St. Petersburg, also known as the Sunshine City, offers pleasant weather, exquisite beaches, access to Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and plenty of family-friendly activities. From your downtown waterfront St. Petersburg vacation rental you can walk to the Dali Museum, Great Explorations children’s museum, or the Museum of Fine Arts. All across the city and up and down the beaches on the gulf coast, this part of Florida features adventures for families with kids. Pirate themes from cruises to miniature golf bring the fantasy alive for your little buccaneers in fun-filled play. Whether you want to include swimming with horses, parasailing, or snorkeling in a restaurant, here’s a list of the top 12 things to do with kids in St. Petersburg.

1. Swim With the Horses in Tampa Bay

Whatever level of horseback riding experience you and your kids enjoy, Cypress Breeze Farm offers an opportunity to experience horseback riding. The hour-long guided beach tour includes riding along the beach, wading in Tampa Bay, and swimming with the horses. The horses go out over a half-mile into the bay to a sandbar, which your family can explore before remounting the horses for the swim back to shore. Cypress Breeze also offers comparable guided trail rides for those who prefer dry land.

2. Stroll Through the Sunken Gardens

You can shake loose those tangled nerves in downtown St. Petersburg where world-class museums, fine arts, entertainment, and family-oriented activities help you reconnect with your loved ones. If you want to show your kids how to find tranquility, look for it in the city’s oldest living museum, the Sunken Gardens. Walking and relaxing among exotic plants, tropical landscapes, and dancing waterfalls can help generate calm and relaxed feelings.

3. Ride a Jet Ski

A great place to chill out with the family is Isla del Sol, a barrier island just off the southwestern tip of St. Petersburg. The Fort De Soto Park, about five miles to the south, includes paved and paddling trails for bikes and kayaks. The Fort De Soto Dog Beach allows Fido to kick up his paws off-leash and get in some beach time with his pals. When you’re ready to kick up your heels, head back to St. Pete Beach where you can take the kids riding on a jet ski for some wet and wild escapades. A perfect way to close such a busy day is to stage a casual cookout on your deck and watch the sun go down.

4. Explore the Children’s Museum

Making time to sprinkle in some educational activities with vacation fun is easy when you join a walking tour along the brick streets in the historic Old Northeast neighborhood. It’s a chance to show the kids some art museums and the farmer’s market. Later, you can head over to Great Explorations children’s museum, where the kids can play a life-sized game of operation in the medical area, treat stuffed animals in the veterinary clinic, shop in the kid-sized market, make some messes in the art and science exhibits, and much more.

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5. Snorkel in a Restaurant

You can expect the kids to talk about swimming in the 33,500-gallon aquarium with the fishes at Rumfish Grill for a long time. The aquarium fills an entire wall of the restaurant’s dining room. Swimmers who are ages eight and up can snorkel among the inhabitants of the tank, including a nurse shark, a green moray eel, and over 30 species of fish. The restaurant, located at St. Pete Beach, serves lunch and dinner, featuring pasta, meat, and poultry.

6. Take a Field Trip in Weedon Island Preserve

Your northeast St. Petersburg vacation rental puts you close to Weedon Island Preserve, the 3,190-acre nature preserve that juts out into Old Tampa Bay. You can explore the aquatic habitats in rented kayaks or canoes. If you prefer hiking, you can check out a backpack at the Education Center. The backpacks include maps to boardwalks and trails, field guides for identifying native plants and animals and suggested activities.

7. Hitch a Ride on a Parasail

St. Petersburg stretches east-to-west from Tampa Bay to Boca Ciega Bay, about 10 miles to where you can cross the Bay Way to St. Pete Beach. You can surf, swim, and build sand castles with the kids all day where the beaches are white and the water is blue. If you want to change the pace, try a tandem flight with one or two of the kids under a smiley-face parachute with Suncoast Watersports or Paradise Parasail. Your flight takes you up to 500 feet high and features some breathtaking views of the coastline and the Gulf of Mexico.

8. Count the Dolphins

Just picture enjoying dinner with your family on the deck of your St. Petersburg vacation rental while watching dolphins swim and jump in Tampa Bay. You can play a game with the little kids to see who can count the most dolphins or the most boats. If anyone wants to go fishing, it’s easy to show the kids how to cast a line from your backyard, relax in your lawn chair, and watch their excitement when one of them feels that first fish tug the line.

9. Sail on Lake Maggiore

When the kids need to let off some steam, you can turn them loose on the playground at Lake Maggiore Park. If they’re a bit too mature for the playground, they can accompany you walking the wilderness area paths. You can launch a canoe, kayak, or boat at the boat ramp and paddle or sail around the lake followed by a picnic in one of the picnic areas.

10. Pose for a Photo with Peg-legged Bucky

If you take a five-minute drive across the Treasure Island Causeway to Community Center Park, you can reach the island’s giant mascot, Peg-legged Bucky. He stands 20-feet tall and waves his cutlass above his treasure chest, making a memorable backdrop for a family photo. The real treasure for your kids on this island includes parks with trails for walking, skateboarding, and swimming. Triangle Park features playground equipment for the kids, and Roselli Park includes a playground, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, trails, and picnic tables.

11. Play Miniature Golf

Immerse your family in an exciting pirate adventure when you take them for 18 holes of putt-putt at Smuggler’s Cove Miniature Golf Course at Madeira Beach, about 10 minutes west of St. Petersburg. Imagine how thrilling it is the lead the kids through caves and negotiate shots past colorful, lighted waterfalls. On part of the course, you navigate your way through a pirate ship. Before it’s over your family encounters 20 to 30 real, live alligators. To top off the experience, the kids can feed the alligators using cane fishing poles.

12. Look for Treasure on a Pirate Cruise

A special treat for the kids, the crew of Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise engages guests in dancing and playing pirate games during a two-hour voyage aboard Pirates Ransom. The kids dress up as swashbucklers, learn to talk like pirates, hunt for treasure, and get face paint tattoos and scars. Water gun escapades figure into the hilarious pirate shenanigans, so expect to get wet. While you party with the pirates and scan the horizon for dolphins, you can count on the crew to fill your goblets with grog. In landlubber’s terms, that means complimentary lemonade, soft drinks, beer, and wine. The cruise sails from Clearwater Beach, a scenic drive along the barrier islands, less than 15 miles north of St. Pete Beach.

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