It’s a Perfect Day on Beach Drive…With the Kids

I’ve got to hand it to Beach Drive — it really does equal an excellent day out with the kids. Our family loves St. Pete’s hub for the finer things. We pretty much hit Beach Drive whenever we want to connect to splendor — be it art or food-based — without having to fly to a major city.

World-class delights are right here in St. Pete. On one road. No need to park and re-park. You’ve got your whole day mapped out right from this spot: spectacular waterfront and a fun trolley to enjoy it from, ridiculously good restaurants (and havens of dessert), and an art museum experience that is nothing short of awesome.

So here’s a quick breakdown on our perfect family day out on Beach Drive:

Express Yourself, Kiddos!
First up, we get our culture on, which means we visit the MFA. If it’s a Saturday, we’ll hit any one of their experiential children’s programs, from Kidding Around Yoga, to Drumming at the MFA (2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month), to Make and Take (1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month). For older kids, or kids who are into art and would enjoy a deeper look at the exhibits, check out the family-friendly docent tour at 11am on Saturdays.

Sidebar: The MFA has a stunning program for adults too, so check it out for your sans-kids time.

We’re keen members of the MFA so on any given day you could find our crew in the beautifully curated kids’ room. There is a regular refresh of materials to reflect the changing exhibits. Honestly, I can’t believe this room is not packed every day — it feels like a secret spot, yet here it is, right on Beach Drive.

Now I’m Ready for Art in my Belly…Like, Right Away Now.
Next up: round one of the feeding frenzy. That means we will debate which Beach Drive restaurant to go to for thirty minutes straight before deciding on the first suggestion, but enough about us. Bella Brava often gets our vote on a family day out, the perfect spot for killer pasta, salads, pizza, and more.

Check out the restaurant page to get clued up on your lunch options. We’ve tried them all, and we love them all. For real. A bad restaurant can’t survive on Beach Drive. (And even though each dining venue offers sumptuous and delicate meals, you can still get the nuggets and fries your little people may be calling for.)

Jeeves, Take Me for a Drive!
Post-lunch, it’s time for a trolley ride around town. We pick up the trolley outside the Parkshore Grill (opposite the MFA) or 50 steps northward outside Moon Under Water/The Birchwood. Let the breeze run through your hair, and sit back a little. The kids are entertained enough by the big sights and bright lights so you can do the 1000-yard stare for a bit. Quick lowdown on the St. Petersburg Trolley: it costs 50c a person, arrives every 15 minutes, takes about 30 minutes; and stops at all the museums and attractions around town…and then brings you right back to Beach Drive.

I Require Delicious Cold Sugar…Please.
Feeding frenzy part two usually includes some kind of frozen dessert for us. We are spoiled for choice when it comes to getting some ice-cold palette refreshment. There are three, yes three dessert dedicants to choose from–Paciugo Gelato & Caffe, Kilwins, and Cassis Bakery–and that’s before you even consider the restaurants and museums which all have fantastic treat options. For those, like me, who need caffeine infusions while the kids scoff down their d-serts, each locale on Beach Drive serves quality coffee too.

Beach Drive’s Lesser Known Tour of Trees.
Time to run it off. We round up our day with a run-around the amazing trees of Beach Drive — all of which nestle close to the MFA. We start at the Kapok tree, on the corner of Beach and 2nd Ave N — opposite Bella Brava. This forgiving tree has limbs of iron and has welcomed many a kid to climb aboard. (Visit in spring and delight in its vibrant red blossoms — a quintessential St. Pete photo opportunity.) The next section of our tree tour is the Banyan twins on the other side of the MFA. It’s a regular stop for St. Pete kids, who love to meander, hide and climb inside of the scores of aerial prop roots that eventually take root and form additional trunks. We love seeing the kids make friends with locals and visitors around these trees — those Banyons make for quite the play hub.

Run up an Appetite at the Waterfront Parks.
If you’ve still got the running spirit in you, Straub Park will indulge. Or, try your chance at catching a glimpse of dolphins and rays feeding out by Vinoy Park. If you are still going by dusk, the twinkly lights will call you back, and you’ll probably be ready for feeding frenzy round three…and a grownup drink or two. Whatever your beverage and food wants, it’s all here for you on Beach Drive, and it’ll be delicious.

Thanks kids. It was such a perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you.

(And then we will get a babysitter and come back for a more refined time to savor and delight. Grownups get to go to these purveyors of evening libations and fine food while looking effortlessly gorgeous in the glow of Beach Drive.)

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Catherine Cheshire

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