Venice, FL for Spring Break

I don’t know if its cabin fever or a sudden kick of the unfulfilled wanderlust from our early twenties. But this year we decided it’s time for this family to start getting out in the world. So we added a few trips to the calendar, the first one being our Great Wolf Lodge Overnight, and quickly got excited.

With two young children (3.5 and 2) there was a bit of worry that came with being gone for a whole week in a totally new place. We weren’t sure how they would sleep in the two bedroom condo. Especially Adelaide because she had JUST upgraded to a big girl bed at home. Needless to say, our expectations for sleep were low. But still, we were really excited for our first vacation, just us!

If you’ve been around here for awhile you’ll know that I am still teetering between stopping at two kids and continuing on to have an even 4. Let me tell you, packing for the four of us tipped the scales wayyy back to 2.

It was SO EASY!

We didn’t need a pack n’ play. I didn’t bring a stroller. Honestly, the beach bag is what took up the most room in the car!

Places to Eat

We did most of our cooking at home. But we did venture out to two different restaurants in the area. Something to know about Venice, there are about seventy Italian Restaurants. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get what I’m saying. We have not even made a dent in the restaurants in the area, but definitely hope to as we start going more often.

When we got to the condo, the first thing we did was go food shopping for the week. The plan was to eat out one night and make dinner at the Condo the others. We ended up going out to eat twice, and that was honestly better. Next time I don’t know that we’ll buy more than breakfast/lunch food. And here is why….

Luna Ristorante

First, the family favorite is Luna Ristorante. Venice has quite a number of Italian Restaurants but you cannot beat this family style restaurant or their famous Luna Lava. *Pro Tip: go to Luna’s at the START of your trip. You will have food for the whole week!

Crows Nest Tavern

We picked Crows Nest one night because it had a more formal restaurant downstairs and some outdoor seating upstairs. The food was good, I wouldn’t say it was mind blowing, but it was fairly priced and they had a good array of options. The kids really liked it because we were right in a marina and they could see a bunch of sailboats from our seats!

Things We Did

We were in Florida from Monday evening through Saturday morning. In that time we went to two state parks, visited my grandparents, and went to two different beaches.

Venice Beach

We stayed at a condo in Venice so, of course, headed to Venice Beach. Ben grew up coming to Venice (his grandparents own the condo we stayed in) and was really surprised to see the amount of people there. He was so used to it just being a retiree town, he usually came in the fall, and it was so busy because of spring break. Not as crazy as Siesta Key, mind you.

What we like about Venice beach is that it is a 3 minute drive from the condo. When the kids get older, we’ll probably walk.

Venice is also the Shark Tooth Capital. Ben’s aunt always comes home with a huge collection of new shark teeth. Our kids weren’t quite interested in sifting through the sand, so maybe next time our collection can begin.

The negative side of this beach is that the sand is basically shells. The kids were really excited to play in the sand but quickly lost interest in this one. They did spend a lot of time handing me broken shell framents, Addie screeching “this one so cute!” but the winner at Venice Beach was definitely the water. Isaac didn’t want to get out.

Weeki Watchee

As as kid I remember going to Weeki Watchee quite a few times. I was OBSESSED with mermaids, and my grandparents retired right around the corner from the spring. Well….this was not what it used to be. I am not sure if it was just this round of show, but it was short and kind of boring. The show was about the history of Weeki Watchee. Don’t get me wrong, its some cool stuff, but I remember an underwater show of The Little Mermaid. This was D.U.L.L in comparison.

Now part of this is that we missed the riverboat cruise. If we had gotten there early enough to do that as well, I think I would have been happier with the experience. So that one is on me.

Still, the kids thought the mermaids were cool, got to play on a park, meet a mermaid, and see some peacocks.

Siesta Key

There is a reason this is always named one of the best beaches in Florida. The sand is dreamy and the water is gorgeous.

The downside? This beach is PACKED. Especially on spring break.

We searched for a parking spot for 30-45 minutes before finding a paid lot just a little walk from the beach. Well, that paid lot was an abandoned bank parking lot that we paid $44 for. As we walked away with our beach stuff in tow Ben proclaimed, “we have to be here 3 hours! I have a minimum.”

And we were there for 4 hours!

The kids absolutely loved it. They loved the water, they loved playing in the sand. We had an amazing day and it really was worth it to pay that ridiculous parking cost. Even with the beach being absolutely packed. It was so worth it.

Myakka State Park

On our last full day in Florida we decided to venture out and do something different. We looked up a few different attractions where the kids could walk around and look at stuff and ended up going to Myakka State Park. We hiked through a Palm tree Forest, chased a few geckos, and saw alligators right there!

We didn’t even realize how BIG this place was until we left. We will DEFINITELY be going back when the kids get a little older so we can hike around more. Isaac especially loved seeing the alligators!

Vacation Thoughts

Honestly, the week in Florida was amazing. It was really nice to just spend 5 days as a family, no work or obligations to get in the way.

Also, our kids are amazing and I will never stop bragging on them. They were so good the entire time. They slept well every night (except the last night of course) and the attitudes were minimal even without their normal naps.

The trip had both Ben and I dreaming of more vacations to come. I am especially reenergized. I had the thought, “WE CAN TRAVEL!” as we were on the way home, and Ben agreed. So who knows what else is to come? All I know is I definitely want to explore with the kids as they get older, and now I know we can start now! I will, of course, blog my way through it because I think its important for other parents to know they CAN do it. Kids don’t have to “tie you down.” Yes, they change life in almost every way, but they are really dang adaptable. So don’t forget that!

We are hoping to go back to Venice this fall, apparently that’s the best time to see the manatees!

So until next time, happy travels!

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