A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Clearwater vs. Pensacola for Beaches, Attractions, Food, and Resorts

Should you visit Clearwater or Pensacola?

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 Pensacola. 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. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Pensacola

Pensacola is a fun-filled, active, and entertaining beach town. It's also known for food, beaches, and shopping.

Clearwater and Pensacola: 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
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Clearwater or Pensacola?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Clearwater than Pensacola. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Clearwater is very popular for its museums and scuba diving & snorkeling, while Pensacola attracts visitors for its hiking. Pensacola is more touristy than Clearwater and is known for its white sand beaches and long running naval history. Clearwater is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, laid back atmosphere, and watersports. It is also well known for Clearwater Beach.

How is Clearwater different from Pensacola?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Pensacola 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 Pensacola?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Clearwater is notable for its sights and museums. Also, Pensacola is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its museums and history.

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.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Pensacola. On a rainy day there are some nice museums in the area. You can visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Historic Pensacola Village, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, or Pensacola Children's Museum.


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

Clearwater
Pensacola

Foodies will find both Clearwater and Pensacola both to be high quality destinations.

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.

Pensacola has a huge number of terrific restaurants. You'll find no shortage of seafood options around town. Oysters, shrimp, and fresh fish are popular on the menus. You'll also find lots of Cajun flavors as well as casual sandwiches and pizza.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Nightlife?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Evening events are nice in both Clearwater and Pensacola.

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.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Pensacola. There's a casual nightlife scene with pubs, live music, and a mellow but fun setting.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Resorts?

Clearwater
Pensacola

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

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.

Pensacola is known as a popular and fun resort destination. Family-friendly resorts with pools, waterslides, and lazy rivers are common. You'll also find beachfront hotels and more affordable options set back from the beach.


Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Clearwater is very good for its diving and snorkeling. However, Pensacola 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.

Pensacola is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Beaches?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Clearwater and Pensacola both offer first-rate beaches.

Clearwater offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. 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.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Pensacola. White sand beaches with blue water and mild temperatures make this a wonderful beach destination. Some of the best beaches include Casino Beach, Perdido Key Beach, and Opal Beach.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Hiking?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Pensacola is a moderate beach town for the nearby hiking options. However, Clearwater is not a hiking destination.

Pensacola has hiking trails if you want to get outside. Step away from the beachfront development and you'll find some nice nature parks with quiet walking trails.

Clearwater is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Clearwater or Pensacola?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Both Clearwater and Pensacola are nice 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 Pensacola. There are sprawling shopping malls and shopping centers as well as local boutiques and quintessential souvenir shops.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Families?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Both Clearwater and Pensacola 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, Pensacola is very family-friendly. Kid-friendly beaches, minigolf, a zoo, and even a few museums make this a great family destination. There are family-friendly resorts and kid-friendly restaurants that make for an easy vacation that everyone will enjoy.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola Better for Couples?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Clearwater and Pensacola both high quality destinations for a couple.

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.

Pensacola makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Beautiful beaches and sunset cruises make this a great romantic getaway. You'll find great restaurants for a date night and plenty of activity once the sun goes down. During the day you can lounge on the beach or by the pool, sip drinks, and enjoy a vacation with your loved one.


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

Clearwater
Pensacola

Clearwater is a moderate coastal city for its public transit. However, Pensacola 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 Pensacola. There's a bus system, but it's not particularly helpful to vacationers.

Is Clearwater or Pensacola a more walkable city?

Clearwater
Pensacola

Clearwater is very good for its high level of walkability. However, Pensacola is a mediocre beach town for its ease of walking around.

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

Pensacola is generally not a very walkable coastal city. It's not a particularly walkable city and you'll want to have a car to fully enjoy your vacation.

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

Should I spend more time in Pensacola or Clearwater?

How long in Clearwater or Pensacola?

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

Families should spend more time in Clearwater than Pensacola. 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 Pensacola. 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 Pensacola 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 Pensacola? Ideal Length of Stay
    Clearwater 3-5 
    Pensacola 3-7

One day in Clearwater or Pensacola?

You'll find nightlife and food around the coastal city of Clearwater. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

With museums and nightlife around the entertaining beach town of Pensacola, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. 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 Pensacola?

You'll find food and scuba diving and snorkeling around the beautiful destination of Clearwater. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

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

Five days in Clearwater or Pensacola?

You'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the beautiful coastal city of Clearwater. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this coastal city makes for a great vacation. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Most people head to the area for the beaches. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this coastal city has to offer.

Pensacola, 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 Pensacola?

Clearwater is a popular choice for travelers. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Pensacola 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 of the main draws to the area is the beaches. 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, Pensacola 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 Pensacola is $198. 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 Pensacola in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Clearwater $141
    Pensacola $115
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Clearwater $282
    Pensacola $230
Compare Hotels in Clearwater and Pensacola

Looking for a hotel in Clearwater or Pensacola? 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 Pensacola


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 Pensacola Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Clearwater $221
    Pensacola $64

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

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Pensacola

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Pensacola:


  • Boca Grande Causeway Toll
    $5.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Pensacola

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Pensacola:

  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Pensacola - Arrival Private Transfer: $54
  • Pensacola to Pensacola International Airport (PNS) - Departure Private Transfer: $54
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Destin, FL - Arrival Private Transfer: $71
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Pensacola - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $109
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Destin, FL - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $141

Is it cheaper to fly into Clearwater or Pensacola?

Prices for flights to both Pensacola 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
    Pensacola $48

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

Typical Food Prices in Pensacola

Some typical examples of dining costs in Pensacola are as follows:


  • Two Ice Creams
    $6.00

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Pensacola

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

  • Seville Stroll Food Tour: $72

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Clearwater -
    Pensacola $13

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 Pensacola

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


  • Bike Rental
    $16

Tours and Activities in Pensacola

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

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Pensacola by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Pensacola by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Public Dolphin & Scenic Bay Sightseeing Cruise, Pensacola FL: $30
  • Ghosts and Graveyard Tour of Pensacola: $34
  • Hop-on Hop-off Tour in Pensacola : $35
  • Frisky Mermaid Public Dolphin + Sightseeing Cruise Up to 49 Pax: $37
  • Pensacola Beach Jolly Dolphin Cruise and Scenic Bay Tour: $39
  • Pensacola Shared Trolley Ghost and Mystery Tour: $45
  • Land Paddle Tour in Pensacola: $50
  • Seville Quarter Haunted Ghost Tour, Investigation, and Luncheon: $50
  • Seville Haunted Luncheon and Ghost Tour: $50
  • 1hr Segway Tour Downtown : $57

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Clearwater -
    Pensacola $44

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

Sample the Local Flavors in Pensacola

Also in Pensacola, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Walking Pub Tour : $21


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Clearwater and Pensacola, we can see that Clearwater is more expensive. And not only is Pensacola much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Pensacola would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Pensacola 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 Pensacola.

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


Which is Bigger, Clearwater or Pensacola?

Clearwater has a larger population, and is about 92% larger than the population of Pensacola. When comparing the sizes of Clearwater and Pensacola, 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 Pensacola?

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 Pensacola in the Summer?

Both Pensacola 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 Pensacola in the summer for the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Clearwater is around the same temperature as Pensacola. Typically, the summer temperatures in Clearwater in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Pensacola averages at about 82°F (28°C).

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


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

Should I visit Clearwater or Pensacola in the Autumn?

Both Pensacola 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 Pensacola for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months.

In October, Clearwater is generally a little warmer than Pensacola. Daily temperatures in Clearwater average around 75°F (24°C), and Pensacola fluctuates around 69°F (21°C).

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


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

Should I visit Clearwater or Pensacola in the Winter?

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

Clearwater is a little warmer than Pensacola in the winter. The daily temperature in Clearwater averages around 60°F (15°C) in January, and Pensacola fluctuates around 51°F (10°C).

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


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Clearwater 60°F (15°C) 
    Pensacola 51°F (10°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Pensacola in the Spring?

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

In the spring, Clearwater is a little warmer than Pensacola. Typically, the spring temperatures in Clearwater in April average around 71°F (22°C), and Pensacola averages at about 67°F (20°C).

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


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Clearwater 71°F (22°C) 
    Pensacola 67°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Pensacola and Clearwater

Clearwater Pensacola
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 60°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm) 51°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) 67°F (20°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 74°F (24°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) 78°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)