St. Pete’s Beach, near St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Mexico, is widely considered one of the best beaches in the U.S. Not only does it offer year-round warm temps, a wide and picture-perfect stretch of soft white sand, and incredible sunset views, but also gobs of lively beachfront bars, seafood restaurants, and water-sports suppliers. Gulf-facing resorts run the gamut here: there are intimate and charming inns, colossal and family-friendly resorts, and good-times budget properties. Take a look at our favorites.
Coconut Inn is a charming beach-cottage property with 11 clean and modern studios and one- and two-bedroom units, all with full kitchens. The mid-range inn features beautifully landscaped grounds, with cozy seating areas, a gazebo, and a small outdoor pool. Coconut Inn lacks features that come standard in larger hotels, such as a restaurant, gym, and business center, but guests can take advantage of its outdoor gas grills, and use the hotel's bicycles and beach chairs for free.
The 10-room Sabal Palms Inn is a quaint, simple inn right across the street from the beautiful white sands of Pass-a-Grille Beach. A low-key alternative to large hotels and resorts found in nearby St. Pete Beach, the property attracts leisure travelers with its friendly and intimate atmosphere. Rooms here are slightly more dated versions of Coconut Inn's; like that property, these studios and suites feature fully equipped kitchenettes and some have shaded balconies. There is a lovely (but tiny) pool surrounded by sun chairs and shaded tables, as well as picnic tables and a barbecue grill available for use. Freebies include use of beach chairs, umbrellas, bikes, and Wi-Fi in the courtyard. Travelers might want to check rates of several comparable inns nearby, such as the Coconut Inn or Inn on the Beach.
Tucked away in the quiet neighborhood of Pass-A-Grille Beach on the southern end of St. Pete Beach, this relaxed and budget-friendly property is located across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. It's not uncommon to see dolphins playing in the surf. The inn's simple rooms and cottages are great for a romantic getaway, or for anyone looking for peace and calm. Unlike Coconut Inn and Sabal Palms Inn, there is no on-site pool here.
The Don CeSar is on the other end of the lodging spectrum from Coconut Inn, Sabal Palms Inn, and Inn on the Beach. As opposed to those small, quiet, and simple vacation spots, this 277-room luxury hotel has an opulent Gatsby-era vibe, lushly landscaped grounds, activities for kids and teens, and excellent service that sets it apart from the majority of hotels in the area. Rooms are modern and bright, with elegant beach-style decor, and there are various suite options -- some with pool and beach views. Room rates are expectedly higher at this property than other nearby resorts, including our first three picks.
The 211-room Guy Harvey Outpost is similar to the Don CeSar in terms of size, family-friendliness, and beachfront location, but the key difference between the two properties is that Don CeSar is a luxury hotel and Guy Harvey is a mid-range resort. It's also worth noting that while Guy Harvey is not as luxurious as Don CeSar, its rates are only marginally lower. Still, the hotel feels fresh and modern, and has fun features like marine-themed decor and a custom 33,500-gallon fish tank created by the stars of Animal Planet’s “Tanked” TV show. The hotel does get a bit loud during holidays and spring break season -- travelers seeking a quiet setting will be happier with the first three places on this list.
The sprawling, 584-room TradeWinds Island Grand Resort has put effort into its grounds and interior, from the palm tree-lined lobby and warmly decorated rooms to the impressive outdoor pond with fountain and covered walkways. The hotel sits on 20 acres of beachfront property and offers a number of water sports, including a giant slide, as well as several dining and entertainment options that are great for families with kids. This upscale resort even packs a bit of a value, as all modern rooms include kitchenettes, but a pesky resort fee is a major downside. A drawback here is that a resort fee is automatically included on all reservations (same for Don CeSar and Guy Harvey Outpost).
Plaza Beach Hotel - Beachfront Resort is a 39-room family-owned and -operated mid-range hotel. It sits on an expansive white-sand beach dotted with palm trees, brightly colored Adirondack chairs, and a few hammocks. The beach is the main draw, but there are also a heated pool, free mini-golf, and a free daily happy hour -- plus fantastic sunset views -- at the beach bar. Rooms haven't much style, and bathrooms feel somewhat cramped, but there are well-equipped kitchenettes in all. Rates are on par with similarly rated hotels in the area, but guests wanting a bigger resort will be happier at the much bigger TradeWinds properties, down the beach.
This 382-room family-friendly resort is one of many large hotels on St. Pete Beach. With direct access to the soft white sand and views of the Gulf of Mexico, the property offers multiple dining options, a large convention center, an iguana rehab center (a popular stop for guests with children), as well as a game room and a fitness center. There are also three outdoor pools (compared to TradeWinds Island's five heated pools, 60-foot blow-up slide on the beach, and 15,750-square-foot Splash Island Water Park in the ocean). Rooms and suites are a blend of modern and dated looks, and some rooms come with kitchenettes and balconies with nice Gulf views.
The 156-room mid-range Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Hotel & Conference Center is right on the Gulf of Mexico, a five-minute drive from the shops along Corey Avenue in St. Pete's Beach. Rooms are modern and fresh, with microwaves and mini-fridges, and some have spectacular views of the bay or gulf. The revolving restaurant on the top floor is popular (as is the beachfront bar), and the expansive events space draws both social events and business gatherings. Grand Plaza Beachfront's outdoor pool is heated and overlooks the beach, but its chairs are tightly spaced. In comparison, Sirata has three pool areas with plenty of shaded lounge chairs.
The 72-room, high-end Kimpton Hotel Zamora is a boutique hotel geared toward adults. Along with a Mediterranean vibe, the property has a seven-slip marina, an elegant restaurant, and a rooftop bar offering views of the Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico. Guest rooms are bright and sophisticated, not beachy, with flat-screen TVs and big, beautiful bathrooms. However, thin walls and insufficient housekeeping are common complaints at this newer property (opened in 2014). A lovely terrace features a beautiful indoor/outdoor pool and a hot tub, but it overlooks the bay, not the beach. Consider another property on this list for quick beach access -- the cross-walk to reach the beach is about a quarter-mile away from the Kimpton.
The 102-room Beachcomber Beach Resort & Hotel is a two-story budget property that draws families and groups of friends looking for a good time. The front exterior is rather nondescript -- except for the extremely crowded parking lot -- but the rear exterior is another story: tropical landscaping, cozy sundecks, pools and fountains, and views of the white-sand beach abound. Jimmy B's Bar is a fun gathering place for locals and tourists, and offers great views and live music. But there is no fitness center or a full-service restaurant, and parts of the hotel are showing age. (By contrast, Kimpton Hotel Zamora has a 24-hour gym, an elegant and excellent restaurant that serves all three meals, and a modern construction.)
The 81-room, mid-range Bon Aire Resort is an old-school St. Pete property opening onto a pristine, white-sand beach and the Gulf of Mexico. The Bon Aire embraces its 1950s vintage with lots of palm trees, shuffleboard courts, and cheery turquoise and white decor. Standard amenities in the clean and cozy rooms include large flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Some units have full kitchens or kitchenettes. There are two outdoor pools and a popular tiki bar, where live steel drum performances are held weekly (Beachcomber usually has live music daily).
Great for hip, young travelers and families, the stylish Postcard Inn On The Beach stands out from area resorts with surfer-chic decor in the rooms and public spaces, and fun extras on the grounds, like a fire pit and arcade games. The 196 rooms have whimsical surfer-stye decor, and prices are reasonable compared to nearby hotels. The beachfront location, on-site dining options, and cool amenities make this property a great choice for both families and groups. But, like the larger resorts on this list (Don CeSar, Guy Harvey Outpost, TradeWinds Island Grand Resort), a resort fee is included on all reservations.
The decor and amenities of this 140-suite property are modest, but so is the price. In-room kitchenettes, a cookout deck with grills, and coin laundry make Alden Suites a good option for families and long-term visitors seeking value. Water-sports rentals (fee) include windsurfing, sailing, jet-skiing, and parasailing. The outdoor space also has a heated pool and 12-person hot tub, but they aren't as nice as Grand Plaza Beachfront's pool overlooking the beach or Sirata's three outdoor pools, which feature plenty of lounge chairs, a fire pit, and a few cabanas.
Dolphin Beach Resort is a 173-room mid-range property situated on the white sands of St. Pete Beach. Similar to Alden Suites, interiors here are aged and in need of an update, though reasonable rates make the resort a good value. The colorful rooms have basic furniture along with modern conveniences such as flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, microwaves, and coffeemakers, though decor is dated and some guests complain of noisy air-conditioning units. Many ground floor rooms have direct access to the beach or pool area -- a perk that is worth the extra cost. Though interiors are lackluster, the grounds of the resort are lovely, with a large pool surrounded by many sun chairs and palm trees and a tiki-style beach bar.