• By: Anne Dion

Here Comes The Sun: Your Next Winter Getaway

Photos by Anne Dion

Spring might be coming but it’s still cold and grey in the Great White North. If you’re like us and would rather be planning a vacation than putting salt on your driveway, then you’re in luck — Ottawa Life has the perfect getaway for you and your family!

We all know that Florida is the iconic destination for Snowbirds, but St Pete Beach (located on the west coast of the state) is the most underrated stretch of perfect sand in North America. Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, St Pete was recently named the 3rd best beach in America by USA Today and Travel Leisure — and with good reason. Thanks to the West Coast current, St. Pete never experiences beach erosion! Instead, the waves bring fine sand with them and the beach gains acreage over time instead of losing it. This makes it a wader’s paradise, perfect for the young and old!

The Sirata Beach Resort is located on the beachfront, and is currently undergoing a $15 million facelift. The 2018 renovations (led by the award-winning architectural and design firm, EOA Group) are redesigning the 382 rooms and suites, pools and beachfront oasis, and adding a Kid’s Splash Zone, private cabanas, and a hanging chair garden. It’s also going to be upgrading its dining options as well as their conferences and events space. Hello beach wedding!

The new design will be coastal casual, with a series of nautical blues, casual whites, and yellow. The simple elegance and sunny skies will have you in the perfect headspace for a beach vacation.

Sirata Beach Resort is unique because it’s literally on the beach! You’re always only steps away from the sand, and if relaxation is what you’re after, then you’ll love the resort’s dining options. Harry’s Beach Bar is known as the #1 local hangout, and the renovation will be bringing you more open-air bar space, right between the beach and pool.

The area of St. Pete is known as the Sunset Capital, and with very good reason! Rum Runner’s is Sirata’s beachfront restaurant and is the absolute best spot to watch the sun go down — after the renovation, Rum Runner’s will be an open lounge area right on the sand, with fire pits, adirondack chairs, and games! While we were there, Ottawa Life had the chance to try out the Rum Runner’s new menu, and we can tell you that it’s a seafood-lover’s heaven!

We also got to try out a dolphin boat tour thanks to Suncoast Tours! Just book your spot, stroll down to the beach, and hop on board — you’ll sail down the peninsula to Pass-a-grille and stop off at Sand Dollar Island. Enjoy the breeze and look out for bottle-nose dolphins on your way there and back!

One of the many things that makes Sirata Beach Resort such a brilliant destination is it’s immersion in St. Pete’s culture. The welcoming city of St. Pete is home to a vibrant community, with museums, shops, craft breweries, and art. You might come for the beach but you’ll stay for the people. The Resort’s renovation plan includes considerable influence from local artists, turning your beachfront getaway into a cultural affair! Soak yourself in all the sand, sun, and relaxing fun that Florida has to offer.

 If you’re looking for some extra family fun, or simply want to enhance your experience, then you’ll definitely want to venture North to Clearwater. Only a 20 minute drive away, Clearwater is home to the famous Dali Museum, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and a refreshing cultural scene! Picture Montreal’s murals with Toronto’s trends, and add in a few palm trees.

Combine education with enjoyment by visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium! The rescue, rehabilitation, and release facility is a not-for-profit that does amazing work for the sea life around Clearwater. You can visit the dolphins, tortoises, sea turtles, otters, and more! The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is also the location for Dolphin Tale 2! Take your family to visit the movie’s star, Winter, a permanent resident at the Aquarium.

If art is more your scene, then the Dali Museum is a must-see. With incredible architecture, fascinating exhibitions, and even a virtual reality experience, the Museum makes for the perfect day trip!

 It’s never too early to start planning your next getaway. And though spring is around the corner, we’ll all be wishing for some sun when winter comes around again. So why not make sure that a spectacular, newly renovated resort is waiting to welcome you when it d