experience in Destin: $35
  • Stand Up Paddle Board Adventures in Destin and Fort Walton Beach: $35
  • Fort Walton Beach: Fireworks Cruise on the Emerald Coast: $40
  • Snorkeling and Dolphin Watching Experience in Destin: $40
  • Fireworks Cruise on the Emerald Coast: $40
  • Destin Harbor Fireworks Cruise: $40
  • Family Friendly Snorkeling and Dolphin Tour: $40
  • Hydrojet Dolphin Cruise in Destin FL : $40

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Clearwater -
    Destin -

Sample the Local Flavors in Clearwater

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Clearwater:

  • The Tour and Wine Tasting Experience at Aspirations Winery: $20


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Clearwater and Destin, we can see that Clearwater is more expensive. And not only is Destin much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Destin would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Destin and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Clearwater would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Clearwater than you might in Destin.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Clearwater Expensive? and Is Destin Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Clearwater or Destin?

Clearwater has a larger population, and is about 9 times larger than the population of Destin. When comparing the sizes of Clearwater and Destin, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Clearwater or Destin?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Clearwater or Destin in the Summer?

Both Destin and Clearwater are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Clearwater for the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Destin in the summer for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

Clearwater is around the same temperature as Destin in the summer. The daily temperature in Clearwater averages around 82°F (28°C) in July, and Destin fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Destin. It's quite rainy in Clearwater. In July, Clearwater usually receives more rain than Destin. Clearwater gets 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain, while Destin receives 7.4 inches (189 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Clearwater 82°F (28°C) 
    Destin 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Destin in the Autumn?

Both Destin and Clearwater during the autumn are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Clearwater in the autumn for the shopping scene. Also, most visitors come to Destin for the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

In the autumn, Clearwater is a little warmer than Destin. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Clearwater in October average around 75°F (24°C), and Destin averages at about 69°F (21°C).

Destin gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Clearwater usually gets less rain in October than Destin. Clearwater gets 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain, while Destin receives 4.2 inches (107 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, the hurricane season in Clearwater is June to November.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Clearwater 75°F (24°C) 
    Destin 69°F (21°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Destin in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Clearwater and Destin. Most visitors come to Clearwater for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Destin because of the shopping scene and the cuisine.

In January, Clearwater is generally much warmer than Destin. Daily temperatures in Clearwater average around 60°F (15°C), and Destin fluctuates around 50°F (10°C).

Destin receives a lot of rain in the winter. In January, Clearwater usually receives less rain than Destin. Clearwater gets 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain, while Destin receives 4.6 inches (117 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Clearwater 60°F (15°C) 
    Destin 50°F (10°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Destin in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Clearwater as well as Destin. The spring months attract visitors to Clearwater because of the beaches. Also, the beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Destin this time of year.

Clearwater is around the same temperature as Destin in the spring. The daily temperature in Clearwater averages around 71°F (22°C) in April, and Destin fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

Clearwater usually gets less rain in April than Destin. Clearwater gets 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain, while Destin receives 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain this time of the year. Keep in mind that June to November is the hurricane season in Clearwater.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Clearwater 71°F (22°C) 
    Destin 68°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Destin and Clearwater

Clearwater Destin
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 60°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm) 50°F (10°C) 4.6 inches (117 mm)
Feb 61°F (16°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 54°F (12°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm)
Mar 67°F (19°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 60°F (16°C) 5.6 inches (143 mm)
Apr 71°F (22°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 74°F (23°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Jun 81°F (27°C) 6.5 inches (165 mm) 80°F (27°C) 6.4 inches (163 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 8.4 inches (214 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.4 inches (189 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 8 inches (203 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.4 inches (188 mm)
Sep 81°F (27°C) 6.3 inches (161 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.3 inches (135 mm)
Oct 75°F (24°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm) 69°F (21°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Nov 68°F (20°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 61°F (16°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Dec 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 54°F (12°C) 4.3 inches (109 mm)