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pallen123's avatar

Looking for a Florida vacation spot in December. Suggestions?

Asked by pallen123 (1511 points ) October 14th, 2009

Last year our family—wife and I and two kids (6yrs and 3yrs) went to Sanibel Island for a week and loved it. We’re planning another week long trip to get out of the winter weather in Cleveland and I’m wondering if anyone has other suggestions for places we ought to check out. What we liked about Sanibel was that it wasn’t super overdeveloped; lots of little hotels and homes; small town feel; beautiful beaches; several restaurants to choose from (few chains); pool for the kids; local bookstore; easy to bicycle around the island; close to Fort Myers airport.

I’m sure there are many, but can anyone recommend similar spots in Florida? Islands or just beach towns that aren’t super overdeveloped, have a small town feel, and some things to do locally—even if it’s just restaurants and bookstores?

Thank you!

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16 Answers

MrGV's avatar

Destin, FL has nice beaches

gussnarp's avatar

Anna Maria Island, on the south side of Tampa Bay.

CMaz's avatar

I have been to every corner of the state, Florida is great. Excluding the Keys. Sebastian Florida is my favorite place.

Out of the way and quiet. Close enough to West Palm Beach and Orlando. But far enough to have some peace.

Plenty to explore for you and your children. LOTS of open sandy beaches, Mel fisher museum and home of the nations first bird sanctuary, Pelican Island.
For what you are looking for look no further plenty of good food and atmosphere.
Melbourne and Vero Beach right around the corner if you want a bit more to explore.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Ft. Lauderdale is not the holiday haven it once was. But the beach there is still lovely.

scamp's avatar

ChazMaz gives an excellent suggestion. I lived near Sebastion in a small town called Grant years ago, and it was a beautiful area. I don’t know how much has developed since I left, but the beaches nearby are wonderful. There is a small town nearby called Wabasso, we went there because we had the entire beach to ourselves all day.

If you do decide to go to this area, don’t forget to stop by Hale Groves and get some of their famous Indian River citrus fruit. I worked there a long time ago, and I couldn’t get enough of their honeybell tangelos.. they are really sweet and juicy! They will be happy to give your family a tour, so your kids can see how their citrus is grown and packed for gift boxes, etc.

CMaz's avatar

@scamp – Don’t forget the Frog Leg Festival in January.

:-)

scamp's avatar

@ChazMaz Oh yeah! And the Grant Seafood Festival in February.. yum :) In my younger days, I commercial fished with my ex so I know how good the seafood in that area is. I went giggin with a guy who made his living selling frog legs. He fried up a “mess(” that’s how you say it there) for us, and they were spectacular!

Did you ever eat at Ozzie’s crab house?

CMaz's avatar

Oh yea!
They burned down a couple of years ago. Bummer.

scamp's avatar

They did? Oh man!! Now they have to change the population sign! When I lived there, it said: Welcome to Grant Florida, Population 300…something, and 2 old crabs. Ozzie was one of the crabs! Ruth, the wife of the owner of the Grant motel was the other was the other. They sold out and moved away years ago. I wonder who the new crabs are??

syz's avatar

Go to the keys. In spite of being a tourist destination, Key West still has a unique, ‘artist colony’ feel. The other keys are much less developed. You can sail, fish, kayak, snorkle, dive, go out on boats with dolphin researchers….enough activities to fill days and days. Many of the Bed and Breakfasts are lovely old Victorian homes, and most are surprisingly affordable (but be careful, quite a few of them are “clothing optional”).

If you’re a history buff, St. Augustine is a beautiful choice, too.

CMaz's avatar

Yes, I do love the Keys too.

I go to Big Pine all the time. Only Key with deer on it.

MuffinMonarch's avatar

It all depends on what your looking for on your vacation. If you are looking for culture and fun than the keys are always good but you NEED to go to Hialeah in Dade-county. It’s like Cuba part 2 and is super fun. Its kinda weird how alot of people there dont speak english but most everyone speaks spanish.

scamp's avatar

If you end up further south in Florida near Hobe Sound, You could tour the Loxahatchee River and Jonathan Dickinson State Park. it’s a beautiful park, with tons of wildlife easily seen. Camping there is great! there is a lot to do without even leaving the park. The Environmental Education Center is fascinating for the whole family, and if you aren’t into camping, they have other accomodations

marinelife's avatar

If you like quiet as you said, the middle keys or upper keys are great. I do not think you would like how Key West is today. A great place to stay is Islamorada. There is a wonderful quarry at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park that both parents and kids will love. Traveling South check out Bahia Honda State Park..

Another fabulous place is Cedar Key. Be prepared though that coller weather might be possible depending on when you go. Fabulously reasonable boat tours out to Pencil Key and some sights of the Gulf. Also a trip up the Lower Suwanee. Tons of great nature walks and bike trips, quiet, good restaurant choices and shopping, but very undeveloped. Here is one of my favorite funky places to stay.

Venice Beach is another good place. The kids will love sifting sand in the Gulf for fossilized Megalodon teeth.

markylit's avatar

Definitely, the Gulf Coast. Great beaches, comparatively quieter places, great hospitality, great food. You can sit and relax with a good book, or stare out into the calm gulf. The swimming is great because you can see through the crystal clear water and float until you can’t float no more.The Florida Panhandle is a must.

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