Florida Trip Report

Mar 22nd, 2002, 10:03 PM
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Florida Trip Report

Just returned from 6 days in FL. We (2 adults, 2 kids 10 & 14) spent 3 nights at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando and then 3 nights at the Thunderbird in Treasure Island on the Gulf Coast near Tampa. The weather was great. The Hard Rock was well-liked by all of us. The hotel is upscale and fun. We all enjoyed the music in the public areas and around the pool. We did not think it was too loud although my husband did overhear one woman who was not enjoying it as much as we were. Our room overlooked the pool area which is beautifully landscaped. The room itself was spacious and very comfortable. The food at the hotel was very good but somewhat expensive. We had lunch at the Sunset Grill and breakfast (which we ate outside) from the small counter next to the Sunset Grill. Dinners at Universal Citywalk were also tasty at Pastamore and Margaritaville.

Treasure Island is a bit of a time warp (circa 1960) but the sunsets over the ocean were wonderful. The Thunderbird has a lovely courtyard and pool and is well-located on the beach. The beach itself is lovely but is almost too wide for my taste (can't year the surf and it took 5 minutes to get to the water from our room). The restaurant (Karim's Bistro) was very good. The room was nothing fancy and is somewhat dated (e.g., no dataport on the phone and no clock radio) but was clean and a pretty good value. The other great find was the Conery -- a softserve place with very yummy, creamy, ice cream just down from the motel.

We spent one afternoon at the Florida Aquarium which is good but not great, in our opinion. Many of the exhibits had pictures of fish/animals that were nowhere to be seen/found and others had fish that were not identified at all.

One of the highlights of the trip was an outing with Linda Taylor of "It's Our Nature" who guided our family around Honeymoon Island for almost 3 hours where we saw dozens of osprey, a gopher tortoise, great horned owls (including new babies!), ibis, egrets, and lizards, among other things. It was a great adventure.

We enjoyed seeing the sunset on the Gulf side and may return next year but will probably splurge a bit more -- perhaps a bit farther south in St. Pete Beach when we go again.

Feel free to contact me directly if you have specific questions.
Mar 23rd, 2002, 05:10 AM
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Mary, glad you enjoyed your trip. As a resident of TI, I must say your "time warp" description was very accurate! Must have been a weird transition from the Hard Rock to the Thunderbird... And apparently alot of people agree with you, because our (formerly lowest beach town) taxes have recently skyrocketed, so our little burg can be brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century. They have now constructed a clock tower on the main drag (the electronic songs of which I'm sure you enjoyed haha) and are redecorating the causeway onto the island with "Key West" style touches. So soon it will look like every other tourist town on the west fla coast I guess! Anyway, glad you dined at Karim's. Hopefully you also grabbed a cuban sandwich at the Floridian down the street? And yes, the sunset is pretty awesome. Next visit, try the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Small and better than the aquarium. Just my two cents !
Mar 23rd, 2002, 06:42 AM
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Great trip report Mary. I think I'll use yours as a model for the one I plan to post in about 1 month (Hawaii). I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to my home state!
Mar 23rd, 2002, 10:57 AM
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laughed at your time warp comment because you are so right that the Thunderbird is just that. Definitely move down to St. Pete Beach for a much narrower beach and really the sand and the water is usually nicer there. Pass a Grill which is just to the south of St. Pete Beach is my favorite beach.
Mar 23rd, 2002, 06:42 PM
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Melinda and anyone else who knows,
I am going to be visiting St. Petersburg in April, can you tell me of any good places to eat or visit?
Thank you
Mar 23rd, 2002, 06:59 PM
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Gabi, I've been to St. Petersburg and would definitely recommend the Dali Museum. Don't know as much about food in the immediate area -- as I mentioned earlier, Karim's Bistro in Treasure Island (just north/west of St. Petersburg) has very good food with a Moroccan flair. Have a good time.
Mar 23rd, 2002, 07:16 PM
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thanks mary!

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