One of the gifts I want to give my son as he grows older is a love for travel. In January, his dad and I took him to California for a long weekend. It was his first flight and he got to see his grandma and grandpa who live out there. The trip went well, so it made me confident we could do it again.

This time around, though, I’d be traveling solo with H as his dad was traveling overseas for work. I thought it might be a good distraction and help him not miss his daddy quite so much. He loved the beach in San Diego so much that I thought another beach adventure might be fun. I decided on Florida, specifically the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. I opted against Orlando because, honestly, the idea of Disney and all the theme parks sounds like my own personal hell.

We survived the flight just fine. Thank goodness for the Kindle loaded with Octonauts and Wild Kratts! Oh, and a giant ziplock bag of snacks.

We stayed in a cute AirBNB apartment across the street from the beach in the Treasure Island area of St. Petersburg. It was great to just walk out the door rather than packing up a car and paying for parking. Of course, the first thing we did when we arrived was head to the beach!

The next few days were spent playing in the sand and surf and checking out the kid-friendly sights in Tampa and the surrounding area. We checked out the Florida Aquarium, Zoo Tampa, Dinosaur World, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (home of Winter, the dolphin from The Dolphin Tale movies), and the Glazer Children’s Museum.

I learn something on every trip I take.  On this trip, I traveled alone with my son for the first time. I also rented a car for the first time. I know that’s probably hard to believe, but I almost always prefer public transit when I travel. But bringing a four year old who needs a car seat meant that my usual Uber wasn’t going to be a great option.

One thing that was interesting to me was that in the area where we stayed, there were tons of hotels but almost no chains. Almost every motel on the strip was an individually owned place, many with plenty of character.  There are a few high rises buildings, but most are just two stories. The result is a cute, little beach town that feels like a great place to relax.

Tampa was a great place for travel with kids. There were tons of things to do – we barely scratched the surface. I enjoyed going the B&B route as opposed to a hotel because not only was it cheaper but it also meant we had a kitchen and could eat breakfast at home each day. There are touristy things all over the place, even places to hold alligators!

In the end, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. While H was certainly not perfect, we had a great time. This mama was definitely exhausted, though, being “on” 24/7 for five days straight. We survived the flight home as well, though H may have set a record for going to the bathroom 4 times in a 3 hour flight (thank goodness the 13 year old girl in our row was a good sport about getting up so much)! We also learned about the unpredictability of Florida weather when we got poured on twice, once while we were on a boat ride to see dolphins.

And you know a trip has been a success when you ask your child if he had fun and he says he wants to come back in September, October, November. Happy vacationing!