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A Car-less Family Vacation in Florida with the Help of Hyatt Points

If you are like my spouse (or your spouse is like my spouse), you probably hate renting a car on vacation and driving in an unfamiliar environment. Unfortunately, most tourist destinations in US are not set up for a family that doesn’t have a vehicle. And let’s face it, “car=freedom” notion is very much ingrained in American psyche. I disagree.

Since I was born and raised in Europe, using public transportation/walking  is something that comes naturally. And I’m delighted that more and more US cities are making it easier for families to forego the burden of a car rental (see Nancy’s post on her family’s car-less trip to Denver). But we still have a long way to go in this country.

Come to Florida for your “city” fix!

When you think of vacationing in Florida, you probably don’t equate it with city culture. Most people come here to visit amusement parks or lay on the beach. And it’s a shame because I think St. Petersburg is one of the most underrated walkable  towns in America.

When I crave “city” experience without having to fly anywhere, this is where we go.

Downtown area

Scenic waterfront

St. Petersburg has an unmistakable artistic vibe to it. There are plenty of quirky shops and galleries in the area. A fun fact: Billy Corgan lived in St. Petersburg for a brief period of time after forming his first band (nope, not “The Smashing pumpkins” most people are familiar with). If it was good enough for Billy… and you know the rest. Actually, never mind, Billy is a bit freaky.

For the most part, the city of St. Petersburg is a “couple getaway” material. But I  do think that downtown area is a fun place for kids as well, since there is an old movie theater and various shops to keep them entertained. You can see top things to do on this Trip Advisor page.

While not dirt cheap ($65 per person), this sunset cruise seems like a fun activity for family. If you like flowers, I highly recommend Sunken Gardens, though it’s a bit of a walk from downtown area (over 1 mile, but you can always take a taxi). If you are into art, you may  want to look into visiting The Dali museum. As far as restaurants go, I highly recommend Gratzzi Italian Grille, conveniently located in downtown area. I wouldn’t call it cheap, but food there is sooo yummy, with a creative twist.

Putting together an affordable vacation (car rental not included)

If you are flying Southwest or another major carrier, Tampa International  Airport will be your gateway to St. Petersburg. Fortunately, Uber (my referral link) is available and one-way fare to downtown will be approximately $30 (according to estimates online).

Map courtesy of www.mapquest.com

In under 30 minutes (depending on traffic), you should be in your downtown hotel. But which one? Up until this point there wasn’t really an affordable, points wise, option for families. This has recently changed due to newly built Hyatt Place St. Petersburg/Downtown

The best part? It costs just 5,000 points per night. That’s an amazing bargain. And it’s close to everything: shops, pharmacy, hospital, restaurants etc., no car is needed. Here are the  rates during spring months:

You can fit up to six people in the room, and breakfast is included. Oh, and there is a rooftop pool, which is always nice when you are traveling with kids. I wasn’t really planning on spending few nights in St. Petersburg in 2018, but this is an offer I simply can’t refuse.

Now I just need to decide on whether we should bring the kids with us. The maximizer in me says that I’ll get better value by taking advantage of four complimentary breakfasts rather than two. And breakfast in Hyatt Place is nothing to sneeze at. This is no Holiday Inn Express with its rubber eggs and off-brand, well, everything.  But the mom in me says “Dump the kids with grandma. I need a break!”

If you feel like renting a car for a day, Enterprise has an office downtown, not far from Hyatt Place. There is a lot to do nearby: Clearwater Aquarium, numerous beaches like one in Fort De Soto Park, or crossing the Skyway bridge to visit Sarasota. By renting a car for just one day you will avoid hotel parking fees of $15 per night, so this is definitely the way to go.

How you can acquire Hyatt points

If you have a premium card like Chase Sapphire Preferred,  Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt account on 1:1 basis (more info on the cards here). All these cards pay us commission if you feel inclined to support the site.

You may also want to look into applying for Chase Hyatt Visa. You’ll get 45,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months and adding an authorized user. The annual fee of $75 is not waived. As of now, it’s not subject to 5/24 rule. The card is a keeper for most traveling families due to category 1-4 annual certificate upon renewal.

Obviously, 45,000 points will go a long way when you are redeeming them on a Category 1 Hyatt property, like the one I’ve highlighted above. You may also want to read my post Best category 1 Hyatt redemptions for a family trip in USA

Folks can now refer friends if they have Chase Hyatt Visa and get 10k points per approval. Access your link here Keep in mind that if you do a dummy booking on Hyatt.com, there is sometimes an offer there that comes with $50 statement credit.

Here is my personal referral link  Thanks if you choose to use it!

As always, I only recommend cards that I would consider myself. Both me and my husband have applied for this product within the last few months, so that should tell you something. I also do my best to highlight the very best offers.

Readers, share with me what other category 1 Hyatt properties you personally consider to be a steal!

Click here to view various credit cards and available sign-up bonuses

 

 

Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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12 thoughts on “A Car-less Family Vacation in Florida with the Help of Hyatt Points

    • @Loyd Very true! It is relatively close to Hyatt, according to the map. We are not baseball fans and don’t watch any type of sports, for that matter. Well, there was that one time when Bucs won Super Bowl fifteen years ago. Everyone in the state of Florida was glued to their TV, including my in laws. I’ll never forget my MIL cheering on the Bucs. That was really bizarre!

  1. I love the idea of a St. Petersburg car-less vacation! And wow, that Hyatt Place is a steal on points!

    If I’m traveling by myself with the kids, I don’t like to rent a car. I get lost too easily, and my circus in the back seat is very distracting.

    • @Nancy I was seriously thinking this would be your type of vacation. And yes, trying to navigate with kids screaming around you is no fun. I’m a timid driver, so my husband ends up getting stuck with the rental vehicle.
      I can’t believe this Hyatt is a Cat. 1. I don’t think it will stay that way for long, just too good of a deal.

  2. Neat topic. I love Hyatt hotels and boy what a deal! 5,000 HYatt points or UR transferred from Chase for a $244 room? Whaaaat!!! Insane cpp value.
    I just booked the Hyatt Regency Calgary for 6,000 Hyatt points plus $99 CAD which is about $75 US. It’s a $300 room. And I thought I got a good value.

    What a steal.

    As for rental cars, we mainly use Uber if we are unfamiliar with our surroundings. However we have two rentals coming up for Las Vegas and Orlando.

    • @Natasha Thanks! And for the record, you did get good value on that Calgary Hyatt hotel. As long as points save you real money on a place you like, it’s a win. I do think the Hyatt in St. Petersburg is an incredible value at the moment. The location is great, and there is a lot to do in the area. I doubt it will stay that way. I’ve noticed that new Hyatt properties are often underpriced in terms of points cost.

  3. I thought I would report back on the car rental discussion from an earlier post. I rented a SUV over this Christmas break from Tampa Airport from Hertz using the AA miles I earned from opening the Barclay AAdvantage card. I was nervous about the fees and taxes but it turned out OK. The price was $135 whether a small car or the SUV. So 135 + the 95 annual fee = $230 for a nice big SUV for 8 days. I checked the price if rental at full price with no discounts and it was over $1,300!!
    Thanks for the tip on renting a car just for a day, I HATE paying for parking, especially on top of paying for a rental!
    We went to Tarpon Springs for a day and took the short Sponge diving Tour from Nicholas Tours. Look for the Orange stand selling tickets. Cost was $10 for about 45 minutes. Sit near the back of the boat to better hear the narrator tell all about the different sponges and some history. Very enjoyable, affordable, and not too long. We have been there a few times but never took the tour before this year.
    Thank you for your helpful posts!!

    • @Clyn6 Nice! What a deal on AA miles. Yeah, I thought car rental prices were decent when I checked them, as long as you have AA credit card. I’m glad to hear you didn’t get slammed with various fees.
      I’ve actually never been to Tarpon Springs, but heard it’s a neat area. My MIL grew up in Tampa and has fond memories of it. There is a huge Greek community there, and probably some delicious Greek food. Need to make an effort to visit the place at some point.

  4. Since our kids are older, we try not to rent cars if at all possible (mainly big cities). I hate parking fees, and we would rather take trains/subways/shuttles if possible (Seattle, Vancouver, DC, Boston, Orlando & NYC). We have used Uber many times as well to get around. And any Hyatt hotel for 5,000 points is a steal – definitely book it.

  5. @Stephanie I think Uber has become a game changer in big cities. I know they currently have some serious problems in the company but hopefully, they will correct them. I haven’t tried Lyft yet, so need to do it at some point.
    Yeah, any time we can skip a car rental, we do it. It’s not always feasible, but it sure makes vacation simpler.

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