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Old 02-26-11, 07:21 PM   #1
DnvrFox
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Vacation in Florida - Bradenton area/Anna Maria Island/Other in area.

My wife (73) and I (71) are looking to a one week mid April vacation in FL on the gulf coast. My wife is recovering from a total knee replacement. But, we hope by mid-to-late April she will be able to do some mild bicycle riding - hybrid - on a rental on trails and the like. No busy roads - maybe 10-15 miles. We will likely rent a condo for a week.

Some thoughts:

1. Due to the above, we need a reasonable priced non-stop flight from Denver, which seems to limit us pretty much to Tampa and Orlando (except Miami, where we don't want to go). SW airlines has a $139 fare to Tampa and the same back.

2. We have stayed in St Augustine before and Orlando and wanted the Gulf Coast this time.

3. We have been checking out Anna Maria Island as a possibility. Or the Bradenton area?

4. I love to swim, and we want to be right on the gulf.

Any other suggestions around the St Petersburg/Sarasota area?



ANy feedback GREATLY appreciated.



Thanks so much.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 02-26-11 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 02-27-11, 05:33 PM   #2
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I cannot speak to the St. Pete area, I am sure the south central Fl members can help. If you get up in the northwest FL area we would welcome you and Mrs. Dnvr here. Staying right on the Gulf is no problem here. I suppose you have family and or friends in the St. Pete area but know you would be welcome here with us anytime.

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Old 02-27-11, 05:46 PM   #3
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I cannot speak to the St. Pete area, I am sure the south central Fl members can help. If you get up in the northwest FL area we would welcome you and Mrs. Dnvr here. Staying right on the Gulf is no problem here. I suppose you have family and or friends in the St. Pete area but know you would be welcome here with us anytime.

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Thanks - should I bring my flash cubes?

We wanted to go to Destin, but there is no way to get there from Denver on a direct flight without changing planes, which, right now, is pretty important to us.
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Old 02-27-11, 09:22 PM   #4
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... by mid-to-late April she will be able to do some mild bicycle riding - hybrid - on a rental on trails and the like. No busy roads - maybe 10-15 miles.
It's a bit north of where you're hoping to stay, but do consider Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole, 11198 70th Av., (727)319-2453, right on the Pinnelas Trail. http://bicycleoutfitters.net/storelo...location-2.htm
I rented a hybrid from them in March 2009. Excellent service, decent rates, highly recommended.
The Pinnelas Trail is flat-as-a-pancake except for a few major arterial crossings that involve 1/10th mile of uphill ~10% grade to get over those few busy streets; you'll need your brakes for the downhill sides. http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/

Enjoy your vacation!!
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Old 02-28-11, 07:47 AM   #5
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We ride a couple of trails in Florida in January that you could review; Pinelas and Withlacoochee both on the Gulf side. The latter is the longest paved trail in Florida. Both have access to nice restaurants where we like to stop at the halfway point of our rides before we head back. There are bike rentals along the trails if needed. If you have a little more money you could stay on Sanibel Island and ride from one end to the other also with good restaurants, lots of shops, and lots of people and traffic in the winter.
Richard and Anne
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Old 02-28-11, 07:51 AM   #6
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Thanks, all!!
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Old 02-28-11, 11:32 AM   #7
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I have done the Withalacoochee Century a few times. The route is fun and it goes through several nice towns. Up by Crystal River, you can snorkel with manatees. I have not done that.

I have stayed at Sanibel Island. It has a sort of a bike trail. It has a nice bird refuge. It has very good shelling if you get out before the other shellers. There are decent restaurants on Sanibel and Captiva. You can kayak to nearby islands.

You can even go after megaladon (sp?) teeth. These were gigantic sharks far larger than modern great whites. Sometimes people find fossilized teeth that are 6" long. You can find them off of Venice by scuba diving and sifting the bottom or on one of the local rivers with a professional guide (google it).

You can also hike on some of the state parks over there. You should see birds and other wildlife.

There are also some local sites over on the west coast. There is a very good tropical garden in Sarasota. You could go to Ybor City in Tampa. It has interesting restaurants and a pile of tatoo parlors. There is sunken gardens in Saint Pete. Busch Gardens in Tampa has a very nice bird show and an aviary where you can feed Lorikeets (and possibly be pooped on by same for no extra charge!).

You could even go up to Bushnell and see the Dade Battlefield. That is where the Seminole Indians (native americans?) ambushed Major Dade's column and wiped it out starting the Seminole Indian Wars.

If you wished you could drive south and see the Big Cypress Swamp and the Florida Everglades.
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Old 02-28-11, 12:32 PM   #8
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The Peace River is one of the prime shark tooth fossil rivers in that area. It empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Punta Gorda. The wife and I will be vacationing in Sanibel in March.

I live a little NW of Miami, and if you're looking for the West Coast south of Bradenton, Tampa is your best destination. I've taken direct flights from Ft. Lauderdale Airport to and from Denver on Southwest Airlines I just looked at their website and you can find non-stops to and from Tampa.
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Old 02-28-11, 12:47 PM   #9
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Ha! You may be hitting the Florida Coast right at Spring Break. Are you thinking of all the lovely young college girls running around half naked (or maybe more)? Tell me you didn't think of that...
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Old 02-28-11, 05:44 PM   #10
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My wife and I just returned from 6 weeks in Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. As you may know, the island is about 7 miles long, so round trip there is your 15 miles give or take. We stayed the Gulf view condos right on the beach (104 gulf drive), plus they had a pool.

The island was fairly bike friendly and while there is traffic, there are well marked bike lanes on the main roads. For longer rides you can continue over a bridge to Longboat Key, and Lido key. Robinson's preserve was a nice nature trail with paved paths and lots of flora and fauna.

You might check out flights into Sarasota/Bradenton airport, only about 20 minutes to the island. Oh, plenty of bike rental places around as well.

We would go back in a heartbeat..........
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Old 03-01-11, 05:18 AM   #11
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My wife and I just returned from 6 weeks in Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. As you may know, the island is about 7 miles long, so round trip there is your 15 miles give or take. We stayed the Gulf view condos right on the beach (104 gulf drive), plus they had a pool.

The island was fairly bike friendly and while there is traffic, there are well marked bike lanes on the main roads. For longer rides you can continue over a bridge to Longboat Key, and Lido key. Robinson's preserve was a nice nature trail with paved paths and lots of flora and fauna.

You might check out flights into Sarasota/Bradenton airport, only about 20 minutes to the island. Oh, plenty of bike rental places around as well.

We would go back in a heartbeat..........
That pretty well sums it up. There are some airlines that fly into the less busy St. Pete airport as well. $139 sounds like a good price but read all info about taxes, luggage charges, etc. The entire area from Tampa to Siesta Key would be a nice area for a vacation.
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Old 03-01-11, 06:08 AM   #12
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That pretty well sums it up. There are some airlines that fly into the less busy St. Pete airport as well. $139 sounds like a good price but read all info about taxes, luggage charges, etc. The entire area from Tampa to Siesta Key would be a nice area for a vacation.
Thanks all. To discuss some points:

1. The $139 is with Southwest, which is the cleanest fair one can get - free baggage, etc. The flight must be non-stop. I can find no non-stops into Sarasota or similar. Tampa, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando seem to be the non-stops from Denver.

2. From what we can tell, Spring Break is not at this time this year.

3. The emphasis of the vacation is not bicycling. Bicycling is a nice addition, but not the primary emphasis. We will be hiking, swimming, walking on the beach, sightseeing. We are not fans of museums.

Again, thanks SO MUCH for all of your efforts and sharing with us your suggestions and thoughts.
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Old 03-02-11, 05:46 AM   #13
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I think you will enjoy the vacation !
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Old 03-04-11, 12:39 PM   #14
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Dnvr,
Spring break beach goers started this week for the Gulf beaches. We have had beautiful weather here and several of the early vacation schools have people here in Pensacola Beach. Did you look at Southwest where they fly into Panama City airport? I don't know if they go in there from your departing point non-stop but it is close to Destin. Have a good time where ever you decide on, look us up if you get into the far Northwest Florida beaches. As I said, you and Mrs. Nora are always welcome here. No flashcubes required.
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Old 03-04-11, 12:51 PM   #15
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Dnvr,
Spring break beach goers started this week for the Gulf beaches. We have had beautiful weather here and several of the early vacation schools have people here in Pensacola Beach. Did you look at Southwest where they fly into Panama City airport? I don't know if they go in there from your departing point non-stop but it is close to Destin. Have a good time where ever you decide on, look us up if you get into the far Northwest Florida beaches. As I said, you and Mrs. Nora are always welcome here. No flashcubes required.
Southwest doesn't fly into Pensacola, they fly into Panama City, which would be about 50-60 miles from the Destin/Ft. Walton Bch/Pensacola area. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there are any nonstops between Panama City and Denver.

The worst part about that area of the state is I-10. Otherwise it's got gorgeous beaches.
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Old 03-04-11, 03:20 PM   #16
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A couple of photos from early October in the Sarasota area. I stayed at a motel in Sarasota and did rides along Longboat Key and points north. Flat, lots of beaches, bike lanes for most of the keys.


There's also this same statue in San Diego! My bike is on her heel to show the scale.


Enjoying lunch with a Guinness at a bar & grill on Longboat Key.

Have fun!

L.
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Old 03-08-11, 06:54 PM   #17
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Garila,
Check my reply, I said to check Panama City's airport. I have to say that the west side of the Gulf isn't a good choice after what is going on with tar mats and tar balls this week. Our county is really going through the wringer with large mats and a lot of tar balls washing ashore. You will be better off with your original destination, probably.

Bill
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Old 03-08-11, 08:25 PM   #18
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Since were on the subject, I'm headed to Panama City Beach in April & found some shop that rent bikes, are there any good places to ride in that area that would keep you close to the beach & just enjoy the sights?
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Old 03-08-11, 08:45 PM   #19
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Garila,
Check my reply, I said to check Panama City's airport. I have to say that the west side of the Gulf isn't a good choice after what is going on with tar mats and tar balls this week. Our county is really going through the wringer with large mats and a lot of tar balls washing ashore. You will be better off with your original destination, probably.

Bill
Right, and as I said, they don't fly non-stop into Panama City, and they don't fly into Pensacola at all.

Too bad about the tar.
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Old 03-11-11, 07:43 AM   #20
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A resource you might be interested in:

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide...with_state.htm

http://www.railstotrailsonline.com/trail-map.html
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Old 03-11-11, 05:10 PM   #21
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It's been several years, but the wife and I did a few long weekends on Anna Maria Island. For walks on the beach, some good local restaurants, and short drives to other interesting areas it is hard to beat. You should be able to find some local bike rentals for the type of riding that is common there; single speed beach cruisers. Laid back, beautiful beaches, and wonderful sunsets. Hard to beat.

Mark
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Old 03-11-11, 05:12 PM   #22
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