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Family Vacation in St. Petersburg, FL

Old Jan 9th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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Family Vacation in St. Petersburg, FL

DH and I (mid-30s) are heading to Florida from February 16-22 with our kids (2 & 4), DH's parents (early 60s) and his aunt (70). We are staying at the Trade Winds resort. Planning to take the kids to Busch Gardens one day. Interested in any suggestions/recommendations/tips, etc.
dougieshoney is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2010, 06:11 AM
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I lived in Tampa for 18 years, but that was 10 years ago now, so my advice might be a bit dated. I will try my best though.

Busch Gardens will be excellent for the kids, they have a VERY large kid play area for the kids to run around in and the park is generally centered around younger visitors (different from Universal Studios or Epcot). They will love it. Depending on the mobility of the seniors in your group, they have wheel chairs available. I would highly recommend this (if they are not insulted by the suggestion) as the park is quite big and there is a lot of walking involved. Not to mention the "front of the line perks you get on many of the animal rides.

I stayed at the Trade Winds (a very long time ago) but as I remember it there is plenty to do around the hotel for kids as well, so a couple of days hanging around the hotel would still be entertaining, weather permitting. February is too cold for many native Floridians to be out on the beach so depending on where you are from, it should be uncrowded but a bit chilly for my tastes.

As far as restaurants, there is a Columbia restaurant at the St. Pete pier that would be great for family dining. They specialize in Spanish food and are a Tampa Bay tradition.

I hope this helps!
HeaAndrews is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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Lowery Park Zoo in Tampa is also a great place for kids.

We love Fort Desoto Park near St Pete-the beach there is one of the most beautiful in Florida.
nlg is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Is that the Breckenridge Club at Tradewinds? It does look like a good location and a lot going on there. Curious what you think of it....
blueslipper is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:35 PM
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St Pete is my home and it is a beautiful area with so much to offer. By all means go to Fort DeSoto Park, walk around the old fort and wade on the beach (we Floridians will not be there in Feb as it is winter but most folks from up North think it is fine). I would suggest going to Tarpon Springs and seeing the Sponge Docks eating Greek food (we think the Greek salads from there are the best anywhere). You might want to drive up to Homasassa Springs and see a manatee . John's Pass in Madera Beach and has a board walk and little shops. There are several restaurants that offer a variety of prices for good fresh seafood. The City of St Petersburg has both the Dali and a good fine Arts museum. Drive over the Skyway Bridge the view is terrific and on the other side there is a very nice discount mall in Ellenton or on to Sarasota to Mote Marine or St Armonds Key. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful things so close to us, I know you will enjoy your visit.
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Old Jan 24th, 2010, 08:38 AM
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Excellent advice so far, especially from stpetereb. Only things I can think to add -- there's a nice aquarium in downtown Tampa, which would be a good kid-friendly destination, and not far from Busch Gardens is the Museum of Science and Industry. The latter isn't anywhere as good as the one in Chicago, but is very kid-friendly and decently done.

The kids may or may not like Ybor City or the Henry Plant Museum in Tampa, or the Ringling Museum of Art or Sarasota Classic Car Museum in Sarasota, or Sunken Gardens in St. Pete, but they're all interesting places for adults to visit.

Other good beaches locally include Pass-a-grille, Clearwater Beach, or St. Petersburg Beach.
bachslunch is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2010, 05:46 PM
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Do not go to Ybor City. Over the years, it has gotten worse. It is very dirty and not too safe. A better option would be Channelside.
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Old Jan 27th, 2010, 06:21 PM
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I was last in Ybor City a couple years ago. At the time, it was no dirtier than the New Orleans French Quarter, whose architecture this area resembles a bit. As long as you stay within the confines of the business strip and museums (pretty much confined to 7th, 8th, and 9th Avenue for a stretch of several blocks) and go during the day, you should be fine. Don't wander far off that stretch, though, and approach with a level of street smarts after dark.

Last I was there, there were several restaurants here well worth patronizing (Columbia, Carmine's) and attractions (Ybor City State Museum, La Casita), as well as walking tours one can take.
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Old Jan 28th, 2010, 03:07 AM
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Yes, Columbia is an amazing restaurant!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 07:11 AM
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Thanks for all of the great information! We are staying at the Trade Winds Grand Island Resort and are only renting a car for the one day that we are heading to Busch Gardens. Will public transportation be sufficient the other days?
dougieshoney is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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I would rent a car for the week. If it's raining out and you want to entertain the kids, there are several fun things to do nearby, as stpetereb said, but you need a car to get there.
Plus, that time of year it can be pretty cool (cold to us Floridians) out, so you may want to do more than hang out at the beach.

My grandparents had a timeshare at the Tradewinds they let us use every year. It's a great place for kids, you'll really enjoy staying there. My boys loved the paddle boats, water trikes and swimming in the pools.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 02:43 PM
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Will second sobeachkat on public transportation in this area, which tends to be unreliable even if it exists. Renting a car is pretty much a must, as the beaches, the clutch of attractions in downtown St. Pete, and the spread out area over which Tampa's attractions sprawl make using public transportation pretty much impossible.

If, for example, you were staying at the Vinoy and only wanted to see the attractions in downtown St. Pete (Dali Museum, Museum of Art, Million Dollar Pier, Sunken Gardens, a Rays game at the Tropicana), you could potentially manage without a car if you didn't mind some walking. But all the Gulf beaches would be out of reach, as would be anything in Tampa.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 03:00 PM
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I'm sure you can enjoy a week on the beach at the Tradewinds and one day with car at Busch Gardens but without a car you can pretty much forget about all the other suggestions listed above. If you do decide to get a car:
1) Ft. DeSoto - North Beach - rent a canoe - tandem bikes
2) Within a cab fare away from you hotel go to John's Pass in the evening - will often see dolphins - eat dinner - have a cone - browse the beach shops
3) Pier in downtown St. Pete.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 03:45 PM
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Public transportation is not an option and will limit you greatly. To rent a car is the only way to go. If you have time check out the Sand Pearl Hotel in Clearwater Beach. It is gorgeous and you can have lunch and be by the beach.
JillDavis is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2010, 06:48 PM
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I'm afraid I agree that you must rent a car for the entire time. You will be limited almost entirely to the beach in front of your hotel otherwise.

<Do not go to Ybor City. Over the years, it has gotten worse. It is very dirty and not too safe. A better option would be Channelside.>

There is not one thing to do in Channelside besides the Florida Aquarium. It is not pedestrian friendly, the mall is pitiful, and most of the restaurants are glorified bars. Skip Ybor if you must, but don't make Channelside a destination (other than the Aquarium, which is very nice).

bachslunch is right, Ybor is perfectly safe during the day and has interesting, authentic architecture and ambience. There is nothing there for toddlers, particularly, so I'm not saying it's a great choice for these travelers, but it is not unsafe during daylight and normal evening hours.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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Yep, that is exactly why I recommended Channelside because of the Aquarium. There is also a really nice bowling alley there too, so you would have some fun things to do with the kids at Channelside. Yes, the restaurants are casual but I assume you don't want to eat somewhere fancy with children.

My family member who is a police officer in Tampa has cited many crimes in the Ybor area. So, a safer bet would be to go to the Hyde Park area. It is very nice over there and relatively safe.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 07:43 AM
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There is crime all over the city. Ybor is home to several nightclubs, which I'm sure means there is more crime there than in Hyde Park, which is largely a residential area. I am also sure that a family with toddlers will not be in Ybor after midnight on a Saturday, which is when the problems occur. In fact, as I said, I don't see why a family with toddlers would spend a lot of time in Ybor at all. However, recommending Channelside as an alternative to Ybor makes no sense, so I am writing this more for other travelers who might search for information on the area and come across this thread. There is a vocal group of people who advise avoiding Ybor, based on the fact that years ago there were safety issues in the area that have been addressed. Why do I care? Because Ybor is historic, unique and beautiful, home to many great restaurants, and a slice of Tampa that should not be missed because of baseless fears.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 07:51 AM
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Re Ybor City, it wouldn't at all surprise me if there were crime problems:

--late at night or in the wee hours anywhere in the area.

--outside of the tourist area at any time of day, especially the further away from this area you go, including in outlying parking areas in the evening.

But I'm agreeing with NewbE that Ybor City should fine otherwise -- am not of the opinion that this area is a dangerous pit throughout and at all hours of the day or night.

And we all seem to agree that Ybor City may not necessarily be a draw for toddlers anyway.
bachslunch is offline  
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