Kids can tell when a hotel is truly child-friendly, or just paying lip service. TradeWinds Island Grand in St Pete Beach, Florida, truly embraces kids, adding enough amenities for adults to make it a family vacation for all.
The first thing kids will notice is the three story water slide. Set right on the beach, the inflatable water slide is open daily, and you can buy a ticket for one ride, or a day pass for unlimited rides.
If your kids like the water, they will also want to spend time at the Splash Island Water Park. This unique floating water park is actually set in the gulf water, with slides, trampolines and a giant see saw. You can get a one hour, two hour or all day pass.
Both the water park and giant water slide are carefully monitored by lifeguards, and everyone has to wear a life jacket at the water park. If your kids are comfortable being on their own, and they are over 46 inches tall, you can lay on a beach cabana while they bounce and slide (kids have to be over 40 inches tall to use the equipment). For parents who want to stay closer at hand, you can buy a pass and use a lounge that’s right in the water.
More Family Fun
The hotel also offers free paddleboats; the boats are in a waterway through the resort. And the whole family can play on the free miniature golf course.
Throughout the day, the resort offers a variety of free and low cost activities, from beach soccer to sand art. A supervised drop off program, for children ages 4-11, runs in the mornings and evenings. KONK (Kids Only, No Kidding) includes treasure hunts, crafts and games.
Other family entertainment includes a pirate show with storytelling, live music on weekends, and beach baseball screenings of Tampa Bay Rays games, with a large screen TV and cookout.
Adults who want a little peace and quiet can head to the adult pool, although when we visited in June, the pool was filled with children, and adults enjoying frozen drinks from the Tiki Bar. But the adult pool at the adjacent TradeWinds Sandpiper was truly adult only, and quiet. Hammocks strewn throughout both properties can be quiet places to read a book, or swings for kids. There is a wading pool, and an outdoor covered pool if you want to get out of the sun.
There is a spa, a fitness center, and free YogaFit classes.
The hotel has two clay tennis courts (you can use them free, and borrow racquets, but you have to pay for balls) and beach volleyball courts, where you can borrow a ball. There is also a bungee trampoline, for anyone 40-180 pounds.
The weather, of course, is spectacular. It is never too cold in winter, not too hot in summer (the Gulf waters keep things temperate).
St. Pete Beach is half an hour from the Tampa airport, 45 minutes from the Busch Gardens theme park, and 90 minutes from Orlando. Even closer, downtown St. Petersburg has two new museums, one devoted to the art of Salvadore Dali, and the other to Dale Chihuly Collection.
Chihuly, a glass artist, had a show at the New York Botanical Garden that my kids adored. The new museum, part of the Morean Arts Center, has fantastic colorful sculptures, in a space designed just for the artwork. The excellent docent-led tour explained how Chihuly blew different types of glass, how he added color and where you could stand to see ‘hidden’ objects.
You can’t touch anything, but if you have a kid age 11 or older, he can create his own blown glass piece at the nearby Glass Studio & Hot Shop. We didn’t have time for this; opportunities are limited, so reserve in advance.
Walk or take the historic trolley to The Dali Museum, in a striking geodesic glass building. The museum has a cool winding staircase and a free gallery treasure hunt for kids. The hunt involves riddles, so adults will have to help kids under age 8. A daily family program, Dillydally with Dali, includes stories and games; the Saturday program adds arts and crafts.
The museum has a pretty café, with an outdoor patio and a kid’s menu, along with Spanish food.
The Island Grand offers traditional hotel rooms, and suites, all with either full kitchens or kitchenettes with a fridge, microwave, coffee maker and dishes. You can easily have breakfast in your room, or eat in one of places in the two hotels. There are also several choices for meals throughout the day, from a casual beachfront restaurant to a Pizza Hut Express to fine dining at the Palm Court Italian Grill.
Note: this trip was sponsored by TradeWinds