Alluring “Staycations” Make Living in Florida a Great Choice


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 15th, 2015 – Whoever coined the word “staycation” must’ve moved to, or has a strong affinity with, Florida wherein residents can conveniently go on regular getaways or holiday trips but nonetheless remain quite close to home. The glorious natural resources of the Sunshine State, particularly in its many state and national parks, allow this rare privilege to have the ultimate in fun and relaxation but minus the hassle of travelling to far-off tourist destinations.

The nearer itineraries also mean a staycation can be more affordable than travelling to distant tourist attractions. Related to affordability, entrance to most state and national parks in Florida will cost under $10, and that’s typically per carload, not ticket price per individual. There are not too many places outside the state which can match this bargain.

Eclectic lodging choices

Alluring “Staycations” Make Living in Florida a Great Choice

For accommodations, many parks offer inexpensive choices or visitors can opt for equally affordable outside lodging nearby. Offerings within the park itself can be amazing and range from campsites to luxury cabins and some upscale lodges.

The only tricky part though may be choosing which park to go for a Florida staycation as there are some 11 national parks and 160 state parks in the Sunshine State, in addition to a number of recreation and preservation areas. In Manatee and Sarasota, the major parks include the Oscar Scherer and Myakka River State Parks, which can be enjoyed with just a day tour for residents of these two counties.

De Soto Park sampling

For a true staycation, what may immediately come to mind for Manatee and Sarasota residents is hopping northward to nearby Pinellas County for a visit to the Ft. De Soto Park. This 1,136-acre park is noted for flocks of shore and migratory birds, with some 296 avian specieshaving been sighted. Park activity is by no means limited to bird-watching. Visitors can explore Ft. De Soto by bike, kayak or on foot on off-road trails or waterways leading to coastal hammock forests, beaches and a small museum.

From the park, visitors can take a ferry or paddle about two miles to the historic Egmont Key State Park, managed in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. One of the island’s attractions is Fort Dade, built during the Spanish-American War featuring century-old brick roads and an operating lighthouse built in 1848. Sights on the beach include mounds of soft sand marking the burrows of the protected gopher tortoises in abundance on the island’s interior.

Paddlers’ delight

What’s also delightful about Ft. De Soto Park, particularly to kayakers, is that it serves as the jump-off point for Segment 9 of the 26-segment Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. This particular segment runs for some 30 miles and traverses Tampa Bay and winds up in Lido Beach.

Less hardy souls on a staycation can forego with the kayak and instead hire a boat to trace this paddling trail which also covers stretches off Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. For those from Manatee or Sarasota, a stay on Anna Maria Island could be a great way of winding up a short holiday trip from Pinellas County. The island itself has plenty of tourist attractions and offers a free trolley system. Near its Holmes Beach, the trolley service links to a bus that can take visitors to Bradenton and Palmetto in the mainland, for a convenient and less costly return from a staycation trip.