Top 2015 Spring Break Destinations – Yahoo! Travel

Editor, Yahoo Travel

Brittany Jones Cooper
Top 25 Cities for Spring Break

(Photo: Courtney Keating/E+/Getty Images)

Gas up the car, book that plane ticket and start trying on bathing suits —it’s time for spring break!

Yahoo Travel recently conducted a survey asking our readers where they planned to go over spring break. Last week, we shared those survey results with you, but now we’re taking it a step further. Based on the types of trips selected by our readers, the Yahoo Travel editors have hand-picked our favorite destinations to ensure some rest, relaxation, and a memorable party.

Here are the top 25 cities to celebrate spring break:

Beach or tropical resort

image

Surfing in Costa Rica (Photo: Tropicalpix/E+/Getty Images)

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: In addition to 60 miles of sand, Myrtle Beach also has golf courses, waterparks and theme parks.

Panama City Beach, Panama: This is long been a hotspot for college spring breakers because of its warm beaches and nightlife. Embrace your adventurous side by renting a jet ski rentals.

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Explore the neighborhood of historic city of Old San Juan and then hit the beaches for some fun in the sun.

Virginia Beach, Virginia: Great food, hiking trails AND gorgeous beaches? Virginia Beach has it all.

Siesta Key Beach, Florida: Located in southern Florida, Siesta Key offers the warm water from the Gulf of Mexico and a relaxed vibe.

Negril, Jamaica: Where’s the party at this spring break? Try Negril, Jamaica. Go cliff diving, snorkeling, or simply enjoy the beautiful Caribbean sunset

Jaco, Costa Rica: One word —surfing. Catch some of the best waves in the world in the waters of Costa Rica

Posted in Events, The Beach, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Family-Friendly Sarasota County Beaches

Siesta-Key-Beach-Sarasota

 

 

 

 

No family trip to Sarasota County is complete without spending some time on the sand at one of its many beaches. Whether you have toddlers or ‘tweens in tow, there are local beaches great for kiddos of all ages (and their parents). Here are some family-friendly beaches worth a visit.

Sarasota’s Siesta Beach has gotten lots of national attention in the past few years, and for good reason. Named the Number One Beach in America in 2011 by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach), it’s got powdery, white, nearly pure quartz crystal sand that’s soft on your feet and doesn’t get too hot even when temperatures are scorching. Lifeguards are present year-round, a concession stand and beach rentals are located on-site, and a major improvement project already underway will introduce a new playground and additional concession area to the Siesta Key hot spot.

The beach itself is huge, so there’s lots of room for the kids to spread out and play.   Parking is free but the lot does fill during peak season months into the summer.  It’s a good idea to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon around 3 PM to get a space.  It is a long walk to the water’s edge at Siesta’s Public Beach so make sure you have an easy way to get your things on to the beach.

Siesta Key has 13 Public Beach AccesSiesta-Key-Beachses all along Crescent Beach from the north end of the key to Point of Rocks Road.  All of these accesses have limited public parking but it is the same, sugary white powder sand that Siesta is known for which gave it the #1 Beach ranking.

The south end of Siesta Key has Turtle Beach.  This public beach area has a launch on the bayside for kayaks and boats and full access to the Gulf.  Turtle Beach sand is quite different from Crescent Beach sand just to the north on the island but it is still beautiful.  Jim Neville Preserve is a favorite among kayakers, located just south of Siesta Key and easily accessible from the Turtle Beach launch.

Farther south, Nokomis Beach on Casey Key draws families to its wide expanse of sand. Parking can be less difficult here than at other spots, and it’s an easy stroll into the water without any drop-offs or other challenges for little ones. There’s a boardwalk parallel to the beach, lifeguards on duty, covered picnic areas, and a small playground on the Intracoastal side.

Parents also love the easy access and new, modern restrooms at Venice’s Caspersen Beach and Englewood’s Manasota Beach. Caspersen is known for being a great spot for shelling and shark-tooth hunting. But it doesn’t have any lifeguards, and the beach can sometimes be on the small side due to erosion caused by storms and tidal changes. It’s a good choice for families who prefer their beaches on the wild and natural end of the spectrum.

Laid-back Manasota Beach doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. But what it lacks in beachside snack bars or playground areas, it makes up for in natural charm. It rates as another prime spot for unearthing cool shells and sharks’ teeth, and there’s plenty of space for sandcastle building or spirited games of Frisbee.

So slather on the sunscreen, grab some sand toys, and head out to one of these spots for a day of family fun in the sun.

Posted in The Beach, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 4th of July holiday brings lots of excitement and fun to Siesta Key and Sarasota!

Boat-Races-Lido2-staff-300x199What words come to mind when you think of the 4th of July holiday?  We think of words like spectacular, amazing, exhilarating!  Out on Siesta Key, it’s very much the same wording. As a community we all pull together to raise the funds for the festivities that make up the night of dazzling fireworks in the sky over the most beautiful sand beach in the world as far as we are concerned. The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce hosts the fireworks every year and work hard to make them the best around! Loads of volunteers work year round preparing for this exciting night and hope you will join them in celebrating again this year!

But let’s not forget the festivities don’t just stop with the fireworks!  There are 9 days that are packed full of events. The Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix brings in crowds from all over boasting  boat parades, heart pounding race action right off our coast, and parties all week. And don’t forget, Sarasota’s own Nik Wallenda, the King of the Sky, will be the welcomed home and congratulated for being the first person to ever cross the Grand Canyon by tightrope, during the Boat Parade on Friday, July 5th, starting at 7pm.

For a full Suncoast Offshore event calendar, click here!

For local Siesta Key events, click here!!

So if you’re  planning to come to our little Gulf  island paradise and questioning what to do, we’ll have a list of activities waiting for you!

If you are looking for visual stimulation, beautiful hot sunny days and breath taking fireworks lighting up the night sky,  July 4th on Siesta Key is the place to be.   Pack up your flip-flops, grab a beach chair and head to paradise.

If you haven’t made reservations to stay out on the island, then Best Western Plus – Siesta Key is the next best place to being there.  Don’t forget, your stay includes transportation to Siesta Key 7 days a week (excludes holidays when shuttle is scheduled) provided by Jonny’s Free Beach Rides,  (driver tips appreciated), hot breakfast that is incomparable to any other and new this week, a poolside watering hole featuring draft and bottled beer.  So come on – call us – 800-930-4439 – and make your reservations to stay before school starts!  Ask for multi-day stay discount or AAA/AARP if you are a club member.

Posted in Events, News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Siesta Key Beach: Voted in the Top 10 Family Friendly Beaches in 2013

10 Best Beaches for Families in 2013

What makes a beach family-friendly? We asked, and you told. Nearly half of all families consider the cleanliness of a beach to be the most significant quality, according to our survey. Other important factors include safe waters with a lifeguard on duty, and nearby restaurants, accommodations and entertainment.
These beaches, ranked in no particular order, meet our criteria and are well worth your next family trip.

 

Beach Haven – Beach Haven, N.J. Yes, Hurricane Sandy devastated Beach Haven and several other New Jersey towns in October, 2012. Yes, the state is encouraging families to return via its Stronger Than the Storm Campaign. No, that’s not why Beach Haven made our list.
Beach Haven is a borough on Long Beach Island, which stretches about 18 miles, and has long been a favorite amongst East Coasters. Families enjoy calm waters and crowds, monitored by lifeguards, and easy accessibility to several bathroom facilities, some of which include showers and street or lot parking nearby.
When it comes to attractions, eateries and hotels, Beach Haven outshines other beach towns. The beach is home to Fantasy Island Amusement Park, Thundering Surf Water Park and Schooner’s Wharf, which features shops and places to eat. More restaurants can be found along the main drag, and you must go to Showplace Ice Cream Parlour, where the folks from Surflight Theatre will entertain you – and include you – in live shows as you enjoy frozen treats. Inexpensively priced motels, such as Sea Spray Motel and Hurley’s at Holgate Inn, can be found throughout town.

 

Bethany Beach – Bethany Beach, Del. Located near Rehoboth Beach, a consistent name on many “Best Beaches” lists, Bethany Beach is often overlooked. It shouldn’t be.
On a hot, sunny day, Bethany Beach can get just as crowded as Rehoboth, but it’s not unusual for the beach to appear somewhat vacant either. You’ll find mostly metered parking, and if you have to park far from the beach, hop on one of the trolleys that run through town. Families find the beach to be safe; several lifeguards patrol the area, and the waves are generally calm and free of debris.
When it’s time for a beach break, get the kids cleaned up at a foot washing station, located at every street along the boardwalk (more on that in a second). You can also go to the Comfort Station, which provides restrooms and a changing station for families with babies.
Many families rave about Bethany’s non-commercialized boardwalk and town. It’s quaint and charming, with restaurants, shops and galleries. Other attractions include the walking trails near Bethany Beach Nature Center, and Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf.
There’s also a few hotels in the area, including a Holiday Inn Express.

 

Coquina Beach – Nags Head, N.C. You won’t find a flashy boardwalk with games and rides at this Outer Banks beach, located along Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Instead, you’ll find seemingly endless miles of shoreline with calm waves and even calmer crowds (if you can even call them that).
While Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers several uncongested beaches that are arguably the “best,” Coquina made our list because it’s patrolled by lifeguards and located near a bathhouse with restrooms. Parking is free, and is close to the beach. And The Dunes Restaurant, which serves casual, kid-friendly fare, is just a short drive away.
When you need a break from sandcastle building, check out the Laura A. Barnes shipwreck, located right on the beach. Dense fog caused the ship to float ashore on June 21, 1921. The Wright Brothers Memorial is also a short drive (about 20 minutes) away.
There are plenty of hotels in Nags Head, and many of them offer oceanfront views and direct beach access.  We especially like Surf Side Hotel and Oasis Suites Hotel.

Coronado Central Beach – Coronado, Calif. Coronado Central Beach (and really anybeach in this area) never disappoints. There’s plenty of parking lots (which are often free) and shower and bathroom facilities available. Lifeguards are on duty, and the clear-blue waves are picturesque as they calmly sweep ashore. It’s a great spot for boogie boarding and body surfing, and the tide pools during low tide are a hit with kids.
Beyond the beach, there’s Spreckels Park, perfect for a picnic lunch, and ferry and gondola rides (who said you had to go to Italy?). There’s also dozens of family-friendly restaurants and hotels nearby, including the grand Hotel del Coronado. And when you’ve had enough of Coronado, head to downtown San Diego, just a few miles away.

Fort De Soto Park – St. Petersburg, Fla. The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto Beach isn’t just a beach; it’s an all-inclusive package for family fun. There’s more than enough powdery sand and fresh water to sink your toes in, but you can also hike nature trails, go fishing, ride bicycles and visit a historic fort. At the top of the fort, you’ll see Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the world’s longest cable-stayed concrete bridge.  Additionally, Fort de Soto Park has a playground, concession stand, ferry service and grills for cooking. Restrooms, showers and parking are aplenty. An added bonus: Fort de Soto Beach is dog-friendly! Dogs are allowed in a designated area on the beach.

If you’re planning to stay a few days, consider camping; the park is popular for its clean campgrounds with modern facilities. If you prefer a hotel, plenty of accommodations are available in nearby St. Pete Beach.

Poipu Beach Park – Koloa, Hawaii We love the Big Island and Maui, but when it comes to family friendliness, Kauai does it best. Poipu Beach‘s white sand and periwinkle blue waters beckon families to swim, boogie board, scuba dive or simply relax. Lifeguards patrol the area, and restrooms are easily accessible. Plus, Poipu Beach is located just west of Baby Beach, a protected cove with calm, shallow waters just for tiny tikes.
When you get hungry, head to one of the area’s restaurants or farmers markets, which offer a wide range of options, from prices to fare. Brennecke’s Beach Boiler is a good choice.
As for hotels, you’ll find comfortable, clean accommodations for families just about anywhere. Our favorites include Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort and The Point at Poipu.

Sand Harbor Beach – Incline Village, Nev. Lake Tahoe has some of the most crystal-clear water in America, and combined with its other natural wonders, is well worth a stop. We’re not talking about Lake Tahoe’s California side though; we’re talking about a little town in Nevada.
Sand Harbor features 55 acres of beautiful beach amidst wooded areas and rocky coves. Families enjoy swimming, scuba diving, and hiking the area’s nature trails. There are plenty of restroom and shower facilities, and lifeguards are stationed throughout the area. If you have a boat, bring it – there’s a boat launch with adjacent parking.  Parking is available in other areas as well. When you get hungry, head to the Char-Pit for burgers, milkshakes and more.
You’ll find a couple of hotels nearby; we recommend the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino.

Siesta Beach – Siesta Key, Fla. Siesta Beach returns to our list with good reason. First, the beach is absolutely breathtaking. Its sand is 99 percent quartz and feels like confectioners sugar; this in itself is worth a visit! Then there’s the pale, translucent blue-green water, similar to that of the Caribbean. Add the gentle water’s shallow depth near shore, lifeguards and restrooms and showers, and you’ve got it made.
You’ll also find free parking (get there early) and a nearby playground for the kids. At the concession stand, you’ll enjoy food and live music.
Explore Siesta Key with Siesta Key Bike and Kayak or Sun Ride Pedicab and Historic Tours, and stop at Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar, where you’ll enjoy everything from crab legs to burgers. The atmosphere is casual, and kids are welcome.
Staying a while? Siesta Key has a nice selection of hotels, including Sea Spray Resort on Siesta Key.

Skaket Beach – Orleans, Mass. Located in the town of Orleans on Cape Cod, Skaket Beach is quintessential New England at its best. The beach is flat, making it perfect for families with small children. Because of its bayside location, it’s also noticeably warmer than other beaches. Kids love the tide pools during low tide.
There’s plenty of parking, though we recommend you arrive early in the day to claim a spot. There’s also a snack stand, restrooms with showers and lifeguards on duty. Perhaps the best part about Skaket Beach, however, is its sunsets. Many people head to Skaket just to relax as the sun gracefully descends over the water.
Within Orleans, there are plenty of options for accommodations. Skaket Beach Motel is just a few minutes from the beach, as is A Little Inn on Pleasant Bay, which also has a private beach of its own.
If you’re looking for things to do in Orleans, check out the Orleans Bowling Center, Cape Escape Adventure Golf or Explore Cape Cod Kayak Adventures for water fun.

Stewart Beach – Galveston Island, Texas You’ll pay to park at this Galveston Island beach, but the price is worth a day (or more) at Stewart. You’ll find clean restrooms with changing tables and showers. A small shop sells cold beverages, snacks, beach toys and other necessities, and you can also find refreshments at a small snack bar. Chairs and umbrellas are available to rent as well. Lifeguards are on duty, and park patrols regularly frequent the area.
The beach hosts several family-friendly events each summer, including volleyball competitions, sandcastle building contests and concerts. For more fun, visit Schlitterbahn Waterpark, about a 20-minute car ride from Stewart Beach.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, we recommend Hotel Galvez & Spa – A Wyndham Resort. The historic hotel has a tropically landscaped pool and regularly offers promotions and discounts.

Posted in The Beach | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2013 Siesta Key Crystal Classic: Dates Announced

Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Announces Dates for

2013 Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition

4th Annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic confirmed for Nov. 15-18, 2013

Day_4-196www.SiestaKeyCrystalClassic.com

(Sarasota, FL – June 1)  Ten teams of master sand sculptors from the United States and abroad competing for 1st place on the #1 beach will be back Nov. 15-18, 2013, for the 4th Annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic. The Crystal Classic has become a favorite of many of the professional sand sculptors who have competed here. Citing the beauty and cleanliness of the pristine white sand, sculptors have remarked that their sculptures look almost as if they are “carved in marble.”

The Crystal Classic has connected visual art and the beach in ways never seen before in Sarasota and this year will certainly be no different. The four-day art event will include: master sand sculptors competing, with all day viewing Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday; over 50 vendors; live entertainment; and an amateur sand sculpting contest on Saturday. New this year will be off-site shuttle service from Riverview High School on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 16 and 17, and sculpture viewing with the special Mobi-Mat on the sand for easier walking on Monday, Nov. 18.

Sponsorships and vendor spaces are now available. For more information visit:  www.SiestaKeyCrystalClassic.com.  VIP Parking packages with multi-day passes starting at $49 will be available for purchase online in the next few weeks.

Proceeds of the Siesta Key Crystal Classic benefit Mote Marine Laboratory’s sea turtle research and conservation programs.

Siesta Key Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition

Founded in 2010, The Crystal Classic is a result of discussions between master sand sculptor and Siesta Key resident Brian Wigelsworth and representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Day_4-112Parks and Recreation, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information about Siesta Key Crystal Classic contact the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce 941-349-3800; Info@SiestaKeyCrystalClassic.com or visit www.SiestaKeyCrystalClassic.com



Posted in Events, Things To Do | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sarasota: One of 10 Best Waterfront Cities by USA Today

Great waterfronts to visit across North America

Baltimore's waterfront area, the Inner Harbor, is one of the most visited and most photographed parts of the city. Many of Baltimore's best attractions -- the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and World Trade Center, to name a few -- sit along the waterfront, and when the weather's nice, you'll often see street performers entertaining guests on the sidewalks along the water.

                                Baltimore’s waterfront area, the Inner Harbor, is one of the most visited and most photographed parts of the city. Many of Baltimore’s best attractions — the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and World Trade Center, to name a few — sit along the waterfront, and when the weather’s nice, you’ll often see street performers entertaining guests on the sidewalks along the water.

Baltimore

Baltimore’s waterfront area, the Inner Harbor, is one of the most visited and most photographed parts of the city. Many of Baltimore’s best attractions — the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and World Trade Center, to name a few — sit along the waterfront, and when the weather’s nice, you’ll often see street performers entertaining guests on the sidewalks along the water.

Sarasota, Fla.

Sarasota might not garner as much attention as Miami or Orlando, but this culture-rich city enjoys close proximity to 40 miles of white-sand beaches lining the barrier islands just off shore. In the city proper, Bayfront Park and Marina is a popular place for biking, walking, kayaking or canoeing with views of Sarasota Bay and the city’s skyline.

San Francisco

Each of San Francisco‘s waterfront neighborhoods has its own distinct flavor. The most famous, Fisherman’s Wharf, is an industrial fishing port-turned tourist attraction where you can enjoy the fresh catch of the day with views over the bay. The carnival-like atmosphere and hordes of sea lions who make their home at Pier 39 are always a hit with kids, and you’ll find pedestrian-friendly piers dotting the waterfront all the way to the Ferry Building.

New York City

The New York Harbor, where the Hudson River empties into New York Bay, is one of the largest natural harbors in the world, and the city’s 500 miles of coastline are undergoing a major revitalization. Battery Park, located on the southern tip of Manhattan, offers views across the harbor, and you’ll find similar waterfront parks along the East and Hudson rivers in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, to name a few.

Charleston, S.C.

Charleston‘s charming historic district occupies the southernmost part of the city, where the Cooper and Ashley rivers come together. For the best Charleston waterfront experience, head for the seawall sidewalks along East Battery and Murray Boulevard, or spend an afternoon enjoying the outdoors at the award-winning Waterfront Park.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver has been blessed with one of the most scenic waterfronts in North America, and there’s no better place to enjoy it than along the Seawall, a 13.6-mile pedestrian path lining Vancouver’s waterfront and passing through Stanley Park. Vancouver is a outdoor enthusiast’s playground, and when the weather’s nice, the city’s waterfront is best enjoyed by kayak.

San Diego

Whether surfing in La Jolla, rollerblading along Mission Bay or touring a ship at Navy Pier, you’ll find much of San Diego‘s action revolves around the water. If you’re hungry for dinner with a view, snag a table at one of the many restaurants at Seaport Village. For a day of free fun in the sun, head to Embarcadero Marine Park.

Fort Lauderdale

Thanks to an extensive network of canals and waterways, nearly the entire city of Fort Lauderdale is one giant waterfront, but for visitors, the waterfront action centers around the beach, a people-watching paradise. Try a riverboat tour or water taxi for an overview of all Fort Lauderdale has to offer. The oceanfront Broadwalk in neighboring Hollywood is another appealing place to bask in the ocean views.

Savannah, Ga.

Savannah‘s waterfront is one of the most historic areas of the city and a hotspot for shopping, dining and nightlife. The restored warehouses along the water also house dozens of galleries and studios. After you’ve explored River Street on foot, see the city from the river aboard the River Queen, a refurbished paddleboat.

Miami

Miami Beach tops the list when it comes to iconic American beaches, but that’s not the only notable waterfront area. The downtown waterfront offers dining and shopping — don’t miss the busy Bayside Marketplace. For a look at the Miami of days gone by, check out the Art Deco facades of South Beach, a 10-mile stretch of Miami coast where an eclectic mix of characters come to see and be seen.

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Siesta Key, Florida: Anglers Paradise

Our family sets out on a fishing adventure in Siesta Key, Florida.

Our family sets out on a fishing adventure in Siesta Key, Florida. (Left to right) Lisa Stukel (Author), Jim, Kyle and Cole Stukel.

Siesta Key is a barrier island off the Central Western coast of Florida, situated between Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico. Vacationing snowbirds from the north dust the snow from their wings to enjoy this magnificent island, digging their toes into miles of blinding white sand filled with pearly white and iridescent seashells.

The main street is peppered with colorful souvenir shops filled with hip and trendy gifts, along with family-friendly and upscale restaurants to suit any discerning palette.

Old Stickney Point Road lies just off of Main street in Siesta Key where gorgeous, lemon-yellow condominiums line the streets alongside a hidden gem called, “CB’s Saltwater Outfitters.

Our family stumbled upon this cool beach boutique looking for a replacement pair of flip-flops for our son on the way to the beach. We were immediately intrigued.

We were greeted by friendly and knowledgeable store owner who not only helped us find shoes, but described the many cruising and fishing charters they had to offer. Little did we know that, CB’s is the largest local on-the-water bait & tackle shop that offers boat rentals, fishing charters, fishing tackle and jet ski rentals in the area. We were hooked.

Captain Terry and Kyle Stukel with a Speckled Trout in Siesta Key, Florida

Captain Terry and Kyle Stukel with a Speckled Trout in Siesta Key, Florida

We scheduled a half-day fishing charter the next day with an experienced, professional sea captain named, “Captain Terry,” who guaranteed, “we will catch fish.”

We packed up a cooler, lathered on sun-screen, and were greeted by hungry Brown Pelicans staring at us in anticipation as we boarded the boat.

In the winter, the tepid waters of the Gulf of Mexico promise a wide variety of Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Silver Trout, Ladyfish, Sea Bass and Sheepshead. We were eager to see who was going to “catch the first fish.”

Passing through the Intercoastal, we encountered a wide variety of birds, including the majestic White Ibis, a medium-sized wading bird with a body shape similar to the Great Blue Heron, and a Roseate Spoonbill, an odd yet elegant pink bird often mistaken for a flamingo.

To our children’s delight, we spotted grey dolphins off of the bow gracefully bobbing in and out of the water. Heading into deeper water, Captain Terry shared many of his fishing adventures and lore of Siesta Key and the surrounding islands.

We started our fishing campaign near the shallow shores just off of Lido Key, discovered in the 1500’s by Spanish Explorers Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto and Panfilo Navaez who arrived on the Gulf Coast in search of gold and silver.

They did not stay, but in 1821, the United States acquired the territory of Florida and in 1824, allowed settlers to own land.

Captain Terry shared the history of John and Mabel Ringling, who arrived in Sarasota in the 1920’s and purchased Lido, Bird, St. Armands and a great deal of Longboat Key and built bridges to connect them.

John Ringling started a Ritz Carlton on Longboat Key and made Sarasota the winter home of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. The kids were fascinated by the history, but my husband and I couldn’t stop thinking about the song, “Lido,” by Boz Scaggs, showing our “experience.”

With the patience of a saint, Captain Terry expertly assembled the rods and gave the kids safety instructions, making sure that no one hooked each other in the eye. He also showed us how to gig the lines to “make the fish want to bite.”

We started fishing using rubber bait, and my son managed to snag a few Spanish Mackerel. The rest of us, however, had no luck.

Sensing our dismay, Captain Terry switched the bait to real shrimp with bobbers and suddenly, hordes of Speckled Trout and Ladyfish started to strike at record speed.

A 24-inch Ladyfish struck my son’s line and struggled like a gladiator to free itself to no avail. Every few minutes someone yelled, “fish-on,” and the children happily reeled in another unsuspecting trout.

Kyle and Lisa (author) show off their Ladyfish, after a hard-fought struggle.

Kyle and Lisa (author) show off their 24-inch Ladyfish, after a hard-fought struggle.

Throughout the afternoon, we weaved in and out of the shallow bay, and when the fish stopped striking, we moved to another location. By the end of the day each family member caught 8-10, different types of fish, (including the author), and many tales to tell their friends.

As the sun began to set and the temperature started to dip, it was time to head back. Oblivious to the time, the kids begged to stay out longer. The day had been a complete success and the kids cheeks hurt from smiling.

The fishing techniques Captain Terry shared with us will serve us well on our next deep sea excursion, or any fresh-water lake back home. Although we threw our fish back into the ocean, we all have our own fishing stories to share with our friends on how we caught a fish “this big!”

If You Go

CB’s Saltwater Outfitters is located at; 1249 Stickney Point Road on Siesta Key

(941) 349-4400 Open Daily: 7:00am.- 6:00pm.

CB’s is an Orvis Endorsed Outfitter’s Fishing Charter Service that serves Siesta Key as well as Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota and Venice. The beach shop carries outdoor sportswear plus T-shirts for the whole family.

Posted in Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tripadvisor Ranks Siesta Key Beach #2 in US

It’s true, beach lovers. If you have not visited Siesta Key beaches yet, after being named #1 in the US by Dr. Beach in May, 2011, and after being named #1 Family Beach, then make sure you put this beach on your list of “must see beaches” this summer.

With sand like talcum powder, made from 99% quartz, it never gets hot. It is cool to the touch even in the most heated of times during the months of July, August and September.

See the full article here:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20130220/ARTICLE/130229976/2055/NEWS?Title=Siesta-Public-Beach-named-to-a-world-Top-25-list&tc=ar

Best Western Plus – Siesta Key, with its extremely close proximity to the #1 beach, on-demand beach shuttle, truly deluxe complimentary hot breakfast and beautifully upgraded facilities, will be offering special Florida resident rates beginning April 15th. Discounts, special family packages and family activities will be just a few of the new things the property will be introducing. So check back often and join them on Facebook by pasting their URL:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Best-Western-Plus-Siesta-Key/77541644475

You can also join their email list for updates on specials and packages. Visit BestWesternSiestaKey.com. Hope to see you on the island soon!

Posted in News, The Beach | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2012 Siesta Key Crystal Classic – Info and Photos

One of the most spectacular sites to behold on our #1 beach every November is the creation of 10′ tall sand sculptures that begin with a huge pile of sand, pushed by bulldozers on the beach at sunrise. Master Sand Sculptors from all over the world come to compete in the Siesta Key Crystal Classic, hoping to walk away with the $5,000 first place prize. This year the event had participants from Holland, Singapore, Spain and Canada as well as the US.

Typically, sculptors begin their work on the Monday of the week the event opens, working on sponsor logos on a pile of sand. Depending upon the number of logos, sculptors can generally begin the long process of pound up once this task is completed which generally takes about 2 – 3 days.

For the Siesta Key Crystal Classic, the competition is between teams of two Master Sand Sculptors; 12 teams in all. This year, the event began with a rather large mermaid sculpture, sponsored by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Each company that the Board represents was carefully carved in this sculpture in addition to the name of each Director, serving in 2012.

An amateur sand sculpting contest took place on Saturday with winners announced Saturday afternoon amidst the entertainment and bands playing on stage to the crowds. Sunday, all 12 sculptures were judged and winners announced in the afternoon. The sculptures were truly fascinating this year with so much detail that it is hard to imagine that one could finish such a masterpiece in such a short period of time.

Master Sand Sculpting events take place all over the world and has its roots in Italy. Siesta Key has been host to 3 of these events with plans to continue the tradition in 2013. Sculptors stayed at the Best Western Plus-Siesta Key this year and participated in a “Meet the Artists” Event at the hotel on Friday and Saturday night – a great success and a special up close and personal for the hotel guests. See more pictures on our facebook page.

Posted in Events, The Beach, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Siesta Key Hotel Joins Best Western

BEST WESTERN PLUS SIESTA KEY HOTEL JOINS
WORLD’S BIGGEST HOTEL FAMILY

Sarasota, Fla., Sept. 21, 2012—Best Western International announces the opening of the BEST WESTERN PLUS Siesta Key Hotel, located 6600 S. Tamiami Tr. Locally owned and operated by MPL Lodgings, Inc., since 2007, the hotel features 115 guest rooms and 6 two-room suites.

Hotel amenities include a 24-hour coffee and cappuccino bar, fresh popcorn, fresh fruit and freshly baked cookies in the lobby, a complimentary full breakfast, heated outdoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, and guest laundry. Each room is equipped with a 42” LCD flat screen television, mini refrigerator, microwave and free wireless Internet access. “We believe we have done an excellent job re-positioning this hotel property, by investing over $1,000,000 in renovations and upgrades. Best Western is a brand that truly represents the uniqueness of our property, not to mention an unbeatable location”, said Maria Bankemper, General Manager and Principle of MPL Lodgings.

For business travelers, the hotel offers a business center with complimentary copying, printing and faxing services, free wireless Internet access in all public areas and meeting space to accommodate up to 35 people theater style.

“We are proud to welcome the BEST WESTERN PLUS Siesta Key Hotel to our chain,” said Mark Williams, vice president, North American development for Best Western International. “This property gives guests a quality lodging option when traveling to southwestern coast of Florida.”

BEST WESTERN PLUS Siesta Key Hotel is located right off US 41 in Sarasota. The hotel is just minutes from Siesta Key Beach, Turtle Beach for boating and Myakka River State Park for kayaking. Area attractions include the Selby Aquatic Center, Mote Aquarium, Ringling Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Twin Lakes Park and Historic Spanish Point. Enjoy nearby shopping, dining and golfing.

Travelers can contact the property directly at (941) 924-4900 for special packages and grand opening rates or visit BestWesternSiestaKey.com.

Best Western Rewards is one of the industry’s most generous rewards programs and one of few that is truly international. With more than 4,000 locations in 100 countries, Best Western makes it easy for members to earn points redeemable for global free room nights with no blackout dates, dining, shopping and entertainment gift cards, gas cards, airline miles and more. Now more than ever, Best Western Rewards is helping our leisure and business customers travel “smart.” Learn more about the program at www.bestwesternrewards.com.

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand made up of more than 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Now celebrating 66 years of hospitality, Best Western welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests nightly. Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales, marketing and promotional support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 15 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, racecar driver Michael Waltrip, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. Best Western in 2011 was named AAA’s and CAA’s Hotel Partner of the Year and bestwestern.com was named the 2011 Compuware Best of the Web Gold award winner. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit bestwestern.com.

*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment