Family Beach Vacation Ideas

Beautiful beaches, calm Gulf waters and tons of fun things to do nearby make St. Pete/Clearwater perfect for families.

A girl making a funny smile on a beach in St. Pete/Clearwater

America's Best Beaches are perfect for families, with warm, calm waters.

Parents, rejoice! The kiddos will love St. Pete/Clearwater as much as you do. From sand dollar-hunting in a tidal lagoon to setting sail in a pirate ship, there’s a lot to keep the little ones entertained both at the beach and nearby.

1

Stay at a Resort that’s Made for Families

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An inflatable waterpark. A bungee trampoline. A resident pirate named RedBeard. That’s just a taste of the fun they’ll find at TradeWinds Island Grand and its nearby sister property, RumFish. At night, roast s’mores by the fire or watch dive-in movies in a beachfront pool. And speaking of diving, you can get right up close to local sea life in the 33,500-gallon tank at Rumfish with the resort’s “Swim with the Fishes” experience. And you don’t even have to stay here to enjoy it all: the Tradewinds offers a day pass that gives you access to pools, the High Tide Slide and more. For more family-friendly resort options, check out the video above.

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2

Meet Winter at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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Famous for her starring role in the Dolphin Tale movies, Winter the dolphin lives at this facility just across from Clearwater Beach, where she’s visited by fans from around the world. All of Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s resident dolphins, otters and sea turtles will give curious kids a close-up look at the aquarium’s marine life rescue and rehab work and ocean conservation efforts. Take it to the next level with a narrated boat tour of calm Clearwater Bay.

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3

Catch a Kid-Friendly Sunset Celebration

Sunset at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach

Celebrate sunset with the whole family at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach.

Every evening, Clearwater’s bustling Pier 60 turns into an all-ages celebration during Sunsets at Pier 60. You’ll find artisans making and selling their wares, musicians and jugglers performing and a huge playground nearby (in case your kids need to run off some steam before bedtime).

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4

Go On a Pirate Cruise

A happy little girl wearing a pirate hat on board Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise.

No family vacation in St. Pete/Clearwater is complete without a pirate cruise. Little ones, in particular, will appreciate the outing.

Climb aboard the Pirate’s Ransom for an adventure that’ll delight swashbucklers of any age: Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise sails from Clearwater Beach daily for two hours of games, dancing on the deck and perhaps a little mystery. You’ll find another great pirate cruise sailing out of John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk to the south: here, the Royal Conquest offers young buccaneers hours of maritime fun (tip: come early so the kiddos have a chance to explore the boardwalk at John’s Pass with you). Both cruises serve soft drinks for the kids and adult beverages for the grownups on board.

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5

Zoom Down a Giant Waterslide on the Beach

You know a town named Treasure Island is bound to have fun around every corner. Exhibit A: the massive inflatable water slide on the beach near the 104th Avenue parking lot (across from Publix supermarket). A couple of bucks, and the kids (and you!) can climb the steps to experience the thrill of slip-slidin’ to the bottom. Bonus: The wide stretch of beach here is a great place to fly a kite. Find yours at Florida Windworks in nearby John’s Pass Village

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6

Find Treasure at Fort De Soto Park

Family riding bicycles in Fort de Soto park.

Experience Fort De Soto on two wheels. Find bicycles of every size for rent at the park.

The crown jewel of St. Pete/Clearwater’s county park system, Fort DeSoto Park’s North Beach is much-loved for its family-friendly features. Venture beyond the pirate ship-themed playground onto the beach to find a tidal pool perfect for little feet to wade in. There’s a seasonal lifeguard here for when the little ones go digging in the gentle Gulf waters in search of purple shells and white sand dollars (leave the grey ones behind, as they are alive). You’ll also find bike rentals you can take on the park’s six-mile paved trail (including surrey bicycles that seat up to eight!), a mile-long beach where dogs can run off-leash, and a long fishing pier.

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7

Splash Around at the St. Pete Pier

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Just a short drive from the beach communities, downtown St. Pete’s biggest and newest outdoor attraction, the St. Pete Pier, offers hours of waterfront fun. Kids will have a blast cooling off at the splash pad. They’ll find entertaining ways to learn about sea creatures and the environment at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center. Kids can try their luck at the fishing deck (and meet pelicans up close while there). The Glazer Family Playground is a wonderful spot to use up some extra energy. Plus: you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly food options.

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