Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gulf Beaches, Mental Health Day, Sandpiper

Life is busy. But it doesn't mean we can't escape for a day or two. In fact, it's imperative that you schedule regular mental-health days, or a creativity break. We need to debrief our brain and body from the organized chaos we live and breath from day to day.
    Walk out your door, from the Sandpiper Inn ( on Longboat Key, and you'll be stepping onto one of Florida's best kept secrets. A beach where the tide gently rolls in, proffering her treasures. Beachcomb, walk along the beach, jog or bring your beloved pet too. A beautiful sunset, calming breeze and fresh air beckon you to come back regularly. Sip cocktails on your private beach and make new friends, walk among the mangroves, bays or go birding with local resident egrets and more than 200 species of birds. A wonderful park is across the street for biking and walking, Joan M. Durante Community Park.
    Rent or bring a bike to explore bike paths along Longboat Key and St. Armands Circle. ( Browse the unique stores and boutiques for the hard to shop for family and friends, or just for yourself! Hop aboard a fishing charter, enjoy eco-touring in local wild life habitats and reel in some fun (and memories) with your mackeral, grouper  or giant flounder.
    Stroll through Motes Aquarium (, great for one, two, or the family! Learn about sharks and Florida's native species. There are touch pools for adults and kids. Kids can get a bucket of sand and pan for sharks tooth and more! Marvel at John & Mable's Ringling Museum of Art ( and the Ca d'Zan mansion. A must see and experience from the private art collection to the beautifully maintained home to the International Arts Festival coming in October.
    The evening wouldn't be complete without a decadent meal in a relaxing atmosphere. Our personal favorites include: Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub. This charming, weathered beach house dates back to 1912 and is accessible by land or sea. The manager told me that most of his clients don't know how to come by land, they all arrive in their boats. The Sandbar, on Anna Maria Island is also a legend dating back to 1913, offers tropical music and fresh seafood. The website for these two and a third restaurant on the beach, is We ate at mar Vista and the view as well as our meal was superb and our waitress did a wonderful job making sure my scallops were just right!
    We also enjoy Harry's. A very charming restaurant where you can get a delicious german pancake with apples and bananas. They are open for breakfast and lunch with a varied schedule during off seasons. They also offer catering.
    Revisit old Florida. Leave your cell phones, blackberries and laptops at home. Bring your camera and a pair of sandals as you will be swept away in Longboat Key's peaceful respite.

    More photos and places to stay and visit in Longboat Key and Sarasota at
  Another one of my favorite places to stay ad I hope will be yours, is the Cypress Bed & Breakfast  ( in Sarasota, overlooking the bay! Their rooms are spacious, elegant, comfortable and the innkeepers will make sure you have everything you need, including a welcome glass of wine and light snacks before dinner on the town. You can walk to the historic art and theatre village only one block over. Only minutes from Sarasota's wonderful attractions including Selby Botanical Gardens, to boating and water sports, right from the marina across the street.

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