One thing I’ve been hearing from you guys is that you want to hear more about my current travels right after they happen. Well, ask and ye shall receive! I’m jumping in to start sharing some posts from Florida and Tennessee, a trip so fresh I haven’t unpacked from it yet.

I won’t lie — before my childhood friend Steve announced his wedding was taking place in Sarasota, Florida, I don’t think I could have pointed to the place on a map. But I was thrilled to make my way there regardless, one stop on a long road trip through Florida that worked out to be more perfectly timed than any of us could have imagined.

Sarasota Travel Blog Weekend

Sarasota Travel Blog Weekend

Why? Because while my other childhood friend Kristin and I — who was also making the trek south with her boyfriend Mark — were weighing up the various wedding hotels, we realized that her recently retired parents Marc and Laura would be renting a house in nearby Siesta Key at the same time while they explored future relocation spots. It just so happened to be a three bedroom house. And they just so happen to be the people I consider my second parents. And so we decided to all have a massive weekend-long sleepover party. What could be more perfect?

After a night in Tampa with my aunts, I drove down to Sarasota just in time to spend a few hours oooh and aaaahing over Marc and Laura’s cute rental before getting ready for the rehearsal dinner at Michael’s Wine Cellar.

Sarasota Travel Blog Weekend

It was a beautiful night! We got to connect with several other wedding guests, meet the beautiful bride Ali’s family, and beam through sweet speeches from family and friends.

Kristin and I even made an appearance in a giggle-worthy photo from a high school homecoming dance in the slideshow — what’s a childhood BFF’s wedding without a reminder of how badly you used to do your eyebrows?

Sarasota Rehearsal Dinner

Sarasota Rehearsal Dinner

The next day, Marc and Laura treated us to a beach day at their favorite stretch of sand on Siesta Key. I could see why they loved the place. The beach was almost Caribbean feeling! I couldn’t be happier to be kicking it in a beach chair with some of my favorite people — and a guidebook.

Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

We didn’t linger too long of course — we had a wedding to get ready for! The nuptials were taking place at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota, so I knew we were in for a treat.

Sadly, after months and months of drought, Florida was hit hard with storms that week, and the ceremony had to be moved inside. My heart broke for the bride who’d planned such a beautiful outdoor ceremony, but I don’t think anything could kill the vibes once the live music cued up for the bridal party’s stroll down the aisle. Our friend Chris was one of the groomsmen and it was hard not to cheer when he started off the procession!

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

I love the Jewish wedding tradition of having both parents walk the bride down the aisle.

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

It was very surreal watching someone I’ve known since we were both in braces make such a beautiful commitment. I’ve grown to love Ali over the years of crashing with the two of them on some of my trips through New York City, and I truly can’t imagine a better fit for Steve — he really did crush this whole “choosing a life partner” thing.

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

And then the party got started! Since I know how much work brides and grooms put into their weddings, I texted them the next morning with a detailed list of everything I loved: the food was phenomenal; the band was so much fun; the room was grand and stunning.

I absolutely loved dancing the night away with some of my hometown besties!

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

The next morning, we went with Kristin’s parents for a hangover brunch and wedding recap at Sun Garden Cafe, which was my personal favorite meal of the trip. The outdoor seating area was adorable, and my fresh veggie omelette was just what I needed. After, we cruised around to Lido Key — which I didn’t find anywhere near as impressive as Siesta Key — and finally up to St. Armands Circle.

Sarasota Travel Blog

Sarasota Travel Blog

Sarasota Travel Blog

There, we found ourselves at the roof deck of the Tommy Bahama restaurant, where the tropical drinks cemented the magical feeling I had that I was truly on vacation. (It might have been the company, too, who I have years of traveling to Myrtle Beach with under my belt.) How I resisted the dessert tray, I’ll never know.

Tommy Bahama Restaurant Sarasota

Tommy Bahama Restaurant Sarasota

Tommy Bahama Restaurant Sarasota

Tommy Bahama Restaurant Sarasota

Tommy Bahama Restaurant Sarasota

That night, Marc and Laura treated us to a very special goodbye treat — a sunset cruise to the sandbar off Siesta Key.

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

It was a very cool trip that included beer, or you could bring your own booze — however, the second I realized there was no bathroom onboard I abstained from all liquids. Better safe than sorry, y’all.

The tour kicked off with our guide pointing out all the notable real estate in the area, either homes built by celebrities or with wild stories of wealthy owners. We ate it up like the good little tourists we were.

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

We also passed a bird sanctuary, some interesting mangroves, and most excitingly — dolphins! I smiled at the memory of seeing them underwater on a dive in Honduras years ago, and found myself feeling lucky to get to be in their presence out in the wild again.

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Yet the highlight was still to come — pulling up to an expansive sandbar in the sea. We were set loose to hunt sea shells, stick our toes in the sand, and wade around into the sunset.

That weekend, Marc and Laura had told us that Marc’s other daughter would be visiting the next weekend — and her boyfriend was planning to propose! We were so enamored with the sandbar that we all hatched the plan that her boyfriend should pop the question in this exact spot… complete with Kristin and I doing a full pre-enactment so Marc and Laura could work out their photography angles, ha ha.

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Sunset Cruise Siesta Key

Post-cruise, we grabbed a pizza from hip and happening Siesta Pi Pizza before turning in for the night. I couldn’t think of a more perfect note to end the weekend on.

It was such a lovely weekend full of amazing friends, and friends who feel like family. I was so grateful to Steve and Ali for bringing us all together to celebrate, to Marc and Laura for opening their home-away-from home, to Chris for being my dance-floor buddy and to Kristin and Mark for letting me be their third wheel.

I couldn’t ask for a more relaxing way to kick off Florida!

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Ritz Carlton Sarasota Wedding

Next up, Orlando, Tampa, and St. Pete!

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