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Family Vacation in Tampa/St Pete
The greater Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater area is a great place for a family vacation. There are many attractions, activities, and entertainment options for adults and kids alike.
St. Pete/Clearwater Area
Other beaches in northern Pinellas County include Honeymoon Island Beach Park just west of the Dunedin Causeway. The beach here is narrow but runs the length of the island and offers different sections for families, pets, and even a boat launch marina where the ferry to Caladesi Island departs from. The draw here is the wonderful views of the sunset, and the Dunedin Causeway which is a welcome launch point for Jet Skiers and kayakers.
Caladesi Island State Park is a jewel located just north of Clearwater Beach. There are no roads leading to Caladesi, the only approach is by water - by boat, ferry, or kayak. If you venture this way, you more than likely will have most of the beach to yourself - it is spread out and there is plenty of powdery-white sand for everyone. Also, you will find probably the largest assortment of gigantic sea shells on this island - great for the beachcomber in the family.
Another "neighborhood beach" is Howard Park, Dunedin, located just north of Honeymoon Island. This is one of our favorite beaches in the area. Although a smaller sized island beach, the austere beauty is remarkable. Just south of the uber-popular Clearwater Beach is Sand Key - connected by a tall causeway. Sand Key offers more beautiful white sand beaches, big resorts, and some great kayaking opportunities. Check out our article on Kayaking at Sand Key, FL.
Even further south are the wonderful beaches of Pass-A-Grille Beach (view map) and St. Pete Beach. PAss-A-Grille is one of our absolute favorite beaches in Pinellas County. Finally, at the southern end of Pinellas County just prior to Sarasota is Fort de Soto Park (view map). Here you will find pristine beaches (pet friendly, too) with huge areas to explore as well as a preserved old fort, waterways to kayak, abundant kids' playgrounds and a large campground right on the beach!
Summers can get quite hot and humid in the Tampa-St. Pete area. Want to stay indoors? There are plenty of activities that will engage your kids' minds as well as entertain the whole family.
Museums, Aquariums, and Zoos
The Tampa Glazer Children's Museum is due to open up at the end of September 2010 in downtown Tampa.
I bet you haven't heard of the Armed Forces Military Museum located in Largo, FL (official website). Plan on spending about two hours in this incredible local museum. This is not your typical stuffy-boring museum, either! Your kids will love this place as you get to walk right through the exhibits with vehicles and scenes all around you. Start off by walking through a WWI trench (I mean you really get to walk though the trench!) and continue into the Pacific Theater of WWII then progress through the US Military's history in warfare. Dozens and dozens of authentic tanks, trucks, ambulances, and life-sized scenes like the deck of an aircraft carrier and the Sainte Mere-Eglise Church all wait to be explored!
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is a must-see place. This aquarium is conveniently located downtown at Channelside, adjacent the pier where the cruise ships dock and a short trolley ride from Ybor City. The Tampa Aquarium offers a ton of exhibits, interactive displays and a wonderful outdoor mini-water park for kids complete with pirate ship and water canons - an especially popular attraction in the middle of the hot and humid summer!
Another gem that many visitors will miss is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (official website). Not your typical aquarium, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a rescue facility - a place where rescued marine animals are brought for rehabilitation and medical care. While at this facility, they are taught tricks and perform in regularly scheduled shows for visitors. One of our favorites is the dolphin show that is performed several times daily. Also on display are several different species of sea turtles, sting rays, and sharks. The world-famous tail-less dolphin named Winter finds her home at this aquarium where they have outfitted her with a prosthetic limb.
The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa is a famous attraction (official website). This zoo offers tons of unique opportunities such as a chance to feed the giraffes, a kids petting zoo area, and many interactive areas that get you and your kids up close to the animals.
Another wonderful attraction, lesser known, is the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in North Pinellas County (official website). Located in Palm Harbor, this sanctuary gives you the opportunity to watch numerous primates and even help feed them!
St. Pete has a wonderfully exotic Saturday Farmer's Market with curios, fresh produce, handicrafts, gourmet baked goods, and scrumptious prepared food to eat. Check out the official website.
Spring Training Baseball
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