St. Petersburg Clearwater is one of those places that has something for everyone. Maybe a tourist destination doesn’t want to hear words like dependable or safe. But for me St. Petersburg Clearwater is dependable and safe and a wonderful vacation choice every time. That matters when spending valuable vacation dollars and time. St. Petersburg Clearwater delivers the magic you want, when you need an escape.
You know what I mean, right? You head away on a vacation and a piece of you hopes you made the right choice. Prayers go up to the weather gods and goddesses and you dream about the trip for weeks, maybe longer. Then departure day arrives. Sometimes I hold my breath a bit hoping the photos and the reviews are true. Happy to say St. Petersburg Clearwater doesn’t disappoint.
I recently took a trip to St. Pete’s with three girlfriends who are also Canadian lifestyle bloggers. Together with Margarita Ibbott, DownshiftingPro, Aeryn Lynne, Geek With Style and Sandi Allen, Canadian Blog House, we flew to Florida and started a 6 days road trip through Jacksonville, St. Petersburg Clearwater and St Augustine. St Petersburg Clearwater was our first stop.
After a long day of travel, the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort was a sight for sore eyes. Literally. We were each thrilled to check in. And we started trying to “Just Let Go.” That’s the slogan for TradeWinds Island Grand Resort.
About 20 years ago I went to St Petersburg with my Mom for a week. I still recall the beach being beautiful and serene and it is the same today. But much else has changed and grown. In fact it felt like my first time again in many ways. Between staying at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, going to the Chihuly Museum, the Dali Museum and Clearwater Marine Aquarium, my trip to St. Petersburg Clearwater was pure magic from start to finish. We hated having to leave. But that said, we had some great times at the other stops on our girl’s getaway.
St. Petersburg Clearwater – Family Friendly Fun
TradeWinds Island Grand Resort
While on this girl’s getaway trip, I stayed at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort. All I can say is WOW. This place is more than a resort, it’s a 20-acre beachfront playground! It’s THE place to stay when you travel with family, or gal pals, to the area. It was designed specifically with family fun in mind. You can fly with a jetpack. paddleboard, play at their offshore water park, enjoy fresh Florida seafood, and more. There’s also an amazing inflatable waterslide on the beach. Sadly we were there only two nights and one day was super windy so they had to deflate it. (Reasons to return.)
Kids even have their own KONK camps complete with crafts and family activities. If your family is more into relaxation, you can enjoy any of the FIVE heated pools, get a massage, or just laze the day away in a beachside hammock! There are cabanas on the beach but you should remember to reserve them when you visit.
Fort De Soto Park
When you visit you can tour the park and go kayaking at this over 1,100 acre park. Consisting of 5 interconnected islands and featuring two fishing piers, a historic fort, seven miles of paved trails, and the famous North Beach, the park is the perfect place for your family to enjoy the beauty of nature and experience some Florida history to boot!
St. Pete Beach
One of the best places to enjoy some quality outdoor time in St. Petersburg Clearwater is St. Pete Beach. Voted TripAdvisor’s No. 3 Beach in the U.S. in 2017, the beach includes the longest undeveloped stretch of public beach in the country. You can enjoy the white sand beaches as well as a variety of watersports including parasailing, stand-up paddleboarding, and more. BEAUTY!
Get cultured during your vacation with a trip to see the Chihuly Collection. This permanent art installation by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly is filled with color and movement that will capture anyone’s imagination. I was blown away by this exhibit. Quite honestly I had no idea who he was until we visited. Now I am truly a fan and hope to see more of his work throughout my travels. It’s stunning. See for yourself. Also it photographs really well.
Morean Arts Center Glass Studio & Hot Shop
Explore the world of glass arts at this studio and get behind the scenes looks at how glass artists create their amazing works of art. Do this in conjunction with Chihuly exhibit and museum. It makes sense thematically and it is across the street so totally doable. Parking is easy to find nearby.
The Dali Museum
While on your trip to St. Petersburg Clearwater, explore the works of famous Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. Do yourself a favour though and take at least an afternoon, if not a whole day. There’s a lot to see here and to learn. Even the building itself inside and outside is incredible. The Dali museum combines Dali-inspired architecture with a massive permanent collection of Dali’s works.
Pay attention to the docent as she or he leads you through on one of the many tours they offer. Loved hearing about his early years and how he evolved as an artist over time. You will get that here. Early works are sometimes impressionistic and they range wildly, but it’s clear he was talented from a young age. Interesting too to hear the story of how this collection came to reside permanently in St. Petersburg. Do you know the story already?
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Okay Clearwater Marine Aquarium and animal rehabilitation centre is a place I have been longing to take my kids for years now. For some reason the timing has just never worked out. Some of you already know my kids have some of their own unique challenges in life. When my youngest was small we hunted for books about adversity and disabilities and we found Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again. This story of a dolphin found clinging to life on a beach in St. Petersburg Clearwater who had her tail fall off as a result of getting stuck in a crab trap is very special to us. We still have the book and we’ve read it many times.
When the movies came out we were thrilled. The Dolphin Tale DVD is in the van and runs repeatedly when we do long road trips together. This is a story we never tire of hearing. So I was ecstatic to visit, but also a bit heartbroken that my kids weren’t with me. That said, I bought them many souvenirs and will do my best to return. This place is so special. No ordinary aquarium at all.
On your trip to St. Petersburg Clearwater, be sure to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Home of the star of “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2” star, Winter, the aquarium features turtles, otters, dolphins and nurse sharks. They do their part to protect the environment with a marine hospital used to rescue, rehab, and release everything from dolphins to sea turtles, and more. Right now many sea turtles arrive weekly needing help. A new virus related to human HPV called Fibropapilloma is threatening many sea turtles.
The goal of the aquarium is to release rehabilitated animals. But there are several who remain because they cannot survive back in the wild. Winter, Hope and Nicholas are three famous dolphin residents. Right now the aquarium is undergoing a major growth and expansion. As a result of the attention from the movies, traffic increased from visitors to 700,000 a year when it was previously about 60,000 a year. Revenue from the movies has meant the facility can expand to meet needs of more stranded and sick dolphins, turtles and potentially even larger creatures like manatees and whales in future. Money from the merchandise goes directly towards helping the animals.
St. Petersburg Clearwater – A Family Friendly Must
Of all the places I have been in the last year or two, this is the place I would drop everything for, just in order to bring my family back. There’s more to see and do in St. Petersburg Clearwater than I ever remember. With beaches, museums, an amazing resort, famous aquarium and more, St. Petersburg Clearwater is a wonderful place to create memories that will last a lifetime.
We were guests of Visit Florida and St. Petersburg Clearwater while visiting recently on our girlfriend’s getaway. We received accommodations, flights, food and admissions to many activities while visiting. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful.