Beachy, arty and outdoorsy St. Pete/Clearwater is everything families love about Florida holidays, and then some. The weather is warm and sunny right now and pretty much stays that way year round. Need more reasons to go? Take a look at our top ten…
1. Add America’s best beaches to Florida holidays
Set on the west coast of Florida, St. Pete/Clearwater has no less than 35 miles of white sand beaches. If you want to know how lovely they are, everyone from TripAdvisor to Dr Beach is happy to tell you. In fact, several of the beaches here are regularly voted best in the US and one or two even top the world’s best beaches list.
Our pick of local beaches
- Try Caladesi Island State Park for the beach that bagged number two slot in Dr Beach’s list of Top 10 Beaches in the US 2022.
- Long and lively Clearwater Beach has been listed as one of the loveliest in the world.
- If you want a slice of swank with your sand, head to Belleair Beach. It’s trimmed with gorgeous waterfront mansions and a favourite with locals.
- Madeira Beach brings the beautiful and is also a near neighbour to John’s Pass for Old Florida style boardwalk buzz.
- Possibly the most famous in the area, St. Pete Beach was voted #1 in the US by TripAdvisor in 2021 and it’s easy to see why.
2. Sunshine world record breaker
St. Pete/Clearwater holds the Guinness World Record for the longest consecutive run of sunshine days, 768 in total. And it’s not just sunny here, it’s warm too. Even January, the coldest month of the year, has average daily temperatures of 22°. So if you’re thinking winter sun breaks, this is where to find them.
3. St. Pete/Clearwater has the art of Florida holidays
Beautiful beaches and endless sun are what you expect from Florida holidays, world class art collections probably come as more of a surprise. In 2022, Condé Nast Traveler named St. Pete/Clearwater “one of the top small US cities with big-time art scenes’. It’s not an exaggeration, as no fewer than seven art museums make their home here. And in addition to art in galleries, there are annual art festivals, art tours, incredible murals and astonishing local talent, which St. Pete/Clearwater is proud to nurture – and show off!
What to see in arty St. Pete/Clearwater
- The Dali Museum houses over 2,400 of the artist’s works, the largest collection outside Spain. The stunning museum building is as much part of the experience as the art, so set aside an afternoon for full immersion.
- An arty new addition, Fairgrounds St. Pete is a one-of-a-kind exploration of Floridiana from the ridiculous to the sublime. Take the journey with kids, they’ll love every dazzling second.
- Go from Floridiana to Americana at The James Museum of Western + Wildlife Art. Another St. Pete/Clearwater original, it’s a fascinating perspective on US culture and the work of local artists.
- The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement (MAACM) is the only museum in the world dedicated to the history of the American Arts and Crafts movement, and it’s in downtown St. Petersburg.
- If you like murals, St. Pete/Clearwater has over 600 of them. Don’t worry if you miss the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival in October, you can take the Pete Walking Mural Tour any time of year.
4. Direct UK flights from 4 November 2022
You’ll find St. Pete/Clearwater just 90 miles west of Orlando, set on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly direct from London to Tampa, flights take from 9 hours, and Tampa International Airport is about 20 minutes drive from downtown St. Petersburg.
5. St. Pete/Clearwater is the greatest outdoors
The great outdoors is seriously good fun in St. Pete/Clearwater. You can island hop to discover secret beaches. State Parks are the places to spot wildlife, explore unspoiled wildernesses and reconnect with nature. There are glorious waterways where you can kayak and canoe in the company of dolphins and manatee. And if you like your natural beauty a little tamed, this is the area where gorgeous gardens grow and invite you to explore.
Outdoor adventures you have to try
- Hop to Honeymoon Island State Park and wander walking trails, laze on silvery sands and meet the local gopher tortoise. Then catch the ferry on Honeymoon and sail to Caladesi Island State Park for some time on the #2 Best Beach in the US.
- For a wonder-filled two mile kayaking trail, visit Fort de Soto Park. If kids are too young to paddle a boat, they’ll have great fun paddling their toes in the warm, shallow waters here.
- Spend a day at Weedon Island Preserve and mix outdoor adventuring with learning about the area’s Native American history, indigenous culture and natural diversity.
- Feel like walking? Hit the Marquis Pinellas Trail between Tarpon Springs and St. Petersburg. It’s 75-miles long, but you can do as little or as much as you like. And if you don’t want to hike, you can bike instead.
6. Urban adventures in Downtown St. Pete
Nothing if not versatile St. Pete/Clearwater even adds city breaks into Florida holidays. Downtown St. Pete is where you’ll find the vibrant arts district and fun mural tours, but it’s also the heartland of indie shopping and eating out. Hit Central Avenue, day or night, for restaurants, bars, local craft breweries and stores selling everything from vintage jewellery to designer clothing.
7. Hang out at St. Pete Pier
St. Pete Pier stretches for 26 acres along the Tampa Bay waterfront. Recently named one of the best urban designs in the world by the Urban Land Institute, it’s also packed with family activities. There are green spaces for kids to play as well as a splash pad and beaches. Older children will love the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center which teaches them all about the area’s eco-system. From laid back cafés and fine dining options to a rooftop tiki bar overlooking the St. Pete skyline, family restaurants on all levels of pier keep you fuelled up for fun. Plus, there’s shopping too. And if your Florida holiday isn’t complete without some fishing, you can even get up to that on St. Pete Pier.
8. Florida holidays for food lovers
If discovering independent restaurants and eating fresh, local food is one your great holiday thrills, St. Pete/Clearwater is your type of place. Of course, the finest Gulf seafood features high on the menu here, but don’t miss the local BBQ. Kids will love the variety of sweet treats, starting with divine gelato. And styles of eating are almost as varied as the food itself. Waterfront restaurants make the most of all that sunshine, but you’ll also find pretty pavement cafés and smart French bistro. Casual cantina are perfect for families, although there’s no shortage of posh spots when you feel like something fancy.
9. Local area attractions to thrill your kids
Outdoorsy and arty St. Pete/Clearwater is also surrounded by brilliantly playful family attractions. Busch Gardens Tampa gives Orlando a run for its money on the theme park front. Kids will love meeting the rescued marine animals at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center at John’s Pass Village on Madeira Beach is another must-do. And young buccaneers in training need to sail the high seas for a couple of hours on Captain Memo’s Pirate Ship, launching daily from Clearwater Beach.
10. Family friendly hotels and resorts
Family-friendly Florida holidays are what St. Pete/Clearwater does best, so you won’t be surprised to learn that many incredible hotels and resorts are designed just for families. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater makes it very easy to find exactly the right place to stay whether you want a relaxing island resort or a grand Florida icon like The Don Cesar on St. Pete Beach.