We Went To Florida

… which is a really wonderful place to visit in the middle of a gray midwest winter. 

Our vacation was fast and varied.  First, we spent two days in Orlando.  Instead of visiting Disney again like we did last year, we went to Universal one day– and to SeaWorld the next day.

To be honest, we found Universal Orlando [which includes two parks: Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure] underwhelming.  It was expensive, crowded and disorganized.  Even though I was able to buy this wonderful Grinch + Max stuffed toy at Universal Studios, overall both parks weren’t very compelling.  To us, Universal Orlando seemed like a Disney wannabe.

On the other hand, we enjoyed SeaWorld Orlando which was a place with its own sense of style.  It was organized, filled with intriguing shows– and had plenty of places to sit & chill out.  I’d go back there in a heartbeat, happy to see the various animals and gardens over and over again.  It was enjoyable.

After Orlando we drove south, stopping in Sarasota to have lunch with my aunt and my cousin.  It was fun to see them and we finally got to see my aunt’s condo.  We would have loved to stay longer, but Z-D’s conference in the Sanibel Island area was starting in a few hours, so we said goodbye and continued driving south down I-75.

While in the Sanibel area we stayed at the Sanibel Harbor Marriott Resort & Spa [which is technically in Punta Rassa, not on Sanibel Island, and has a Ft. Myers mailing address].  It was a beautiful, old-fashioned property with the friendliest staff we’ve met outside of Hawaii.  Our room was pretty & comfortable– with a delightful view of Sanibel Harbor from our room’s balcony.

During the three days that we stayed at the Sanibel Harbor Marriott, I explored the pools, the beach, the dock, and the boardwalk.  In fact, it was the weathered dark aqua boardwalk that charmed me the most.  It connected the main hotel to the tennis courts and spa– and allowed me to walk over a pond and around the picturesque native swamp without getting my feet wet.

The last day of the conference finished at noon.  So Zen-Den and I got into our rental car, paid a $6.00 fee and drove across the bridge from the mainland to Sanibel Island.  This photo, taken from the dock at our resort, shows the simple, sleek bridge in the background.

Sanibel Island was a revelation to us.  Neither one of us had been there before so we didn’t really know what to expect.  It is a long narrow island with one way on and off.  There were lots of quaint looking shopping/food areas interspersed with long expanses of wildlife refuge and bike paths.  Every once in a while there were signs for public beaches.

The bellhop at the hotel had suggested we go to Bowman’s Beach, so we did.  It was lovely, not crowded with people, full of shells and very clean.  Below, in the center background, is a photo of an osprey’s nest built in one of the trees that thrive beside this blessedly under-developed beach.

As vacations go this was a really good one for us.  We usually try to go to one place and stay long enough to see most of it, but this time we did a more hodgepodge approach to travel.  Come to find out, seeing three different parts of Florida in one week is the perfect tonic for the mid-winter blues.

[Hello FTC!  Just to be clear, I have received no money or other compensation for any of the above endorsements.  These are just my opinions about my experiences.  Nothing more.  We good, FTC?]

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

15 thoughts on “We Went To Florida”

  1. Such pretty pictures, I would love to go. Wait a minute . . . I did!!!!!

    And, Boy, was it fun. Great pics, Ally!

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  2. Beautiful pictures – I’m glad you had such fun, especially in the middle of a gray midwest winter. I love Sea World. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to one but if I’m ever in the area again I’ll be lining up for it.

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  3. Love that sunset! I’m a big fan of sunsets into the sea. I went to San Francisco about 10 years ago and sat on the little beach there watching the sun go down over the Golden Gate. Would love to explore more of America. Great that you could hop onto Z-D’s work trip. My hubby was supposed to be going to Italy a few weeks ago and we had it all sorted out for a long weekend there but sadly the customer didn’t need assistance anymore.

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  4. Polly, for me there is something therapeutic about watching the sun go down. Calm & centering. I’ve never been to San Fran, but I imagine that the sunset there would be magnificent. Sorry that Italy fell through. Maybe another time, eh?

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  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful, relaxing time. And at least you now know what Universal is all about. Glad for your report on it, too, so we won’t have to check it out!
    Tim, Morgan and I went to Sanibel Island a couiple of years ago and loved it. Florida is just a happy place:) Hope you got regenerated!

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  6. Beth, lots of people we know like Universal, but we thought it was kind of dull. Nothing was easy to get to, and there was a serious lack of places to just sit and watch the world go by. But all the rest of the vacation was fun– and very rejuvenating.

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  7. I want to go!! I’ve been to Sarasota and traveled around a bit there when my younger daughter, Alison, had a gymnastics meet in Bradenton(sp?).It was indeed a lovely way to get away from winter. The photos are wonderful!!

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  8. Margaret, I bet that you’d like all three of the places we went to. I particularly liked seeing all the flowers and trees blooming– such a contrast to the dreary grays of a northern winter. And wearing shorts and sandals in January is a kick too.

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  9. Ooh, I loved Sanibel Island! My sis used to live in N. Ft. Myers, and so I got a good tour of the west coast along that area.

    Florida right now sounds perfect!

    As for Universal…did you go to Harry Potter World? That’s the reason I would go back to Universal, just to see that part.

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  10. la p, no shark’s teeth. I brought back a few pretty, but imperfect, shells that I found on the beach. That’s all.

    Stephanie, I’d like to go back to Sanibel now that I’ve seen how interesting it is. Lots to explore there.

    As for Universal, Harry Potter World is why we went there. It was so crowded in that area that it looked like the mall on Christmas Eve afternoon. It was impossible to walk through, let alone see anything. It was quite a disappointment.

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