Top Things to Do With Kids at The Pier
The new St. Pete Pier was designed with families and kids in mind. From little ones to pre-teens and beyond, children will 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 will be a 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 Family Park/Kids Play Area, an ideal place for families with young ones to get their Pier experience started. This 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 will be 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 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. 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!