Day Trips & More
Below you will find information on day trips we highly recommend if you are feeling adventuresome and would like to explore our coast and State for more of your unique Florida experience. Siesta Key is a great launching place to make these trips and be able to return each night to your restful condo on Siesta Key and listen to the waves while you reflect on the days experience and get ready for a quiet nights sleep dreaming about the day or planning your next day trip.
Some of the trips below are probably more than a day. A good example would be Disney World in Orlando. This is a two hour drive each way and if you spent 10 hours at the park this would still give you 10 hours out of 24 on Siesta Key. On the other hand it might make much more sense to plan your Disney World experience before arriving on Siesta Key. The Orlando area also has Universal Studios, Sea World, Epcot, Water Adventure and more to use up every awaking minute of the day. If you spent 4 to 5 days in Orlando you could probably cover most of the events mentioned above, your legs would be heavy, your body tired, your mind exhausted every night and your wallet begging for relief! After your amusement park overload there is nothing better than a week of rest and relaxation at our condo on Siesta Key. Quiet breakfasts on the balcony with no waiting in line or looking for your waiter. Relaxing days on the beach absorbing the maximum amount of vitamin D your body can take before seeking the shelter of your beach umbrella. You can then go back to the real world with lots of memories and experiences, but your body has recovered from the events and experiences of your vacation and your mind is clear and focused on your next trip to Florida for more of the Siesta Key experience.
AMUSEMENTS PARKS OF ORLANDO are legend throughout the world. As stated above this would be a pretty aggressive day trip and we doubt if you would do justice to the Disney experiencing by driving up, cruising the park and driving back in the same day. You would save a lot of money and it really can be done and your drive time will be a little over two hours each way of freeway driving. I often refer to the park as "Disney Bank" as you will be amazed at the number of times in one day that you will be making a deposit to the legacy of Walt. Planning your Orlando trip as a before or after bumper to your Siesta Key stay is a better idea and using Siesta Key as your after Orlando respite is the best idea of all. The time you spend in tinsel town will be unique and Disney World itself has four theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Animal Kingdom in addition to two water parks, Disney Blizzard Beach and Disney Typhoon Lagoon. To the Disney parks you can add SeaWorld, Universal Studios is a must see theme park and they also have Islands of Adventure & Wet N'Wild.These are just the major theme parks and Universal is adding theme parks within the theme park with the first being Harry Potter Theme Park inside of Islands of Adventure. Once you think you have heard and seen it all you need to start to consider the lesser theme parks and the numerous attractions that line street after street in this region. What is not a theme park or an attraction is a restaurant and surprise, surprise these also are presented in a multitude of unique themes. Before you go to Orlando it is critical that you plan your trip and purchase your tickets, negotiate your accommodations and predetermine your spending limit, as the Disney Bank and company have no limits! We only recommend one restaurant in this fantasy area and that is Yellow Dog Eats in Gotha which is close to everything, but far enough away to allow a casual and properly priced lunch and dinner experience in the restaurant or the garden under the talented and caring hands of owner/chef Fish Morgan. We are not for one second suggesting this is the only restaurant to eat at in the Orlando area, nothing could be further from the truth. There are numerous excellent restaurants in this town, we just don't like the "thundering herd" and to relax with a glass or even bottle of wine at Yellow Dog takes you so far away from Mouseland that, for that time, you will actually again realize peace, quiet and sanity can actually occur in the Orlando area. This also brings me back to my most important theme--For your future sanity and peace of mind the final week of your Florida holiday/vacation really must be the oh so important therapeutic relaxation of at least one week if not more relaxing at the beach on Siesta Key and enjoying the solitude, comforts and incredible surrounding of Penthouse Condo #408 at Sunset Royale. You owe it to yourself, book your reservation now.
BUSH GARDENS IN TAMPA is a perfect day trip to a famous theme park that is a one hour and fifteen minute drive from your condo. This is an easy drive from Siesta Key on the Interstate 75 freeway and access to the freeway from both location is easy and efficient. Bush Gardens with fill your day with enough rides, experiences, entertainment tropical animals, birds and flowers to last a life time or at least until you again return to Bush Gardens next time with the kids friends. A really great part to visiting this park is returning at the end of the day and taking that one hour and fifteen minute return drive back to the condo, changing from the clothes you wore all day while walking around the park, putting on that swim suit, walking across to the beach and jumping into the Gulf of Mexico. Home at last and you had a day at Bush Gardens that the kids will never forget and you had a very relaxing dip at the end of the day in the therapeutic waters of the Gulf of Mexico then sat in your beach chair on the powder white sand with a cold beverage while you watched the sunset on another great family day while staying in Condo #408 at Sunset Royale on Siesta Key. Book your reservation today, don't let someone else take your dates.
SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM in St. Petersburg, Florida is the largest collection of Dali's work in the world. The museum is easily accessed by freeway from Sarasota and is located near the newly revitalized area of St. Petersburg with many cafes and restaurants located along Central Avenue and streets that intersect and run parallel to this area. Some of the antique, art shops and collector stores that dot this area make for interesting exploring while in this area. More than any other museum I can think of, your visit to the Dali Museum will be greatly enhanced and much more informative if you join a docent group on your first trip to this museum. There is so much to be discovered within the works of Dali that to not have the guidance of a docent would possibly deprive you of a plethora of hidden Dali detail that is right in front of your eyes, but oh so difficult to discover.
BABCOCK WILDERNESS ADVENTURE Babcock Wilderness is a State of Florida run commercial enterprise that will take you on a tour through Florida fauna & flora to see what Florida looked like before development. Truly for those who like hiking and exploring in the great outdoors. Hiking trails will take you along anywhere from 2 to 4.7 miles of Florida back country, depending on the trail you choose. You will encounter natural wildlife as they go about their daily lives. Nothing is staged or caged. You can go here many times in a year and see a completely different scene in the same areas depending on rain fall and time of year. This Eco-Tour on the "swamp buggy" (old painted school buses) is worth the $20 per adult, $13 per child for the 90 minute tour. You can arrange to eat lunch between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM at the Gator Shack. This is about a 90 minute drive from the condo and you will want to make reservations before departing for the ranch to take the swamp buggy tours. You are going to see some birds, critters and lots of alligators. This is an educational guided tour through a Florida Cypress swamp that is also a working cattle ranch amongst other things. Take your camera for some great shots. This is what most of Florida looked like yaars ago. Babcock ranch is also featured in the Siesta Key local attraction area of this website as it is a rather short drive to venture way back in time.
CORKSCREW STATE PARK
GASPARILLA ISLAND is an island in the Gulf of Mexico that makes for a perfect day trip from Siesta Key. According to folklore, Gasparilla Island got its name from Jose Gaspar, a famous local pirate who had his base on the island and is said to have hid his immense treasure there. Gasparilla became an important stop for phosphate shipping until the dredging of the Port of Tampa and a major vacation destination for the wealthy from Tampa and Fort Myers. Located between Sarasota and Ft. Myers on CR775 makes this a perfect day trip from Siesta Key. You will find a map in our guest information book that will guide you to the island by taking the back roads through Venice, Englewood, Placida and Rotunda. This is a pleasant trip and also the shortest way to the island that only local residents would be aware of, so take your map with you and feel free to make notes along the way. The village of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island is home to upscale boutiques, unique shops, and art galleries that present the works of local artists. Fine restaurants in Boca Grande offer fresh local seafood, as well as international cuisine. Called Florida's version of Nantucket,・it is a carefully preserved town filled with all the beauty and grace of Old Florida. It is a quiet community where residents seek to protect the beautiful environment and quality of life on the island. This tranquil, seven-mile long island has no high rises nor traffic lights. The pristine beaches stretch the entire Gulf side and protected waterways weave in and around the natural mangrove shoreline on the bay side. The islands choice of transportation is golf carts and the cart paths crisscross the entire area. One of the island's most interesting features is the still-working US Coast Guard wooden lighthouse, built in 1890. It is located on the southern end of the island in the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse and State Recreation Area, and is open to the public daily from November to April, and Monday through Friday from May to October. This area has a very scenic view of Boca Grande Pass, a swift waterway that is the entrance to Charlotte Harbor. Two picnic areas in the park offer pavilions and scenic views of the water. Just before arriving at the light house you will come to a very nice casual grill and bar called South Beach which is nestled right on the sandy beach with wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico. Gasparilla Island, which is located in both Lee County and Charlotte County has a rather interesting wildlife nuisance. Once a quirky local icon, the non-native Mexican spiny-tailed iguana has reproduced madly on this Nantucket-like hideaway off the coast of southwest Florida where the Bush family has come to fish for tarpon. And the islanders have declared war. This desire to rid itself of the iguanas is challenged by the two counties that Gasparilla Island is located in. The seven mile long island is aloud to do just about anything they want to eliminate the Iguana in one county, but must follow restrictive live capture procedures in the other. Needless to say part of this island is a safe harbor for the iguanas who choose to live in Lee County. Although quiet and peaceful most of the year, the island's relaxed atmosphere is disrupted in Spring when fishermen descend with a vengeance on the island that is considered one of the best tarpon fishing spots in the world. A world class tournament celebrates the annual tarpon run each July.
FT MYERS to KEY WEST by HYDROFOIL This is a side trip that you will talk about for a long time. Not only do you get to a location that is not an easy drive, but you experience a pretty nice boat ride on the way there and back. The vessel is a hydrofoil and moves swiftly along the top of the water with little to no wave movement on board. If you would like to visit Key West I strongly suggest you consider this trip. You will save time behind the wheel, enjoy a comfortable boat ride with no highway traffic to concern you or your family. When you read the following story you will also understand why I find this method of going to Key West preferable to the drive.
Many years ago Nann and I were visiting The Ft. Lauderdale area with out sons Jason and Justin who were just over 1 and 3 years old at the time. Me being my typical exploring self was not satisfied with just sitting on the beach, but had to travel around Florida during this company paid vacation for our family. The idea from my employer's at the time was that Nann and I would fly to Florida and use their vacation residence to help me recover from some very long hours and intense times at the company where I worked. We had just completed the purchase of our two largest competitors in Detroit and moved and consolidated their operations and customers into our building. This was a very nice gesture, but Paul was not into R & R so upon arrival I almost immediately started to scope out where we could drive to in Florida to "see the sites". One of the locations was Key West. That morning we started out on our trek to and through the Florida Keys. Once there we planned on having dinner and driving back. I drove and Nann tried to keep the boys from going car crazy. We drove from key to key and Nann marveled at all of the keys we were driving through. Occasionally we stopped along a shore line to walk in the sand or change a diaper. A number of times Nann commented in wonderment as to why anyone would live down here on one of these small islands. The questions were in my mind rhetorical and I drove on.
The actual mileage distance compared to the drive were very deceiving. In miles it did not seem that far, but in reality we spent all of this time on a two way two lane road as we headed south to Key West. As we were driving over the 7-mile bridge I looked over at tears coming down Nann's cheeks and asked what was wrong. Nann said she found the drive depressing and had no idea why anyone would live down in the keys. I attempted to brush off her suggestion that we turn back and claimed it would not be that much longer before we arrived. I was wrong and we arrived at Key West about two hours later with me commenting on how many left turns the cars in front of me made on the way down. I had to admit that most of the keys were like the last and other than size, the scenery was pretty consistent down to the abandoned and dilapidated railroad trestle that ran along the keys in the water just off the shore. We drove around Key West for about 30 minutes trying to see where Hemingway lived, the harbor area and the town itself. Nann strongly suggested we find a restaurant, get out of the car and just relax, which we did.
The meal was great, the kids were tired and when we left the restaurant it was getting dark and time to drive back. I know Nann and the kids were not looking forward to retracing our route and I silently was lamenting the same thing, but we started back. In about 30 minutes both boys were asleep and Nann commented that she hoped they would sleep all the way back. I suggested that she might try and get some sleep also and I would just listen to the one radio station that was on the radio. Nann agreed and I clicked on the station just in time to hear them announce that the 7-mile bridge on US 1, the only route back to the mainland, was closed because of a serious accident. They said to stay tuned for further updates. Nann had not yet fallen asleep and if looks could kill, I would be dead today. We arrived back at the condo in the early morning and spent the next few days relaxing on the beach.