Summer Vacation Ideas – Part 1 Florida’s Gulf Coast
It is almost time for the summer thaw. That time when you pack up the wife and kids (or go it alone or as a couple) and head out for the annual summer vacation. But where do you go this year? Let’s first start with where not to go. International travel is becoming more and more of a hassle and dangerous even next to our own boarders for US citizens. Popular spots like Cancun, Cabo and Acapulco are becoming increasingly dangerous with the drug wars in Mexico. With struggling economies in Greece, France and Europe in general and riots and protests breaking out in the region, your favorite spots may not be accessible. There is South America but countries like Brazil and Argentina are becoming increasingly dangerous to US tourists as well because of anti english sentiments growing.
Now there is Costa Rica and the great beaches, fishing and tropical weather there. But we have a simpler solution where you don’t have to deal with exchange rates, learning another language or going through customs. We may be partial but just about anywhere along the coasts of Florida are great spots to plan your vacation. Follow with us as we take you on a tour of both coasts and spots on interest that will make this vacation memorable.
We start with the West Coast or Gulf side of Florida and take you South past the 1-4 corridor and everything that is typically thought of when you think of Florida and head straight to Tampa / St. Petersburg to Y’Bor city with it’s Cuban, Spanish and Italian influences this is a great place to head to to get the flavor of the tropics in you before heading to the nearby beaches the next day. Visit the historic Columbia restaurant there for the full effect. Y’Bor city is just Northeast of downtown Tampa and offers the advantage of proximity to a number of local attractions.
From there we head to Treasure Island and Sunset beach located just outside of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida.With Miles of beaches on Treasure Island it is easy to find a spot to drop your chair and beach towel and relax and soak up the sun with the sand between your toes. Also if you are traveling without kids the nightlife is convenient after you’re done sunning yourself.
Heading about an hour south we hit Sarasota and one of our favorite beaches Lido Beach. Lido beach offers something for everyone and is convenient to St. Armand’s Circle which has plenty of shopping, dining and beach shops for everyone. You can relax in the sand during the day at the beach and listen to the waves roll in and then head to St. Armands circle for an awesome dinner at Tommy Bahama’s or Columbia restaurant. There is also the Daiquiri Deck if you just want to relax and people watch. For the kids if they get bored Mote aquarium is nearby to see manatees and turtles being nursed back to health to be re-introduced to the wild. If you have a zoo membership there may be a reciprocal discount for your particular zoo as well.
After Sarasota we head further South to the Sanibel / Captiva / Ft.Myers / Bonita Beach area. If you are looking for beautiful beaches and nightlife this one area is the spot to check out. With the Number 1 rated beach in the world Sanibel / Captiva you will be able to find miles of sea shells and sea life to admire while relaxing on powder white sand and take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico’s almost bath tub warm water. You will see tons of wild life like pelicans Osprey, turtles, stingrays and possibly even a shark or dolphin swim by. At Ft. Myers beach there are tons of shops, restaurants and places to get some cool tropical drinks to help you relax in the sun. Ft. Myers Beach itself offers restroom and shower facilities, picnic tables and miles of recently restored and expanded beach area. Time Square is a popular place to grab a bite to eat and relax while people watching and has grown to offer a bit of a Mallory Square (Key West) flavor to it with street performers as well. from here you can head down the coast to Lovers Key. A beautiful area in Bonita Beach that is a state park offering pristine beaches, beautiful unspoiled wetland areas and a nature preserve. This is a beach to go to when you want to get away from it all and just relax. If you want you can go through the main entrance and take the tram to one of the many beach areas offering a snack bar and restroom facilities or you can “rough it” on the northern side and enter a side entrance that allows you to relax on the beaches near the draw bridge.
If we head a bit further south you will come to the Naples / Marco Island area. If upscale luxury is your thing and cost is no object, then this is your area. With unbelievable shopping on 5th Ave. in Naples at night and awesome nightlife the Inn on 5th is the place to stay. From there during the day you can catch a cab or bus and take the short 5 min ride to the Naples pier of Naples beach during the day to get some sand between your toes and catch some rays.The Naples pier offers a great view of the surrounding area and if you are lucky you may see one of the many dolphin swim by the area. The summer “houses” are beautiful and will give you a taste of how the rich and famous live.
Marco Island offers great hotels with pristine beaches, or seasonal rentals right on the water giving you a chance to soak up the sun and grab a drink on the nearby beaches. Much like Naples there is plenty of upscale shopping and nightlife to be had nearby while being just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the area.
So there is a quick tour of the Gulf coasts hottest spots. Next time around we will take Alligator Alley across and head to the East coast or Atlantic side of Florida and head back up the coast going north. There are many places on the southwest side though to help you enjoy your summer vacation and long weekend life.