We live in Mississippi and we believe that the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. are on the Gulf of Mexico beginning around Ft Walton Beach, Florida, continue around the panhandle and down through the tip of Florida. We would normally visit the beaches in the panhandle because they are closer to home, but in 2010, the year of our 25th wedding anniversary, the Gulf Oil Spill occurred in this area. We just could not trust that this would be the best place to spend our special anniversary.
I found Plaza Beach Resorts on the internet that year and we have been back every year (5 years) at the same time (late May) since and plan to continue this tradition in the future. At this time of year, the water is about 4-5 degrees warmer than in the Florida panhandle and the weather at St. Pete Beach is always perfect. We have only seen rain one time (and only an afternoon shower) during our 5 one-week visits! The beaches are clean and well-kept. We have never seen sea weed, jelly fish or anything else that would keep us from getting in the water. At the time of our visits it is stingray season, but we have never had any issue with them.
On our first visit we stayed beach-side at the Plaza Beach Hotel and loved it! Each of the following years we stayed at either Bay Palms or Bayview that are just across the street on the bay. The rooms are always clean, comfortable and reasonably priced. The owners and management seem to be great people and are always there to help out.
We have stayed in a different room every year except the last two. Each year, we agree we like the room better than the one before. We enjoy having a kitchen where we have breakfast and lunch, but dine at the local restaurants for our dinner meals. A CVS drug store and Publix grocery that have most anything you might need are within close walking distance of the resorts.
Pets are allowed at the two bayside resorts and even though we have yet to bring our dogs with us, we have thought that we might each year. (We make reservations in January for our trip in May just to be sure we can get the room that we want and do not know if we have somewhere suitable for our pets to stay at that time.)
The sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are amazing! We love waking up to the sun rising over the bay each morning, spending the day on the beautiful Gulf beaches, eating the delicious fresh seafood at the local restaurants (most within walking distance), fishing in the bay in the evenings and visiting with other guests. This place is truly magical for us and we dream of about our next visit all year long!