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Home Travel Guide Travel Guide Topics Family Fun Resorts Grand Resort in St. Petersburg, FL

Grand Resort in St. Petersburg, FL

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Family Fun Resorts
Tradewinds Island Grand Resort

    St. Petersburg, Florida – Moonlight streams across the sandy beach, balmy ocean breezes fan the shore, and we adults settle down for a quiet evening meal. Softly glowing candles set the mood and a watchful waiter makes sure nothing is wanting.
    After a busy day at Busch Gardens with my 11-year-old grandson Logan, it is nice to relax over a leisurely dinner sans children. Nearby, however, Logan is enjoying his own special evening at the KONK (Kids Only, No Kidding) Club for ages 4-11. Dining on pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, ice cream, and pop, Logan and his new friends are getting ready to watch a "dive-in movie," Hook with Robin Williams. Wearing swimming suits, the youngsters will view the show from the comfort of a warm and cozy swimming pool.
    Earlier in the evening, Logan and his buddies hunted for sharks' teeth and doubloons and also listened to the exploits of Red Beard the Pirate. Some of the younger kids had their faces painted.
    A little later back in our rooms, Logan enjoyed a visit from Beaker, the loveable toucan mascot who tucked him in for the night and left a souvenir stuffed animal.
    At Trade Winds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach, you can enjoy the best of both worlds – active children-oriented times interspersed with quiet times with adults. For me, a single adult traveling alone with a child, I enjoyed hearing Logan tell about his fun times at the KONK Club with his new friends, Max from Germany, and Audrey from Ohio. During our weekend stay I saw as many couples with their children as couples without kids. One twilight, we saw a lovely wedding on the beach, followed by a reception at the resort.
    And the price is right for the 6-9 p.m. KONK Club visit, complete with dinner and a variety of activities, it costs $20 per child. When Logan and I met back a few hours later, we had a whole new set of experiences to share.
    TradeWinds Island Resorts is actually three resorts in one – the Island Grand, Sandpiper, and Sirata Beach. The Florida resort is located along 35 acres of sugary white beaches overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It's just a short walk between the three facilities or you can hop aboard the TradeWinds Explorer Shuttle and enjoy the pools, restaurants, and activities offered at each resort.
    We stayed at the 585-room TradeWinds Island Grand. After a morning flight from Indianapolis, check-in was easy and welcoming. Our room had a small kitchenette, which came in handy for snacks, and a balcony overlooking the ocean, a real hit with Logan.
    After we unpacked and found our swimming suits, Logan and I ate at the casual poolside eatery, The Flying Bridge. A floating Florida cracker cottage, the restaurant offers huge servings of fresh seafood and other menu items. For less than $10, you can get a delicious meal and drink along with pleasant waterside scenery.
    While eating, we saw ducks, swans, and other birds come and go, along with occasional paddleboats. With its shuttered windows open for the sun and warm breezes, the restaurant also is a popular spot for a few feathered friends cruising for leftovers.
    At the three resorts you will find more than enough activities to keep couples and families busy. There's golf, fitness centers, miniature golf, shuffleboard, tennis, and a spa as well as five swimming pools, wave runners, parasailing, yacht trips, dolphin cruises, snorkeling, shopping, shelling, gondola rides, water trikes and paddleboats.
    The paddleboats were a big hit with my grandson. Several times a day, we would head for one of the free paddleboats and float slowly around the shaded waterways. Logan enjoyed pedaling and he knew exactly which turn would take us to our next destination.
    The water trikes also were a fun attraction but Logan quickly learned it was easier when two pedaled on these large trikes. The sandy beach offered early morning seashell searches, afternoon sandcastle building, body surfing, and pleasant evening strolls at sunset. We never tired of being on or near the water; especially knowing the weather back home in Indiana was quite cold.
    The resort's executive chef, Jeff Frederickson offers Kids in the Kitchen program that is a sure-fire draw. A natural-born cook, Logan even got up early to meet Chef Jeff and about a half dozen other kids in the kitchen. They stirred and measured, sliced and diced, and created delicious cinnamon rolls and a towering fruit platter, among other things. When I arrived to meet Logan near the end of the cooking session, Chef Jeff was still in good humor, giving each junior cook an added helping of attention plus commending him or her on their cooking efforts. I'm sure this positive experience will have reward- ing effects on these future cooks.
    The TradeWinds Action Zone (TAZ) also offers recreation and activities for guests of all ages. These include aqua aerobics, poolside bingo, sand dollar art, family scavenger hunt, Pilate’s fitness classes, Not-So-Newlywed Game, water volleyball, Time to Cook with the Chef (for adults), arts and crafts projects, and other games and fun activities.
    If you feel like exploring the nearby Tampa area with the kids, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located just eight miles northeast. Then there's the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Native American Center, State Russian Museum, Florida Holocaust Museum, National Armed Services and Law Enforcement Memorial Museum, Salvador Dali Museum, Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts and much more. In addition, we learned that Florida International University's Dr. Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, rates the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area beaches among the top beaches in the nation. Leatherman surveys and rates 650 U.S. beaches each year, check them out at www.topbeaches.com.
    Probably the best way to visit TradeWinds Island Resorts is through one of the seasonal packages offered during the year. For example, "Swashbucklin' by the Sea" starts at $699 for a family of three. It includes four nights/five days’ accommodations at the TradeWinds Island Grand and a Royal Conquest pirate cruise. It also includes Redbeard's Pirate Show, a family Dive-In Movie, pitcher of beer and boatload of shrimp at the Shrimp Shack, TAZ pass for one child, and extra benefits at each resort with an Explorer Value Pass.
    Almost any time of the year, sunny Florida is a natural draw. Our short time there left many warm memories and already Logan and I are yearning to return. Maybe next time, I'll try a spa treatment and Logan will probably head back to the paddleboats. Although soon turning 12, however, he may decide to forgo having Beaker tuck him in at night.

For more information: TradeWinds Island Resorts
(866) 587-8538, www.JustLetGo.com
St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area
Convention & Visitors Bureau
(800) 822-6461

--Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

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