By Janet Fusco
No matter how young or old the kids are, you'll find activities for everyone in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida, two of Florida's best family destinations. Read on to discover why it might be just right for your gang.
With 35 miles of soft, white sands, the beaches of St. Petersburg and Clearwater come in many varieties. These award-winning beaches run the gamut, from action-packed sands in Clearwater Beach to the dunes and sea oats of quiet Pass-A-Grille Beach off St. Pete.
But they all have one family-friendly feature in common: they tend to have shallow, calm waters that are perfect for both youngsters and older folks.
Build a sandcastle, splash in the shallows, watch tiny coquina clams dig their way into the sand at the water's edge. And take a mental snapshot of your kids at this wonderful age, when the simplest things bring them joy.
Program in Adult Time
If you'd like to have a romantic dinner out with your spouse, or spend some one-on-one time with an older child, consider lodgings that offer a kids' program. Many area resorts offer programs year 'round, including the Don CeSar Beach Resort, the TradeWinds Island Resorts and the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort. Other local hotels and resorts offer programs seasonally, particularly in the summer months. Programs are typically geared for preschoolers to elementary-aged students.
Take a Pass at Nature and Adventure
Children are fascinated by the natural world, and John's Pass Village & Boardwalk in Madeira Beach and the Clearwater Municipal Marina on Clearwater Beach are great "jumping off" spots for nature exploration. Both offer dolphin-watching, shelling and boat trips to Fort DeSoto Park. You can also ramp up the adrenaline with parasail rides, Jet Ski and WaveRunner rentals and high-speed boat rides such as Sea Screamer and Sea Thriller.
Walk the Plank
For kids ages four or five and older, Captain Memo's Original Pirate Cruise is a can't-miss activity. As you and your family climb onboard the big red pirate ship, your children will be issued a pirate hat and a firearm -- a water pistol. After announcements ("You're not in school. That means you don't have to raise your hand and you can be as loud as you want!"), a water gun fight, some pirate yarns and the taking of the pirate oath, the sunset cruise ends with a lively dance party on the deck.
Inspiring marine mammals
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium's mission is to inspire others through the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals -- a cause that exploded in popularity with Winter, the movie star dolphin with the prosthetic tail. Winter died in November 2021, but the aquarium's mission remains the same.
Play at the Pier
Make sure you save time to explore Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach, with its giant inflatable slides, bungee-harness rides and huge playground. A sunset celebration with live entertainment takes place here every night that the whole family will enjoy.
Ditch the Car Keys
Much of the area along the beaches, and particularly Clearwater Beach, is pedestrian-friendly. There are plenty of places to shop, dine out and find activities, all within easy walking distance or via trolley service. The Jolley Trolley offers service on Clearwater Beach seven days a week, and their Coastal Route services Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Beach Trolley will take you to any and all of the beaches from Clearwater to Pass-a-Grille, at the very south end of St. Pete Beach. The St. Petersburg Trolley takes you into the downtown areas.
For more information about St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida, including beaches, towns, places to stay and things to do, visit the visitors’ services website.