Family-Friendly Vacation Guide To St. Petersburg, Florida


Family-Friendly Vacation Guide To St. Petersburg, Florida Many people have their go-to vacation spots, ones that feel like a second home, where they have their favorite restaurants, beaches, and recreation. Our favorite family vacation spot, located on the barrier islands of Florida’s Central Gulf Coast, is the beautiful St. Petersburg area. Though not as popular as other Florida tourist destinations such as Destin and Miami, this hidden gem has a lot to offer, especially for a family vacation! St. Petersburg is also just a short drive from other destinations such as Tampa and Clearwater, making the possibilities endless!

Since writing this post two years ago, we have been back to visit St. Petersburg at least four more times. With every visit, we find more and more places that we love! Below I’m highlighting some of my family’s favorites places and things to do in St. Petersburg and its surrounding areas:

Family-Friendly Vacation Guide To St. Petersburg, Florida

Where To Eat

Of course, the dining options are endless while on vacation. We have discovered some of our go-to restaurants and are always adding to the list. Here are some to check out when you visit:

The Getaway Tampa Bay

The first time we visited St. Pete, I was on the lookout for a beach restaurant with a perfect ambiance, and I found that at The Getaway. Located on the water and on the sand, you can enjoy the wide variety of food and drinks while dining under a tiki hut or umbrella. I love dining there at sunset (see the featured picture on this post!) because the sky is gorgeous and this already magical place transforms once the string lights are turned on. It is also very family-friendly. On top of having a kids’ menu (I love their grilled cheese!), some of the dining tables are on the sand, so the kids are able to play while waiting for food.

Twistee Treat

We grab ice cream at Twistee Treat at least a couple times each time we visit. This chain of ice cream shops, located only in Florida and Texas (please come to Tennessee next!), not only has a cute ice cream shaped store front, but their large variety of mix-in flavors is what makes them unique. My personal favorite: the black raspberry mixed into the vanilla!

Where To Stay


There is no shortage of hotels from which to choose in St. Pete. Our absolute favorite hotel is the beautiful and historic Crystal Bay Hotel located on the Boca Ciega Bay. Built during the turn of the century, this hotel has a lot of charm and an amazing breakfast.

Another hotel we have stayed in the past several times is the Hilton Home2 Suites in Largo, which is a city located in the St. Petersburg area. The rooms are large enough to comfortably fit our family of five, the staff is wonderful, and the location is central to both St. Petersburg, Tampa, and the beaches!

Sandpal Properties

In my first version of this post, I mentioned The Blue Fin St. Pete which was a vacation rental property listed on Airbnb. Well, the wonderful couple that owns the Blue Fin now has several other equally amazing properties to choose from under the name Sandpal Properties. Their locations, rentals, and hospitality simply cannot be beat.

Beach Cottages

There are many beach cottage options available, some just a short walk from the beach. We stayed at one a couple of visits ago that had one bedroom, a pull-out couch, a living area, full kitchen, and a pool. Our friends stayed at one in the same complex, so it was very convenient for a trip with friends or family!

Where To Play

The Beach

When in Florida, of course you have to visit the beach! Our absolute favorite one to visit — whether it be to play during the day or watch a beautiful St. Pete sunset — is Redington Beach!

Mini Golf and Arcades

There are several mini golf places in the St. Petersburg area such as Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf or Congo River Golf in Clearwater; our family had a blast there this past December. There are also fun arcades such as the Treasure Island Fun Center which my oldest son and I enjoyed too.

The Florida Aquarium

I think the world of the Tennessee Aquarium, but I love the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. Species-wise, the Tennessee Aquarium has more, but the design of the Florida Aquarium is amazing and unique. They have a wonderful outdoor splash pad which overlooks the beautiful Tampa Bay as well as a playground. It is a must-see! Remember: if you are a member of the Chattanooga Zoo or Aquarium, your tickets are discounted!


Like the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa is also a must! They have a variety of animals and it makes for an enjoyable day in the warm tropical surroundings. As with the aquarium, if you are a member of the Chattanooga Zoo or Aquarium, your tickets are discounted!


There are endless park options in St. Petersburg. Having kids, we have explored many of them. Our go-to is Walsingham Park, which my husband used to go to as a child (he grew up in the St. Pete area). It has a great area for walking as well as playgrounds for the kids.

Where To Shop

John’s Pass Boardwalk

John’s Pass Boardwalk is a must visit when vacationing in St. Pete. Not only is there a large variety of stores where you can purchase unique souvenirs, clothes, jewelry, and home décor, but there is also a variety of restaurants and attractions such as Kiss A Gator and boat rides. There are over 100 merchants, so you will definitely find something for everyone in your family.

Local Markets

Every time I visit, there is a market (such as the Madeira Beach Market) where you can support the many awesome local vendors. One of my favorites vendors is Island Blends which offers apparel, though my favorite product of theirs is their beautiful larimar jewelry. You will never catch me without one of my larimar rings bought from them!

Nicolette James Boutique

Another favorite shop is a boutique a dear friend of mine started called Nicolette James Boutique. She offers a beautiful variety of clothes, jewelry, and decor. She can often be found at local markets or you can pay a visit to her home studio just a short drive from the St. Petersburg area, or you can shop online!

Sail Market Studios

Sail Market Studios is such a cute and unique store located in the Gulfport area of St. Petersburg. They sell a variety of cute boutique clothing and locally made, unique goods. They have something for everyone in the family.

Blacktop Surf Shop

Blacktop Surf Shop is located in Largo and offers the best in surf and beach apparel for the whole family as well as accessories and more!


I hope you have found my recommendations helpful and will consider St. Petersburg for your next family vacation!  

Looking at staying closer to home? Check out these day trips from Chattanooga.


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