One Last Vacation as a Family of Three

Friday, June 10, 2016

A couple of months ago now...back in April (don't judge! We've been busy!), we took our last big vacation to Anna Maria Island as a family of three.

T was attending a CME, and we were lucky to coordinate our trip to be the same week as my brother N and his fiancĂ© C would be visiting. We just love to have friends and family around when traveling...particularly when C is with us, and we all stayed busy and had a wonderful week together in the sunshine state. 

The trip started off with a bang when C got lucky and found himself in a row with an extra seat to sit in...and snagged some pancakes from the airport restaurant to take on the flight.

Later that evening, after arriving on Anna Maria, we headed out to the beach to watch sunset, kick off our shoes, and dip our toes in the ocean. C promptly found a tide pool to sit down in (without swim gear on of course), and had fun splashing around until the sun went down.

The next morning...after making sure all of the vegetable cans were where he left them on our last visit, we headed out for some exploring on Pine Avenue and an iced coffee date at Hometown Desserts. If you go, their caramel iced coffee is to die for, and perfect for a hot day. Of course, there's no getting a cup with a straw by C, and after blowing the saleslady a kiss on the way out the door, he demanded a drink. Unlike most kids, who probably hate coffee at his age (or at least I know I did), C would have been perfectly happy to drink the entire thing! A boy after his Dad's own heart!

Hanging out with Uncle N & Aunt C by the pool was a definite favorite of the trip! 

This picture pretty much sums up our little C on vacation, and has to be one of my all time favorites. I mean, have you ever seen a kid as chill as this one!? 

Oh hey girl...

We got to see this pelican up really close while waiting for dinner one night. C was fascinated watching it, and the other birds dive for fish...or fisherman's bait off the pier. 

I don't know what it is about this bench, but C loved to climb up on it with whatever his latest treasure was to sit and relax.

For a change of pace on a particularly warm day, we took a trip to Ellenton Premium Outlets for some shopping. C is a great little shopper, and had so much fun exploring all of the shops. 

One of our big adventures of the week was a trip to the Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota. The Big Cat Habitat is a safe haven for big cats, bears, and other animals in need. It's a bit rough around the edges, and not nearly as structured as a zoo (think gravel paths and port-o-potties), but was really fun to see. The enclosures are designed for viewing the animals up close (compared to a zoo that you are sometimes lucky to see the animals at all), and C was in complete awe watching them. Something he did NOT like...llamas. The llamas were one of the animals that you could feed or pet...if you were brave, but that was definitely not the case for C who was literally shaking with fear. Poor little guy! For kids who are a little older...or more brave...there was a great petting zoo with goats of all ages.

C got to go on his very first pony ride at the Big Cat Habitat! He was such a little stud, and not afraid at all of riding horseback. Surprising after his interaction with the llama!

We went to the 'show' where we got to see a Barbary lion (extinct in the wild), a liger (cross between a lion and tiger that only happens in captivity), a tiger, and an orangutang that did tricks. 

After our busy afternoon at the Big Cat Habitat, we stopped in St. Armands for an early dinner at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Venezia, and ice cream at Kilwin's (toasted coconut & brownie double scoop in a bowl is our favorite for sharing). C loved the Kilwin's stop not only because he loves ice cream, but also because their sweets are displayed in a glass case at just the right level for him to ogle over.

We made it back to the island just in time for a quick walk on the beach and another absolutely gorgeous sunset before calling it a night.

Of course, no trip to Florida would be complete for the guys without a day spent fishing, and after a few windy rough days, they got their shot. The haul was pretty good in the end, but they took a picture after pulling in this little guy just in case they didn't have any luck during the trip after a slow start. The fish they kept were grouper, and one yellow snapper about 40 miles offshore. 

Meanwhile, while the boys went fishing, C & I, Aunt C, Aunt T, and Uncle J had our own adventures. We went to the city pier in Anna Maria, and C learned all about playing maracas, and how to put a tip in the tip jar for the live entertainment!

On this trip, C became quite fearless about the ocean. He LOVED nothing more than to run along the beach where the waves were breaking, and stomp in the water and sand. As the week went on, he continued to get more brave, and tested his luck by pushing it to the limits on how far into the ocean he could get away with before T or I swooped in and scooped him out squealing in delight.

No trip to Anna Maria would be complete without a visit (or two) to The Donut Experiment, and as you can tell, C would agree. Between the exaggerated 'Mmmm's' coming from his mouth and shoveling in donuts as fast as he could, I think it's safe to say that The Donut Experiment has been firmly established as a must-do on every trip we ever take to Anna Maria Island.

On our way home, as you can see, T was frustrated by having to wait for a hot second in a line at the airport (because no one has ever had to do that right!?). This picture cracks me up, particularly the fact that C is pointing out how annoyed Papa T is. Hahaha...

C did great on our flights home (we had a short layover in Minneapolis), and had so much fun watching all of the busy workers and airplanes coming and going at the airport. By the time we got on our final flight, he was fighting sleep pretty hard, but held out until we made it through the clouds...falling asleep sitting straight up watching out the window as the sun was setting. A sure sign of a great trip!

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Thanks for visiting! Let me know if you have any suggestions of recipes I should try, fun ideas to do with the kiddo, or a suggested adventure to add to our bucket list!

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