The new St. Pete Pier was designed with families and kids in mind. From little ones to pre-teens and beyond, children are be able to engage in a wide array of activities that are sure to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Whether it’s frolicking on a fun splash pad, biking the beautiful grounds, getting wet and sandy at the beach or learning about Tampa Bay’s unique marine life, the Pier is the do-it-all destination that provides all-day fun and adventure.
Here is a primer on ways for parents to get the most out of taking their children to St. Pete’s 26-acre playground.
Let the Children Play
Not far from the Pier entrance parents will encounter the Glazer Children Playground, an ideal place for families with young ones to get their Pier experience started. The Glazer Family Playground is a big, colorful playground was conceived by one of North America’s premier playground designers. The children will be able to burn off energy, play with their friends and have loads of fun on slides, swings, climbing structures, obstacle courses, activity nodes and more!
Get ‘Em Wet
Keep the kiddies cool – and tire them out in the process. At the Pier Plaza, visitors will find an interactive water feature that is both a fountain and a splash pad, with big and small vertical water jets. On warm days — and there are quite a few in this part of Florida! — the area is populated with frolicking youngsters. Of course, parents and grandparents are welcome, too. After a good soaking, visitors will be able to retire to the adjacent Bayfront Health Tilted Lawn to dry-off under the sun and catch a breath. Nearby shade trees are in abundance, along with a covered pavilion to enjoy snacks and cold drinks.
Head to the Beach
Families will be able to add a beach excursion into a day at the Pier. The new Spa Beach has been expanded and will feature a natural shoreline. If you’re a visitor staying downtown, and the kids are clamoring for a little sand and sun, here’s the convenient answer. In case refreshments are called for, the Pavilion Cafe will be just a short walk away.
Lay Out a Picnic
Kids gotta eat, right? And so do the adults. While there will be plenty of places to purchase food at the Pier, sometimes you’d rather bring along your own stuff. The Bioswale — an eco-friendly pond — is its own green mini-park, with lots of grass, trees, and a small pond. The Bioswale will offer plenty of picnic tables and Adirondack chairs. And, of course, there’s always that old standby: the picnic blanket.
Break Out the Bikes
Is there anything cuter than a helmet-wearing 4-year-old steering a tiny bicycle with training wheels, as a parent dutifully runs alongside within arm’s reach? Or perhaps the youngsters are a little older and are now riding along with mom and dad. Regardless of a child’s age or skill, the Pier will be a terrific place for bike rides. The Walking Waterfront, a continuous sidewalk on the Pier’s periphery, and the Coastal Thicket, a heavily shaded oasis of native Florida plants and trees, make for relaxing, scenic excursions. Bicyclers should be mindful that they will be sharing these passageways with pedestrians.
Teach Your Children
Kids will be to learn about marine life and our local environment at the Discovery Center, which is run by Tampa Bay Watch, a highly respected nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of Tampa Bay waters. The group will hold educational programs in an interactive classroom and at an open-air Wet Classroom bordered by walkways and railings, and including a bleacher-style observation deck. The Discovery Center will offer field trips for school kids and parents with youngsters in tow are advised to make it an essential part of their Pier visit.
Drop a Line
The Pier will feature a fishing platform built on caissons left from the previous “inverted pyramid” pier, letting you get close to the water and wet a line. It will be a spacious deck that holds a large number of anglers engaging in one of St. Pete’s favorite pastimes. Families will be able to bring along their own rods, reels and gear, or buy necessities at the adjacent Gator Jim’s Tackle. There’s a good chance that youngsters will reel one (or more) in.
All parents know the sound of little ones complaining that they’re tiiiiiiired. They might even fall to the ground, unable to take another step. It’s cute — but only when you look back on it. The Pier facility has gone the extra mile so parents can minimize collapsing child syndrome. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Trams will traverse the grounds with stops strategically placed along the way. This allows children to spend more energy having fun than traipsing from place to place and breaking into a chorus of complaints. You’re welcome, parents!
- ‘Myth’ by Nathan Mabry
- Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro
- St. Petersburg Museum of History
- The Marketplace
- Family Park
- ‘Bending Arc’ by Janet Echelman
- St. Petersburg Municipal Marina
- Glazer Family Playground
- Spa Beach Park
- Spa Beach
- Spa Beach Bistro
- Splash Pad
- Pier Plaza
- Cultural Grove
- ‘Morning Stars’ by Xenobia Bailey
- Benoist Centennial Plaza featuring the World’s First Airline Monument
- Courtesy Docks
- Bayfront Health Tilted Lawn
- St. Pete Pier Operations Offices
- Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille
- Coastal Thicket
- Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center
- ‘Olnetopia’ by Nick Ervinck
- The Great Lawn
- Rooftop – Pier TeakiLevel 4 – TeakLevel 2 – Driftwood CafeLevel 1 – Pier Gear & Gifts + Gator Jim’s Tackle
- Fishing Deck
- The Point
- Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Tram Stops
- Parking Lots
Oct. 9-10, St. Pete Pier Fall Festival
The Pier will hum with a weekend of family-friendly activities, including entertainment, food trucks, a variety of vendors, a pumpkin patch and more. The event is free. With any luck, it just might be sweater weather. The fun takes place at Family Park.
Oct. 9-25, St. Pete Pier Pumpkin Patch
Enjoy classic fall fun from Saturday the 9th at Family Park. The Pumpkin Patch, one of the largest in the Bay area, will be held beneath the beautiful, flowing Bending Arc sculpture, and feature hay bales, autumn-themed refreshments, a photo booth and, of course, thousands of prime pumpkins. Buy one, take it home and carve it up. Operating hours vary.
Nov. 13, Gulp Coast Beer at the Pier
The Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail, which guides visitors through 44 craft breweries in Pinellas County, has become one of our area’s popular endeavors. This one-day, one-location event eliminates the travel — those rideshare fares can really add up — and gives you a wide-ranging overview of the local craft beer scene. More than 20 local breweries are expected to participate. The event will be held at Family Park.