At some point after my daughter was born in 2011, my life focus started to gradually change. I started to realize that life is all about the memories we have, the love we share, and the people that we share them with. I started to value moments more than things and my love for travel reached an all time high.
noun: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used forrest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday
Recreation, travel, recess, or holiday…what’s not to love about vacation?!
At some point early on in 2014 (I can’t remember exactly when this plan happened), my husband and I decided that we would take a few weeks in December to travel to the South-Eastern seaboard of the United States to visit family, friends, and for a few days in Orlando.
Don’t let that map fool you – I did NOT spend $446 each way for plane tickets (Google, no.). What I did do, however, was follow the sales. I’m a big fan of flying Southwest and I regularly follow their sales for good travel deals. In early June, flights from Kansas City, Missouri to Tampa, Florida went on sale for a little under $140 each way – if you’re planning to travel and you know far enough in advance, I definitely suggest watching the sales and getting your tickets when the fares are low.
With our bags packed and excitement bursting at the seams, we left for the airport. As we were boarding the aircraft, the captain pulled us aside for a special tour of the cockpit. In all my years of travel, I’d actually never seen the inside of the cockpit up close and so it was an unexpected surprise not only for my three year old (pictured above) but also for me. C loved it. She got a real kick out of pushing the buttons (only the ones that she was told she could) and hearing the plane “talk” to her. Future pilot?! Perhaps!
We flew from MCI (Kansas City) to TPA (Tampa) direct and the ride was smooth and easy. After landing, we made the short drive down to Sarasota for the first few days of our vacation.
Sarasota was warm, sunny, and beautiful…the quintessential Florida destination. While we were there, we trekked through local parks and eventually made our way over to The Mall At University Town Center (UTC). The mall has a great display up for the holidays where children can visit Queen Elsa’s Frozen Ice Palace before chatting with Santa (he’s there!). You can take a peek at some of my pictures from our time at the mall over on the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page.
As wonderful as the indoor shopping center is (and I imagine it’s GREAT during the heat of the summer), our favorite spot in Sarasota was, by and far, the ocean. Living in the heartland, we don’t get to see the shore very often and the beaches in Florida are truly beautiful. We spent an entire afternoon in Siesta Key, enjoying lunch and splashing around in the water.
Please note that the Bead Shack in Siesta Key, Florida sells GLasses, not “asses”. Sorry ’bout that, folks…
There’s a little place in Siesta Key called Daiquiri Deck that offers fresh seafood and drinks at reasonable prices. When in Florida, I think it’s important to get fresh fish so I ordered their Lobster Wrap New England Style for lunch and it was really, really good (like super good, delicious). You can find pictures of that (warning: your mouth might water, mine is just thinking about it) here.
We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon at the beach. The temperatures were ideal for playing out on the sand and, although the water was chilly, splashing around in the ocean was really enjoyable.
The beaches there are stunning. One thing that I was most impressed with was the fact that I was able to walk out into the ocean pretty far (you can see the picture below) and the water was still only up to my knees. I felt really comfortable letting C play in the water without having to worry about riptides or the water getting deep too quickly.
Our few days in Sarasota were absolutely relaxing and enjoyable. My husband’s sister and her family live in the area and so we were able to spend time with them, letting the cousins play, and just appreciating our time together. I can’t wait to go back!
Next up on the blog: Our visit to Orlando! Stay tuned…