OK, a LOT revolves around our world-class beaches. But, you can also culture up your trip to Clearwater Beach by immersing yourself in the area’s history and selection of museums. Including a charming automobile museum. The Clearwater and St. Pete region offers a bewildering amount of museums and galleries (some almost as big as our beaches).
We’ve listed some of our favorites below. All you have to do is plan a day-trip for some museum-hopping!
The Dalí Museum
The impressive Dalí Museum is an architectural feat in itself. A huge concrete construction with a free-form glass and steel structure flowing through it. It offers an eclectic selection of mind-bending, surrealist art works from the iconic artist (with the even more iconic mustache), and is the largest collection of Salvador Dalí’s work outside his native Spain. Go after 5 p.m. as tickets are usually half price.
Chihuly Glass Museum
If you were never into glass art before, we can assure you that a visit to the incredible Chihuly Glass Museum will turn you into a devout studio glass fanatic on the spot. The 11,000 square foot collection is like walking through a huge kaleidoscope with fantastical artworks and installations. Snap up a Dale Chihuly original in the gift shop, and don’t miss a free glassblowing demonstration at the end of your visit.
Duncan McClellan Gallery
On the topic of glass, the Duncan McClellan Gallery is an awe-inspiring journey into the wonderful world of contemporary glass art. Housed in a former 7,800-foot fish and tomato-packing plant on 24th Avenue South, you can admire works from some 60 artists from across the land here.
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts houses what is arguably the finest art collection on Florida’s West Coast, with thousands of objects spanning early antiquity to the present day. Expect to see masterpieces by Monet, Whistler, Cézanne, Renoir and O’Keeffe to name just a few.
Florida Holocaust Museum
Meanwhile, the Florida Holocaust Museum marks a poignant period in history in memory of the WWII victims and their plight. It was founded in 1989 by Holocaust survivor Walter P. Loebenberg and is an equally captivating and moving experience.
Traveling with Kids
Glazer Children’s Museum
The Glazer Children’s Museum in downtown Tampa is something of a learning laboratory. An absolute must if you are travelling with kids. Your kids are invited to play, discover and connect with the world through fun problem-solving tasks and environments. For example, the gingerbread inspired wonderland (sponsored by Macy’s), and the Castle Builder events, where you can build your own fortress design, explore the inside of the royal castle and spot a dragon.
Mosi – Museum of Science and Industry
Technology, science and learning all come together over at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry), a scientific playground for young and old. Here you can participate in awesome events, such as Minecraft Mania and defy gravity with a Sky Trail® Ropes Course. Or marvel at the universe in Saunders Planetarium. Not to mention innovative and mind-bending exhibitions. Highly recommended!
Great Explorations Children’s Museum
Your kids will love the Great Explorations Children’s Museum, which goes by the museum mantra: “Make a discovery, make a mess and even make a new friend”. The museum offers loads of fun exhibits and activities, including the “pizza kitchen” and playing a game of “Operation”. Meanwhile, over in the Critter Cave, they can learn about reptiles and creepy crawlies.
Little kids, as well as big kids, enjoy getting transported back in time over at Dinosaur World. Here, you can enjoy interactive exhibits and hanging out with the real-size prehistoric giants up close in a lush garden. What’s more, you can bring your four-legged family members, too, as long as they are well-mannered. (Insert in-law jokes).
Moreover, it is a great option if you don’t want to drive all the way to Orlando, due to its convenient location in Plant City.
For the true museums buffs
The Leepa Rattner Museum of Art
The Leepa Rattner Museum of Art is dedicated to 20th and 21st century modern and contemporary art and houses more than 6,000 pieces. It also holds classes and workshops. And the museum is especially popular for its family programs – including puzzles and treasure hunts.
Dunedin Historical Museum
The Dunedin Historical Museum is the top of the bunch in all of Tampa Bay. It is packed with regional history exploring the town’s Scottish heritage, its pioneers and railroads along with its citrus industry. In addition, you can also learn more about Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands.
Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum
Meanwhile, on the topic of European influences, over at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum you can learn everything about Tarpon Springs. Its roots, the curious craft of sponge diving and why it turned into a Greek enclave.
Armed Forces Military Museum
In a similar vein, the impressive Armed Forces Military Museum pays homage to the men and women who served during WWI to the Vietnam War. Here you can admire huge displays of 50 operational vehicles set in 50,000 sq ft of space.
Tampa Automobile Museum
The Tampa Automobile Museum is a must-see for automobile fans, and generally anyone interested in a slice of history. The beautiful vintage collection is mostly geared towards European models (pun intended) and consists of 70 vehicles ranging from the 1930s to 1990s.
Tampa Bay Baseball Museum
The Tampa Bay Baseball Museum has actually been in the works since 2013, but only launched in 2021. The museum is housed in local champ Al Lopez’ historic home, and celebrates more than 130 years of Tampa Bay’s proud baseball traditions – from Little League to Major League.