I recently got an email from Alexandre in Brazil, who's planning a trip to Florida's West Coast next month with his family. His itinerary was so thorough that I asked for his permission to share it here on the blog. You may be able to use it on your own trip. And if you have additional suggestions for Alexandre, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
How are you? I thought you, as a Florida specialist, could help me planning a trip for my family. We are eight adults and two kids (one is 3 years old, and the other 7 months old). The idea is to spend six days at the gulf side of the state.
What do you think about this itinerary? Did I choose good places to visit and to sleep? What do you suggest?
Dalia's note: Sounds good. Busch Gardens offers something for everyone. Bring a bathing suit for the three-year-old, in case it's warm enough to splash around in the kids' area.
Whole day in Clearwater: beaches (Fort De Soto, Caladesi Island, Sand Key beach, Shell Key and Clearwater Beach), Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Pier 60.
Dalia's note: Sounds like a jam-packed day! Clearwater Beach offers lots of activities and water sports. The other beaches on your list are more laid-back. It all depends what you're in the mood for. Pier 60 is a great place to end the day, with its nightly Sunsets at Pier 60 free festival. And be sure to visit Winter the dolphin, star of the family-friendly movie Dolphin Tale, at the aquarium.
Whole day in St. Petersburg: Central Avenue, Beach Drive, Dali Museum, Holocaust Museum, Pier, John's Pass Village and boardwalk. Sleep third night in Clearwater.
Dalia's note: Another jam-packed day! Downtown St. Petersburg is a great walking town with lots of great restaurants. At the Pier, consider grabbing lunch or dinner at the Columbia Restaurant for authentic Florida food and a great view. If you drink alcohol, be sure to try the mojito!
Leave Clearwater after breakfast. Go to Sarasota (Siesta Key beach) and have lunch there. Then go to Fort Myers, where we will sleep.
Dalia's note: Great choice! Earlier this year, DrBeach.org named Siesta Key the No. 1 beach in the United States. If you have time on your way to Sarasota, consider stopping in Anna Maria Island. It's a charming seven-mile stretch of beaches, shops and fabulous restaurants. To get around, take the free trolley, rent bikes or rent a golf cart. Then in Sarasota, the three-year-old would also enjoy G.WIZ-The Science Museum. Another highlight in Sarasota is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The Ringlings were the family behind America's best-known circus; on their estate, you can check out the mansion and masterpieces they bought with their fortune.
Spend the day visiting Captiva Island, Punta Gorda and Naples. One more night in Fort Myers.
Dalia's note: In Punta Gorda, take advantage of the free bicycle rental program. In Naples, the entire family will enjoy Shy Wolf animal sanctuary. Admission is free (donations are accepted), and the three-year-old will get a thrill petting a real wolf!
Now we leave, heading to Miami. On the way, we stop on an airboat trip at the Everglades. Lunch somewhere, then Miami, where we stay for the next four days.
Dalia's note: Whew! This will be quite a trip. Are you sure you're not auditioning for my job? In Miami, be sure to visit Calle Ocho to experience the city's Cuban heritage. Have a cup of coffee and a guava cake. So good! Have a wonderful time!