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Our Florida Trip

Our Florida Trip

This winter I decided that it was high time we took a vacation. Our last major get-away was our honeymoon (which was 6 years ago).

If you know us well, you know that I’m the mover and shaker and Reuben is the practical one. Travel isn’t high on his priority list. But I priced out some flights to Florida, and they were only $87! Plus I found an airbnb for a reasonable price. So even though we have plans of building our first house soon (eek!), I convinced Reuben to take a leap of faith and hop on a flight.


Our Florida Trip

We had never flown commercially before (and I had never been on an airplane in my life). So it was an exciting experience for me. Everything was new and interesting. The seasoned traveler that sat next to us probably thought I was crazy with all the pictures I took out of the plane window. ?


Our airbnb:

Our Florida Trip

I originally wanted to find a place RIGHT ON THE BEACH. But by the time I looked at houses, only the more expensive ones were left. And I got to thinking: if we got a place right on the beach and I wanted to go outside in the evening, I’d probably be sharing a space with party animals and drunks. So we opted for a more private place off of the beach.

And I’m so glad we did!

Our Florida Trip

Our airbnb was even nicer than the pictures! There were fruit trees right in the backyard, a sauna, hot tub, paddle boards, kayaks, bikes, and more!


Florida Day 1This was our ride for the week: a Chevrolet Camaro convertible. We had reserved a VW Beetle convertible on a discount car rental website, but the salesman upgraded us to this! It was pretty fun to tour around in, once we figured out how to make the back window roll up. ?

Beaches We Visited:

Our Florida Trip - Nokomis Beach

Nokomis Beach

We stayed in Nokomis, so of course we had to check out the public beach.

Our Florida Trip - Nokomis Beach

I must admit that I didn’t think we would spend much time here. But as it turns out, it was one of my favorite beaches! The water was the prettiest color of all the beaches we visited, and it was only a couple of minutes from our airbnb.

Our Florida Trip - Nokomis Beach

It probably wouldn’t be the best beach for kids – there were a lot of shells that hurt our feet to walk on, and the drop off was pretty steep. But if you just want to relax on the sand and collect shells, this is a lovely spot.

Our Florida Trip - Nokomis Beach

The sunset on our first evening at the beach was the prettiest we saw all week!


Our Florida Trip - Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

This was the beach that I had originally wanted to find an airbnb directly on. But everything was quite expensive here! I figured we could drive here every day if we really wanted to. In hindsight, I think that would be okay if you don’t have kids along. Otherwise you’d want a place directly on the beach.


Our Florida Trip - Siesta Key Beach

The sand here really was amazing. Like cornstarch! And there was a vast expanse of it. It’s hard to convey with a photo just how wide the beach is. And the dropoff is really gradual – I saw kids out a ways into the water, and it was only up to their knees!


Our Florida Trip - Siesta Key Beach

One downside to Siesta Key beach was no changing rooms! There are only public bathrooms for changing into your swimsuit. So you might want to change before going to the beach. Also, one day we went was pretty windy, and the sand got EVERYWHERE.


Our Florida Trip - LongBoat Key

Longboat Key

I’m not exactly sure what the name of this beach is. But it was a public beach just before Beer Can Island on Longboat Key.


Our Florida Trip - LongBoat Key

It was a small, quiet beach. The sand was nice. There were still people there since it was a gorgeous day, but if you’re looking for something more out-of-the-way, this beach might be for you.


Our Florida Trip - Coquina Beach

Coquina Beach

This was the first beach we came to when we crossed over to Anna Maria Island from Longboat Key. There was horrendous traffic going onto Anna Maria Island, so we stopped here to wait for it to die down.

I really appreciated that this beach actually had changing stalls. But it was kind of a disappointment because as soon as we changed into our suits and got onto the sand it got cloudy. BUT we did see some dolphins! I even got a video of them (see the vlog below).

BTW – does anyone know what kind of trees those are in the photo above? They looked like some type of pine trees…


Our Florida Trip - Caspersen Beach

Caspersen Beach

This beach had a totally different vibe than the ones we had visited before. It was very rocky and the sand was dark. It’s know for being a good spot to hunt for shark teeth. Several people found them while we were there, but we didn’t have the patience to search them out. I almost lost one of my favorite flip-flops to the crazy waves here.


Our Florida Trip - Venice Beach

Venice Beach

A few miles north of Caspersen beach is Venice Beach. And right on the beach is the Venice Fishing Pier. It was neat to get to walk out over the gulf and see if from above.


Our Florida Trip - Venice Beach

While Reuben was taking a picture of me on the pier, a random dude offered to get one of us together. So we awkwardly posed while he snapped a photo.


Restaurants We Visited:


Our Florida Trip - Cafe Evergreen

Cafe Evergreen

This was one of the more natural options close to where we were staying. The first time we went here I got my infamous matcha latte (I was still doing Sugar Free January so I asked it to be unsweetened, but it was obvious that is was sweetened when it came). I also had some shrimp gnocchi. It was delicious. Reuben got a Reuben sandwich (ha!) with a side of mac and cheese. The second time we went here I got a Thai salmon salad and Reuben got a Reuben sandwich again.



Our Florida Trip: The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island

The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island

I had read about this restaurant before we left for Florida. It sounded amazing to get to sit with your toes in the sand and watch the sunset.

The food was definitely overpriced. It wasn’t bad, just too much money for what it was. I ordered the stuffed shrimp and it came with a side of rice and marinara eggplant. Reuben got the chicken and waffles with blueberry butter.


Our Florida Trip: The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island

Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy and cold on the night we went. The heater next to our table wasn’t working, so I had to go to the car and change into pants to keep from freezing to death. Poor Reuben didn’t bring a jacket. The clouds did dissipate just a bit as the sun was setting, but it also started to rain. I’m glad we went here, but I wish it would have been a nicer evening.


Our Florida Trip - Sun Garden Cafe

Sun Garden Cafe

This was a quaint little spot on Siesta Key. It was fun to get to sit outside. I had a shrimp salad with greens, a granny smith apple, radishes, spiced walnuts, an avocado, sprouts, and a ginger dressing. It was yummy. Reuben had a burger with chips.

Something interesting: Most of the restaurants we visited in Florida (even the fast food joints) had these salt and pepper grinders on the table.


Our Florida Trip

The Clever Cup Coffee Shop

I was feeling like some coffee after that salad for lunch. So I found a spot that offered organic milk. It was really good coffee (Reuben like it even though it was unsweetened). Unfortunately I forgot to ask for decaf, so I only drank half of it to avoid the jitters (Reuben drank the rest).


Our Florida Trip

The Alpine Steakhouse

This was a major disappointment. It was a place that Guy Fierri had visited for Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, so we figured it had to be decent. But everything we got was sub-par. I’m sure the goulash would have been really yummy for some people, but they used a spice that we didn’t care for. The shrimp seemed like something you would pull out of the freezer. And the stuffed clams weren’t anything to write home about. The decor was fun, but that was about it. Womp womp.


Our Florida Trip

Korean Ssam Bar

On our last night in Florida, I convinced Reuben to go to a Korean restaurant. I got the seafood pancake and a gimbap roll (I wasn’t able to finish everything), and Reuben got some sweet and sour chicken with pineapple. It was yummy food, but I was getting done with eating out at this point.


Our Florida Trip


We went to PDQ on the night we flew into Florida, and again the day we flew out. The first time I had a grilled chicken sandwich, which didn’t really thrill me. But the fries! They were the best I’ve had in a long while.

The second time I got a Greek salad with tomatoes, olives, feta, pickled peppers, chicken, and hummus. It was delicious! I need to try to recreate it.


Our Florida Trip - Airport Food

Pei Wei

For my very last meal in Florida, I got some sushi at the Tampa airport. I wasn’t feeling like worrying about raw fish, so I got the tempura shrimp roll. It was pretty good for airport food!


Here’s a little vlog of our Florida trip:

So there you have: Where we went and what we ate on our Florida trip! Let me know if you have any further questions about our trip. 🙂

Where was the last place you went on vacation?

How to Make Frozen Hash Browns + Life Lately - Buttered Side Up

Thursday 20th of September 2018

[…] think we officially had our last day of summer on Sunday. It was hot and humid and reminding me of our trip to Florida (yeah, I can’t shut up about it). I finally remembered to have the kids wear their sun […]

Thai Peanut Salmon Salad with Peanut Dressing | Buttered Side Up

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

[…] you’re dreaming about it 6 months later, right? ‘Cuz I’ve been fantasizing about our Florida trip lately. I would LOVE to one day have the financial freedom to make the trek every winter. I guess […]

Green Smoothie Recipe with Kale and Ginger - Buttered Side Up

Friday 6th of April 2018

[…] While we were in Florida, I learned to love a new flavor combo: fruit + ginger! […]


Friday 23rd of March 2018

Pretty sure those are Australian Pines, I loved this post, I live just south of Sarasota and have been to several of those beaches. Glad you could come catch some rays!

Erica Kastner

Wednesday 28th of March 2018

Thank you so much for letting me know what those trees are! They really puzzled us because they looked kind of like a pine tree, kind of like a deciduous tree. That's awesome that you live near Sarasota - we hope to return someday! :)


Tuesday 20th of March 2018

Your trip looks beautiful & relaxing!! I love your detailed breakdown of the various beaches. I applaud you for spending quality time on your marriage! So important for couples in the trenches of parenting. ☺️

Erica Kastner

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Yes, couldn't agree more! We all need a break sometime, especially if you're taking care of small children. :)