Vacation recommendations? - West Florida

Discussion in 'Florida' started by tomoshea, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. tomoshea

    tomoshea Formula Junior

    Dec 29, 2003
    Full Name:
    Tom O'Shea

    Hoping someone on here can provide a few recommendations on places to stay/ visit in west Florida.

    We fly from Ireland on 19th December to Key West and then on to the Bahamas 26th December, arriving back in Miami Friday Jan 2nd.

    We fly back to Ireland from Tampa on January 7th, so we have 5 days/nights yet to organise.

    Thinking of renting a car in Miami and driving the rest of the holiday, did the whole Miami party thing 4 years ago so looking for alternatives.

    I hear Naples/ Clearwater are nice, but have no context/ local knowledge.

    By the time we are back from Bahamas I think we will be all "beached out", but perhaps not...

    Interested in any "unusual" suggestions or local insights on what to do/ where to go for the five days.


  2. FasterIsBetter

    FasterIsBetter F1 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2004
    NoNJ/Jupiter FL
    Full Name:
    Steve W.
    You could always drive up from Miami to Orlando. Plenty of things to do there, and then a short hop to Tampa for the trip home. Or work your way up the west coast -- Naples, Ft. Meyers, Sarasota/Long Boat Key. Or head up the east coast -- Boca, West Palm, Kennedy Space Center, then over to Orlando and across to Tampa.
  3. tomoshea

    tomoshea Formula Junior

    Dec 29, 2003
    Full Name:
    Tom O'Shea
    Should have said we did the whole east coast thing last time around including Orlando. Thx
  4. Scott98

    Scott98 Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 3, 2004
    Weston, FL
    Full Name:
    Siesta Key is very popular near Sarasota/Tampa and also Sanibel Island near Ft Myers. Or go tubing on one of the many springs in Florida:
    That's one I found on a quick search. There are many other places.

  5. Xcheckme

    Xcheckme Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    May 10, 2011
    Tampa Bay
    Full Name:
    Plenty of things to do around Tampa - Beach can be hit or miss that time of the year. Would highly recommend going down the Weekie Wachee river in a Kayak (see website below).....and I can always use an excuse to take someone out on the boat (check google maps for Anclote Key).....

    PM me if you have specific questions and if you need hotel recommendations.

    Weeki Wachee Kayak Rental Florida Paddling Adventures
  6. Cigarzman

    Cigarzman F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 7, 2014
    Sarasota , Florida
    Full Name:
    Tom , I live in Sarasota . It's aprox 55 miles from Tampa. Our beaches are pristine white sand. The best place to stay directly on the beach is the Longboat Key Club. Check it out online and if I can be of any assistance feel free to pm me .
  7. Str8shooter

    Str8shooter Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 31, 2011
    You say you did the east coast so I recommend doing the west coast :)

    Knowing a few more things like who you're traveling with ( kids ). Whether you're looking for action / night life or something relaxing. Do you like being out in nature or going to a theme park. Stuff like that would be a big help in giving some suggestions.

    For example, you could rent that car in Miami and drive old 41 across to Naples. Stop half way and take an air boat ride through the Everglades.

    Spend a couple days in Naples. The dining is nice on Fifth Ave and 3rd street. Stroll out on the Naples Pier to watch the sunset then walk a block to 3rd street for dinner. During the day you can take a tour of the Revs Institute ( Collier Collection ) The Revs Institute and see one of the worlds finest private car collection.

    Sanibel Island is close enough that you could drive there from Naples, see it all, have lunch and then go back to Naples for another pier sunset and then dinner.

    Spend a couple days based in Naples and then head up to Sarasota or Clearwater on your way to Tampa.

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ

    Jan 11, 2008
    Full Name:
    We stayed at LBKC last July. Great place fantastic uncrowded beach.
  9. italiafan

    italiafan F1 World Champ

    Jul 19, 2006
    Full Name:
    Stickbones Swagglesmith
    Longboat is beautiful.
    Anna Mari, just north of Longboat in Bradenton, has a more quaint old Florida feel.
    Can't miss with Siesta Key as well.

    Captiva and Sannibel are very nice outside of Ft Myers.
    If "beached out" then would spend time in Orlando. Universal has expanded the Harry Potter stuff, pretty impressive. In between Tampa and Orlando is an amazing airplane museum...blanking on the name at the moment, haven't been yet myself but have heard very positive things.
  10. Rosso328

    Rosso328 F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 11, 2006
    Central FL
    Full Name:
    Fantasy Of Flight.

    Sadly, as of a few months ago they are closed. They now do private events only. Shame, really. I got to fly an old Stearman biplane there a couple of years ago.
  11. Nativetroy

    Nativetroy F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 29, 2010
    central fl
    Full Name:
    North of Tampa will give you a different feel of Florida. Kayaking the Weeki Watchee is really fun, and there's a almost guaranteed chance you'll see some manatees. Or Crystal River. Weather will vary, it could be warm, cool, or cold. But it makes the rivers less crowded. Lots of good seafood of you like that.
    Tampa has a few parks, lots to see and do also. Your best bet might be renting a car and just exploring.
  12. Mark(study)

    Mark(study) F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 13, 2001
    Clearwater, FL
    Full Name:
    A little about Clearwater/Tampa

    I spend a lot of time on both Sarasota and Clearwater Beach... if you still want any beach time- Clearwater Beach has the softest white sand I have ever found. They call it "flour sand" as its almost as soft and white as sifted flour. What also nice, is it doesn't got hot as the extra white color reflect heat better than other beaches. Walking north on the beach, you quickly get to wide unpopulated stretches of beach that go on for miles.

    Sarasota is fun because of St Armins Circle, a nice shopping and restaurant development less then a half mile from the beach (walking distance).

    Clearwater also has a nice military museum (actually located in Largo, FL which is next town south of Clw)... and a local aquarium that gets a lot of news coverage because of Dolphin Tail 2 (a movie coming out soon that was filmed there) and follows the story of a dolphin who has been rescued (and fitted with a prosthetic tail) who now lives at the Clearwater Aquarium.

    Tampa has Bush Gardens which is nice park (thrill rides and African animal exhibits), and Tampa has another bigger Aquarium. Tarpon Springs just north of Clearwater has an interesting "old world" Greek Sponge dock that still functions and has shops and restaurants.

    St Pete has a neat beach/park called-n Fort Desoto, a beautiful beach and state park with mangrove bays for canoeing (saw a manatee last time I went, he came up and nibbled at my fingers)... and you can tour an old 1800's fort that is massive, and protects the mouth of the bay in front of the Skyway bridge.
  13. RP

    RP F1 World Champ

    Feb 9, 2005
    Bocahuahua, Florxico
    Full Name:
    Tone Def
    I would recommend Sanibel/Captiva Islands in southwest Florida, just off of Ft. Meyers. Sure there is a beach, but in the right hotel, it is a great place to simple relax.

    If you go there, we suggest you contact the Waterside Inn. What makes it interesting, they have cabins right on the beach. You drive your car to the front door of your full equipped cabin. I think it is Blueberry that is most directly on the beach. There is also a two story building, the extreme two end units overlook the very quiet beach. Again, fully equipped with kitchens.

    When the Mrs. and I go there, we buy our supplies, and never leave our quarters. Sure, we do wander out to the beach early for shells, and late for the sunset, but we grill, use the pool, get intimate, and chill.

    The only problem may be many of the "tenants" are British.

    No matter where, have fun!
  14. tomoshea

    tomoshea Formula Junior

    Dec 29, 2003
    Full Name:
    Tom O'Shea
    Thanks guys for all of your suggestions.

    It is only the 2 of us heading there, no kids - so evening / nightlife very much on the cards.

    We will do a bit of research based on your suggestions above, I may be back to a few of you for a few more details/ recommendations.

    Thanks for taking the time.


  15. craterface

    craterface Formula Junior

    Apr 14, 2011
    Sanibel Island, FL
    I live on Sanibel year round, and I agree on the Waterside Inn. Very pretty part of the beach. Ride bikes, relax, wlak the beach.

    The restaurants to hit are Sweet Melissa's, Il Tesoro, and go have a drink on the beach at the Mucky Duck on Captiva.

    I would definintely spend a night in Naples also. You wife can shop while you go the Collier Collection (aka Revs Institute). Sea Salt and Campiello's are great dining choices there.

    I prefer Sarasota to the Tampa area. Columbia on St Armands is a fun Cuban restaurant (actaully a small chain in FL). Tampa Bay is a major metro area. Bern's steakhouse there is a destination for many.


  16. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ

    Jan 11, 2008
    Full Name:
    Now that The Revs Institute is open to the public it should be on every car nut's must do list.
  17. DrDon

    DrDon F1 Rookie

    Jul 11, 2012
    Full Name:
    Armando Decredenza
    What are your plans in the Bahamas?

    I live there, but won't be there at that time in December.

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