Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

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Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby jtundra » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:26 pm

My husband and I would like to take our 3 year old daughter and my 70 year old father to FL for a week this December, possibly during the Christamas week. We live in Midwest. My husband and I had been to Disney Orlando many years ago separately before we met. I also visited Key West once 10 years ago.

We do not plan to visit Disney this time. Other than this, we are open to any family vacation ideas in FL, keeping it in mind that we will drive down there with a toddler and a senior. We love to see the ocean, swim, eat local food, see nature, etc. We plan to spend $3,000 or less for the trip.

Which city/island is a good place to visit?
Where to stay?
What to do there?

Thanks.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby Rupert » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:43 pm

Try the Sandestin Golf and Beach resort just outside Destin. It's a full-service resort with all the expected amenities. It's not far from Highway 30A and all it has to offer, e.g., Seaside. It's fairly cheap this time of year. And it's on the panhandle, which would be a much shorter drive for you than just about anywhere else you might want to visit in Florida.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby JDCPAEsq » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:53 pm

Christmas week is one of the busiest weeks of the year in Florida with heavy traffic and most accommodations sold out. At this late date you will probably have trouble finding a suitable place for the week, at least in South Florida.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby JDCPAEsq » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:59 pm

Rupert wrote:Try the Sandestin Golf and Beach resort just outside Destin...It's fairly cheap this time of year

Average temperatures in Destin, Florida in late December are highs of 62 and lows of 37. Now you know why it's "cheap this time of year".
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby Dave_M » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:08 pm

Sandestin is a great resort, but may not be optimal for the OP.

This time of year you run a real chance of getting cold fronts in that part of the state. That would rule out any beach activity for the toddler (and maybe the rest of the family). I got snowed on there on 12/27 one year. (In fairness, I have also enjoyed low 80's on the same date)

Also, much of the attraction at Sandestin is golf, so you may be paying a (small) premium for something not important to you.

My current favorite spot in Florida is Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota. Very laid back, lots of good restaurants, great beach for walking or shell hunting, and far enough south to be fairly reliably warm.

Drive up to Busch Gardens for a day; go over to Tarpon Springs and eat Greek food and check out the sponge diving culture; shopping at St. Armand's Circle (15 minutes from Siesta Key) - be sure to eat lunch at the Columbia restaurant for americanized Cuban food, and then over to the Daquiri Deck for sunset and desert.

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby detroitbabu » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:15 pm

In December you will not find swimmable ocean temps anywhere in the US. You will need to go further south to Mexico or Caribbean.
I would recommend Cancun or Dominican Republic (Punta Cana) all inclusives. There are still some great deals even this late.
check out
www.cheapcaribbean.com.

Another idea would to go on a cruise.
cruisecritic.com
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby Dave_M » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:16 pm

John"s point about Christmas week being sold out is on point. You may have some luck with VRBO.

A couple of years ago we had some friends get last minute rooms in the Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach area over Christmas; evidently they built a lot of capacity when the space program was booming, and now that it has slowed they often have unbooked rooms. Lots of stuff to do there too, including all the NASA stuff, pretty decent beach, some good restaurants, etc.

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby mike143 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:21 pm

Dave_M wrote:My current favorite spot in Florida is Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota. Very laid back, lots of good restaurants, great beach for walking or shell hunting, and far enough south to be fairly reliably warm.

I second Siesta Key, went for the first time less than a year ago. Was my first "real" vacation. We stayed at the slower end of the island. This is the actual unit we rented for 5 days: http://www.siesta4rent.com/tp4.htm and its exact location: Google Maps Location. We were walking distance to the beach, 7-11 and little "downtown" area with restaurants and bars.

I would stay at the same complex but would probably do a different unit. Unit 4 could use some updating and a deep cleaning. The entire time the only people that used the pool were me and my wife and another couple, that were enjoyable to talk to.
Last edited by mike143 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby chaz » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:24 pm

Fort Lauderdale is nice.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby JupiterJones » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:56 pm

chaz wrote:Fort Lauderdale is nice.


I was just there a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. Too cold/windy for the ocean, but the hotel's pool wasn't bad! 8-)

We caught a dinner and show at the Mai Kai, which seems like it would be fun for all ages.

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby fsrph » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:08 pm

jtundra wrote:Which city/island is a good place to visit?
Where to stay?
What to do there?
Thanks.


I agree with the others that the Gulf/ocean may be too cold to swim. But, South Florida is great this time of year. Usually good weather as the rainy season is over. It is more crowded though. I say give Marco Island a look. About 15 miles south of Naples on the Gulf of Mexico. Both of these places are good to stay. The Marriott is nicer but it sells out often during the Holiday season. The Hilton will save you some $$ and is still a very nice place to stay. Both are Gulf front.

http://www.marcoislandmarriott.com/
http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/florid ... index.html

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby fsrph » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:19 pm

Just wanted to add if you want to see nature and this is your type of activity, the "backdoor" to the Everglades is about 50 miles away on Rt 41. It's called Shark Valley (The main enterance to Everglades National Park is south of Miami). They have an awesome tram ride at Shark Valley.
http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/SharkValley/

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby JDCPAEsq » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:29 pm

fsrph wrote:I agree with the others that the Gulf/ocean may be too cold to swim.

Gulf temperature in Sarasota today is 67. As the locals like to say, only the Canadians are swimming. :happy
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby Taylor Larimore » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:45 pm

Have you considered a last-minute cruise?

We recently returned from a week's cruise to the Caribbean aboard a Holland America ship and had a wonderful time. Our ship, like most, had a special place for toddler's supervised by a ship attendent. You and your dad can go your own way and meet for meals. Very relaxing, within your budget, and this is the best time of year.

http://www.travelocity.com/Promotions/0 ... in,00.html

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby CokeSlurpee711 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:02 pm

Lot of options here in FL. Given your parameters, my best guess would have to be like other posted suggested Saraslowta/Siesta Key. Siesta Key is unreal as a beach. It will be a little bit crowded, but nothing like the zoo South Florida (Ft.Lauderdale-Miami, no offense if you like 3rd world Florida, just not my cup of tea).

If warm water entry/swimming were no big deal, I think the Daytona Beach north to St.Augustine is extremely underrated from a chill, nature, & history perspective.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby likegarden » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:40 am

We once went to Florida for 10 days in February in the 1970s. We had a car reserved, all hotels reserved and all steps planned. I was 40, wife 35, son was 4 years old, and my wife parents were retired in the 60s. It started from Orlando, Cape Kennedy Space Center, Miami, Key Largo reef, Key Honda state park, 4 days Key West, back up to the Everglades park and Tampa. We had a great time.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby INRCHLD » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:38 am

I highly recommend Gulfport, Florida. Just on the north side of the skyway bridge from Sarasota it's very close to all the best the west coast has to offer for all ages but in a neighborhood community. Gulfport is often referred to as Florida's best kept secret. They are amazing with the senior set with theatre, art walks and fresh markets for the family, a small quiet scenic beach on Boca Ciega Bay and a very lovely children's playground and community center with much for all to do. Just a few miles from the St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, John's Pass, beautiful Ft. De Soto Park and St. Pete has a lovely pool at their rec center if your toddler would like a swim. It's next to a lovely setting at Horan Park where the Dads can fish or just enjoy the beautiful ambiance. It's still possible to find private homes that rent out seasonally. Look on vacationrentals.com for Gulfport.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby snyder66 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:33 am

Airfare will be brutal between Christmas and New Years.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby JDCPAEsq » Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:01 am

snyder66 wrote:Airfare will be brutal between Christmas and New Years.

If you can get a flight at all...
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby abuss368 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:33 am

Siesta Key Sarasota

87 degrees on Thanksgiving a few years back and we jumped in the gulf. Then again we are in Pennsylvania!
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby jtundra » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:00 am

It's the OP here. Wow a lot of good suggestions! From the posts I read, I think we are going to choose from one of the followings:

1. Cruise
2. Siesta Key Sarasota
3. Road trip Orlando-Miami-Key West

It has been a long time since we last visited FL.Thank you for helping making our family holiday a fantastic experience!
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby gkaplan » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:51 am

I think the cruise is a good idea.
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Postby Taylor Larimore » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:03 pm

jtundra:

Inasmuch as you have placed a cruise at the top of your list, I will make a recommendation.

About a year ago, we took a 1-week cruise on the Allure of the Seas out of Ft Lauderdale (we live nearby and cruise a lot). The Allure (and sistership Oasis) are the largest cruise ships in the world. We wanted to see what they were like. Several features impressed us:

* They have a "Youth Zone" which they claim is the "largest dedicated youth area at sea." It is certainly the best I have seen. Our ship even had a carousel.
* Seasickness is almost impossible.
* We got on and off as quickly as any ship we have been on.
* Their public entertainment is the best we've encountered.
* The ship did not "feel" crowded.
* I believe the ship alternates between the Eastern and Western Caribbean. We prefer the Eastern Caribbean islands.
* Bogleheads do not splurge on high price cabins. Most cabins are similar in size and all are comfortable.

This is a link for more information: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacrui ... e=AL07E070

Best wishes
Taylor
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby Alex Frakt » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:40 pm

detroitbabu wrote:In December you will not find swimmable ocean temps anywhere in the US.

The ocean from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale (see AMZ650 forecast) is around 77 degrees right now. That's slightly chilly for a pool, but hardly unswimmable. For comparison, the water off the beaches in Los Angeles County top out at around 70 in late August or early September. I'll be there in a couple of days and I certainly plan on swimming :-)
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby porcupine » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:33 pm

jtundra wrote:It's the OP here. Wow a lot of good suggestions! From the posts I read, I think we are going to choose from one of the followings:

1. Cruise
2. Siesta Key Sarasota
3. Road trip Orlando-Miami-Key West

It has been a long time since we last visited FL.Thank you for helping making our family holiday a fantastic experience!

I've heard about the Lion Country Safari down south near the Miami area. Don't know how much the toddler will remember it, but I am sure the rest of your gang will enjoy it. This would be a nice side trip on your Orlando-Miami trip if you do that; or you can do one or both of the other options and tack this one on top of it.

- Porcupine

Disclaimer: I have never been to the Lion Country Safari.
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Lion Country Safari

Postby Taylor Larimore » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:39 pm

Porcupine wrote:

Disclaimer: I have never been to the Lion Country Safari.
porcupine


We went about two years ago. It was better than we expected and well worth the price.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby fsrph » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:59 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:
detroitbabu wrote:In December you will not find swimmable ocean temps anywhere in the US.

The ocean from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale (see AMZ650 forecast) is around 77 degrees right now. That's slightly chilly for a pool, but hardly unswimmable. For comparison, the water off the beaches in Los Angeles County top out at around 70 in late August or early September. I'll be there in a couple of days and I certainly plan on swimming :-)


It's all relative. If the water temp in FLL is 77 degrees now, compare that with Cape May, New Jersey which tops out at 74 degrees in July and August.

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby fsrph » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:07 pm

jtundra wrote:It's the OP here. Wow a lot of good suggestions! From the posts I read, I think we are going to choose from one of the followings:

1. Cruise
2. Siesta Key Sarasota
3. Road trip Orlando-Miami-Key West

It has been a long time since we last visited FL.Thank you for helping making our family holiday a fantastic experience!


Of the choices, I would pick #3. But that's just me I don't know about driving this distance with a toddler.
But lots of good places to stop along the way. Disney, Miami Bech. Overseas highway (Key Largo to Key West) is awesome. The drive is longer than you may think, the Keys are over 100 miles long. Key West is a nice place to spend a couple of days. It can be geared for the younger set with bar crawls and fast paced activities. But it doesn't have to be like that. You still can find some quiet places but wouldn't recommend staying on Duval Street (the main road in Old Town). Nice place to stay is the Casa Marina but would think they would be very busy over the Holidays.
http://www.casamarinaresort.com/

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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby johnep » Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:31 am

I have stayed at Clearwater Beach area a couple of times and found it pretty nice. It is also less expensive than Sarasota area and close to Tampa. I am curious what others more expert on Florida think of Clearwater Beach as compared to Siesta key, Marco Island, etc.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby detroitbabu » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:17 am

Alex Frakt wrote:
detroitbabu wrote:In December you will not find swimmable ocean temps anywhere in the US.

The ocean from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale (see AMZ650 forecast) is around 77 degrees right now. That's slightly chilly for a pool, but hardly unswimmable. For comparison, the water off the beaches in Los Angeles County top out at around 70 in late August or early September. I'll be there in a couple of days and I certainly plan on swimming :-)



That's not my idea of fun. I prefer water temps in the 80s. :-)
However, i would like to join the polar bear club one of these days. Just once to say i did that.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby PreemieNurse » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:01 am

I've lived in Florida for 30 years. Weather is very hit or miss this time of year. It was chilly and rainy last week, sunny and shorts weather over the weekend, back to heavy rain yesterday, and so on. I do not go in the ocean or even to the beach really between September-March. The only people you see in the ocean at this time are fellow tourists.

1. Cruise - I'm not a fan of cruises in general, but this may be a great choice if traveling with a toddler. You will get the warmer weather and some beach time in port, and you will have structured child care available so you can enjoy some time alone. Lots of activities for all of you. You may be able to get some good last minute deals too.

2. Siesta Key/Sarasota area - I grew up about 45 minutes north of here. Siesta Key has been ranked the #1 beach in America at times. Sugar soft sand and great Gulf Coast sunsets. December is not an optimal time to visit (cooler weather, snowbirds starting to come down), but if you just want a very laidback trip with pretty scenery, this could work. Find a place with a heated pool and hope it's not rainy.

3. Orlando-Miami-Keys roadtrip - no offense, but sounds like my idea of hell with a baby :) You will spend most of your time in the car. Orlando and Miami are both notorious for horrible traffic. You will get the warmer weather in Miami but I think of Miami as more of an adult playground. Expect topless and thongs on the beach. The Keys are very pretty but keep in mind it's a chain of islands. There is very little "beach" to speak of in Key West, but you could go to Bahia Honda (?) state park. The Keys are also extremely expensive. I'm often tempted to go there, but when I price it out, it always ends up being cheaper to fly to somewhere else in the Caribbean.
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Re: Where to visit in FL with a toddler and a senior?

Postby porcupine » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:14 pm

detroitbabu wrote:[...]However, i would like to join the polar bear club one of these days. Just once to say i did that.
I've heard only of the mile-high club! ;-)

- Porcupine
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