Wow. The last few months of 2021 really got away from me. I feel like I spent all of 2020 and most of 2021 filling my time with activities while we waited for the world to get back to normal. While I know this thing is still far from over, that last few months of 2021 were actually filled with “normal” life things for me. Baptisms, yoga, holiday parties, football games and Christmas with my family.
While I was home in Michigan for Christmas, we decided to take advantage of the fact that we had a free dog-sitter in my mother (thanks again mom!) and book very last minute flights to Tampa, Florida to ring in the new year.
We’re not the type to spend a whole week in the same place, so we chose to split our time between Clearwater Beach and Sanibel Island.
Clearwater Beach is about a 30 minute drive from the Tampa airport and has some of the clearest water and purest white sand I’ve ever seen. We stayed at Pier House 60 which is on the marina side of the island. I was super happy with this hotel because it sits atop it’s 4 story parking ramp so all of the rooms have a great view. There is also a rooftop bar that’s perfect for watching sunset.
We only stayed at Clearwater Beach for one full day so we spent most of it walking the beach, sunbathing and eating our fill of oysters and seafood. It’s a very family friendly area with lots of activities but it also gets super active at night with lots of street performers and a fun bar scene.
Myakka River State Park
On our way down the coast we stopped at Myakka River State Park. It’s one of the largest and oldest state parks in Florida and is known for its vast expanse of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, pinelands of course the Myakka River.
We carefully walked along the Myakka River to view the alligators that lounge on the sunny riverbanks. The park offers boat tours out onto Upper Myakka Lake but we opted to check out the canopy walk that raises you 25 feet above the ground and it leads to a 74 foot tower with 360 views of the treetops and wetlands.
For our last stop of the trip, we found a small resort on Sanibel Island just outside of Ft. Myers. There are no large hotels on the island which made it the perfect spot to unwind.
The Seaside Inn claimed to be best for “active adults” and it did not disappoint. There are a few cottages and guestrooms, all just steps from the beach. There’s a heated pool, yard games, bikes, paddle boards and kayaks.
On our first morning, we took out a paddle board and kayak and were immediately joined by some dolphins. I spend about 30 minutes floating and watching them splash around. Highlight of my life? Probably.
Sanibel is known for its seashells and you could spend hours walking the shores looking for treasures.
We had some amazing meals as well. My personal favorite would include breakfast at the Lighthouse Cafe, peel and eat shrimp at Doc Ford’s, oysters at Timber’s and throwing back beers while watching the Michigan State bowl game at the Lazy Flamingo.
As you can see from the photos, the weather was absolutely amazing and with subzero temperatures settling over Minnesota it was the perfect winter getaway.
I hope 2022 brings you lots of adventures, laughter and love. Happy New Year, my friends!
5 thoughts on “See ya 2021, I’ll be at the beach | Florida Gulf Coast”
Bring on 2022😀. I also brought in the new year by the beach. Somewhat different to you with no bars no cafes and no people. Just a lovely warm deserted South Australian beach after a NYE paddle on the local coast. Happy new year.
That sounds absolutely perfect! Thanks for stopping by. Happy Near Year!
Great pictures. Love all the shells on the beach.
Wow, such beautiful and colourful photos – I would very much love to exchange the dreary Irish weather for something as colourful and warm as Florida beaches. Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year! Aiva :) xx
Sounds like a lovely end to 2021! Happy new year!