Gulf Beaches recommendations

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Oct 14th, 2006, 07:03 AM
  #1
taf
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Gulf Beaches recommendations

Hi. Starting to plan a vacation for next spring. Have been to Florida twice, but only to WDW. Looking for any advice to help me plan.

We want to stay on the west side of the coast. We would like beautiful beaches and water. We are active, like to sight-see, both cultural activities and natural areas. We love to bike, so trails are important. We are in our 50's, so not party people but would still like some nightlife. We are considering the St. Petersberg area for our first visit, but aren't sure exactly where to base ourselves. Any suggestions?

2. What is the best time of year for warm days, yet not too hot and humid? High 70's to low 80's-yet not in the midst of springbreakers.

3. We have always stayed in hotels or resorts. We are considering a condo but are very nervous about the uncertainty in choosing one. We don't want to give up the beach or a lot of services, but would like to try something other than an ordinary hotel room. Any thoughts on this?

4. One last question. Our dream is to maybe someday become snowbirds, if not for a season, at least a month or two. So we are thinking it may be a good idea to start investigation potential places while on vacation. Has anyone got any good ideas on how to go about this? Thanks so much for any help and advice.
taf is offline  
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Oct 14th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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Check out Sanibel/Captiva. It is beautiful and unspoiled, with the nicest beaches in Florida IMO. There's no night life, per se, but plenty of nice restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. The islands are covered up in bike/walking trails and nature preserves, with lots of bike rentals available. No real cultural pursuits on the island, but maybe inland in Ft. Myers (Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both had winter homes there which are open for touring...Edison's, in particular, is fascinating).

Another option would be one of the keys off of Sarasota (Siesta, Lido, Longboat). A little more built up, but (again) beautiful beaches and probably more cultural attractions nearby (Ringling mansion and museum, performing arts center).

I live in the St. Pete area, and like it as well...but not as much as my other two recommendations. Not so many good places to bike and hike, although there are a lot of attractions nearby to keep you busy...plus the beautiful beaches you seek.

I think anytime from mid October to mid December would give you the weather you seek, without fighting the horrendous spring crowds.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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We've been to St. Petersburg several times and at different times of the year. A recent book that i got on the area says that at it's coldest in Jan. the temps are 72/56. We prefer it to be warmer as we love to relax on the beach. We have been there at it's hottest in Aug. and it's quite humid. Most recently we stayed at the Madeira Bay Resort in Johns Pass. This is between St. Pete and Clearwater. Had a great time. It was a brand new condo. Our condo had a view of the intercoastal....we could fish off of the balcony if we wanted too! The gulf is across the street, a 2 minute walk from your building. Johns pass is a lively area with many resturaunts and shops. This area was a few blocks down. We would walk there in the evening. We prefer to be a little away from the rush of St. Petes though like to visit there.The new accomodations appealed to us and were exceptional. Since it is so new there were few people.... it was great. If you like to ride your bikes consider Ft. DeSoto Park in St. Pete. A little ride butt was worth us staying art a new, nice place. Have fun
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Oct 28th, 2006, 02:28 PM
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As far as avoiding Spring Breakers, avoid the months of March and April entirely.

So, that leaves February or May. February would be too cold everywhere (there are freezes in Florida in February occasionally) except far South Florida, so if you go in February, then the only place for your temperatures on the West Coast would probably be Key West. But keep in mind that is high season in Key West, so it would still be overpriced and relatively crowded.

For May, South Florida would already be hot and humid, but the beaches of the Panhandle of Florida would just be gearing up, the weather would be great and since the Panhandle's high season is summer, you'd be in the shoulder season and could stay in the nicer resorts for a great price, and not have to face the crowds...

Also, the beaches in Destin/Fort Walton/Seaside/Grayton Beach are consistently ranked as the best in the US. Make sure you visit the cute town of Seaside.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 04:57 PM
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Sanibel is beautiful. There is a bike path thru a wildlife area, and we used our bikes alot, going to breakfast and out for ice cream after dinner. We stayed at Sanibel Moorings, which offers condo style living. We were there during spring break and did not find it overly crowded. They have a great shell museum, not a lot of night life, but some nice restaurants, and the people were very welcoming. It's definitely worth a visit if you are considering a move to Florida.
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Oct 29th, 2006, 03:30 PM
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Sanibel is indeed amazing and great for biking. But the St. Pete peninsula has the Pinellas Trail, a 34-mile multiple use trail that is wonderful for biking. Here's a link to it: http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/

Also, St. Pete has tons of parks - the city parks are as good as county parks in other areas; the county parks, as good as state parks in other areas, etc. Plus you have TONS of culture in the area - lots of museums, some good colleges with symposiums, art shows, etc. I really love Sanibel but it is more limited because it is smaller. I would look at St. Pete if I were you.
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Oct 30th, 2006, 05:25 AM
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My parents have been Texas snowbirds for over 10 years. They checked out Florida and the Texas Gulf and chose Galveston. It isn't ever "hot", but warm and the people are warm, too! Great seafood, tons of history...depending upon where you are coming from, it may be another option to consider.
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