When we ran down the best St. Petersburg Beach hotels before, we highlighted resorts that cater to different crowds with different needs. If you’re looking for the top family resort on St. Pete Beach in Florida, there’s a clear winner on that front: TradeWinds Island Grand Resort.
Although I lived in the Tampa Bay area for years and it’s still my U.S. base sometimes, I had only been to the Tradewinds sister property, RumFish Resort, which is a five-minute beach walk away. That’s a good family choice too, with plenty of activities for the kids, but when the kids look down the beach and see the giant slide at this place, they’re probably going to want to use TradeWinds’ shared facilities. My daughter is 20 now, but I took her along knowing she’d still want to go down that slide.
She did, though only once because it was February and the water was kind of cold. The younger kids didn’t care though and I saw some of them keep running around, climbing, and sliding down again for a dozen trips. They were also loving the mini-golf course, the paddleboats, the pool, the beach, and the ice cream shop. When the water warms up, TradeWinds Island Resort also has a wet water park out in the Gulf of Mexico itself, slides and inflatable climbing attractions anchored to the ocean floor.
Don’t assume the kids get to have all the fun though. This St. Pete beach resort takes care of the adults just as well, with fun bars, a variety of restaurants, hammocks, beach chairs, fire pits, and adult-only pools for less noisy lounging.
Fun Times at the Top Family Resort on St. Pete Beach
It’s often hard to find a sprawling beach resort in the USA that has lots of land and a long stretch of beachfront. Real estate is just too expensive in most areas to build anything like that from scratch now unless it’s a very luxurious property with eye-popping nightly rates. Those developers who got in decades ago (or more) in Florida, before the area took off, were pioneers at the time and could pick up big plots for reasonable prices.
We’ve covered a few of these in the past, like South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island a couple hours south of here. TradeWinds is another that might make you feel like you’re in Mexico or the Caribbean with its spaciousness and sprawling rows of beachfront lounge chairs. There was no fear that we would have trouble finding our spot on the beach. Cushioned lounge chairs with a retractable sun shade are ample unless the resort hits full capacity.
There are three full swimming pools on site in different areas, plus a kiddie pool, a covered pool, and a few whirlpools. You also have access to the two at sister property RumFish, including one adults-only pool at each resort. None of them are huge, but during our visit, only the family one had all the lounge chairs occupied and that was only in the hottest part of the day.
From any of the pools, you’re steps away from food and drink options. There are also hammocks strung around the property so you can truly feel like you’re on a relaxed vacation.
As mentioned before, there’s plenty to do here besides lounging around though. Putt-putt, paddleboats, ping-pong, a game room, volleyball, the giant slide, s’mores by the fire pits, and scheduled activities ensure you and the little ones will have options each day. “Dive-in movies” will return to the main pool later, when an inflatable screen is set up next to it, once it’s safe to have big gatherings again.
TradeWinds Resort Food and Drink
The St. Pete Beach is a very wide one, so you’ll get some exercise going back to your room, the bar, or a restaurant when you need refreshment. Many of the return guests we saw who had the hang of things did a cooler by day at the beach chair, resort orders after sundown after a shower and a change of clothes.
There’s a nice mix of dining options at TradeWinds, from super-casual to fine dining, with plenty more up and down the strip nearby. You can even charge to your room at Rumfish Grill at the sister property, with its giant aquarium along one whole side of the building. You’ve got coffee and ice cream, pizza, a small deli, and a sort of seafood beach shack set-up by the main pool. Then at night, there’s Palm Court Italian Grill to get a little more dressed up for.
We had an excellent dinner at Palm Court, with attentive service and some tantalizing Italian food. After starting out with a pizza and some Chianti, we ordered a chicken pasta dish, one with shrimp and scallops, and then a decadent chocolate dessert to share.
Salty’s Tiki Bar is right by the sand, with cloth coverings and palm trees providing some shade for the lounge furniture and an actual bar to belly up to that’s also shaded. At night this is a favored spot when the gas fire pits are on. Other bars are by two of the other pools and in the lobby area, so you never have to go very far for a drink.
TradeWinds St. Pete injects a sense of adventure into a lot of what they do and that extends to the bars. They offer a TradeWinds Bar Crawl program where you have a passport to get stamped at five different drinking locations. Get all five stamps and you score a t-shirt. They also have a Tour & Tapas wine tour program where you carry your (acrylic) wine glass to five locations for tastings accompanied by some tapas.
Tampa Bay has a robust craft beer brewing scene, with around 70 breweries in the metro area. This resort is a supporter of the local scene, with taps devoted to 3 Daughters, Cigar City, St. Pete Brewing, and JDubs out of Sarasota.
Rooms at TradeWinds Island Grand
Since this beach resort sprawls over several buildings, it’s best to devote a bit of time looking at the room options to decide what makes sense. Some have a traditional hotel room layout that’s fine for couples, but others are suites with an extra bed, family suites, or ones with a terrace that opens onto the beach or a swimming pool.
Thanks to the long stretch of beachfront this St. Pete beach resort occupies, most rooms have at least a partial view of the ocean. The most direct views are from the building behind the adult pool and bar, but there’s also a long stretch of them in the same building as the lobby. Others are just steps from a pool.
The rooms are nautical, bright, and colorful after several rounds of renovations over the years. The WiFi worked well and there were ample places for both of us to charge our gadgets. The smallest are 250 square feet, but other larger ones have whirlpool tubs, kitchens, and multiple bedrooms. There are also some pet-friendly options with tile instead of carpeting.
This is a full-blown beach resort that has more to offer families than any other beachfront property in the Tampa Bay region. Expect to spend at least $200 in the slow months, more than $300 if it’s spring break or a holiday weekend–plus taxes and a resort fee.
While the annoying resort fee add-on is an epidemic in this area, at least TradeWinds Island Grand really gives you extra experiences for that extra fee. The $45 per night is actually a good value here if you take advantage of it. The fee includes parking, tennis courts, campfire s’mores, the giant slide, a surf simulator at RumFish, paddleboats, mini-golf, and activities like yoga classes.
Editor Tim Leffel was hosted at TradeWinds Island Grand for purposes of review. As always, all opinions are our own.