Florida is a large state, but the distance between Orlando and Clearwater Beach is very reasonable. Between Clearwater and Orlando, the vehicle travel time is around two hours and twenty minutes and covers around 120 miles.
Both locations are hotspots within the Sunshine States, so it could be interesting to plan a vacation schedule to visit both places. From visiting Disney and Universal Studios to relaxing on the beaches of the Gulf Coast, the travel to and from Orlando to Clearwater Beach is an inclusive vacation plan.
- Local Clearwater Beach Attractions
- How far is Clearwater Beach from Orlando?
- What’s the Best Way to Get to Clearwater Beach from Orlando?
- Orlando to Clearwater Beach
Local Clearwater Beach Attractions
Clearwater offers some of the best things to do in Florida with kids.
A visit to Clearwater Beach is exciting for the entire family, with many multiple kid-friendly attractions, like Pier 60 and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Natural beauty surrounds the city with lovely beaches and hiking trails; Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park are two of Florida’s most outstanding public state parks.
From kayaking to fine dining, Clearwater Beach offers some fun for everyone. Feeling the sunshine warm the beach on a beautiful summer day is reason enough to traverse the miles between Orlando and Clearwater Beach.
You will pass through Lakeland, Florida, and Tampa, Florida, between the two cities. In Lakeland, travelers can visit Florida Southern College, which holds the most extensive Frank Lloyd Wright architecture collection.
Additionally, Lake Mirror Park contains beautiful walkways for travelers to stop and stretch their legs outside of the car. Taking moments out of your trip for additional sightseeing is well worth it as you travel on the interstate between Orlando and Clearwater Beach.
Interstate travelers from Orlando to Clearwater Beach can stop for coffee or lunch at Brocato’s Sandwich Shop or Cafe Hey in Tampa. Furthermore, Tampa is the home to Busch Gardens, home to roller-coasters and adventure.
Interestingly, the Busch Gardens amusement parks were developed as marketing tools for Anheuser-Busch and still have stables that house many of the company’s Clydesdale horses. The theme park is one of America’s largest zoos, with 335 acres and upwards of 2,700 animals.
Once you pass through Tampa, Clearwater Beach is a mere 40-minute drive that crosses over Old Tampa Bay.
Planning a few stops between Orlando and Tampa is a good plan for those traveling with families and everyone else who might need a restroom or a snack. The drive between Orlando and Tampa can be pleasant, easy, and as entertaining as you would like.
Driving in a car is the best option to traverse the few miles between Orlando and Clearwater Beach, but there are many additional options for traveling between the two.
How far is Clearwater Beach from Orlando?
It is approximately 120 miles from Orlando to Clearwater Beach. There are three primary routes to get from city to city. The first route moves along I-4 West and requires about two hours to traverse 108 miles.
This path is nearly a direct line between the two points. Traveling along I-4 is the most direct path and takes travelers through both Lakeland and Tampa. Being the fastest driving option, I-4 is the best path to take if you have younger children in your vehicle since it boasts the shortest drive time.
The second route is about two hours and thirty minutes and is slightly longer at 122 miles. From Orlando, travelers will drive directly West towards Clermont, Florida. Clermont is a smaller town but would be an excellent place to stop for lunch or dinner, some restaurant options including the Clermont Fish House, Root & Branch, and the Rusty Truck Diner. From Clermont, the path turns southward and joins I-4 towards Tampa, Florida, and then to Clearwater Beach.
The final route is about two hours and thirty minutes but is the most extended option at 138 miles. Traveling northwest along Lake Apopka, this path leads across Country Highway 470 W to connect the traveler to I-75. This route is scenic and offers views of wilderness and wildlife preserves.
Still, it has fewer opportunities for pit stops until your vehicle reaches I-75, where national chain restaurants and gas stations are available at various exits. Ultimately I-75 terminates in Tampa and continues to Clearwater Beach on Florida Highway 60 West.
No matter which route you choose, each offers new and unique experiences and ultimately ends at Clearwater Beach. Driving across Florida, from Orlando to Clearwater Beach, is a matchless experience that those who seek to reach gulf beaches will enjoy.
From natural beauty and state parks to restaurants offering delicious fare, the two to two and a half-hour drive is easily undertaken.
What’s the Best Way to Get to Clearwater Beach from Orlando?
Orlando is in central Florida and is the epicenter for theme-park adventures. On the other hand, Clearwater Beach is on the Gulf Coast. If you are visiting Florida for an extended time, seeing both locations would make a good schedule. The distance between the two is easy to cover in a variety of ways.
Driving in a vehicle, purchasing a bus ticket, hiring a private place, or taking a train can help your group move from location to location. This list of the several ways to travel from Orlando to Clearwater Beach will help you determine which traveling alternative is best for your trip.
1. Orlando to Clearwater Beach by Car
If you are traveling through Florida in your car, using it to drive from Orlando to Clearwater Beach is the most efficient and cost-effective option. Depending on how direct a route you would like to take, the travel time varies from two to two and a half hours. As outlined in more detail above, taking either I-4 or I-75 will lead to Tampa, Florida, and Clearwater Beach.
Driving in a car between the two locations allows visitors to experience Florida from a unique perspective seeing theme parks, national parks, metropolitan buildings, and ultimately pristine beaches. Moreover, the time on a relatively short car ride is quickly filled with activities for families.
For instance, families can enjoy listening to a podcast or audiobook or playing traditional road games, like the license plate game. Having a snack for a portion of the journey can also help the time tick by more quickly, and if you choose to drive the most direct I-4 route, there are plenty of options for ice cream, coffee, sandwiches, and more.
Clearwater Beach is home to many events and festivals throughout the year. For instance, the Sugar Sand Festival occurs every April and includes live music concerts, art exhibitions, and the building of original sand sculptures.
Furthermore, the Clearwater SuperBoat Race occurs annually, every September. Driving from Orlando to experience these incredible events is worthwhile and easily accomplished.
Rent a Car
Orlando has many locations to rent a car, including the airport and other various stand-alone car rental locations. Since some of the paths to Clearwater Beach require tolls, it might be good to inquire with the rental company to learn more about their policies on traversing toll roads. Some minimum requirements exist to be able to rent a car. The most often conditions include:
- Meeting the minimum age requirements.
- Having a valid driver’s license.
- Using an acceptable form of payment.
The quickest way to locate a rental car is to venture to the Orlando International Airport, which holds various rental companies like National, Alamos, Hertz, and Payless. In addition to those options, in downtown Orlando, near Lake Eola, are car rental companies like Budget, Dollar, and Enterprise.
Most car rental companies have locations near Clearwater or Tampa, so if you need a car for a one-way trip to Clearwater, it is possible to return the vehicle to a different site than where you picked it up. The cost of renting a car varies between $20 and $40 daily, with the additional expenses of fuel and insurance.
Use a Rideshare App
Like Uber or Lyft, a ridesharing app can efficiently travel from Orlando to Clearwater Beach. To use the service, first, download the app on a smartphone. Both apps list a starting point and a destination then the services farm out the request to available drivers.
While drivers do have the option to decline longer trips, with the distance being as short as two hours, most drivers are willing to transport passengers. Depending on driver demand and time of day, the average cost to travel via a rideshare service ranges from $100 to $150.
Ridesharing apps allow locals who own a car to sign up to drive people to and from different locations. After the trip is complete, the passenger will have the opportunity to rate the trip on a scale from 1 to 5 and add a tip to the trip fare after the ride ends. Furthermore, keep in mind that the divers can also rate their passengers on the same scale.
2. Orlando to Clearwater Beach by Bus
Companies offer bus travel from Orlando to Clearwater Beach. While this travel option might not rank as the best choice, it is often the cheapest. Traveling by bus usually demands about two hours and forty minutes, but some buses may arrive somewhat sooner or arrive a bit delayed due to traffic conditions. Traveling on a bus can be slightly slower than traveling in a personal vehicle, but if you do not like to drive, do not own a car, or do not meet the requirements to rent a car, then a bus could be your best option.
Currently, Amtrak Thruway is the only sole option for bus transportation and makes one trip daily. Usually, however, both a local bus and a Greyhound coach bus make trips between Orlando to Clearwater Beach. As the coronavirus pandemic draws to a close, additional opportunities for traveling via a bus will likely return.
The cost ranges from $17 to $20 per ride. The Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach is a passenger bus that Amtrak operates to connect rail stations not otherwise connected by trains. The buses offer reclining seats with leg rests and onboard restrooms.
There is only one bus per day from Orlando to Clearwater, which departs the station in Orlando at 1:00 pm each day. Additional buses travel from Orlando to Tampa with more regularity.
3. Orlando to Clearwater Beach by Train
While certainly an option to travel from Orlando to Clearwater Beach, the train is slow, and the stations are not close. The nearest Amtrak station is approximately 13 miles southeast of Clearwater in Pinellas Park. Usually, the time required to travel by train is about two hours and forty minutes to travel on a direct train from Orlando to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater station.
After arriving at the train station, you will still need to secure travel to Clearwater Beach. If you hail a cab or call for an Uber, travel via vehicle is about twenty minutes. Another option is to board a bus to Clearwater; after waiting at the bus stop, the trip will take nearly one hour.
Another train arrives at Tampa Union Station, which is about 23 miles east of Clearwater. The train ride will take about two hours, and the cab ride adds another forty minutes to your commute to Clearwater Beach.
No matter which station your train rides terminates, you will still need to plan additional ground transportation to arrive at the ultimate destination of Clearwater Beach.
4. Orlando to Clearwater Beach on an Organized Day Trip
A Clearwater Beach Day Trip from Orlando is a two-hour round trip for a flat fee. Pickup is offered from six different locations in Orlando, and a coach bus delivers passengers to Clearwater Beach.
The day trip departs early in the morning, around 7 am, and returns to Orlando by 7 pm, just in time for dinner in the city. An organized day trip to the beach is also a fun way to meet other people onboard the charter bus before solidifying friendships as you enjoy the beach, the boardwalk, or other excursions.
During your daytime hours at Clearwater Beach, visitors enjoy the sun, waves, and local color. The Clearwater Beach Day Trip includes lunch and offers gear like snorkeling equipment and beach chairs for rent.
To complete your trip, you can book tickets on one-hour speed boat rides via the Sea Screamer. With endless opportunities and little stress about ground transportation to and from Orlando, a Clearwater organized day trip is an excellent adventure for a Florida vacation.
Whether you are interested in lounging on the beach or exploring the boardwalk, Clearwater Beach is an excellent location. The relatively new Beach Walk offers visitors a path to eat, drink, shop, and join a beach volleyball game!
What’s more, many companies who offer day trips also offer different add-ons to essential travel. These additions mean that you can experience once-in-a-lifetime adventures like deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or enjoying a fresh seafood lunch adjacent to the sea.
5. Orlando to Clearwater by Plane
While there are no commercial planes that travel between Orlando and Clearwater beach, there are landing strips. Hiring a private plane is expensive but a fast traveling option. Renting a private jet usually costs between $2000 and $8000.
If you have your own plane, landing in Orlando or Clearwater is possible if you alert the proper airports and schedule your flight path accordingly. If it is your first time landing a plane in one of these Florida airports, be sure to research hanger information and any other specific details that would impact arrival or departure.
Commercial flights from Orlando to Tampa are common, but they are expensive, and then there is an additional expense from Tampa to Clearwater Beach, which might be impractical.
American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Jet Blue, and Delta offer these flights, and often the flights include changing planes or layovers. Due to the time required to be processed through security, board an airplane, fly and deplane, a commercial flight from Orlando to Clearwater Beach is really untenable.
The better option remains – drive a car the two and a half hours directly to the beachfront.
Orlando to Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach offers various activities and adventures for a family or a solo traveler. With beautiful beaches, the location is dazzling. The local atmosphere is warm and inviting. Multiple interesting attractions call visitors to the Clearwater Beach area.
For instance, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to Winter the Dolphin, the star of the “Dolphin Tale” movies, an exciting highlight for children. Additionally, Caladesi Island is located in the northern part of Clearwater Beach. At the Caladesi Island State Park, visitors can kayak through a mangrove forest, among other wonderful activities.
The trip from Orlando to Clearwater Beach can be anything you would like it to be. From driving through lush national forests to experiencing adventures through large Florida cities to planning an organized day trip for your friends, traveling from central Florida to the coast is easy and fun.
However, the most efficient and effective plan is to drive a car along I-4 for just over two hours until you reach the beach.