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Sure, people are always giving props to California for its year-round perfect weather, but what about Florida? You know, the sunshine state. Florida may not be known for its dry heat like California, but St. Pete Beach, Florida’s humidified residents can often be seen sporting tank tops and tan lines around the Christmas tree! But to avoid the throngs of holiday-time snowbirds covering the beaches, it’s wise to hit the sand and the Gulf of Mexico’s lusciously warm waters a little early—say, like, now.

In October, daytime temperatures are still in the 80s, while nights rarely dip below 70. Gulf waters usually fall somewhere in the 70s. We love it when dipping into the ocean come October doesn’t qualify as a polar bear plunge! So here are our picks of where to stay in St. Pete Beach for every budget.

The 277-room Loews Don CeSar Hotel (nicknamed “The Pink Castle” by locals, for obvious reasons) is a luxury property located directly on the white sands of St. Pete Beach. Its combination of family-friendly amenities (with activity options for kids and teens), opulent Gatsby-era vibe, lushly landscaped grounds, and excellent service 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. But sunning in the lap of luxury doesn’t come cheap; prices here are (understandably) some of the highest in the area.

Upscale, Family-Friendly, 4-Pearl Pick: TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort

A sprawling, 584-room resort located directly on St. Pete Beach, TradeWinds Island Grand Beach 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 a fountain, and the surrounding 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. Guests with dogs will appreciate the specialized menus, sitter service, play area, and other canine comforts. This upscale resort even packs a bit of a value, as all of the modern rooms include kitchenettes –but a pesky resort fee is a major downside.

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