I have deemed 2014 the year of travel for the Perkins family. We have taken more trips (solo and as a family) this year than any other year since Dave and I were married. Still a couple more after Florida, but you'll just have to wait to hear about those!
I won the trip to St. Pete's Beach, Florida from the Unstoppable Mom contest on the Live with Kelly & Michael Show back in March. I chose to take the trip in September in order to space out our family trips and miss the big crowds since school was back in session. I only had a couple of weeks between Montana and Florida, and as the Florida trip date approached, I wasn't very excited about it. The thought of packing everything and doing another long road trip was wearing me out. But, plans had been made, so I packed.
There was no way Dave and I were taking our 6 toddlers to the beach alone. His mom rode with us in the van and my parents flew to Tampa and met us there. We all had separate rooms at the hotel which was much nicer than in NYC when we were crammed in the same space. We made the drive in just under 16 hours. Like Colorado, we did it all in one day. Unlike Colorado, the kids were about as well behaved as could be expected. The big boys were fully entertained by trucks driving by and the rest were entertained with music and snacks and books. They are only 2, so of course there was whining, but a tolerable amount. The drive home was equivalent to the drive there- a success in my book.
We stayed at the Trade Winds Resort in St. Pete's Beach, FL. They were very accommodating and I highly recommend it for a family vacation. Lots to do for all ages! Being there at the end of September was great. It wasn't crowded at all- we often had the pool to ourselves and plenty of room on the beach and no wait at restaurants. It did rain almost everyday, but only during nap times or the evening, so it never spoiled our plans.
Everyday we did the same thing, but it was perfect! We spent the first part of the morning on the beach then switched to the kiddie pool area. We either had a picnic lunch by the pool or ate in the room and put kids to nap. The kids slept great the whole week. I had intentions of doing activities on my own during naps, but I chose to just relax instead. After naps we either went back to the pool or explored the grounds. There was mini golf, a walking path, pedal boats, and lots of space for chase and hide and seek. The resort had a designated dog play and walk area; it was marked by painted paw prints that looked like Blue's Clues. So, of course we had to play "Blue's Clues" one day by finding all of the "clues" on the path. The kids loved it!
We generally just got food to go and ate in the room, but one night Dave and I had a dinner date, and another night we took the kids to their first real restaurant meal! With 5 adults it wasn't difficult to keep everyone under control, and the kids really did just fine. Dave and I enjoyed our couple of hours away too.
It came as no surprise that everyone loved the pool area. By the end of the week, Caroline and Andrew were jumping to us in the water and floating around on their own (wearing Puddle Jumpers). The beach went fairly well. Caroline loved everything about it- even the 2 story tall inflatable slide! She begged to get on the slide and we eventually gave in and I held her the whole time. Ben loved being buried in the sand- even more than Caroline! Andrew liked the lounge chairs, but we did get him in the water the last day. Allison and Levi varied upon the day, but we did get them in the water before the trip was over. They all loved hunting for seashells and digging in the sand and destroying Daddy's sandcastles. Another big hit was the balcony. They spent lots of time watching for animals (i.e. seagulls, fish, and swans in the pond below our room).
The one thing that was NOT a hit was the elevator. The first time they walked on just fine, looked a little nervous when the door closed, and then completely freaked out when it started moving! I'm talking total meltdowns x 5. Leah was fine as she's used to elevators. A couple of days in everyone had adjusted but Andrew. He would cry the entire time up until the last day and a half. He graduated to quietly whimpering.
All in all we had a great trip!! Definitely plan to do another beach trip in the future- but we'll pick a closer beach :)