This past Spring Break, I took a rather spontaneous trip to Florida with my teenage daughter and her friend.
We took the Amtrak Auto Train to Sanford Florida, and had just five days to explore.
Of course the main point of a Spring Break trip to Florida is the beach, and we planned to spend time on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
For my part, I was hoping for some relaxation on the beach: sand, surf, and shells.
The girls were looking for more active adventures!
Melbourne Beach on the Atlantic Ocean
Florida did not disappoint! Barely ten minutes out of Sanford the girls spotted dozens of alligators sunning themselves in a pond.
We caught our first sighting of a mermaid upon arrival at the Radisson Suites Oceanfront in Melbourne Beach.
From our top floor balcony, we could see dolphins — at least I hope they were dolphins — swimming along the shore.
The sun was pretty intense in late March. We found that the best beach times were in the mornings and late afternoons.
The girls wanted to see more wildlife so we headed out to the Brevard Zoo.
The big attraction here was not the zoo itself, but the zipline over the gigantic alligators. This turned out to be a treetop course of obstacles and ziplines that takes over an hour to complete. It was quite strenuous. Drink plenty of water beforehand — I saw a couple of people pulled out due to heat exhaustion.
The girls really enjoyed the Treetop Zipline adventure. The Brevard Zoo itself was small. The best part, I think, was the extensive display of meercats.
Melbourne is near several attractions that we did not see: the Kennedy Space Center, and the Washington Nationals Spring Training Ball Park.
The Foosaner Art Museum in downtown Melbourne also looked interesting.
Sanibel Island and the Gulf Coast
From Melbourne, we headed across Florida to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast, where we met up with some friends. The girls got some shopping in at Fort Myers Beach.
We stayed at the Colony Inn Condos on Sanibel Island.
There, you can rent a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment, just steps from the beach.
The Colony Inn is a bit of the old Florida on what has become an overcrowded and quite ritzy Sanibel Island. I recommend it if you are looking for reasonably priced place to stay near the beach.
The girls loved hunting for shells along the beach at Sanibel Island. The sand here was finer than on the beach in Melbourne, and the water was fairly calm. There were plenty of shells for the picking.
The highlight of the trip, however, was the kayaking we did in Cape Coral.
The girls spotted dolphins and manatees close to shore! It was quite a thrill to see a manatee at such a close distance.