Stay in nautical themed Guy Harvey Outpost on St. Pete Beach and you’ll be on one of the finest stretches of sand you can get to without leaving the USA. This resort is a great tropical break for couples, but even better for families thanks to a long list of activities.
It’s still sunny and warm on St. Pete Beach as we put up this post on December 23. The water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico seldom dips below 70F either, so if you’re hardy enough you can swim in February. If nothing else you can stroll on the sand without being bundled up.
Guy Harvey Outpost is named after the famous painter who depicts fish and other sea creatures and much of his work is on display in the hotel and separate restaurant building. There’s a whole large gift shop with his merchandise. What makes this resort really attractive though is the fact it shares ownership with the Tradewinds two doors down. That’s the most kid-friendly place to stay in the whole Tampa Bay region and guests here have access to all the fun activities at both hotels.
Friendly staffers greet you at reception and equip you with a wrist band. This is not for free-flowing drinks, unfortunately. Each room night levies a $45 resort fee, which includes a long list of activities this bracelet gets you access to at both resorts. That includes a surf simulator, a touch tank with sea creatures like horseshoe crabs and urchins, a giant water slide, s’mores by a fire pit at night, paddleboards, beach games, mini golf, and plenty of supervised kids’ activities on a rotating schedule. During the summer there’s also a floating waterpark just beyond the gentle waves.
That wristband also grants you a beach lounger with a pull-up covering for shade. This is the widest and most attractive part of St. Petersburg Beach so there’s plenty of room between the strollers, the volleyball players, and the beach bar partiers.
That Sandbar beach bar is a large open rectangle with table seating around it. On the other side of the pool is Guy’s Gulfside Grill, serving tried and true favorites (including a kids’ menu) for all three meals. Either is a great place to take in the sunset. There are also outdoor living room set-ups here and at night they have gas fire pits in the middle of each.
The pool here is diminutive for such a large resort, a reminder than some of the buildings have been here for decades, put up when guest expectations were not so grand. That is also evident in the size of the smallest standard rooms, which should be avoided if you can afford to upgrade. They’re well-decorated and comfortable, and even have a kitchenette, but there’s not room for much beyond you and your things.
There are a few dozen different room categories here though and the bulk of the choices are larger with a view and/or balcony. The best options have a direct frontal view of the ocean. The largest ones—including a penthouse suite with a full kitchen and party-sized balcony—have two bedrooms and two baths. All rooms are bright and cheerful, well-maintained, and have Wi-Fi that works well.
Rumfish Grill is one of the top-rated restaurants on the strip and certainly wins for the most dramatic interior. The attractive space is kept dark and menus are lighted tablets in order to let the main attraction shine: a massive 33,500-gallon aquarium that’s one whole wall of the restaurant. Built by the hosts of Animal Planet’s Tanked show, it was featured on one episode. Inside it swim a variety of local fish, rays, and a moray eel. Thankfully the food can keep up with the wow factor of the aquarium. There are a lot of land choices on the menu, but you can get a good seafood fix with conch fritters, spiced blue crab bisque, grilled jerk swordfish, seafood bouillabaisse, and much more.
That building also has an attractive lounge that’s air-conditioned when it’s time to escape the sun and beach. Decorated with a fishing theme and some of Guy Harvey’s work, it’s a clubby space with a good beer and cocktail list for taking in sports games on several big screen TVs.
There’s a staffed kids’ club at the Tradewinds, where mom can drop off the tykes and then escape to a full spa with extensive treatment menu.
Rates can dip below $200 a night before taxes and resort fees in the off season, but figure $350 to $750 during much of the year. Besides the activities mentioned earlier, the resort fee includes parking, tennis, Wi-Fi, yoga/fitness classes, and two bottles of water per day. There are certainly less expensive places to stay on the Gulf Coast of Florida, but it’s hard to find a place that’s this much fun for the whole family all year long.