By Maria Mora
I love the beach. I love sunsets. I associate Florida vacations with romance, margaritas on the ice and the soothing sound of crashing waves. The problem is, my kids associate sunsets with asking me how soon they can get an ice cream treat. Is it possible to please everyone on a Florida vacation? I think so.
I learned a lot about the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, where I grew up, the first time I had to plan a vacation there. As I researched hotels and activities, I discovered new places to stay and visit. It was no longer the retirement destination I had remembered — it had become vibrant and kid-friendly.
Last spring we stayed at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach, where my son and I went down the biggest inflatable water slide I’ve ever seen. I enjoyed a giant frozen drink and my kids listened to pirate’s serenade and rode paddleboats. Everyone had a blast.
If you plan to stay in St. Pete Beach too, take a short drive or hop on a trolley downtown to the The Dalí Museum. The new location, opening in early 2011, has a stunning waterfront view and two excellent playgrounds within walking distance. The playground near the downtown airport has an adorable miniature air traffic tower.
Nearby St. Petersburg hosts the Great Explorations Children’s Museum, which offers a nice way to beat the midday heat in the summer months. After the kids run around inside, stroll through Sunken Gardens. Bring loose change to buy fish food. Then grab an early dinner at one of the nearby restaurants before you head back out to the beach.
Planning on visiting the Clearwater area? Check out the sunsets at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. You’ll get your romantic view of the setting sun, and your kids will enjoy street performances, live music and giant trampolines. We love the playground right on the sand.
Don’t stress out if you feel like you’re planning too many kid-friendly activities. Depending on how adventurous you are, you’ll probably find yourself enjoying the activities you planned for the children. (I don’t know about you, but I can’t say no to giant trampolines.)
Maria Mora is a memoir blogger and wannabe photographer. She travels extensively throughout Florida and the Caribbean with her two young sons.