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1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

Glasgow
Level Contributor
1,359 posts
3 reviews
1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

My better half and I are visiting Florida at the end of August (31/08/10 - 14/09/10). We have booked a villa for our 2nd week in Orlando but wanted to visit the Gulf coast for our 1st week.

Question is where to stay? We have been looking online but the choice is so big we are starting to get a bit internet weary!! It’s also Labor Day at the end of our first week so don’t want to go anywhere that has week long celebrations.

We fly into Sanford so don’t want to go too far away, max 2-3 hours. We have visited St Petersburg, Clearwater & Sarasota previously but only for day trips. Can anyone point me to similar posts for ideas or give some advice? We like varied things but would be looking for a relaxing trip, nice scenery/wildlife, close to a beach, a bit of nightlife but nothing mad. Our budget would be a medium one as my BH doesn’t do cheap accommodation. We also like villas rather than hotels.

Thanks in advance.

Hell, Michigan
Level Contributor
6,016 posts
21 reviews
1. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

I would suggest Anna Maria Island, since you don't want to drive more than 2-3 hours. If you don't mind a 4ish hour drive, Sanibel and Captiva islands.

I don't know anywhere that has week long celebrations for Labor day - maybe a parade or an event on the day. You will see more traffic, holidayers on that week and weekend, as everyone gets in their last hoopla before schools starts.

Look thru the forums for both islands mentioned above, check the FAQ and the 'things to do' links. If any interest you - feel free to ask specific questions about lodging, restaurants, or whatever else interests you.

For Sanibel - it is the 3rd rated shelling beach in the world, 20 + miles of bike paths, 2/3's of the island is nature preserve. Beautiful beaches, laid back, old florida feel to it. Not a lot of nightlife, but there is a little. Ft Myers is across the causeway, if you want to let it all hang out.

UK
Destination Expert
for Florida
Level Contributor
50,092 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

I agree with the above post. Both of these areas ar suitable, depending on how afar you want to drive.

No where does a week long thing then, and I agree the crowds will concentrate at the weekend.

The only probelm is villas. Condos in both areas will be reasonable that time of year, but as the land and property is so valuable the rates can be high for houses (esp with pools like orlando). So let us knwo your budget per night/week.

If the islands we both mentionned are above your rate/budget, and you really want a house nearby with a pool 15 mins or so from the beaches, look at Bradenton and Rotonda/englewood areas which have lots of villas with private pools but aren't too far from a great beach.

Glasgow
Level Contributor
1,359 posts
3 reviews
3. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

Thanks for the replies from both of you, I think we will have a longer look at Anna Maria Island.

Given you a bit of a bum steer with the villa thing, I actually meant just NOT a hotel so a condo or a beach type bungalow would be fine. Not bothered about a pool either as we can hopefully get close to the beach.

Our budget would be about £500-£600 for the week as it's only the 2 of us so we don't need a mansion.

The max distance was becuase of the long flight from Scotland that we didn't want to drive for another 4 hours after. Now that I have a couple of suggestions a bit further away we might split our week between 2 places and go to the furthest away 1 in the middle of the week.

If (when) I find somewhere I will definetly check it out here first and if I have any questions I know I can get them answered here.

Many thanks

Hell, Michigan
Level Contributor
6,016 posts
21 reviews
4. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

There's probably quite a few places on AMI that will suit you. I stayed at Anna Maria Island Beach Resort, a last minute thing in Feb - don't stay there. It was awful.

AMI consists of three areas - Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and City of Anna Maria Island. Bradenton and Holmes are busier, quite a few lodging choices. Anna Maria is more homes, residential - but very quaint, old Florida style. Some nice shops and restaurants within walking distance of most homes, in addition there is a trolley service, tho I didn't find it to run timely at all.

I personally would try to get a place in Anna Maria first, just cuz it's very beach townish, more open area, less traffic. That is just me, others might say different. Go over to the anna maria island forums, they'll be able to help you from here.

Edited: 05 May 2010, 00:06
Hell, Michigan
Level Contributor
6,016 posts
21 reviews
5. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

I meant to give you the AMI chamber of commerce website:

https://www.annamariaislandchamber.org/

AMI TA forum:

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g635970-i11168-Ann…

Edited: 05 May 2010, 00:10
Glasgow
Level Contributor
1,359 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

Thanks for the additional post Sunnyvaca. AMI sounds just the sort of place we are after.

Just off to check out the links you provided.

UK
Destination Expert
for Florida
Level Contributor
50,092 posts
22 reviews
7. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

must admit I too prefer the norther end of the Isalnd ie Anna Maria city/town. Holmes and Breadenton Beach are fine, I just prefer the feel of the north.

Try the Sandbar for lunch, sunset drinks or dinner. Rod and reel cafe for luch overlooking the sunshine Skyway bridge.

One option you haven't thought of (that would give you the sanibel option) is spending your first night in LBV near to DTD. It is about 30 mins fromt he airport. I do this al the time if flying into MCO. Then I drive down to my house next day. You could go out to dinner in DTD and get a holiday feel right away. Then drive to your chosen island in the AM. You'll be up early with jet lag anyway.

This way you could try out both resorts. First, Sanibel, then move to AMI for your second week.

8. Re: 1st Timers(ish) to the Gulf Coast

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