I just returned from my vacation on beautiful Anna Marie Island, FL., just south of St Petersburg. Anna Marie is a quiet destination to enjoy white powdery sand beaches, amazing restaurants that overlook the ocean, shopping in some locally owned boutiques, and the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.
The weather is consistently 78 degrees year round, and the homes are painted bright cheerful colors with beautiful landscaping, most have private pools. The beaches are walking distance from any home on the island and the waves are perfect for paddle boarding or windsurfing. We rented bicycles for the week and rode to the popular local "Dips Ice Cream" each evening after watching the sunset on the beach.
The Sandbar restaurant is a local favorite with fresh seafood and vegetables grown on their own farm, with a large patio for outdoor seating right on the beach as well as indoor seating. The stuffed shrimp was delicious and so is the stuffed grouper.
The Starfish company is a small ala-carte dockside restaurant with dining on picnic tables on the pier. They don’t open until 11:30 am because they catch all of their fish in the mornings and prepare them fried, grilled, or blackened. The fish tacos are the best I’ve ever eaten and homemade hush puppies that would make my grandma proud. They have charters that sail across the bay and to the Gulf for a 2 hour tour. If you dine there, make note they only accept cash.
We had lunch at Mr. Bones BBQ and I was hesitant since St Louis has some of the best BBQ in the country, but they were impressive and had the most amazing rub on the ribs and pork.
Anna Marie Island is someplace I would definitely return to for my vacation, it was so relaxing, and it's only an hour and 15 minutes from Tampa Airport.
To book a trip to Anna Marie Island, email Leigh or call her at 314-439-5700 x131
"Stephanie and her team set up the most amazing trip to Italy for our family. Our son was studying abroad and Stephanie made sure all connections and details were covered to meet our son. All of the tours and hotels were excellent. The guides she arranged were very knowledgeable. Even with the taxis on strike in Rome for a day it was all taken care. We couldn't have asked for a better family vacation. From our family a huge thank you for going above and beyond.
You're the best.
The Bahlinger Family."
Originally posted by Norwegian Cruise Line
Written by Evelyn Frank
This January, I made the executive decision that my family and I were going to take a Caribbean cruise onboard the Norwegian Getaway! This was a major decision because we are the parents of a toddler and this was going to be our first family cruise. The Caribbean seemed like a safe and fun option, and the trip included family favorites such as beautiful Caribbean beaches, great food, and a kiddie splash pool area! Read on for my tips on how to make cruising with your toddler a breeze.
WHAT TO BRING WHEN CRUISING WITH TODDLERS
The success of this trip required a great deal of research and preparation. Those of you who have toddlers understand why. My son is three years old; he naps, wakes up around 7am, and has a tolerance right at sea level. Needless to say, packing well before hand is key. Here are some items that I brought on my 7-day cruise that were very helpful:
WHERE TODDLERS CAN PLAY
Norwegian Getaway, as with other ships in Norwegian’s fleet, offer a complimentary youth program for toddlers at Splash Academy. On the first day of your cruise, register your child in the “Guppies” group. Make the transition easier and accompany your child for small periods of time until they are used to it and enjoy going to Splash Academy.
Other toddler activities outside of Splash Academy are the Kid’s Aqua Park (which includes a slide if your child is over 40 inches tall), the toddler ropes course, the mini golf course, and the arcade. If you plan to partake in water activities with your toddler make sure they are potty trained, as swim diapers are not allowed in the Kid’s Aqua Park. Try your best to do this by the time you cruise. Make sure to check your Freestyle Daily for other great activities such as the Sail Away Party.
EVEN WHEN ON A CRUISE, STICK TO YOUR TODDLER'S SCHEDULE
I know you are on vacation, but if your child thrives on a schedule, keep it. This will help avoid tantrums and will keep everyone relaxed and rested. What really helped with our family cruise was pre-scheduling dinners. If your child is like mine and eats at a designated time, make sure you plan ahead. Early dinner times usually sell out first, so if you need to eat early, log into MyNCL and make your dinner reservations prior to sailing. If you can't keep the time, you can always call and reschedule once onboard or just head over to the grab and go cruise buffet, the Garden Cafe. This will help you work in a nice dinner around your toddler’s normal routine. I would also advise bringing a stroller. After a long day of activities our son fell asleep a few times at dinner and during our after dinner stroll on The Waterfront.
TIP: Avoid a cover charge at the specialty restaurants by ordering for your child from the complimentary kids menu (0-12 years old).
In summary, Norwegian Getaway and Caribbean Cruises are great choices for families cruising with a toddler. There is plenty for your child to do and great family friendly ports to go to. Remember that a little bit of planning will take you a long way! Bon Voyage!
I’d been searching for somewhere to bring my family on vacation before the summer was over, but nothing seemed quite right. A little while ago, someone came in to visit the office from JMak Hospitality, a company that has a catalog of luxury, boutique hotels around the world. I was flipping through their brochure and saw Caribbean, France, Turks and Caicos… and Missouri? I reached out for more information, and the owners let me know that they’d love for my family to come and try out their resort.
It was 4.5 hours from us here in St. Louis, near Tablerock Lake, about an hour from Springfield, MO. Once you get there, you really aren’t able to leave. The closest anything is an hour away. However, that wasn’t really an issue once we got to the resort.
Stonewater Cove is an all-inclusive property made up of 25 upscale cabins in the woods. Our room was stocked with all sorts of amenities, and had a huge bathtub and a rainfall showerhead with three different spouts. We had one bedroom for my husband and I, a sofa bed for one of my sons, and they brought in a blow-up mattress for my other one.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included, and they have a fabulous menu for all three. No joke, our breakfast in the morning came with an appetizer! Their chef came from National Geographic tours and made incredible food. They do have a kid’s menu with safer options like chicken fingers, steak, burgers, and adults were allowed to order from that menu if they wanted to. We definitely did not go hungry – there were times when we were like, “do I have to eat again?” However, it was so good every time that the food was definitely a highlight of the trip.
There are some included activities such as kayaking and fishing, and you basically get to help yourself. They have all the bait, poles, oars, etc. out so you can go grab whatever you want. There are some activities that are an additional cost, but they were so worth it for us because in addition to knee-boarding, tubing, fishing… they taught my sons how to waterski!
There’s a lake that you can swim in with a deck, so it was like a pool. There are waterfalls all around the resort – the landscaping all around the property was so beautiful. They even have a spa on site (I had to check it out, of course!). It was in a treehouse, and instead of being in a dark room it was in a natural, pretty place with views all around.
It was just such a neat alternative for a family vacation – I thought of it like an upscale family camp. We would be around the campfire at night and they would come and bring us trays of ingredients to make s’mores.
The clientele there ranged from little kids to teenagers to couples celebrating anniversaries. The people there work so hard, it was almost like being on a cruise ship. We had a fabulous trip and would definitely go back!
Even if you get along with your in-laws, there might be some times when you just need to keep your distance from them. If you and your spouse are thinking about planning a vacation, use this guide to figure out if you should invite the in-laws or just go on your own:
If you have not had many chances to see them throughout the year, a vacation gives your family the perfect opportunity to reconnect. Your in-laws are also great additions if you have kids and you want them to spend some time with their grandparents. Splitting the cost of a group trip also helps you save some money on your vacation.
If you know that you want to take a different kind of vacation than they would, though, it might be best to go on your own. A solo vacation gives you and your spouse the chance to reconnect with each other to strengthen your marriage.
No matter how you want to travel, Brentwood Travel can help you plan the trip of your dreams. Our all-inclusive packages and cruise deals make it easy to plan a grand vacation. Call (314) 439-5700 to get started.
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In the 60 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.