St. Pete/Clearwater in Florida is home to some of the best beaches in the US, including award-winning Clearwater Beach. It’s also a sunshine world record breaker. Could it be more perfect for family holidays? Take a look.
Start your holiday plans with 361 days of sunshine every year
A record-breaking 361 days of sunshine a year makes St. Pete/Clearwater an easy choice for family beach holidays. Particularly as all that sun shines on over 35 miles of the Gulf Coast lined with silvery sand beaches, as well as 26 communities, ranging from cool and creative cities to some of Florida’s sweetest beach towns.
Twin Gulf Coast beaches with world class theme parks: Orlando is only 90 minutes away
If sun and beaches don’t convince you to visit with your kids as soon as possible, you might be interested to know St. Pete/Clearwater is only a 90-minute drive from Orlando. So you can easily do one family holiday with both the world’s greatest theme parks and the sugar white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast in the mix
Direct UK flights to Tampa all year round mean St. Pete/Clearwater is easy, any time
Though no one would blame you for wanting to spend an entire holiday on the beach, particularly as Tampa International Airport is only 30-minutes from St. Pete/Clearwater and has direct UK flights, year round.
So how do you know if this dreamy part of Florida will suit your family? St. Pete/Clearwater suits everyone, from active families to laze-on-the-beach families, toddlers to teens, nature lovers to thrill seekers. Read on to see why.
What to see and do in St. Pete/Clearwater all-year-round
There’s so much for families to see and do in St. Pete/Clearwater, you might find yourself automatically saying, ‘next time’ to your kids. Everyone does it, because a ‘next time’ is practically guaranteed. But don’t let that stop you to trying to fit in as much as possible this time.
All the different ways to see dolphins with your kids
If kids want to start their dolphin adventures on dry land, they’ll love the Dolphin Complex at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. With underwater viewing windows and five pools, this renowned non-profit organisation is a leader in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine life. It’s also the place to get up close to sharks, turtles, North American otters and even impressively large White Pelicans.
Speaking of up close, St. Pete/Clearwater’s share of the Gulf Coast teems with wild dolphins, so you really should consider catching one of the excellent local boat tours to spot a few. And should seeing these wonderful creatures and learning all about them not completely satisfy your kids’ inner sailor, we recommend a few hours aboard Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise too.
Bounce around on the beach or browse the art
Nothing beats a splashy bounce around to burn off excess energy and happily that’s well covered by two inflatable waterparks with enormous Hippo slides: largest in the world, no less. Seek these funsters out at Treasure Island and Clearwater Beach. Our advice? Do both, because you can never have too much bouncing. And for straight-up splashing, St. Pete Pier District is where you’ll find playgrounds, a splash pad and the Tilted Lawn.
Although, when you want to chill a bit, St. Pete/Clearwater does that too. So try the drop-in art studios for kids at Morean Art Center on Saturdays. Or take young conservationists to Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center to learn about the local eco-system on one of their interactive family tours.
Visit museums, but not as you know them
Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Pete encourages kids to get creative, scientific, curious and clever with exciting exhibits, workshops and wildly interesting experiments: check out the tennis ball and roof test.
Then, for all the fun of the fair, head to Fairgrounds St. Pete to browse the dazzling art installations. Think of it like a rollercoaster ride for the senses.
Stay up late, see the sunset, you’re on holiday
Night and day is very much the St. Pete/Clearwater vibe. So put bedtime on the holiday clock and start the evening with a sunset at Pier 60. Then on Friday nights, slide into the weekend with some good old fashioned fun at St. Pete Shuffleboard Club: laid-back, local, bring your own drinks, and super-family-friendly.
Start with Clearwater Beach and just keep going for miles
It’s a given that you won’t go far in St. Pete/Clearwater without hitting a beach. Gulf Coast shores here stretch for 35 miles and award-winning doesn’t even begin to describe the beachy stars named everything from ‘Best Beach in the South’ right through to top of the tree, ‘Best Beach in the US’.
In reality we’d have to write a book to do every beach here justice, instead we’ve picked a few you should never miss.
Best beaches for water sports of all sorts
You’ll find water sports on many beaches, but for the greatest concentration, Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach edge ahead of the rest. Take it easy with snorkelling, swimming and kayaking or go for the thrill of jet-skiing or parasailing. And remember to pause for breath and look out to sea occasionally too; spotting dolphins off the coast of Clearwater and St. Pete Beach is also a thing.
Take teenagers island hopping for the day
St. Pete/Clearwater has yet to meet a teen it couldn’t entertain, and beachy spots like Caladesi & Honeymoon Islands prove that. Biking, hiking or kayaking is the way to get about gorgeous Honeymoon Island. This protected state park has four miles of beaches as well as shy wildlife, well marked walks in its virgin slash pine forest to explore and even nesting Loggerhead Turtles, at the right time of year.
You can also catch the ferry on Honeymoon and sail to idyllic Caladesi Island for more miles of white sand beaches, along with nature trails and kayak-able mangrove forests.
Boost your beach day with big adventures
But plan a day at Fort de Soto county park and, on top of sunny beaches, you can look forward to exploring a Spanish-America War fort from bottom to top, literally. There are beautiful beaches to play on, a little museum and, if you don’t mind a bit of a climb, the reward is the best ever views over Tampa Bay.
Where to eat, on and off the beach, in St. Pete/Clearwater
On the food front, St. Pete/Clearwater could have been designed for families. And there’s no risk of hangry kids here, because most restaurants open morning, noon and night, or whenever hunger strikes.
Of course you’ll find your own favourites, but these are ours.
- Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill has its toes in the sand on Clearwater Beach, so naturally the speciality of the house is the freshest ever seafood.
- Cooling Tampa Bay breezes on the deck and traditional Florida eats give Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille that come-hungry-and-hang-out vibe kids love.
- Another Clearwater Beach legend, Palm Pavilion has been serving locals (and local visitors) seafood with a side of sunsets since 1926.
- Come as you are for breakfast or brunch at Paradise Grille on St. Pete Beach – it’s a great start to a sunny day by the sea.
- Sea Horse Restaurant in Pass-a-Grille gets the local vote for best breakfast on the beach – and it does pretty great lunches too.
- The Hyppo is home to the best ice-pops in St. Pete. Drop in for different daily specials and gourmet creations, all made with fresh, all-natural ingredients.
The Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail, kids welcome!
Craft breweries might not be top of the to do list on a family holiday, but as always St. Pete/Clearwater does things a little differently. Several of the local breweries on the Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail (see what they did there?) are refreshingly family-friendly.
Some even have games tables and children’s activities, as well as outdoor play spaces and even cute book nooks. So if all that Florida sun makes you thirsty, you know where to go.
Our pick of family resorts and hotels in St. Pete/Clearwater
Family hotels and resorts in St. Pete/Clearwater aren’t just places to sleep, not even close.
If your heart is set on a historic stay, The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club opened in 1925, and sits on the Register of Historic Buildings. It’s a Downtown St. Pete icon, albeit entirely renovated over the past three years and now as luxurious as it is fabulous.
More Clearwater Beach stays you’ll like
- Right on the beachside promenade, all rooms at Opal Sands Resort feature big balconies, so you can really enjoy the view.
- Apart from its focus on contemporary luxury, incredible spa and waterfront location, JW Marriott Clearwater Beach is also home to the fun JW Kids Club.
- Lagoon pools, palm trees, long views and sensational sunsets are all signatures of Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach.
- Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa is elegantly laid back and close to everything kids love from Clearwater Marine Aquarium to Clearwater Beach itself.
- Minutes from Pier 60 and right on the sands too, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa is the one for oversize family rooms with dining balconies.
- Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach invites complete escapism from its attentive service and generous rooms to the dreamy beach views from every angle.
Find more family resorts on St. Pete Beach
- Beachy with a cool Gulf Coast aesthetic, RumFish Beach Resort might be sleekly designed but it’s also warm, Florida friendly and perfect for families.
- Sister to RumFish and right next door, TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort is the largest on St. Pete Beach and proves big is beautiful, fun and always laid back.
- Play More is the motto at Sirata Beach Resort and kids can take it literally from Sprouts Splash Zone to Mermaid Meet n Greet, Pirate Days and so much more.
How to plan a holiday in St. Pete/Clearwater
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Tampa International Airport, from 10 hours, year round
Tampa International Airport is a 30-minute drive from St. Pete/Clearwater
St. Pete/Clearwater is a 90-minute drive southwest of Orlando