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Family Trip Ideas - Keys or West Coast of FL

Old 02-19-2021, 10:26 AM
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Default Family Trip Ideas - Keys or West Coast of FL

Planning a family trip for spring break to Florida and looking for input. Group will be two families, like to fish, swim/kayak/explore but would also like to be on or near beach or water. Ideally find a 4-5 BR house with a pool, but not really necessary. I have been to the keys a few times and had fun, but never with the kids. Kids are 7-11 years old and like outdoor stuff. Considering Siesta/longboat/???? area or maybe Marathon/Islamorada area. Any thoughts on which might be a better fit. Thanks
Old 02-19-2021, 10:59 AM
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sand beaches are few and far between in the keys. and as I understand, most, if not all, are man made private beaches for resorts. if the beach is important, maybe see where they are and then research from there.

I recently stayed in ocean pointe suits in key largo. nice room, private beach, and a marina with a ramp. I know you are looking for a house a bit farther down, but figured I would share. we had a good time. pennekamp park is near which has really nice snorkeling trips. decent waterfront restaurants near by too.
https://www.providentresorts.com/oce...argo/key-largo

good luck
Old 02-19-2021, 11:06 AM
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May be worth checking out Anna Maria Island. I sent a gal I work with from Cincy there in January. She brought their extended family and their young twins (~5 yo). They rented a house with a heated pool, the house came with a street legal golf cart, walked to the beaches, etc. There are tons of options for house rentals there.

I love the middle Keys, but I want to be on the boat everyday while I'm there. There's not much for beaches there and Spring Break time is always sketchy for weather to get offshore, at least.
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Old 02-19-2021, 11:22 AM
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You might check out Hawk's Cay on Duck Key.

We live in Naples and have gone there a couple times. It is a nice family spot with plenty to do for everyone.
Old 02-19-2021, 11:23 AM
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Honest opinion? The Keys suck for what you want unless you bring a boat with you. And yes, I can say that as I own a house down here. The beaches are few and far between and when you do find a beach, it will be very small (couple hundred feet long, if that, and very narrow). The non water based activities for a family are limited. I foresee one of two things happening.....you’re kids complain about how much the vacation sucks because there is nothing for them to do OR you outlay a bunch a cash to rent or charter a boat most of the days you are here. Don’t get me wrong, if you bring a boat with you and the wind cooperates, the Keys can be one of the best vacations. Without a boat, if you want a place to relax and unplug, it can also be a great vacation spot.

I believe Siesta/Longboat has so much more to offer in your position. You can still rent or charter a boat. Number and quality of restaurant choices will greatly increase. The beaches are some of the best around. For an all around family type beach vacation without a boat, it’s hard to beat the W Coast of FL from Clearwater down to Naples.


Old 02-19-2021, 11:42 AM
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Anna Maria, Cedar Key, Crystal River, Apalachicola, St George Island, Cape San Blas. Just throwing out some other options.
Old 02-19-2021, 01:05 PM
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Thanks guys - Anna Maria looks pretty cool. We have looked at St. George Island, but worry that it may still be cool there in mid April.
Old 02-19-2021, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by FinReaper069 View Post
Honest opinion? The Keys suck for what you want unless you bring a boat with you. And yes, I can say that as I own a house down here. The beaches are few and far between and when you do find a beach, it will be very small (couple hundred feet long, if that, and very narrow). The non water based activities for a family are limited. I foresee one of two things happening.....you’re kids complain about how much the vacation sucks because there is nothing for them to do OR you outlay a bunch a cash to rent or charter a boat most of the days you are here. Don’t get me wrong, if you bring a boat with you and the wind cooperates, the Keys can be one of the best vacations. Without a boat, if you want a place to relax and unplug, it can also be a great vacation spot.

I believe Siesta/Longboat has so much more to offer in your position. You can still rent or charter a boat. Number and quality of restaurant choices will greatly increase. The beaches are some of the best around. For an all around family type beach vacation without a boat, it’s hard to beat the W Coast of FL from Clearwater down to Naples.
I will disagree with this. Plenty for kids to do even without a boat around Marathon. Number one for kids 7-11, take a few day trips to Bahia Honda state park, one of the top rated beaches in the entire US. The kids will have a blast snorkeling. A half day execution, drive around Big Pine and check out the Key deer and visit the Blue Hole there. The kids will most likely see a resident gator there. Spend a half day doing the turtle hospital tour. A few more half day, Dolphin Research Center, Florida Keys Aquarium Encounter, Sombrero Beach, Helicopter rides, kayak rentals, fishing right from your rental house dock. Many more things, but these alone will eat up an entire week vacation. I will agree, add a boat and quadruple your fun. You can also find plenty of 4-5 bedroom homes with a pool in Marathon,KCB area that will accommodate your group.

Last edited by mikeloew; 02-19-2021 at 06:27 PM.
Old 02-19-2021, 06:26 PM
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Really enjoyed Ket Colony....
Old 02-20-2021, 04:39 AM
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Bahia Honda state park, one of the top rated beaches in the entire US.
Actually, Sandspur beach at Bahia Honda still has not been re-opened since hurricane Irma. The bayside beach is open but Sandspur is the beach that was a ratings winner.
Old 02-20-2021, 05:14 AM
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If water temperature is an issue - and it can still be quite cool in April from central Florida on up north - then you may be best hitting the Keys. We've had a spell of about a week of 80 degree plus days. That brought the water temperature up in a few spots to 77 degrees of off Key West. It was warmer in some back country spots. It had been in the low 70s before the wave of hotter weather.

The best beaches in the Keys are definitely the ones in the lower Keys attached to some beautiful back country little islands. For all practical purposes, these are accessible by boat only. But, as mentioned above, there's heck of a lot of family friendly stuff to do.

You should start to see more availability down here after April 1st. The snowbirds down here for the winter start to head back north around then and many universities have called off spring break this year. The closer you get to May, the better the availability and the warmer the weather.

St. George Island up in the panhandle closer to you. The state park on the east end of the island is popular with the RV crowd, but the park is well known for its exceptional beaches. I've been there many, many times. As noted, however, the waters there will still be cool in April.

Clearwater Beach is really beautiful, too, but it gets packed and the water will still be cool.

Given your timing and family considerations, I'd say the Keys.
Old 02-20-2021, 08:03 AM
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By Bradenton/Sarasota, I would skip LBK and either go north to AMI/Holmes Beach or south to Lido/Siesta. LBK generally has a different demographic than people with their kids; great grandkids maybe...
Old 02-20-2021, 11:13 AM
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Weeki Wachee Gardens? The spring water is warmer than the Gulf currently. Kayak, manatees, inshore fishing
Some homes up there have pools but most just hop in the canals and enjoy the spring water.
Old 02-20-2021, 05:35 PM
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Cabbage key if they have availability
take the ferry over from Pine island if you don’t have a boat
Old 02-20-2021, 06:41 PM
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We did Islamorada last June with 4 other families. Each family had their own boat and kids ranged in age from 1-19. We had a blast, but we had 4 boats and we did not worry about staying together. Each family did what they needed to do in the moment. While we will probably go back one day, we were disappointed in the lack of beaches and the snorkeling was not as great as advertised. Nothing like the Abaco's. My wife and daughter especially like the beach and looking for shells. Some of the other families are heading back down there this summer, but we are refraining and likely going to the W. coast, Captiva area, to find some beaches and shells. You can certainly have fun in the keys, but having a boat is almost essential unless you want to hit every tourist spot the keys have to offer and pay out of your nose for those "experiences".
Old 02-20-2021, 07:31 PM
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Snorkeling on the west coast / sanibel is substantially worse than islamorada - and if beaches was your hope/goal for the keys-islamorada , then you didn’t do your homework

beaches/shells , however on the west coast / sanibel are amongst the best in the state
Old 02-21-2021, 03:10 AM
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I will be honest with you i love the keys my wife hates the keys. Really if we are all being honest their are two things to do in the keys fishing and drinking. and if its rainy and windy all your doing is drinking.

The beach's in the keys suck period and their is only so much shopping you can do.

Not to mention where your driving from you hit a beautiful coast long before you get to the keys.

if you want lots to do then yes i would look at anywhere from Anna Maria Island to Venice. This gives you Anna, Siesta key, Venice, Nokomis.

We love Venice and live on the Island. but Anna Maria Island/Siesta key is amazing and lots to do in Sarasota area.

you will more than likely find more reasonable accommodations in the Venice area as Anna Maria and Longboat Siesta are higher price's as they are so popular.
Old 02-21-2021, 05:43 AM
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Siesta will be packed Spring Break I would think. I would focus on the north tip of Anna Maria (Pine Avenue and up), Longboat, Sanibel/Captiva, etc. All have plenty to do without a boat, water temps will be more tolerable the further south you go, and the kids will have beaches to play on. If you stay in the San/Cap/Marco area you can always day trip down to the northern keys for something else for the kids to do.

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