St. Petersburg, Florida, having an average of 361 days of sunshine yearly and once setting a Guinness World Record for having an amazing 768 consecutive days of sunny weather, has been dubbed the "Sunshine City." This beautiful beach community in East Central Florida is a popular destination for families with children because of the many things to do throughout the year, but especially in the summer. If you are taking the kids to St. Pete, as it is affectionately known, there are many activities you simply must do to experience all it has to offer.
Parks and Beaches
The St. Petersburg/Clearwater metropolitan area is home to some of the top beach playgrounds in North America. Fort De Soto Park has been ranked by several publications as the nation's best beach for its beautiful water, fabulous services and variety of things to do. In fact, St. Petersburg's municipal beach on Treasure Island is certified each year by the National Clean Beaches Council as an outstanding environmentally-friendly beach. It includes a 105-year-old fort to explore and a host of other family activities including walking trails, fishing piers and 243 family camping sites. Several of the local public beaches, including Clearwater Beach, are stocked with lifeguards 365 days a year to protect your family. In addition, there are 137 parks covering some 2,300 acres of countryside in which to hike and explore. The Weedon Island Preserve has 3,190 acres of its own to explore, many of which overlook St. Petersburg's shore. There you can canoe or bike with the kids, then scale the 45-foot observation tower to see the many beautiful sites that surround the island.
If you love to explore nature with the kids, but want to move beyond the beach, there are several good destinations in the St. Petersburg Clearwater metropolitan area. There is free admission to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, the largest bird sanctuary in the United States. There you can watch professionals rehabilitate many beautiful birds found hurt in the wild. There are educational opportunities tailored to children available at the sanctuary. The Boyd Hill Nature Preserve has many inexpensive activities for the kids including a living history museum and an environmental education activities area as well as many birds and reptiles to investigate.
Water sports are often a hit with the kids. St. Petersburg is home to a host of scuba diving services, boat rentals, and parasailing and kite boarding companies. North Beach Windsurfing School offers lessons on windsurfing and other water sports to many ages. The Clearwater Beach Family Aquatic Center is a beachfront playground featuring water slides, waterfalls and swim areas suited to smaller children. For more adventurous families, there are also speedboat or personal water craft rentals as well as fishing charters that cater to families.
Museums are also a primary tourist destination in St. Pete. The biggest draw, even for families, is the Salvador Dali Art Museum. Rated by Tripadvisor.com as the most popular St. Petersburg destination, this unusual building holds the largest collection of the popular surrealist artist's work. The Great Explorations Children's Museum boasts dozens of exhibits for elementary school and younger children. If your kids enjoy stargazing, The Science Center of Pinellas County takes advantage of the clear skies by offering a look through a powerful Meade 16-inch telescope. It also offers The Spirit of Columbia Theater & Planetarium to stimulate the senses of children and parents alike.