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Known for its pristine coastline along the Gulf Coast, the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area is the perfect place in Florida for families to enjoy some fun in the sun. You’ll find a diverse array of kid-friendly activities to choose from, where you can go on a pirate cruise, explore a tropical garden or get up close to some of Florida’s unique wildlife. Here are our picks for the best family-friendly attractions in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area.
You’re spoiled for choice in beaches in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area. Clearwater is the most famous with its powder white sand and crystal blue waters, where you can enjoy water sports, walk along the picturesque Beach Walk and watch a sunset at Pier 60. St. Pete Beach is a solid stretch of undeveloped beach where kids can make sand castles, while Pass-a-Grille Beach is a local favorite with its laid-back ambiance. If you want to spend the day snorkeling, head to Indian Rocks Beach.
Have you ever wanted to meet a movie star? The Clearwater Marine Aquarium gives you that chance, as it is home to Winter and Hope, the stars from the hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” You can also observe nurse sharks called Thelma and Louise, say hello to North American river otters in the Otter Oasis area or get up close and personal with Cocoa the sea turtle. Make sure to walk through Shipwreck Alley and its underwater viewing tunnel and participate in stingray feedings.
Considered the crown jewel of the St. Petersburg area, Fort De Soto Park is a picturesque area where you’ll find five interconnecting islands along the Gulf of Mexico. Its 1,136 acres of waterfront oasis is the perfect place to take the entire family for a day of enjoying its array of outdoor recreation on offer, where you can enjoy the day in a kayak, explore the scenic trails on two wheels or search the miles of white sand coastline for colorful seashells.
If you’re looking for an indoor activity in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area, visit Great Explorations Children’s Museum. Creativity comes to life at this kid-friendly museum, where play is enhanced through real life, practical learning experiences. Kids can build with various materials and discover their inner architect, learn how to grow vegetables, see themselves on TV on the Live On Air display, or watch live shows with music and dance at the Explorations Theater.
Nature loving families will want to put Caladesi Island State Park on their must-see list, as its full of stunning landscapes along its uncrowded shoreline. One of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast, you’ll feel like you have your own private beach to yourselves. Spend the day swimming in the crystal clear waters, searching for seashells or joining a kayaking or dolphin spotting excursion.
The entire family will enjoy a day at Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg’s oldest living museum that is home to more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. Take a break from the bustle of the city with a day of exploring its four acres of winding paths, where you can admire cascading waterfalls and hidden groves. You’ll marvel at the 100-year-old garden area and have a chance to see some of the oldest tropical plants in the region.
Sand Key Park is a local gem in the Clearwater area, where you’ll find plenty of fun beachside activities the entire family can enjoy. It’s also a great place to search for seashells, particularly conch shells, and you can discover turkey wing shells, lightning whelk shells and keyhole limpet shells along the shore. The park has a family-friendly atmosphere with picnic areas and shelter for shade, in addition to a salt marsh with benches to observe herons.
Have you ever wanted to embark on a pirate cruise? Here’s your chance, as Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise is a favorite with families. Enjoy the scenic views of Clearwater as you search for pods of dolphins frolicking in the waters while the kids participate in a fun-filled treasure hunt, face painting and water gun games. They’ll also hear stories of pirates and join a dance party with the spirited crew on an adventure they won’t soon forget.
A unique activity in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area, take the family to Cypress Breeze to go on a horseback riding excursion along the beach and learn about the area’s native marine life and animals. Take a guided tour through Pinellas Park through the North Skyway Park to a sandbar and wade through Tampa Bay’s serene emerald waters. You can also explore backcountry roads through a scenic trail behind their farm.
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure without all the crowds, head to Weedon Island Preserve. Spanning 3,190 acres, the park is comprised of aquatic and upland ecosystems where the family can spend an afternoon walking through its boardwalks through its tidal flats and mangrove forests. There’s also an educational center where you can learn about the indigenous people who lived on the land for thousands of years.
Considered one of the most important museums in Florida, the Salvador Dali Museum is also a kid-friendly gallery where visitors all ages can appreciate the uniqueness that is Salvador Dali. Let your imagination run wild as you learn all about Surrealism, while the kids can participate in the fun self-guided scavenger hunt to learn about the museum’s highlights while admiring his impressive masterpieces that include oils, watercolors, sketches and sculptures.
Only a 30-minute drive from the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area, Lowry Park Zoo offers family-friendly animal encounters in its 60-acre park. From manatees to tigers, monkeys and rhinos to African elephants, koalas and orangutans, kids will delight in feeding giraffes treats from a feeding plateau and touching stingrays. Hop on the jungle safari ride through the animal exhibits, feed playful goats or watch one of their engaging educational shows.