Happy Kids, Happy Parents

There's fun for kids, parents and even pets at St. Pete Beach's TradeWinds Island Grand.

I always say "happy kids make happy parents." Vacationing families often waste time trying to find one-stop fun and budget-conscious entertainment for the whole clan. But during a stay at TradeWinds Island Grand on St. Pete Beach, we discovered that the resort handles all the research ahead of time – allowing families a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the beach vacation of a lifetime.

So, leave the whining at home and prepare to have less of what I call an "aggra-vacation" and more of a laid-back good time.

Nonstop Entertainment

From our own experience at TradeWinds, I can assure you that parents are on "Easy Street" while their kids play pirate, romp in the sand and find plenty of nonstop entertainment without leaving the 20-acre property.

With seven swimming pools, paddle boats, beach volleyball, water sports, pirate parties and "dive-in" movies by the pool, the resort has constant planned activities for families with kids of all ages. Most of these are free, and will keep the whole gang busy and happy.

The staff boasts about Captain RedBeard, a swashbuckler who brings tall tales and rollicking songs of tropical adventures to Pirate Island, entertaining young buccaneers and older pirate wannabes alike. Kids can make sharks-tooth crafts with RedBeard and learn a dance with Blaze, RedBeard's first mate.

This time of year reminds us that Mom and Dad deserve a little romance, especially around Valentine's Day. Resorts like TradeWinds make that hard-to-find couple time a reality.

When I search for a resort, I make sure it has a well-equipped kids' club for just that reason. My boys put up some stellar resistance when I tell them it's time to check in with the "baby sitters," but TradeWinds makes it easy by referring to its recreation staff as TradeWinds Action Zone Team (T.A.Z.) – which sure sounds much cooler to 7- and 10-year-old kids.

The true test, of course, is when I go to pick them up and they refuse to leave, as was the case with the KONK Club (Kids Only, No Kidding!) for youngsters ages 4 to 11 at TradeWinds Island Grand. My boys loved playing outdoor ping pong and hunting for RedBeard's treasure. They also spent supervised time making bracelets while we logged time sipping cool drinks on a hammock.

Chow Time

My boys (Dad included) worked up quite an appetite playing miniature golf, running up and down the giant blow-up water slide and playing football on the sand. Lucky for us, TradeWinds Island Grand has many restaurants, including Palm Court Bistro, an Italian grill; and Bermuda's, which features everything from fresh Gulf seafood to chicken wings and dim sum. The hotel recently added Beef O'Brady's, a family-friendly sports-themed restaurant/bar, to the mix.

We opted for a quick slice of pepperoni at the on-site Pizza Hut Express and topped it off with dessert from the Old Meeting House Ice Cream shop. The kids spent a quiet hour playing outdoor pool while my husband and I caught up on some reading nearby.

Local Favorites

You may not want to leave the resort, but if you do, try renting surreys and bikes at Wheel Fun Rentals on The Pier. Or take the kids to try their hands at fishing. You may be surprised what I have seen little ones pull out of the local waters with a SpongeBob fishing pole! Rental rods are also available at The Pier Bait House.

With hands-on children's museums like Great Explorations, Tampa Bay Rays baseball games and Fort De Soto Park beach barbecues, Florida's Gulf Coast offers families incentives to return year after year.

Pets are Part of the Family Too

As an added bonus, families can now let their "man's best friend" tag along. For traveling pups and kitties, TradeWinds Island Resort offers guests a pets-only room service menu that includes specialty meats, gourmet dog and cat food and special to-go treat packs.

During the day, Fido and Fluffy can head to the Pet Play Zone at TradeWinds. The area features doggie drinking fountains, umbrellas for shade, benches, a doggie rinse and drying station with towels, an owner sitting area, fire hydrants and more.

Tuck-In Time

With such a flurry of activities, my two boys were so tired that they even sat to watch the sunset. TradeWinds Island Resort can almost guarantee your kids won't fight with you at bedtime. At tuck-in time, parents can surprise their kids with the Island Grand's lovable mascot, Beaker, a pelican who comes to the room and tucks kids into bed with a keepsake.

Maybe the saying should be "happy parents make happy kids." Either way, everyone will be smiling during the stay.

For more information on planning your family getaway to St. Petersburg and TradeWinds Island Grand, call 888-377-0035 or visit www.JustLetGo.com/VISITFL.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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