Posts Tagged With: beach

Take in the view at the Bayfront Inn

Bayfront Inn sign


I had intended for my next four-day weekend getaway to be on Marco Island, Florida. Now, Marco Island is a lovely place, but after some research, I found that there was much more to do in nearby Naples. (I’ll be writing about all those fun activities in weeks to come.) And I also found I could book a really nice hotel in Naples at an affordable price. That hotel was the Bayfront Inn on 5th Avenue.

Bayfront RoomThe luxury bay view room indeed had a wonderful view of the bay. The pillow-top beds were very comfortable. (Premium luxury rooms have Sleep Number beds.) And the huge shower was great.

There’s complimentary on-site parking, even a small parking garage. There’s a lovely heated pool and spa, although the pool seemed rather cold to me. And the Bayfront Inn is within walking distance of touristy Tin City and the upscale shops of 5th Avenue. This 5th Avenue is similar to its namesake in New York City with many posh restaurants and quirky, fun stores.

The Bayfront Inn is less than a mile from the beach. They have a 12 slip marinaBayfront Pool where you can dock your own boat or charter or rent one. The Naples Trolley Tour has a pickup/drop off point on site and you can catch a water shuttle right outside the hotel. Segway, kayak and bicycle rentals are also available.

The restaurant, The Bambu Tropical Grille, is a covered and open-aired dining area where you can sit by the marina and grab a bite to eat or sip your favorite tropical drink. And in my opinion, they make those drinks nice and strong.

Bayfront ViewI do have to say there were a few negatives at the Bayfront Inn, dropping the rating down from 5 to 4 paws. The landline phone was not working, but the front desk did send someone up to repair it right away. And unfortunately, there are a few little things that bothered me that are out of the hotel’s control. The Bayfront Inn is located on a major roadway, so there was a lot of noisy traffic. And the hotel is directly in the flight path of Naples Municipal Airport. Also, though it’s great that there’s weekend entertainment down near the marina, the music was quite loud and could be heard even though the windows were closed on our 4th floor room.

But overall, the Bayfront is a great place and I would stay there again. The staff was very friendly and attentive. The room was clean and comfortable and the location centrally located to all there is to see and do in Naples.

Dates of Visit:  June 2010 & March 2011

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Sanibel’s Song of the Sea


A few weeks ago, I wrote about beautiful Sanibel Island and how much I love visiting there. It’s the perfect place for a short romantic getaway, especially if you stay at the charming Song of the Sea.

This small, intimate inn is right on the beach. The 30, newly-renovated guest rooms are decorated in a French country motif. All have kitchenettes, a full refrigerator, microwave, flat screen TV and screened in porches. Our room overlooked the heated outdoor pool.


Where other hotels charge for certain amenities, many are complimentary at Song of the Sea. Parking is on site and free. You have use of their bicycles – ideal for touring around the island. Beach umbrellas and chairs are at your disposal. Breakfast, including fresh-made Belgian waffles, is free. And you’ll find a complimentary bottle of wine in your room upon check-in.


I was very pleased with this hotel. Cheryl, the manager at the front desk when we checked in, was extremely friendly and helpful. She provided us with maps and a coupon book to use on the island. The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about was that the room had tile floors which tended to be a bit dirty. I had to wash my feet before bed each night! But I would stay at Song of the Sea again. It’s very reasonably priced for all that they offer, plus it’s right on the beach. We got a great deal through AAA.


Song of the Sea is one of four properties in the Sanibel Collection. The others are the Sanibel Inn, Sunset Beach Inn and the Seaside Inn.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Sun, Sand, Shells — Serenity


Living in Florida, you kind of take the beach for granted. After all, there’s so much coastline, hence a lot of beach! I love living in Florida, yet I’m not a die hard beachcomber. I never have been one to sit for hours in the sun and bake. But I do enjoy walking on the beach or sitting under the protection of an umbrella or cabana listening to the surf and gazing on the beautiful blue water.

There are so many places in Florida I haven’t yet been, but I certainly plan to do a lot more exploring and blogging about the wonderful places to visit in this great state of Florida. Of the places I have been, there is one place in particular that I love so much I never tire of going there. And that is Sanibel Island.

Sanibel is a small crescent-shaped island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of Ft. Myers. I first visited there almost 13 years ago, but it’s such a wonderfully peaceful beach destination, I keep going back. Sanibel Island is a short four-hour drive from my home, so it’s a great place to spend a long weekend, or a long week.

Sanibel Island has a rich and colorful history. It is believed that Ponce de Leon discovered the island in 1513 on his way to find the Fountain of Youth. He named his discovery Santa Isybella after Queen Isabella. In the 1800s, the Gulf Coast barrier islands became known as “The Buccaneer Coast,” because pirates were attracted to the area. One notorious pirate in particular, Jose Gaspar, is rumored to have buried his stolen treasure on Sanibel. Then, to house his female prisoners that he kept for ransom, he built a prison called Isle de los Captivas, hence the name of Sanibel’s “sister” island, Captiva.

There are no more pirates or prisoners on Sanibel or Captiva. There are also no traffic lights, high rise condos or sprawling shopping malls. In fact, much of the island is a wildlife refuge.

In 1935, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling visited Sanibel Island. He fell in love with the area and campaigned to get federal protection for the island’s fragile ecosystem. About ten years later, more than 6,000 acres of mangrove forest and wetlands became the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. You can explore the refuge by biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking or on the guided tram. Here you’ll find dolphins, manatees, alligators, ospreys, herons, egrets, pelicans, almost 400 different species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.


In addition to being a famous wildlife refuge, Sanibel Island is also famous for shelling. The beaches are abundant with “treasures from the sea.” Because people are often seen bending down as they look for seashells, this posture has become known as the “Sanibel Stoop.”


Sanibel Island has something for everyone, every recreation imaginable: fishing, golfing, tennis, boating, biking (over 22 miles of bike paths), canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and windsurfing. And of course there are a variety of great restaurants. (I’ll be posting on some of them in weeks to come.) And many charming shops, boutiques and art galleries.

So, if you live in Florida, on the Gulf Coast, or anywhere in the world, Sanibel Island is definitely a place worth visiting. You may find you love it there as much as I do.


Dates of Visit:  January 2000 & 2002, October 2012

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Lovely Lake Lure


Nestled in the heart of Hickory Nut Gorge, just east of Asheville, is Lake Lure. Yes, it is a lake, but it’s also the name of the town. And as every tour guide will tell you, it’s the location where they filmed the 1987 version of the movie “Dirty Dancing,” starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.


The centerpiece of the lake is the 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa, renovated in 2005 with original antiques and artwork. The inn has hosted a wide range of guests including celebrities, like Swayze and Grey, but also Presidents Roosevelt and Coolidge. It’s a beautiful location for weddings or a quiet romantic getaway.

In addition to the historic inn, there are some absolutely amazing homes around the 720 acre lake.


To explore Lake Lure, you can take one of the boat tours from the Marina. From April through October, hourly tours are conducted. During summer months, they offer box lunch cruises and dinner cruises.


If you’d rather just soak up the scenery on dry land, relax on the Beach at Lake Lure. Here you can picnic, build sandcastles or play in the water park.


And if you’re into something more strenuous, take one of the challenging hikes around nearby Chimney Rock State Park. At the top of Hickory Nut Falls there are fabulous views of the lake.

Whatever you’re interested in, swimming, golfing, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, fishing, boating, water skiing, or just relaxing, you can find it at Lake Lure.

Dates of Visit:  May 2009

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