Summer 2020 is of course unlike any other – in terms of celebrating weekends – or otherwise. But at the end of May 2020, after 10 weeks of strict quarantine in our Massachusetts home, we drove for 22 hours straight to Sarasota, Florida to get a little bit of sun and fresh air. We managed to do it while practicing social distancing (and other safety measures) and in our youtube video and this post I share how we did it – while still enjoying our family getaway to Florida.
Be sure to check destination-specific health guidelines (state websites are a good place to start) before you leave home- to confirm that a state you are heading to is (relatively safely) welcoming visitors from your state. Situation changes frequently and Florida is not looking great at the moment.
The following tips should be helpful in planning your social distancing vacation near beach this summer and fall:
Choosing a Destination. Florida coast was not on our original travel agenda for this spring (we have planned a trip to Japan), but we all know what happened. Back in May a warmer weather and an apartment on the beach (and low virus “numbers” in the state at the time) seemed like a perfect destination choice to take breaks from work and study. Nothing is 100 % safe outside of a full quarantine in your own home of course, but a beach-or another outdoor-focused destination (like a state park) may offer a good opportunity for “social distanced” getaway.
Getting There. We were definitely not ready for a plane ride at the end of May (we are still not ready as I am writing this at the end of June), but a car ride seemed reasonable. After all, we have done car trips (from Boston to various parts of Florida) many many times when kids where younger. We have packed our own food for the entire trip and did not stop in any hotels while getting to our destination. We had disposable masks, gloves and sanitizers ready for the bathroom stops on our way.
Where we Stayed. We rented an apartment with private entrance at a beach-front condominium called Palm Bay Club on Siesta Key Florida. A day before we left for our trip, I spent quite a few hours on the phone with home owners in Sarasota trying to book an apartment on the beach. There were plenty of options available on the apartment booking sites but there was also lots of confusion over authorization to rent from the state and condo associations.
Where we Ate. A private apartment offers not only a better social distancing opportunity but your own kitchen to cook or prepare sandwiches for the beach. We ordered several curbside restaurant pick-ups, but mostly enjoyed our own (light) cooking in our rental’s kitchen. French pastries from C’est la Vie were to die for (enjoyed via curbside delivery on this trip although a visit to their dining room will be in our agenda during a future visit to the area).
We were very happy with our choice of apartment; you can take a look at it (and even see what’s for dinner) in our youtube video (we put a lot of love into our new youtube channel –please subscribe!)
WHAT TO DO ON A SOCIAL DISTANCING VACATION TO SARASOTA, FLORIDA.
THE BEACH. Siesta Key Beach – several miles of crystal white sand and warm blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico – is number one reason for a trip to the area. We live near Cape Cod in Massachusetts and I always thought that our sand was one of the nicest I have seen anywhere in the world. I do still think so, but after a visit to Siesta Key area beaches, I am having hard time getting used to Cape Cod sand and waters (stay tuned for our report from some of the best Cape Cod beaches-coming up soon on our youtube channel and on the blog)!
We have spent most of our time on this trip enjoying the beach and its offerings: long walks, gorgeous sunsets and many swims. We felt properly social distanced while on the beach and did not wear masks. Just to give you a little orientation, Siesta Key Public Beach starts around Siesta Village area on the northern tip of the island, and “public/private” Crescent Beach is located just to the South of the Siesta Key Public Beach and stretches all the way to the sea wall. Our condo was located in the middle of Crescent Beach which we preferred to Siesta Key Public Beach (it was less crowded than public beach).
ROADTRIP TO ANNA MARIA ISLAND. Another perfect activity (social distanced and otherwise) is a road trip to Sarasota’s other gorgeous keys and beaches (remember, we drove our own car to this Florida vacation). Our chosen destination was Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island (about an hour away from Siesta Key).
We travelled via several causeways and bridges through Sarasota, Lido Key, and Longboat Key. On the way back we swam on Lido Key Beach (our second favorite in Sarasota area!) and walked around St. Armands Circle.
The St. Armands Circle – historical marketplace on Lido Key adorned with Italian sculptures, interesting architecture and lush greenery- is a worthy destination in Sarasota, but we were not comfortable enough to indulge in its many fine restaurants and shops on this social distancing trip. We did enjoy our sculpture walk around the Circle (wearing masks) and braved an ice cream treat (we did take our masks off for that- and enjoyed some ice cream on the bench outside)!
20-th century American industrialist John Ringling (of the Ringling Brothers circus family) is a prominent name in Sarasota and The Ringling Museum of Art is not to be missed! Its rich collection requires quite a few visits to be fully enjoyed, as it houses 15-18 century European art, modern art collection, Circus Museum with the most intricate miniature circus city, an Italian sculpture garden, and the Ringling Family’s estate and gardens. This was our first (and probably last) visit to any museum this year; but we appreciated every minute of our visit to the Ringling and felt properly distanced from other visitors at all times!
There is an interactive area inside the Circus Museum that was closed off during our visit; we also did not have time (or energy) for the Ringling Estate Ca D’Zan on this visit- so we will be back!
SARASOTA BAYFRONT was another area where we took breaks from the beach on this trip- to enjoy bay walks, admire the yachts and photograph the sunsets! (Boat rentals and bay cruises will make its way back sometime in the future).
I know that many readers will also enjoy a visit to Sarasota Aquarium but we had plenty of real time nature’s encounters on the beach to enjoy on this trip (shhh we still did not tell our daughter about a manatee encounter!).
For more roadtrips from Boston, read our post full of summer ideas!