Tag: Florida

10 Fun Things To Do In Siesta Key

Siesta Key is a fun and beautiful place to visit. It also holds the title of one of the most beautiful beaches in America from Dr. Beach. However, there is more to do in Siesta Key than just beaches. Here are 10 fun things to do while you are enjoying Siesta Key, Florida.

1.) Siesta Key Beach

You can’t start an article about Siesta Key without listing the beautiful beaches as the number one item to do. Everything about Siesta Key is perfect. From the smooth and flour like sand, to the crystal clear warm blue waters. This beach really is the definition of a perfect vacation destination. The beach also has on-duty lifeguards from 10:00am to 4:45pm daily, as well as restrooms and a snack bar with hot and cold items. Parking is free, but limited, so make sure to get there early!

2.) Siesta Key Village

After a long day at the beach, take some time in the evening to enjoy “The Village” and everything it has to offer. The Village is walkable from pretty much any point in Siesta Key, however, you can also take the free trolley bus that makes its way from “Turtle Beach” to “The Village” with pickup locations at almost every condo unit on the way. The Village offers tons of dining options, shopping, as well as bars and entertainment. This is a great place to unwind at night.

3.) Selby Botanical Gardens

The Selby Botanical Gardens are located at 900 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236. These amazing gardens are a great place to explore for a few hours if you are tired of the beach and need a break. With a beautiful layout, there are many unique flowers and plants to encounter. Need a break? There are benches located throughout the gardens to sit, relax, and find your inner peace. Entrance fees are $25 per person, however, if you are a member of a local garden / museum / zoo near your home, ask about the “reciprocal membership” while paying, as you could possibly enter for as little as $5. The cashier has a massive binder with a list of all participating groups from every state. Parking is free.

Link: Selby Botanical Gardens Website

4.) Mini Golf and Gator Feeding at Smugglers Cove

Where in the world can you find a place that you can play mini golf, as well as feeding Alligators? Smugglers Cove in Sarasota, Florida (15-20 minute drive from Siesta Key) is the perfect place for a night of family fun you won’t forget. This miniature golf course has a nice layout with tons of props and decorations. The course isn’t particularly easy, so get ready for a fun challenge. Holes in one are tough to come by. Before or after you play a round, ask the cashier about “feeding the gators”. For a few dollars, you can take a pole and feed these cute gators. We had a blast doing this, and can’t wait to try again in the future. The location is easy to find with tons of free parking. Also, make sure to download the $1 off coupon from their website before visiting.

Smugglers Cove is open from 9am until 11pm seven days per week. Their address is 3815 N. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34234.

Link: Smugglers Cove Miniature Gold and Gator Feeding Website

5.) Kayak Through The Lido Mangrove Tunnels

There is more to the Siesta Key area than just beaches and the Gulf of Mexico. Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures offers a fun 2 hour kayak tour that encompasses both animals (Manatee watching – of which we saw a few mothers and babies), as well as nature. The tour begins with searching for Manatees, and wraps up by traversing through the Mangrove tunnels. This is such an awesome experience, and the amazing guide (Phil) made the trip even more fun. His knowledge of the nature and wildlife was very interesting, and his personality and witty humor gave everyone in our group a good laugh. Phil ensures that the trip is not physically demanding, which means this activity is good for everyone, young and old.

The 2 hour kayak excursion costs $55 per person and is offered in the morning and again in the afternoon.

Link: Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures

6.) Shopping and Dining in Downtown Sarasota

Want to get away from the beach scene for a little bit? Downtown Sarasota is only a 15 minute drive from Siesta Key, and provides the much needed big city feel that you are missing. Parking is free in most places in downtown Sarasota, so park the car, and walk around. The city is a lot of fun to explore. There are tons of museums, shops, and especially restaurants with menus posted in the front. We recommend checking out Mattison’s City Grille on North Lemon Avenue off of Main Street. This open air restaurant offers a fun atmosphere with dining and live music.

7.) Parasailing In Siesta Key

Are you looking for a real adrenaline rush? Take an excursion to Parasail over the water in Siesta Key and get a real view of the crystal clear waters, warm white beaches, and views from both high above and down below. The tours are dependent on weather, so make sure to check the forecast before booking your parasailing adventure.

8.) Seashell Hunting In Siesta Key

No trip to the beach is complete without spending some time hunting for that perfect seashell to keep as a memory. The beaches of Siesta Key make it easy to find that perfect shell, as they can be found both on the beach, as well as in the crystal clear waters. If you get lucky, you may even find a nice Sand Dollar, however, most people commented that you need to arrive early to find Sand Dollars before others take them or they get accidentally stepped on and broken by swimmers.

9.) Siesta Key Drum Circle

What article about Siesta Key beaches can be written without covering the infamous Drum Circle that takes place each and every Sunday evening. The drum circle forms on the beach near the facilities and begins about an hour or so before the sun begins to set. This is a free event that allows you to come and go as you please. People from all over bring drums to play, as well as costumes and other fun items. Usually it is the small children who begin to dance and enjoy, but as the sun sets, and the beats continue, more adults continue to join the dancing and fun entertainment. This is a great activity that you should absolutely check out, even if only for a few minutes.

10.) Breathtaking Siesta Key Sunsets

I have traveled all around the world, but the sunsets in Siesta Key are the most beautiful that I have ever seen. On a clear day/night, you can watch as the sun slowly approaches the horizon, and once it gets close, it quickly vanishes until tomorrow. The beach crowd had thinned out a bit, but as the sun was setting, more people arrived to partake in this amazing natural show. Watching the sunset on the beach is the perfect way to end a wonderful beach day.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Flight Review: Allegiant Air – Punta Gorda to Pittsburgh (PGD-PIT)

This flight review took place on Sunday, May 19th, 2019, on Allegiant Air from Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) to Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT) on board an Airbus A-320.

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Airline:  Allegiant Air (G4 #1523)

Date:  Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Departure City:   Punta Gorda Airport (PGD)

Departure Time: 11:28 AM

Arrival City:  Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT)

Arrival Time:  1:44 PM

Aircraft:  Airbus A-320

Our trip to Siesta Key is over and it is time to leave our AirBNB condo. We got into our Mercedes Benz GL SUV from Turo and started the 1 hour drive to Punta Gorda Airport.

Since Punta Gorda is a tiny airport, there was no wait to drop off our checked bag, and we proceeded through the security checkpoint.

Once past security, there are a few gates and a store/cafe. The store has basic items like books, magazines, and snacks, while the cafe offers a few basic hot/prepared foods. We each had a bacon and egg croissant, which was pretty good.

Boarding started on time and since there are no jetways, all boarding takes places via stairs in the aft of the aircraft and a ramp in the front of the aircraft. This method drastically reduced the time needed to board, and within a few minutes, we were closed up and ready for departure.

The flight itself was smooth and uneventful. My wife tried to nap and I finished reading a book. The usual buy on board service came through, and we spent the $2.00 for a bottle of Dasani water.

As we touched down in Pittsburgh, I have to admit that out of the hundreds and hundreds of flights I have taken in my life, this was the smoothest landing ever. It didn’t even feel like we touched down it was that smooth. Congrats to the pilots for the skills!

Our flight departed 10 minutes early and arrived into Pittsburgh 16 minutes early, which saved us almost a half hour of time.

The bags made their way to the baggage carousel about 15 minutes after we left the aircraft.

Overall, this was another great flight on Allegiant Air.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

A Week In Siesta Key With An AirBNB Condo

My wife and I wanted to plan a vacation to Florida, and with the advice of a friend we found Siesta Key. If you aren’t aware, Siesta Key has been named the #1 Beach in America by Dr. Beach in his annual listing of the best beaches in the country.

A quick search online shows that there are no formal chain hotels in Siesta Key, with the closest property located in Sarasota, Florida, roughly 15-20 minutes away by car.

With no chain hotels available, our next step was to search AirBNB to see what sort of properties were available. Our requirements were simple. Near the beach and reasonably priced for one week in May.

After a lot of searching, I focused my sights on one property. The price was great, and from the photos, it was directly across the street from the main beach access. While the interior seemed dated and older, the past reviewers highly rated it’s cleanliness and communication with the host.

We booked the property for a week and were very excited about our upcoming trip!

We flew from Pittsburgh to Punta Gorda on Allegiant Air, and booked a Mercedes GL SUV from Turo to drive to the condo and around Siesta Key.

The condo was an hour drive from Punta Gorda airport, and upon arrival, the check-in instructions were clearly explained. We had officially arrived at the Crescent Royale Condominiums in Siesta Key!

Our next goal was to park the SUV, however, the parking spaces as well as the condo units are not labeled in order. It wasn’t uncommon to see parking spots and condo units next to each other such as (519, 112, 310, 206). This made things confusing, but we found our parking spot and condo unit.

Upon walking inside, the unit appeared clean and we got ready for a fun afternoon at the beach. Later that evening, we got ready for bed, and that is when the nightmare began. These beds were the absolute worst beds that we have ever slept in. You find more comfortable beds in a $10/night hotel in Phuket, Thailand than these. My wife and I are not heavy folks (130-135 pounds), yet when you laid on the bed, your body totally sunk in. On top of that, the pillows were maybe 1/2 an inch thick only, and the bed creaked anytime you moved. The creaking wasn’t just a slight creak, but a loud screeching “Creaaaaak”. If you did happen to fall asleep, as soon as you or your partner moved, you would wake up from the noise.

I contacted the host and expressed our concern after the second day, however, he explained that the condo was their second home, and they love their bed, so we could cancel our trip and receive a partial refund if we wanted to leave. We ended up sucking it up and staying the rest of the week, but needless to say, we didn’t get any sleep.

The reason we wanted to stay was the location. The condo was clean, and the views from the Lanai deck were incredible. You could get from the Lanai to the beach in less than 2 minutes walking. How perfect is that?

Aside from the bedding issues, we had no other complaints that trip until the second to last day. I came inside to get some fruit out of the refrigerator for us to eat on the lanai, and met the largest cockroach that I have ever seen on the kitchen floor. I tried to kill it, but the little bugger was too quick for me. I called the condo unit and our host, but unfortunately, no one was of any help. You know the saying, if you see one, you don’t know how many more you are not seeing. This made us anxious and ready to leave and get home. We searched and sealed all of our clothing to prevent any of them from sneaking home with us.

On our last night, I came inside and didn’t turn on the light until the last minute. When I did, I caught the roach under my sandals near the front door. I had him cornered, and BOOM. Success. No more roach.

We followed the check out instructions and left the condo having had a good overall vacation. Upon further discussions with the host, we received a small bit of compensation for the bedding, which made us very happy. We would recommend his place in the future.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Flight Review: Allegiant Air – Pittsburgh to Punta Gorda (PIT-PGD)

This flight review took place on Sunday, May 12th, 2019, on Allegiant Air from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) on board an Airbus A-320.

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Airline:  Allegiant Air (G4 #1695)

Date:  Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Departure City:  Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT)

Departure Time: 9:17 AM

Arrival City: Punta Gorda Airport (PGD)

Arrival Time:  11:44 AM

Aircraft:  Airbus A-320

My wife and I were planning a trip to Florida, and exploring our options to get to Siesta Key. We had traveled on Allegiant Air in the past on trips to Savannah, Georgia and Cancun, Mexico, and we had no hesitations about using them for the short hop down to Florida.

Booking on the Allegiant website is quick and easy. We secured two roundtrip tickets, with 1 checked bag, and pre-selecting our seats in both directions for a total of $462. Without a checked bag or seat selection, the total would have only been $326.

The morning of the flight, we arrived at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT) about 90 minutes before departure, and found the Allegiant Air check-in area completely empty! We walked up, dropped off our checked bag, and were on our way to security within 60 seconds.

Boarding commenced on-time and our aircraft pushed back at 9:17am. Our estimated flight time was 2 hours and 27 minutes.

The thing I enjoy about the Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines employees at Pittsburgh is that they all seem to enjoy their jobs and put the passengers into a good positive mindset as they are boarding. It’s a night and day difference between these folks and some of the “legacy airline” employees you meet at big hubs like O’Hare, Newark, JFK, etc. A big round of applause for the awesome gate agents of Allegiant and Spirit in Pittsburgh.

The Allegiant Air flight today (G4 #1695) is being flown by an Airbus A-320. The aircraft interior is simple and clean. The seats are basic with minimal padding and no reclining option. I love this, as I am usually stuck with someone directly in front of me who throws their seat into full recline the moment we take off.

Once we reached cruising altitude the snack purchasing service began. The offerings are basic, but reasonably priced. Only credit cards are accepted.

Nothing is free on Allegiant Air. A bottle of water will set you back $2, unless you are an Allegiant Air credit card holder. If you have an Allegiant Air card, you are comped (1) free drink of your choice for the flight.

The Airbus A-320 has no in-flight entertainment, so be prepared with your own (whether games on your phone, an iPad with movies, or a good book).

After 2+ hours in the air, we began our descent into Punta Gorda. The warm Florida landscape below us looked so inviting, and we were counting down the minutes until we would be relaxing on the warm sand of Siesta Key beach.

The flight made a hard landing at 11:35am and within 4 minutes we were parked at our stand in Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). Punta Gorda is a small airport with no jet bridges and all remote parking with ramps/stairs.

It was a big change going from the chilly weather of Pittsburgh to the 90F sunny temperature of South Florida! Upon disembarking the aircraft, we walked into the terminal and proceeded to the baggage claim area. The total time walking from the aircraft door to baggage claim was roughly 2 minutes.

The baggage claim is small with only 2 belts, and the bags took roughly 15 minutes to appear, and ours arriving about 20 minutes after we arrived at the baggage claim.

Overall, our experience on this Allegiant Air flight was very good. When traveling on an Ultra Low Cost airline like Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, etc, you need to set your expectations based on your price. They provide everything as expected. Safe, clean, non-stop, and reliable transportation from Point A to Point B for a very low price.

Despite all the former negative posts in the media about Allegiant, I have never had a bad experience with them in the 6 flights I have taken. While Allegiant used to have a large fleet of old MD-80 aircraft, they have since phased them all out and now only operate new/modern Airbus A-319 and A-320 aircraft.

Thank you to Allegiant Air for a safe and cheap way to travel to Florida!

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!