Wow! What can I say about visiting Florida that won’t make me sound like I want to move there?… Haha, I don’t! I love living in Michigan but the weather there was absolutely incredible! We really did luck out on the weather, it only rained for one day and a little bit while we were there. But the weather is not what I wanted to share with you all. So keep reading to hear the places we stayed and went.
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We flew into the Tampa airport and I have to say this airport is HUGE! One of the biggest ones I have been to in a long time.. There are a lot of like terminal trains you have to take to get everywhere. But when you ride in them and see the beautiful views of Florida it almost feels like your in a ride at Disney World. (Also haven’t been there in about 6 or 7 years so this was truly the closest thing to a ride for me haha) Anyways, we flew into this airport and then made our way to visit some family just outside of Tampa. This was so nice, I haven’t seen them in quite a while so it was so good to catch up and reminiscence about my dad and his side of the family. We went to a really cute restaurant that had some very good Grooper that you could look out and see the Ocean. I, unfortunately, I was only able to eat a few bites before I couldn’t anymore, but those bites were so yummy. Now we are off to our next destination…
Cape Coral, FL
The place we stayed at for most of the week and weekend was absolutely breathtaking. Click here to see for yourself. If you have never booked a trip with VRBO I would suggest you download the app and do it now! (I am not sponsored by VRBO) I just really loved the options and house ideas you can find for a really inexpensive price. So get this, we stayed in a house that literally made me feel like a millionaire. It had 4 bedrooms, which was pretty large. 2 of them were master bedrooms, then there was this huge open kitchen layout, I seriously now want it for my own home. There was a private pool that you could look out onto a private cove and see the water and all around it. Here we got to sit and enjoy the outdoor. This white pale Michigan girl definitely needed it and the sun. It was truly absolutely breathtaking, and actually cheaper than staying the night in a hotel with no privacy. Wait until you see the video of this place, I promise you will want to stay there too. I am truly hoping we can stay there again someday. While we stayed in this house, we made our own meals, of course hanging out in the sun in a beautiful pool. Got to look at the view of the cove and watch all the fish in there.
Pool boy story
“These fish jump like crazy”, is what I said when we were there with the pool boy… now if you follow me on Instagram and seen one of the pictures I posted this week, you know where I am going with this story. So.. the pool boy got there to clean the pool while we were hanging around outside. He told us that “the water where we were staying was like Willy Wonka, it was dark and when he snorkeled down there it was like looking down into the void” then he went on to say “the cove had all kinds of creatures in it, and we might be able to see dolphins, there were mullet fish, a type of fish that looks like a loch ness monster, sometimes other sea life would come out there”
So I had to ask about alligators because I wanted to see one, but not like up in my face, I wanted to be in a secure area to see them. He said that “the alligators are not everywhere like the TV puts it, the biggest places to find them were on golf courses, he said they put them there. So he told us we should go to Key Largo, that it is only 3 hours away and so gorgeous. He told us we can see gators right from the highway called Alligator highway (I didn’t see any, and I was looking pretty hard). Then he said that there are a ton of Manatee that we could see, that they get to be about 12 feet and over 500 lbs they were big and so cool to see there, along with dolphins. That there was so much to do and see in Key Largo… well… I think we should have asked for all the mapped out spots he was talking about. Cape Coral does have a few things to offer, although when you ask most people in the town anything, they will tell you that it is very boring. We ended up finding a nice Walmart, there were Publix everywhere, so good places to get your groceries. The best place we found though was an ice cream shop that had pretty good homemade ice cream. This place was called Cape Creamery. I got a cheesecake ice cream that was so yummy and that I would recommend it if you like cheesecake.
Key Largo and The FL Keys (Not Key West)
Oh Key Largo, so this is how my mom thought the song “Pina Coladas” went. If you like “key Largo” or getting caught in the rain lol. Anyways, we did listen to the pool boy’s recommendation and ended up taking the 3-hour drive down to the Keys. Soo… I will say we just kept driving on the same highway forever and for a while, there was no scenery, it was a good time to take a nap.
Then we got into Key Largo and there was water on both sides, it was breathtaking. I literally felt like I was in another country/the Bahamas or the Carribean maybe… The water was crystal clear blue and just so pretty. We kept driving down and didn’t realize we ended up in another Island… but I am getting too ahead of myself. So we ended up trying to find a place that had like a boardwalk, or shops. My mom was trying to look for someplace to eat by the water and where she should also shop for souvenirs. Although, we went into a souvenir shop just off the road and the woman there told us that there wasn’t anything like that until Key West. She actually said “there wasn’t a lot to do in those Keys and that it was quite boring, but told us about a place we may like. So we kept driving towards Key West basically. Then we pulled off into a guest information center to see if they could help us. They said again, there wasn’t any kind of beaches, because that’s not what you can find there in the Keys, and that there really wasn’t a whole lot to do. But they did tell us about one place and we actually really enjoyed it, and I used it to my advantage for pictures for the gram. Soo… where can you go if you don’t want to travel all the way to Key West? Here are the Islands we went to and some ideas of what to do.
- There are dolphin encounters (you will see a big huge sign) I actually swam with the dolphins here myself when I was 12 years old and it is an experience that I will never forget.
- If you like research centers and turtles there is a research center and signs everywhere about saving the turtles and where you can go to see them and help them out. The one sign I have seen and didn’t get to take a quick enough picture of even gave an address for a turtle hospital where they bring them after they have been rescued.
- There is a sportsman place for all those sportsmen
- Finally, there are tons and tons of private resort areas and marinas that you can stay there. Also, again I have seen quite a few VRBO places to stay at while down there as well.
- They have a couple of souvenir shops
- Robbies: Now this is the place I was talking about. It is so cool, right on the water and they have great seafood. You can feed the fish that are called Tarpons, you can hang out with a bunch of huge pelicans. You can also fish for food yourself and the restaurant will cook it for you. There is also a couple of cute shops with souvenirs. A lady there sells these cute surfboards with quotes on them, wish I would have got one. They were so cute. Then there is also a couple of food trucks with food and shakes. Then last but not least, there are some chairs you can take pictures on, and two photo props up to take pictures in. Perfect for those of you that can be like me and want to find the cutest places for the gram.
Then while driving down or even driving back up, on the sides of the road there are tons of places you can park your car and look at the beauty that is the keys. There are a few great spots to take pictures too. Again for all my models and gram peeps like me, you will love how cute some of these spots are.
Yes, I have CapeCoral on here again, so we actually were supposed to go home after our first house we stayed at. Although we just had so much fun we decided to extend our trip! So, we looked back at VRBO and found another private home with a pool in the backyard as well click here to see that house.
- We went to the ice cream shop called; Cape Creamery, they have quite a few homemade flavors to choose from and you can eat outside and enjoy the beautiful weather of Florida.
- In Cape Coral, there is also a Marina/ resort spot you can go to that has a few bars, you can walk through a strip with stores and boutiques and when we were there, there was live music as well.
For those that like to shop: these are some of the shops around the area:
- Coral Wood Shopping Center: This is located in the marina/ boulevard area I was talking about above
- The Shops at Surfside: which is also located on the boulevard. There aren’t too many shopping areas in Cape Coral.
- There are a few in Fort Myers that is not too far from Cape Coral:
- Bell Tower Shops
- Gulf Coast Town Center
- Sanibel Outlets
- Miromar outlets
- Coconut Point
- Publix Super Market
Restaurants because of Course you want to know where the food is. There is so much fresh seafood too! Yummy!!
- Blue Agave: They have a 5 Star review on trip advisor! When we saw the line for this place, it was definitely the spot to be any night. They are a Mexican Restaurant. They are also vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
- Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill: They have a 4-star rating on trip advisor. This is a nice little place right on the water. They are American, bar food and seafood cuisine. They also have vegan and vegetarian options. They are famous for their seafood baskets.
- Cork Soakers: This is a deck and wine bar, they serve seafood and local cuisine. I will tell you guys, the parking to try to get into this place can be tricky. We tried this place first and there was absolutely no place to park. There was someone also playing live music.
- Sonnys BBQ: a local barbeque place. Has a 3.5-star rating on trip advisor. A lot of the reviews are based on the service, not the food.
- Ford’s Garage: This is a really cool auto-themed restaurant. Get yourself a tower of jumbo piston onion rings. They are the best pit stop for their burgers.
- RumRunners: This is another place we tried to go too, but there was absolutely no place to park and they were packed. You couldn’t park on the road either because of signs everywhere or people already parked there. They did have live music and it looked like a great hopping place if you can get in. They have upscale steak and seafood. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available.
- Iguana Mia: A Mexican/southwestern cuisine. Best known for their enchiladas.
- Merrick Seafood: Seafood grille, They have been voted the best seafood restaurant for 6 years. They offer the best local and new England seafood options. There is a fresh seafood market next door so it doesn’t get any fresher than that.
We ended our trip by taking the 3-hour drive from Cape Coral to Clearwater. Clearwater is supposed to have such a great beach. We didn’t end up getting to sit on the beach but you could see it from the little town of shops. NOw this town has so many cute shops and so many places to eat. We did not eat anywhere, but I was watching and looking at them all as we walked down the strip of places. The shops are all really nice but most of them sell a lot of the same thing, so finding the best deal doesn’t really happen. They all basically sell them for the same price. I ended up getting a steal of a deal at Surfstyle a bigger clothing store and shop on that strip. They normally were $30 apiece and it was buying one get one free so my sister and I just split the cost and ended up getting a sweatshirt for each of us.
VRBO The PROS AND THE CONS
VRBO homes are such great homes to stay in but like I was stating above sometimes there can be some cons to it. I will start by explaining the first house we stayed at. You can also look it up yourself by going here. You will love this place I promise! When looking at VRBO’s what should you be looking for?
- Look at the reviews and see what other people are saying about the place. Were there cobwebs? Did they complain about the air/heat? Etc..
- There are always Fee’s so making sure you keep that in mind when you read that price $160 a night… There are cleaning Fee’s, there are how many rooms you are allowed to rent out, and fees if you rent out anymore.
- Always read the rules! Some places have noise ordinances so if you have a big group, that wouldn’t be a good idea.
- Places also have rules that state No parties or events as well as no smoking. So for those smokers, you will be charged if you do.
- Pictures are not always what they seem. The second house we went to was so dirty, my socks were getting dirty and I did not want to walk around barefoot. it was very gross, it seemed like their cleaners just didn’t do any kind of thorough cleaning.
- Some can be very accommodating while others not so much. We let the first place we went to know that I had a few boxes that needed to stay cold, that were being shipped from Michigan full of medical supplies. When we arrived they were there sitting on the front porch. I am glad they stayed cold! The second place we went to, had an area almost like a breezeway that they were put in and stayed a lot colder.
Yes, I did have to make a whole heading and category for driving in Florida. It is absolutely horrendous and I praise the Lord I wasn’t driving because they almost gave me a heart attack a few times.. no lie! NOT one person used their turn signal to get over into a lane or go literally anywhere. It is always like rush hour traffic and people don’t care if you’re in the lane they want to be, they will find a way to move you over or get in. We literally watched this car cut someone off so bad, it is almost like they parallel parked in front of them and just kept going. It was insane. Then we had someone that just got over into our lane because they didn’t want to exit. This guy had a huge truck and a big A** boat and man did it scare us. We couldn’t get over because there was a line of traffic but my mom still had to try and swerve or this guy would have sideswiped us for sure, then he yells at her like she did something wrong.. Totally insane! Oh also hardly anyone goes the speed limit there, so if you’re a tourist, well they probably know it. You are not moving fast enough because the cops are everywhere and you definitely don’t want to get pulled over in another state. It just got super nerve-wracking and again I wasn’t even driving lol
Bonus (Funny Stories)
So as there were very very many funny/ blonde moments, whatever you want to call them I will only tell you a few. The first one starts with me…uh oh. Also want to put a disclaimer here, you may not think they are funny, some are you have to be there moments I guess.. but we laughed so hard I almost peed my pants a couple of times lol
- We were driving along the highway and I asked my sister “are there elephants in Florida?” The look she gave me oh man you guys. she told me “no there definitely is not unless they are at a zoo. Well, I swear you guys I seen an elephant standing in someone’s backyard off the highway, it had a trunk and everything. It could have been a statue but it legit looked real to me.
- My younger sister is an absolute complete blast, and just so much fun to be around. Well, she purchased this game, that I linked on my personal amazon page (among many others) it is called Incoherent and if you don’t laugh while playing it… then I don’t know. It cracked us up we were laughing so hard, again I almost peed my pants and my stomach muscles hurt.
- Here is one of the best ones; Oh my goodness typing it I am laughing so hard all over again. Although, I do feel so bad for the girls.. haha getting ahead of myself again. We stopped at a gas station before we went to drop our car off at the rental company, and my sister and I had already put on our pants and sweatshirts to get ready for the cold weather Michigan was going to bring us. My sister pumped the gas so that my mom could go into the gas station to change. Well, when my mom got out of the gas station I could barely see her, because there was a huge truck in the way, although I did notice she was walking the wrong way! uh oh! She GOT INTO THE WRONG CAR! She literally opened the door of the back seat of this (grey car) that looked like the rental car we had and had two girls staring at her. She then said she said, “Oops, I am so sorry I am in the wrong car” and got back out. She went back to my sister and me and we were crying because we were laughing so hard, and only wish we could have seen her doing it.
My Favorite Travel Gear Items
Swimming pool and Swimwear
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it will help you plan out when you decide to plan your vacation to Florida.
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