A couple of months ago, Clint and I really got bit by the travel bug and started working on some summer travel plans. We decided that we wanted to take a beach vacation and we also wanted to go somewhere that we had never been before. After some research, we decided to head to Sarasota. It turned out that it was really easy for us to get to and there were a lot of things to do as a family, so it all sounded perfect.
We had such a wonderful time on our trip and I’m really excited to share some of our favorite things about it with you. This was the first time that we had done a big family trip with just the four of us, so we tried to do quite a bit of research and planning so that we knew what we were in for. Traveling with two kids was definitely really busy, we were going almost non-stop (thank goodness for nap time!) but we had so much fun with the boys and Jackson really hasn’t stopped talking about the trip since we got back.
Since we were traveling with two little kids, we didn’t do much in the way of FORMAL photos, so today I’m sharing some of our candids and a few that I attempted to stage throughout the trip!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. When we go somewhere new, we always look for a couple of brands of hotels and Ritz-Carlton is always one of them. The service is always fantastic, and you know that the hotel will be beautiful, just as it was in this case. We had a lovely view over the marina with a great balcony for sitting out during the boys’ nap time with a glass of wine.
The hotel was also a great pick because they have a kids program called Ritz Kids (read on for more on that), a pool, beach club and golf course. They also offer transportation to a few different places, including St. Armand’s Circle and their other properties – plus they took us over to the jungle gardens that I’ll talk about next.
Our service was absolutely fantastic and the food at the hotel was delicious. We definitely picked the right place to stay and would both recommend and re-visit again ourselves!
What We Did
The biggest priority of the trip was beach time! We haven’t done a lot of beach or pool time in a while, so we were all looking forward to some outside time. Along with having a pool on site, the hotel has a shuttle that took you over to their Beach Club (about a 5-10 minute drive). The Beach Club has a restaurant and both beach and pool access. On our first day, we spent most of the time in the pool, especially after we found out that Dylan was terrified of the waves at the beach. The pool area was great for kids and they had lots of toys, plus great food and drink service. It rained on our first afternoon and we had so much help moving the boys up to the restaurant for lunch that it was so nice!
We went back to the beach club again on our last day and the Ritz-Carlton treated us to a cabana for the day. Along with the cabana being a great spot to have lunch, rest and get out of the sun, they brought out a pack & play to keep in there for Dylan to nap (and, in our case, to corral him while we tried to change him or just get our stuff organized).
Jackson got to spend some time doing the hotel’s Ritz Kids program and he absolutely loved it! On Friday night, he wanted to attend the Luau Party that he saw a flyer for in our room. So he got to go to the party where they had games, he ate dinner and did crafts with some other kids. Needless to say, he came back exhausted and had a blast! He also did a full day of Ritz Kids during one day of our trip. He spent the morning working on more crafts and projects, and the afternoon at the beach. The ladies who were in charge of the program did such an awesome job and he loved spending time with them!
For a little family field trip, we went to Sarasota Jungle Gardens. SJC was recommended by a few people and we thought the boys would love seeing the animals. Plus, it was maybe 10 minutes from the hotel so that was perfect. We spent the morning at the park and the boys (mostly Jackson) had so much fun. We did the walking trails through the park, checking out animals along the way and stopping whenever we felt like it. Jackson was excited to see a skunk, an owl and lots of other creatures he’d seen in movies. We also got to feed the flamingos and one particularly aggressive swan while we were there. At the end of our morning, we did this reptile holding experience thing where you could hold an alligator, a snake and a lizard. Clint had to hold everything and Jackson “held” the gator and the lizard. In reality he touched both of their tails for about 2 seconds, but the way he tells it, you’d think he was carrying them around all day.
The night that Jackson did the Ritz Kids Luau, Clint and I got dressed up and took Dylan into town. The shuttle from the hotel stopped right in St. Armand’s Circle where there were lots of restaurants, shopping and cute little parks. We stopped for drinks and appetizers and popped into a couple of shops.
On another afternoon/evening, we took the boys over to Marina Jack and the Bayfront Park. At Bayfront Park, there was a splash pad and playground for the kids, which they loved. And after playtime we went to O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill (on recommendation from my friend, Beth) where we got to get beach bar food and sat right at the beach.
We had so much fun and the boys were EXHAUSTED every single night, which made sleeping a win for all of us!
Where We Ate
The first restaurant we tried when we arrived was Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton. We ended up eating there 3 times, twice for dinner and once for just desserts, and every time was so good. We, again, had really awesome service and the food was delicious. Among the things we tried were their cioppino, ceviche, and peanut butter banana bread pudding. They also had a great kids menu that didn’t disappoint for the boys. They had pizza, fruit popsicles, chicken tenders and smoothies. Jackson was even able to get sprinkles on his ice cream when he asked for them!
There was also a little coffee spot at Jack Dusty and they made perfect almond milk lattes!
One morning we went to a local breakfast spot, The Toasted Mango Cafe. It was within walking distance of the hotel, so we just strolled down the street and it was totally worth the walk. I got a seafood omelet, Clint got their homemade corned beef hash with peppers, onions and mushrooms, and the boys got pancakes. Dylan was more interested in Clint’s breakfast (which was the favorite all around), and ate about half of that! It was a great little spot and we all enjoyed the casual meal.
At St. Armand’s Circle, Clint and I took Dylan to Shore for drinks and appetizers. We sat up on the balcony overlooking the Circle and ate lobster sliders with our wine. Dylan snacked on some crackers and we didn’t stay too long. I would love to go back there for a date night because the food looked really good but a climbing, impatient 16 month old was not interested! There was also a store on the first floor of Shore that had a lot of great beachy fashion finds.
It’s not a fashion blog post without talking about what we wore, so here’s a little round up from the photos above!
At the Pool:
- On Me: Cabana Life Rashguard c/o // Cabana Life Bikini Bottoms c/o // J.Crew Open Back One Piece
- On Dylan: Gap Rashguard // Gap Swim Trunks
- On Jackson: Old Navy Swim Trunks // Old Navy Rashguard
At the Beach:
- On Me: Cabana Life Rashguard c/o // TYR Bikini // Warby Parker Sunglasses
- On Dylan: Old, Similar swim set
- On Jackson: Cabana Life Rashguard Set c/o
Sarasota Jungle Gardens: