Florida Fun in Sarasota and the Keys

April 2014

Sarasota and the Keys Girlfriend Getaway

I never realized that the Florida Keys were spread beyond those off Miami so when I was presented with an invitation to visit Sarasota and the western keys, it didn’t take me long to pack my bags.

I brought my friend Lynn along for this girls getaway. She had spent more time in this part of Florida than I did and was excited to return. We had an ideal schedule for our four day trip with exploration and lounge time. Even though Mother Nature did not cooperate, it worked out well in the end.

Lynn flew in through New York and I made a stop in Florida to visit my mom before driving down to Lido Key. Our first stay was at the Lido Beach Resort and I felt immediate relaxation as I went over the bridge from Sarasota. The water was blue and the day clear.

Sarasota Getaway with Moonshine the Dolphin

Beach Time, Chocolate Pancakes and ‘Moonshine the Dolphin’ in Lido Key

The Lido Beach Resort is just big enough to have what you need, but not too large. We had a suite with a kitchenette and a perfect view of the beach. I changed quickly into my bathing suit and met Lynn down by the pool. We toasted our getaway with some coconut rum and pineapple juice (I call it my low-cal Pina Colada) and caught some rays.

We had planned to go downtown for dinner, but were both pretty tired and decided to keep the relaxation going with a pizza from room service as we toasted the sunset on our balcony with a glass of wine.

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up in Lido Beach and ordered breakfast from room service (chocolate chip pancakes with blueberries) before leaving for the Mote Aquarium and Research Center.

We enjoyed the tour, the history of marine life in this area and were surprised to learn that the laboratory makes money by raising and selling sturgeon caviar. We also spent some time with the native sea turtles and a friendly dolphin named Moonshine.

We arrived back at the hotel for the infamous Brunch at Lido Beach Resort and it lived up to the expectations with the breathtaking views of the water and beaches from large picture windows, champagne and a delicious selection of food.

I had my first Wolfberry Mojito at the pool and then did a few laps after I digested my food. There was just enough time to shower and change before heading to Siesta Key to check out the “Best Beach in the U.S.” and have dinner.

Siesta Key Florida Girls Getaway

Siesta Key: The Best Beach in the U.S.

Siesta Key beach was quite nice, but we didn’t get much of a sunset as the clouds were quickly rolling in. We had dinner on Siesta Key at Falvio’s, a fabulous Italian place. Succumbing to a day in the sun, we called it another early night.

We left first thing in the morning for a private tour of the Sarasota Opera House with Sam Lowry, the Director of Audience Development. The house had gone through an extensive $20 million renovation a few years ago and it was quite impressive.

We were only back at the Lido Beach Resort for a short while as it was time to pack up and move on. Our next stop was Longboat Key.

Spa Time on Longboat Key

The Resort at Longboat Key Club was much larger than the one we had just left and offered many recreation options, including golf, tennis and spa. We were scheduled to check it all out.

We had a tasty lunch at the Sands Pointe Restaurant (don’t forget the side dishes, both the Sweet Potato Salad and Mango Cole Slaw are incredible) while we waited for our suite to be ready. It was worth the wait as it had two full bedrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, multiple balconies and water views.

The resort’s Island Spa was just about to open when we were there so we had our massages in-room. There can’t be anything more relaxing than listening to the waves during a massage. Unfortunately, the sound of the water was soon to be replaced by pouring rain.

Flooding in the area kept us from the original plan to have dinner at one of the popular restaurants on St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota, but we were happy to check out the Pointe Lounge at The Resort at Longboat Key Club. We sipped Chandon Champagne and thoroughly enjoyed the Truffle Mac N’ Cheese and Arugula Goat Cheese Flatbreads.

The weather had only gotten worse overnight so my tour of the golf and tennis was cancelled. The staff at the resort is very resourceful, though, and they still carved out a great day for us. It included more massages (who can argue with that?) and a trip to the The Ringling.

Ringling Museum in Florida

A Trip to the Circus

I was quite impressed with the huge estate owned by John and Mabel Ringling. They were not only famous for their circus, but for all the support they gave to the Sarasota area. We toured the C’Dzan Mansion, Circus Museum and Museum of Art, taking the little tram between places and trying not to get too wet.

We arrived back at The Lido Key Resort in time to shower and change for dinner at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Portofino. It was a spectacular meal from the spaghetti squash appetizer to the Pasta Bolognese and the Semi Freddo Cioccolatta e Nocciola (chocolate hazelnut semifreddo with amaretti cookies, toasted hazelnuts and a raspberry sauce).

Despite the uncooperative weather, we left in the morning reveling in a great girls’ getaway to Florida’s other keys.

After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website MarciaFrost.com.

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