We had a great time visiting Scott's parents at their new winter home in Bradenton/Sarasota in February. They wintered down there last year and decided to buy and of course we were excited to visit and leave the cold weather behind. We also discovered Allegiant Airlines flies direct to St. Pete which is about 45 minutes from their house and you can get tickets for as little as $100/person....makes it possible to go! We had going to the beach, playing in the pool and exploring on the agenda and I think we all left wanting more beach so I guess we will have to go back :).
The first day we were there was very rainy but we went to a yummy local dive for lunch, drove around the area and made plans for the week! We wanted to make sure to squeeze in mini golf, a little outlet mall shopping, swimming, and beach time with lots of seafood to eat sprinkled in :).
We all enjoyed a round of mini golfs and there were live alligators on display, luckily none of them got our ball. Vera joined in around the 15 hole!
Nana and Papa also treated us to the Sarasota Circus. Sarasota was the winter home Barnum & Bailey so circus is a big deal there. Once a year they have a great big top circus that pops up in town and we happened to be there while it was going on. The famous Wallenda tight wire act performed (you may have heard of Nik Wallenda who walked across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon and more recently in Chicago between 2 sky scrapers). All of the acts were great. The kids particularly enjoyed the circus clown that came out in between acts and I loved the aerialists and of course the tightrope!
The Wallenda's performing that on a tight wire...you couldn't breathe watching them!
We also hit up "The Big Red Barn" think farmers market/junk store/souveniers/flea market and everything else you might not know you need but they have it. We got the world's largest carrot (as evidenced in the picture above) and we also picked out some tropical fruits we can't get here like mango, star fruit, etc. It was fun to try and the giant carrot was just good as the smaller versions ;). The fruit was all so good and fresh...
Of course I think the highlight for all of us was the beach. They live within driving distance to both Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island and both were great. The birds were a little less CRAZY at Anna Maria Island and there were some amazing shells there too so that edged out the competition but I am mean you are comparing diamonds to diamonds really :). You can't beat the gulf water color, smaller waves and shallow beaches. It is ideal for small children. Vera wasn't pummeled over by the waves and Solon and Scott could venture way out. We even had dolphins swimming just 20 feet off of shore. The first time I yelled, Solon thought he was in trouble. It was such a cool thing to see!
We spent lots of time soaking up the vitamin D and getting burnt (you could tell our skin was not used to being exposed). The kids had fun building castles with Papa and Vera even enjoyed becoming a sand mermaid courtesy of Nana.
I even stole Scott away for a long walk up the beach. I was still feeling pretty crappy at night so this was the "best date" I could give him. We enjoyed our kid free time holding hands with toes in the sand.
Scott and Solon played their fair share of beach football as well. They worked up a sweat and then would cool off in the ocean! Solon was in heaven having daddy with him all day everyday (we all were).
The water was chilly and the air temp wasn't so hot that it felt refreshing BUT once you got in, you did get use to it. And look at the clear clear water...
One of my must haves for Marty was really good seafood. I love it and there is nothing better than fresh caught. Well we went to this dive place...those generally have really good food, otherwise the dive atmosphere would surely not survive! Anyway, there were all these pelicans there and they were so close but never bothered you! It was fun to watch them while we waited. We also tried to eat outside as much as possible, I think food tastes better outside especially in February! I even made everyone try Conch fritters, a specialty of the gulf coast (let's just once was enough!).
Unfortunately the week got cooler on our last day but we made the most of it with a trip to the circus museum and winter home of the Barnums. The kids did really well with all the museum things and there was a lovely park where we picnicked and they played in the sun out of the wind.
And of course they enjoyed the warm pool at Nana and Papa's community. Even on chilly days the warm pool meant they could swim and then we would just wrap them up and quickly take them home to a warm bath. Solon can swim independently now and Vera is quite comfortable in the water (both are now in swimming again in hopes that Vera will be independent before summer).
We enjoyed the vibrant warm sun, lots of yummy seafood, exploring and of course everyone's favorite was the BEACH. We hope to go back more now that Papa and Nana winter there...you can't beat the "rental cost" for the week - a few hugs and kisses!!!