cavalletta's Passport
 

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Member since:
04 December 2008

Icon_superoo_orangeSuperoo '11, '12, '13 Icon_founder_title

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About Me & My Family

We're a globe trekking, fun-loving, bilingual family always planning our next adventure. From art museums to alpine skiing, we're ready for anything. USTA rated tennis players, golfers, swimmers, skiiers, sailors, and more!
Our Family's Travel Personality
adventurous, curious, relaxed, simple, independent, energetic, spontaneous, sophisticated, easy_going, scheduled, artsy, social_butterfly
We Just Got Back From
The Longboat Key Club which is located on the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Paradise!
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Wherever we go next! Thanks to Trekaroo, I always have a great group of reviews to help me plan a fantastic vacation!
A Place We'd Love To Visit
During the winter, anywhere with snow and easy airport access. Golfing, tennis, spa, ski, and culinary resorts are ideal!
Favorite Vacation Memory
One of my favorite vacation memories was the first time my daughter saw snow at the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. She's still talking about ski school years later! The Innisbrook Golf Resort and Indaba Spa near Tampa Bay, Florida. What an amazing experience! A home exchange holiday in France.
Worst Travel Moment With My Kids:
Dangerous weather conditions, unexpected airport and security delays.
Websites I Like:
snowmamas.com tbparenting.com visitflorida.com condenast.com

Family friendly week on Clearwater Beach, Florida

Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the beaches of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Treasure Island include some of the most fabulous beach front resorts in the world. This list highlights just a few of Florida's best family friendly resorts and activities around Clearwater.  

There's so much to see and do at these resorts that you'll never have to leave the property to have a fabulous week-long vacation.  I've included area attractions that will keep you entertained if you decide to leave the calm, warm Gulf waters for a while.  

Enjoy your stay!

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3400 Gulf Blvd.
St Pete Beach, Florida

Comment:
LUXURY HOTEL CHOICE: We always enjoy staying at the historical pink "sandcastle" but the newer buildings just up the beach are ideal for larger families or those wishing a bit more room during their stay.

reviewed on: August 10 2009

"Beach-front pink castle"
If your little princess dreams of sleeping in a pink castle on the beach, then pack your bags for this Florida resort.  The Don CeSar can make your vacation dreams come true.  Located on the white sand beaches in St. Petersburg, the Don CeSar is a wonderful, historical gem.  Part of the Lowe's hotel group, this property has so many incredible kid friendly features not only because of its ideal location on the Gulf Coast beach.  For parents wishing for a day away from their 4-12 year olds, the Camp Cesar is available with one day notice.  Our daughter had so much fun building sandcastles, creating seashell crafts and playing all sorts of games with her fellow campers, it was hard to get her to play with us the following day.  The on-site restaurants offer a wide variety of gourmet and kid friendly fare from dressy to casual.  The pools are a refreshing way to start or end your days.  On site, there are wonderful resort shops, a spa and a fitness center.  The hotel rooms are beautifully decorated and full of natural sunlight.  Treat yourself to a stay at this historical castle in the sand.  This will be a vacation to treasure!


6000 GULF BOULEVARD
Saint Petersburg, Florida

Comment:
MODERATE HOTEL CHOICE: Plenty of water sports and games on the beach will keep families playing together all day and into the sunset.


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36750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Palm Harbor, Florida

Comment:
MODERATE HOTEL CHOICE: Daily shuttles to and from the beaches of Honeymoon Island make this an ideal place to stay if your family likes to spread out a bit in their hotel.

reviewed on: June 18 2011

"Innisbrook is a natural wonderland! "
Situated on over 900 beautiful acres on Florida’s Gulf Coast, this world class golf resort is an ideal vacation destination for families of all ages and sizes.   Having undergone a major renovation in 2008, the resort sparkles in harmony with its natural surroundings.  With so much to see and do at the resort, we knew we would have a great time even before we arrived.  We were right!

After driving past the welcoming guard gate, we felt transported to a whole new world.  The beautiful natural landscaping is a perfect balance with the well groomed golf courses and two-story stone-front buildings.  As golfers, we were thrilled to see the PGA tour’s popular Copperhead course almost immediately after driving on property but more on the golf courses later.  

Signposts clearly pointed us to the Osprey Clubhouse to check in.  We were happy that our check in process was handled so quickly!   The friendly front desk staff and bellmen offered plenty of helpful hints and made suggestions on which activities to try first.  We were given a comprehensive list of Innisbrook activities and programs, a separate weekly activities listing, and a map of the resort.  Did I mention that the resort is 900 acres and beautiful?  It’s worth repeating!

One of my preschooler’s favorite resort amenities was the uniquely named “horizontal elevators.”  Rather than going up and down like a traditional elevator, Innisbrook has a fleet of air conditioned white shuttle busses available whenever you call for one – 24 hours a day.  What a treat!  We, actually the bellman, unloaded our car once and left it parked in the shade throughout our stay.  It was a pleasure being whisked to the restaurants, tennis courts, spa, golf courses and nature trails rather than relying on our car.    

ACCOMMODATIONS
We were thrilled with our spacious one bedroom suite.  It was very clean and featured a newly remodeled kitchen and bath area.  The flat-screen TVs have game ports and a good assortment of channels.  High speed internet connections kept us connected to the outside world.  The full kitchen is a welcome treat for families who enjoy cooking on their vacations.   The beds are very comfortable and the living room couch pulled out into a bed.  There are plenty of washers and dryers available free of charge (bring your soap or buy some there) in each building as well as ice machines.  This resort would be ideal for large families and family reunions because of the variety of room sizes available.  Visit the Innisbrook website to see the room and suite layouts.  

ACTIVITES AND CAMP NESSIE
My preschooler heard that there are FIVE POOLS at the resort and made it her mission to swim in all five.  Her favorite is the kid-friendly Loch Ness Pool which gets its name from the shape of the pool.  This zero-entry heated pool has splash fountains, a small beach area and toys for digging in the sand, a waterfall, a net for pool volleyball and even two water slides.  Fortunately, there are plenty of lounge chairs and shady spots for kicking back and a grill to order simple but tasty food and drinks. Towels and some pool toys are available, at no charge, when you check in at the Loch Ness pool and changing rooms are nearby.   The lifeguards are watchful and courteous.    The “Dive-In” movie was a hit with kids and parents alike.  It was a relaxing way to wind down for the evening…under the stars while lounging poolside.  Also at the Loch Ness pool area, there are family crafts (some fees required) and free games offered each afternoon.   We had a blast playing whiffleball and creating some special handmade souvenirs.  My preschooler is still proudly wearing her tie-dye shirt that she made at Innisbrook.

One morning, we decided to rent a Surrey bike so the whole family could tour the resort grounds together.  We were given a nature scavenger hunt card and set off to explore the property.  It was easy to see all sorts of birds, fox squirrels and flowers as we leisurely pedaled around. When we saw something we wanted to explore more, we hopped off the bike and took a look.  You can also rent standard bikes and tandem bikes by the hour.  

Complimentary and fee based resort activities vary by season  but we had a blast playing basketball, shuffleboard, outdoor volleyball, put put mini golf, frolicking on the playground, strolling along the Nature Walk and participating in the afternoon games at the Loch Ness Pool.  If you want to venture to one of the world’s most amazing beaches, then hop on the complimentary beach shuttle to Honeymoon or Caladesi Island.  There are two separate departure and return times each day but reservations are recommended.

The Camp Nessie and Kids Night Out programs are wonderful ways for parents and kiddos to spend some time doing things on their own.  At Camp Nessie, my preschooler had so much fun creating all sorts of art projects, building castles, playing games and swimming at the Loch Ness Pool that she wanted to stay just a little longer.  It was reassuring to see her interact so well with the program staff.  They are the best!  Thanks to the Camp Nessie program, I was able to relax and play golf knowing that my preschooler was being engaged in all sorts of hands-on activities with trained and caring staff members.

GOLF, TENNIS AND SPA
As mentioned, Innisbrook is home to four of the most amazing golf courses.  The PGA tour visits the resort each year for the Transitions Championship and LPGA Legends Tour Open Championship.   The rolling hills are nothing like a typical Florida course and make for an amazing day of golf!  We had a blast taking our preschooler on the 9-hole Fox Squirrel Golf Course (part of the North and South courses) but she did not last long.  She wanted to go back to the Loch Ness Pool and slides!  The Copperhead and Island courses were a bit beyond our current skill level but are incredible to see.   Fortunately, we were able to play the more forgiving North and South courses on other days as she was enjoying activities at Camp Nessie.  I had one of my best rounds of golf on the North Course and have the scorecard to prove it!  Perhaps, it was the beautiful scenery and fox squirrel that helped me stay focused?  The four courses are designed to be challenging for a variety of skill levels and all are absolutely beautiful.  

The Tennis Center offers 11 Har-Tru tennis courts, a pro shop and three racquetball courts as well as daily clinics and a variety of Junior and Summer Camp programs.   After participating in a tennis clinic, it was easy to arrange an energizing doubles game on the well-maintained courts.

There are rental clubs and tennis gear available if you left your gear at home.  If you’d like to brush up your skills, there are daily golf and tennis clinics as well as the world class Golf Institutes for more intense training.  

Be sure to read my other review about the Indaba Spa at Innisbrook here on Trekaroo.  

DINING
Even though the rooms have wonderful kitchens, we could not resist the wonderful variety of food offered at the resort.  There are four restaurants, a gourmet market and sports bar all offering flavorful menu items at reasonable prices.  The Market Salamader Grille chef creates incredibly delicious meals with unique flavors and combinations.  Each meal was a pleasure and I wondered if I could recreate the tasty dishes at home.  The chef puts his own skilled twist on familiar favorites and also offers incredible regional treats.  Rest assured, you can find kid-friendly menu items as well but there’s plenty to keep the adults happy, too.  From the steakhouse to the Grill at Loch Ness, we enjoyed every bite!  The wait staff was knowledgeable, friendly and efficient.  Dining here was not a coat and tie affair but we felt comfortable dressing up just a bit in our casual resort wear.  A real post golf treat was relaxing on the outdoor patio at the Osprey Sports Bar which overlooks a golf course.  We saw an osprey nest and watched in wonder as the adult ospreys tended to their hatchlings.   What a way to end a great day on the links!

Even though there are plenty of activities to keep any member of the family busy and on the go from morning to night, we left Innisbrook feeling totally relaxed.   Who knew paradise could be found only 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport?  Consider yourself informed!  Now, go find out how wonderful Innisbrook is first hand. You’ll be glad that you did.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary two night stay at the Innisbrook Resort.   This review is my honest opinion of my experiences.  The resort did not request or require that I express a particular point of view.  

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2233 Ulmerton Rd
Clearwater, Florida

Comment:
BUDGET HOTEL CHOICE: If you want plenty of room to spread out and a kitchen to cut down on meal costs, then consider staying at this clean, convenient Homewood Suites.


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249 Windward Passage
Clearwater, Florida

Comment:
On day one, visit Winter the Dolphin!

reviewed on: August 18 2010

"Winter's wonderland"
This small aquarium is best known for their famous dolphin, Winter, who lost her tail in crab trap lines.  Fortunately, she was fitted with a prosthetic tail and does amazingly well.  Her story is an inspiration for animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the Tampa Bay area.  Your tiny tots to teens will enjoy this animal adventure.  We visit there several times a year and bring our out of town friends for a visit.  Discounted tickets are available online.

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25 Causeway Boulevard #3
Clearwater Municipal Marina Clearwater Beach, Florida

Comment:
On day two, take a pirate cruise and see dolphin in the wild.

reviewed on: January 04 2010

"Pricey pirate fun"
This pirate cruise was great fun for our entire family even though it is a bit pricey.  On our high seas adventure, we saw friendly pirates, dolphins swimming in the surf and a few land lubbers cheering at us.  If you visit the website to make advance reservations, you can save $2 per person which you will probably spend on parking.  ARRGH!

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10 Pier 60 Dr
Clearwater Beach, Florida

Comment:
On day three, wander along this pier and enjoy souvenirs, ice cream and fishing.



301 Drew Street
Clearwater, Florida

Comment:
Later on day three, take in a show. Check the calendar to see if there's a live concert happening during your stay. It's a fabulous plce to hear a free outdoor concert.


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1 Causeway Boulevard
Dunedin, Florida

Comment:
On day four, explore one of the world's best beaches and take the ferry to Caledisi Island.

reviewed on: August 19 2010

"Shells and sand"
A bit out of the way but worth the effort.  We bring our out of town friends here and they love searching for shells, swimming in the gentle waves, building sandcastles on the beach and relaxing at sunset.  It feels miles away from downtown Tampa but is only about 40 minutes west by car.  It does get a bit more crowded during the March/April spring break season but there's plenty of beach for everyone to enjoy.

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10165 N Malcolm McKinley Dr
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
On day five, take a drive over to Tampa to visit Busch Gardens!

reviewed on: March 28 2010

"Sesame Street's Safari of Fun now open!"
My four year old led the way as we explored the all-new Safari of Fun at Busch Gardens.  She's a great tour guide!  Fortunately, the Safari of Fun has one entrance which makes keeping an eye on your active kiddos a bit easier.  Most of the rides and play areas are shaded by trees or a canopy but it's best to remember your sunscreen and sunglasses.  There are two restroom areas (one near the entrance and the other by the water play area / outdoor dining facility).  

Located near the Bird Gardens, your preschooler will want to spend most of your Busch Gardens visit at the Safari of Fun.  There are so many wonderful rides and play areas to discover!  My four year old started out on the Zoe-patra & the Hippos of the Nile flume ride.  She laughed throughout the whole ride and wanted to ride it again right away so she did.  Lots more laughing :-)  Then, she ran over to the Elmo's Safari Go-Round (carousel).  She chose the zebra and away we went!  This carousel slowly turns which makes it an ideal first ride for even the tiniest tot.

Big Bird's Whirly Birdie, a mini ferris wheel ride, was a hit with the four year olds but one two year old was a bit afraid of the view from the top.   The kids in line all wanted to ride in the egg that had the number of their age.  My daughter was no exception so she chose the #4 egg.  Thankfully, there were two, three, five and six year olds in line so they all got their choice.  The little boys all seemed to race over to The Count's Zambezi Rally and hopped in tiny cars to ride along the tribal trails.  Each seat has a steering wheel which makes every little driver happy.  The car seats two to four children, depending on the vehicle.  Of course, there are numbers to count all along the track.  Who knew learning could be this much fun?

One of my favorite play areas is the Elmo's Treehouse Trek and Cookie Monster's Canopy Crawl.  The three-story treehouse has plenty of places to play hide-and-seek and you can overlook the whole Safari of Fun from a Big Bird's eye view...way up high!  The areas are connected by rope bridges which were popular with kids and their grown-ups.  Under the Canopy Crawl, kiddos can play in Slimey's Sahara Sand box complete with all sorts of sand toys.  Also under the Canopy Crawl is a springy, bounce house like play area.  Since the sand and bouncy play areas are nice and shady, they are a cool retreat from the Florida sun.

We changed into our swim clothes for a spashing good time at Bert & Ernie's Watering Hole.  This water area has lots of jets, sprayers, overhead buckets and fountains to splash in and around but is in the full mid-morning sun.  Maybe, the trees will shade this area at other times of the day.  If you prefer more shade, visit Oscar's Swamp Stomp where the stepping stones and ankle deep water seem well suited for tiny toddlers.

There are lots of helpful park employees around to ensure that everyone stays safe and has fun.  Near the entrance, one park employee brought out lots of hula hoops for the kids to play with and later brought them to the Bert & Ernie's Watering Hole.  

The Sunny Day Theater features a 15-minute musical stage show starring Sesame Street favorites Elmo, Abby, Grover, Cookie Monster and Zoe.  Afterwards, the characters meet and pose with your children.   It is so adorable to watch their little faces light up when they hug their favorite friends.

We saw the outdoor, covered dining area where the Dine with Elmo and Friends breakfast and lunch meals will be held.  It is a great space with lots of red tables and chairs.  Be sure to make your reservations.  This looks like a great way to start your day at the park.  There's also a Snack-n-Getti Tribal Treats concession stand offering all sorts of tasty treats.

If your child wants to take home an exclusive safari-themed Sesame Street friend, you can find lots at the Cookie Monster's Trading Post and also at Abby Cadabby's Treasure Hunt.

All of the rides and play areas are colorfully decked out in a playful tribal-theme--great for photos!  So, make sure your batteries are charged and your memory cards are empty.  You'll be snapping photos on this Safari of Fun all day long!

We ended our park experience by watching the 4-D theatrical adventure, Sesame Street presents "Lights, Camera, Imagination!"  This movie is over in Timbuktu's theater which is a short stroller ride from the Safari of Fun.  There are lots of fun special effects that go along with the movie but I'll let you be surprized.  It might be best if you have your little one sit on your lap if they are the least bit afraid of getting splashed.  It's fun!

So, visit the Busch Gardens website and make your plans to go on your own Safari of Fun.  Maybe, we'll see you there!


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1101 West Sligh Avenue
Tampa, Florida


reviewed on: July 27 2009

"Amazing up close animal encounters"
Feeding giraffe, riding a camel, spotting cheetah and so much more are in store for you when visiting this gem of a zoo.  The walking paths are wide, paved and meander through the peaceful natural habitats.  This is a very stroller friendly place!  Plenty of restrooms, water fountains and shady spots for a break.  There are great places to grab tasty snacks (what you would expect but aslo cupcakes, ice cream and even beer!)

If the weather is bad, it's a challenge to find a place to wait out the storm or escape from the heat so it's best to venture to the zoo on a great weather day.  

The zoo added a few new rides (log flume, kiddie coaster and outdoor splash areas) which are very popular with the ten-year old kiddos.  An additional fee is required to ride ponies and camels.

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701 Channelside Drive
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
Later on day six, visit Tampa's Channelside District to visit the aquarium then stroll over to the shops and visitor's center.

reviewed on: July 27 2009

"So much to see and a touch tank!"
Outdoor explore a shore area offers plenty of splashing and sand pit fun for little ones.  It does tend to be crowded which makes it a challenge to get up close to the tanks to see the animals on display.  The touch tanks have friendly volunteers able to answer questions about the creatures you can touch.  The shark tank is a favorite with many visitors.

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1600 E. 8th Ave. Ste. 104B
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
On day seven, go back in time and visit historical Ybor City.

reviewed on: October 05 2010

"Faded glory"
This historic part of Tampa used to brim with activities for families but has faced some challenges in recent years.   The main street does offer an interesting, historical glimpse into the area's cigar manufacturing past as well as mix of Cuban, Italian and Spanish cultures but lacks a real reason to spend a lot of time exploring the area.  There are several special events held throughout the year which are very well suited to families of all ages.  There are some great, unique shops and restaurants and the visitor's center has a friendly, informative staff.    Plan to walk along the brick sidewalks to fully exlore the area but be warned that the nightclubs spring to life after dark.