A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Clearwater vs. Sarasota for Beaches, Families, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Clearwater or Sarasota?

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 Sarasota. 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 adventure-filled, relaxing, and beautiful coastal city. Visitors also love the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Sarasota

Sarasota is a underrated, relaxing, and entertaining city. It's also known for food, beaches, and shopping.

Clearwater and Sarasota: 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
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less attractive beach
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Clearwater or Sarasota?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Clearwater than Sarasota. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Clearwater is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, laid back atmosphere, and watersports. It is also well known for Clearwater Beach. Sarasota is famous for its sandy beaches and its fun activities.

How is Clearwater different from Sarasota?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Clearwater
Sarasota

Both Clearwater and Sarasota have excellent landmarks and museums for visitors.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Clearwater. 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.

Sarasota offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There are some decent museums in town such as the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum, and the Ca' da'Zan. Another highlight is the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.


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

Clearwater
Sarasota

Clearwater is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Clearwater has a huge number of terrific restaurants. 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.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Sarasota area. You'll find plenty of seafood around town, but there are also international restaurants and quirky local joints.

Is Clearwater or Sarasota Better for Nightlife?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Evening events are nice in both Clearwater and Sarasota.

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 Sarasota. You'll find beach clubs, live entertainment such as drum circles, and plenty of bars around town. There are also evening cruises and late night parties.

Is Clearwater or Sarasota Better for Resorts?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Clearwater is great for its luxury resorts. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its resorts.

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.

Sarasota has a few great resort options. You'll find beachfront resorts with pools and nice views.


Is Clearwater or Sarasota Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Clearwater is a good destination for its diving and snorkeling. However, Sarasota is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Grab a mask and fins and explore the underwater scenery 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.

Sarasota is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Clearwater or Sarasota Better for Beaches?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Clearwater is renowned for the beache. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for the beach.

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.

Sarasota is a good option for a beach vacation. There's no shortage of beaches in the area where you can spend a relaxing day playing the water and lounging in the sun. Siesta Key, Sarasota Gay Beach, Crescent Beach, and Coquina Beach are some of the favorites.

Is the Shopping Better in Clearwater or Sarasota?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Both Clearwater and Sarasota 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 Sarasota. Upscale shopping can be found at St. Armand's Circle. There's also Sarasota Square Mall and the Mall at University Town Center. If you want to pick up some local items you can check out Sarasota Farmers Market.


Is Clearwater or Sarasota Better for Families?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Sarasota is a world-class destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Clearwater is not as famous, but is still a good coastal city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Sarasota is very family-friendly. There's a huge number of hands on activities for kids and families in the area. Many families enjoy a visit to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. There are also botanical gardens, science museums, and outdoor adventure centers. Animal lovers will appreciate a visit to Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. The city also has many performing arts and entertainment options for kids. And make sure you check out the museum dedicated to the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Clearwater is very family-friendly. 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.

Is Clearwater or Sarasota Better for Couples?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Clearwater is great for its romantic activities. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for couples.

Clearwater is a great coastal city if you're traveling as a couple. 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.

Sarasota is a good coastal city for couples to visit. A night out at St. Armands Circle is a fun way to spend the evening. There are also sunset cruises, nice restaurants, comedy clubs, and more.

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

Clearwater
Sarasota

Both Clearwater and Sarasota offer reasonable public transit options.

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 mostly limited in Sarasota. There's a bus system around town but most visitors depend on their own car for transportation.


Is Clearwater or Sarasota a more walkable city?

Clearwater
Sarasota

Clearwater is a good destination for its high level of walkability. However, Sarasota is not a good destination for its ease of walking around.

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

Sarasota is generally not very walkable. While the downtown has some walkable parts, you'll need a car to access most things around town.

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

Should I spend more time in Sarasota or Clearwater?

How long in Clearwater or Sarasota?

In either Clearwater or Sarasota, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. In our opinion, Clearwater has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Clearwater than Sarasota. In general, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Clearwater, and 2-5 days is enough time in Sarasota.

Families should spend more time in Clearwater than Sarasota. 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 Sarasota. 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 Sarasota 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 Sarasota? Ideal Length of Stay
    Clearwater 3-5 
    Sarasota 2-5

One day in Clearwater or Sarasota?

The coastal city of Clearwater offers museums and nightlife. Most people come for the beaches. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

With museums and nightlife around the underrated city of Sarasota, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Clearwater or Sarasota?

Clearwater is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

With nightlife and food around the destination of Sarasota, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.


Five days in Clearwater or Sarasota?

Clearwater is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Clearwater, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Sarasota, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this city. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Clearwater or Sarasota?

Clearwater is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. It's also a great beach destination, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This coastal city offers something for everyone.

Sarasota is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


Which place is cheaper, Sarasota 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 Sarasota is $249. 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 Sarasota in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Clearwater $141
    Sarasota $108
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Clearwater $282
    Sarasota $216
Compare Hotels in Clearwater and Sarasota

Looking for a hotel in Clearwater or Sarasota? 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 Sarasota


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 Sarasota Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Clearwater $221
    Sarasota -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Clearwater

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Clearwater:

  • Pete–Clearwater Airport to Clearwater Beach Round-Trip Transfer: $146
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to St. Petersburg - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $128
  • Private Transfer from Clearwater to Tampa Airport: $120
  • Private Airport Transfer to St. Petersburg or Clearwater Beach : $105
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to Clearwater Beach - Arrival Private Transfer: $103
  • Clearwater Beach to St.Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) -Departure Private Transfer: $103
  • From Orlando: Clearwater Beach Day with Transfers and Lunch: $100
  • Private Transfer from St Petersburg Clearwater Airport to St Pete Beach: $70
  • St. Petersburg to St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) - Departure Private Transfer: $64
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to St. Petersburg - Arrival Private Transfer : $64
  • St Petersburg to Tampa Airport (TPA) -Departure Private Transfer: $54
  • Clearwater Beach to Tampa Airport (TPA) - Departure Private Transfer: $54

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sarasota

Also for Sarasota, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Arrival Transfer from Sarasota Airport SRQ: $24
  • Private Departure Transfer to Sarasota Airport SRQ: $24
  • Sarasota to Sarasota–Bradenton Intl. Airport (SRQ) - Departure Private Transfer: $49
  • Sarasota–Bradenton Intl. Airport (SRQ) to Sarasota - Arrival Private Transfer: $49
  • Sarasota–Bradenton Airport (SRQ) to Sarasota Round-Trip Transfer: $97
  • Round-Trip Transfer from Sarasota to the Mall at UTC: $130

Is it cheaper to fly into Clearwater or Sarasota?

Prices for flights to both Sarasota 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
    Sarasota $137

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 Sarasota

For Sarasota, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Sarasota Street Food Tour: $85
  • Taste of Downtown Food Tour: $105
  • Downtown Walking Food Tour in Sarasota: $110
  • Sarasota Electric Bike and Food Tour : $125
  • Sarasota Kayak and Food Tour: $165

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Clearwater -
    Sarasota $11

Tours and Activities in Clearwater

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

  • 1-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Adventure Cruise from Madeira Beach: $28
  • 1.5 Hour Tiki Tour with Open Bar in Clearwater Beach: $49
  • 2 Hour Guided Kayak Tour in Boca Ciega Bay - St. Pete: $55
  • 2 Hour Guided Segway Tour of Downtown St Pete: $59
  • 2 Hour Sunset Cruise in Clearwater, Florida: $35
  • 2 Hour Sunset Kayak Tour: War Veterans Memorial Park: $59
  • 2 Hour Tandem Kayak Tour (Price for 2 People): $110
  • 2 Hours Kayak Eco Tour in Tarpon Springs: $54
  • 2.5 Hour Kayaking with Manatee and History Tour in Tarpon Springs: $58
  • 2.5-Hour Sunset Cruise Tour in St. Petersburg: $67
  • 4-Hour St. Pete Pier to Egmont Key Experience by Ferry: $67
  • 90 Minute Axe Throwing Guided Experience in Clearwater at Hatchet Hangout: $50

Tours and Activities in Sarasota

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Sarasota.

  • Sarasota Art Crawl Trolley Tour: $14
  • De Soto National Memorial Nature Walk Eco Tour: $30
  • Robinson Preserve Nature Walk Eco Tour: $40
  • Adventure and Wildlife Watch Kayak Rentals in Sarasota: $45
  • Paddleboard Tour Through Lido Mangrove Tunnels: $55
  • Nature Preserve Mangrove Tunnel Adventure on Glass Bottom Kayaks in Sarasota: $55
  • Sharkey's LED illuminated Night & Sunset Tour on Glass Bottom Kayaks in Sarasota: $55
  • 2 Hours Guided Robinson Preserve Mangrove Tour: $55
  • Siesta Key Kayak Tour : $57
  • Kayak Paddling Experience at The Bay Park: $58
  • Pedal Kayak Mangrove Tunnel Tour in Bradenton: $59
  • Sarasota Guided Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour: $59

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Clearwater -
    Sarasota -

Sample the Local Flavors in Clearwater

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Clearwater:

  • The Tour and Wine Tasting Experience at Aspirations Winery: $32


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

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


Which is Bigger, Clearwater or Sarasota?

Clearwater has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Sarasota. When comparing the sizes of Clearwater and Sarasota, 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 Sarasota?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Clearwater or Sarasota in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Clearwater as well as Sarasota. The summer months attract visitors to Clearwater because of the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences. Additionally, the beaches and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Sarasota this time of year.

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

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Sarasota. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Clearwater this time of the year. In the summer, Clearwater often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Sarasota. Clearwater gets 265 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sarasota receives 265 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Sarasota. Clearwater receives a lot of rain in the summer. Clearwater usually gets around the same amount of rain in July as Sarasota. Clearwater gets 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Clearwater or Sarasota in the Autumn?

Both Sarasota and Clearwater are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The shopping scene are the main draw to Clearwater this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Sarasota for the shopping scene.

In October, Clearwater is generally around the same temperature as Sarasota. Daily temperatures in Clearwater average around 75°F (24°C), and Sarasota fluctuates around 76°F (24°C).

It's quite sunny in Sarasota. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Clearwater. Clearwater usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Sarasota during autumn. Clearwater gets 234 hours of sunny skies, while Sarasota receives 234 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Clearwater usually receives around the same amount of rain as Sarasota. Clearwater gets 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain each month for the autumn. June to November is the hurricane season in Clearwater. June to November is the hurricane season in Sarasota.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Clearwater 75°F (24°C) 
    Sarasota 76°F (24°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Sarasota in the Winter?

Both Sarasota and Clearwater during the winter are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Clearwater for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Sarasota in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Clearwater is around the same temperature as Sarasota in the winter. The daily temperature in Clearwater averages around 60°F (15°C) in January, and Sarasota fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

In Sarasota, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Clearwater. In the winter, Clearwater often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Sarasota. Clearwater gets 200 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sarasota receives 200 hours of full sun.

Clearwater usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Sarasota. Clearwater gets 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Clearwater 60°F (15°C) 
    Sarasota 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Sarasota in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Clearwater and Sarasota. Many visitors come to Clearwater in the spring for the beaches. Also, most visitors come to Sarasota for the beaches during these months.

In the spring, Clearwater is around the same temperature as Sarasota. Typically, the spring temperatures in Clearwater in April average around 71°F (22°C), and Sarasota averages at about 73°F (23°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Sarasota this time of the year. In Clearwater, it's very sunny this time of the year. Clearwater usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Sarasota during spring. Clearwater gets 299 hours of sunny skies, while Sarasota receives 299 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Clearwater usually receives around the same amount of rain as Sarasota. Clearwater gets 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain each month for the spring. June to November in Clearwater is the hurricane season. June to November in Sarasota is the hurricane season.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Clearwater 71°F (22°C) 
    Sarasota 73°F (23°C)

Typical Weather for Sarasota and Clearwater

Clearwater Sarasota
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 60°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm) 59°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm)
Feb 61°F (16°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 62°F (17°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Mar 67°F (19°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 67°F (20°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Apr 71°F (22°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm) 73°F (23°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 78°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
Jun 81°F (27°C) 6.5 inches (165 mm) 82°F (28°C) 6.5 inches (165 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 8.4 inches (214 mm) 82°F (28°C) 8.4 inches (214 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 8 inches (203 mm) 82°F (28°C) 8 inches (203 mm)
Sep 81°F (27°C) 6.3 inches (161 mm) 81°F (27°C) 6.3 inches (161 mm)
Oct 75°F (24°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm) 76°F (24°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm)
Nov 68°F (20°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 69°F (20°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm)
Dec 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)