Sea Critters Café
2007 Pass-a-Grille Way, St. Petersburg
Sea Critters Café delivers everything you could want from a Floridian dockside restaurant. The walls are a sunny, tropical yellow and blue, seafood is sea-to-plate and always caught that day (if you catch something yourself, they’ll prepare it for you, so long as the fish has been cleaned and filleted). The menu is an easy list of American classics, like lobster rolls and hearty crab cakes. Located on the southernmost tip of Saint Petersburg, the porch hangs right over the dock, which makes for some delightful views of the shoals of catfish swimming below.
Salvador Dalí Museum
1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg
Salvador Dalí is an artist easily appreciated by children. His surrealist works often look like illustrations of a weird, mystical world you might find in a bedtime story. Take a guided tour of the largest Dalí collection outside Europe (audio headsets are complimentary), and afterward, wander through the exhibits. The endless symbols—elephants, ants, and snails being common ones—hidden in his paintings make for a competitive game of I spy with the kids. Café Gala, named for the artist’s wife, serves up small bites or tapas of classic Spanish dishes like tortilla de patata, a type of delicious fried potato cake no one can turn down. Outside, there is an “avant-garden” complete with a hedgerow maze to get intentionally lost in and a mathematical section (Dalí loved dimensional geometry) for the future mathlete.
The Don CeSar
3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Petersburg
The Don CeSar is a flamingo-pink palace masquerading as a hotel. Situated right on St. Pete’s powdery white beach, the building’s blend of Mediterranean-meets-Moorish design wouldn’t look out of place in Morocco or southern Spain. For families, reserving one of the self-catering beachside suites is a good idea—the experience is comparable to moving into your own, gorgeously outfitted house on one of Florida’s prettiest beaches (cerulean water, clean sand that runs through your fingers like fine sugar…it’s beyond). For the kids, it’s nirvana: game rooms, seashell hunts, sandcastle building, even their own all-day camp. The two swimming pools—overlooking that glassy, emerald sea—are as captivating for the adults as they are for children. Once the kids are tucked into bed (with one of the hotel babysitters keeping watch), parents can unwind and grab a drink in the lobby bar.
Fort de Soto Park & Beach
3500 Pinellas Bayway S, St. Petersburg
Aside from endless sunshine and famously impressive orange juice, Florida benefits from an abundance of beautifully maintained parks. Fort de Soto sits on a skinny splinter of land hugged by both the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The park measures over a thousand acres, and the crumbling walls of the fort—built in 1898, during the Spanish-American War—are now home to hundreds of species of birds, and a stellar historical tour. Visitors can kayak, fish, hike, or snooze on the beach to the sound of the lapping waves. North Beach, with its calm tidal pool, is best for smaller kids, and the seven-mile paved trail with views of the water is ideal for a family bike ride.