Finally, a weekend at the beach! This trip is going to be amazing. This is Resort Sixty-Six Holmes Beach, Florida.
Video by CityPedia – This video is recorded footage of the beaches in this amazing area of Florida.
Since Resort Sixty-Six is in Holmes Beach, Florida, it is a simple drive for me. So, I started my day off with a drive to Holmes, Florida. It has been a while since I’ve had a nice long drive, so I was kind of looking forward to it. This 2019/2020 has been where I’ve spent too much time inside and sometimes taking a nice long drive kind of freeze up my mind and spirit, and it helps me think about things in a bigger picture.
I could have flown in the flight. It would only be about a three-hour flight with one stop over to get very close to Resort Sixty-Six. Instead, I opted for what will probably be a 12-hour Drive down Interstate 95, which will take me almost the entire way to my destination.
Now these days, Interstate 95 is not nearly as crowded as it typically is, especially this time of year. Normally before Thanksgiving, there are many more cars on the road headed down the Florida for the amazing warm weather, great sunsets, great times, and food.
On this trip, it didn’t really have too many other cars on the road with me or anything on the road with me and at least until South Carolina. In South Carolina along the Interstate, I got to see many deer grazing and enjoying the grasses, and the lack of vehicles on the road.
Years ago, I would have done the trip all in one Fell Swoop. Instead, I decided to stop in Jacksonville, Florida. For the night, I’m staying at a nice hotel close to the interstate. Just wanted to get some rest so that when I arrive to the resort, I could really get the most out of my first day. Stopping in Jacksonville this meant that tomorrow when I wake up and head to the resort, I only have about a four-hour drive, maybe less, given the light traffic in order to reach Resort Sixty-Six.
I wake up and head on my way last few hours to Resort Sixty-Six. Again, it’s been a long time since I’ve taken a drive like this and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve almost forgotten how much I miss long drives when there’s no traffic.
I arrived at the resort, and it is a great beachfront location. You can tell that driving out because you’re driving along the roadway and seeing all the various local condos and beach resorts in the area as you’re looking for the Resort Sixty-Six location. When I arrived, I finally see that the side says, “Beach Bistro” at the top and then “Resort Sixty-Six” in blue and white text, and it shows rentals are available at this time. I certainly don’t have to worry about that. I already have my reservation and place and I purchased that through Tzort.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- BBQ Grills
- Walking Trails
- Internet Access
- Hot Tub
- Outdoor Heated Pool
- Laundry Facilities
Resort Sixty-Six reminds me of a really cozy beach hideaway. I can think of it as a place that you wish that you bought at some time, but you didn’t. After a quick check in, with a friendly staff, I went to my unit. Now, the particular beachfront unit that I chose is a one-bedroom, one-bath right on the beachfront. They can easily sleep for gas comfortably. For me, I’m so low on this trip, so that’s not a problem. The suite has pretty much everything that you would need. This includes a full kitchen and bath, a separate dining and living area, and they have either balconies or porches that are attached. My one-bedroom is right at the beach level, so it has a porch and I can literally walk out onto the beach from the porch, but I also have an amazing view of the Gulf of Mexico.
I arrived earlier than anticipated. It took less than 4 hours to get here but still they were able to accommodate me with early check-in and make things easier so I can put bags in my room and then head out and get something to eat and enjoy the local area.
Before I leave the resort, I take a look around and take it all in. My first impression is it feels like a really nice resort from another time, from an earlier time. Everything that has a fun beachy feel just makes me comfortable. Everything is freshly painted and well-maintained. The color seemed kind of has me feeling like I’m in the Caribbean, very fresh and alive.
It has a great little pool, the type of small comfortable pool. Where you know that you’re just not going to be overwhelmed by other guests. There’s also an in-ground hot tub built-in like a pool. It has a great large entrance and dipping a toe in, I find that it’s delightfully warm and I mentally log that is something to do later tonight.
Now, the resort itself has its own restaurant called Beach Bistro that has amazing reviews and also sits right on the ocean and I considered eating there first, But for some reason even after driving, I guess the recent longer drive, I kind of want to jump back in the car and look around the area and see what I could find.
I ended up at a local spot called Feast restaurant. The Feast Restaurant seems like a really interesting place. When you first go in, it looks like a comfortable local restaurant but a bit upscale, a bit nicer than your average hole in the wall. I sat down and looked at the menu. The first thing that jumped out at me was appetizers because they had fried green tomatoes. And while I live in Virginia, fried green tomatoes are not something you typically see on the menu, and when they’re fresh local tomatoes, that could be an amazing starter dish, so I ordered that and then continued looking at the menu.
After the entrees, the menu also includes three soups, plus they also typically have like a soup special of the day, but of the three standard soups, they all sounded good. The lobster bisque caught my eye. So, I ordered the lobster bisque. Since it was lunch time and I was particularly hungry, I ordered the fish and chips. The fish and chips were made with Alaskan pollock and looked particularly good. My order started coming to the table with the appetizer, then the soup, and then the meal. I enjoyed every part of it. It was a great meal, great service and a kind local server who attended to my needs in the restaurant.
Now that I had filled up, it’s time to go back to the resort and get on the beach just to chill out for a little while. I want to get back and get a great spot before the sunset in a couple of hours so I could just settle in and enjoy the beach resting and chilling, listening to the waves for a few hours and then watch the sunset.
I know that may seem like a simple day on unplugging. Truly disconnecting from the world and enjoying a beach is a hard thing to pass up. I took the unplugging too hard as well as leaving my cell phone in my car and all of my devices either in the car for the room. Nothing between me and the sun but my swim trunks wand a lite shirt. No shoes between my feet in the sand dipping my toes in the sand sitting in a chair looking out at the Gulf of Mexico. What a way to end the day.
Day two was finally here, so I thought I would check out some local attractions nearby. The resort is basically on Anna Maria Island. If you look at a local map, Holmes Beach connects to Route 64 on this little island chain that also is connected to Anna Maria to the North and Bradenton Beach to the South. So being located at Holmes Beach, you can go in either direction that you want, but you also have quicker access the roadway to head into other areas like Tampa and visit more places, saving you some time and effort on your vacation.
I still haven’t been to the Beach Bistro. I considered that for breakfast but I wanted to save that for dinner since I heard it has such an amazing view, great food and local spirits. So quick looked on the phone, I found First Watch which is a local breakfast themed eater. I love a good hearty breakfast so, I take the quick drive to First Watch. I get in and there’s a couple of minute long line but not that bad. I get seated at a table and I look at their really sizable menu. I opted for cinnamon chip pancakes that has two eggs with a very large pancake and then a side of my choice. I do that breakfast and an orange juice freshly squeezed; I am in Florida, by the way. When the food comes, I get to refill the amazing orange juice that you could tell was freshly squeezed in locally and I start to dig in to the cinnamon chip pancake. This is big. I mean, it almost covers the entire plate, but it tasted great. It was prepared perfectly. Whoever the person was on the grill, he did an excellent job so you can answer the pancake pretty easily.
That’s a good breakfast. I decided to take a drive down to my memory lane. It’s probably been 20 years or more since I had been to the Tampa area, which isn’t far. I remembered going to Busch Gardens in Tampa and having a great experience, so I decided to go back for the day. At least part of the day, I have the Busch Gardens Tampa experience.
When I arrived, I was delighted to find out that from November 20th to January 3rd, Busch Gardens becomes Christmas Town. The entire park is taken over by a Christmas theme. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, that it could be Christmas Town time because I had already been to Christmas Town during the first season it was open, and Williamsburg Virginia has Busch Gardens. I knew now that the ownership of Busch Gardens has had several years to perfect the Christmas Town experience. And if I enjoyed it the first time, I was going to probably be very happy on this occasion as well. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay did a neat job considering that instead of Europe as Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is themed more. For Africa with Egypt, the edge of Africa’s Pentopia, the Congo and Jungala are just some of the many areas that you can visit and experience.
What was needed about going there during the daytime was it. Of course, you could still get on the train now named for the Holiday Express and travel around the edge of Africa and see some of the animals. If you choose, you can also get off and take an excursion in a vehicle and even get up closer to the animals. I opted for that because this again was something that I had done 20 years before and enjoyed it a lot so after taking the Holiday Express around the edge of Africa, I opted for one of the truck or Jeep tours around the inside of the Africa Park to see the animals up closer and their life habitats. It truly is a great experience, and it makes you feel like you are in a completely different place. It seems too real that 40 minutes ago, I was on the beach looking at the Gulf of Mexico and now I feel like a man in Africa and I experienced seeing the wild animals up close.
There are lions, tigers, giraffes, antelope and even a hyena. There are many more different animals that you can count or remember. To mention, there’s even a zebra or two and taking the extra vehicle trip through the park, you will really have an up-close-and-personal sight of the several animals. The giraffes even came over up to the vehicle and we’re trying to reach in for food and visit with the people.
After you leave what they call the Serengeti Outpost, from the edge of Africa you go into, which has been turned into a full Christmas land and then head of you is Rudolph’s red nose, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There’s even a show: The Three Kings Journey. I decided to stop by and watched the show because I remember the Celtics show in the Williamsburg location and how good that show was, and what quality the entertainers provided. Interesting! And the actors did a great job. Even though it was so early in the season being the weekend before Thanksgiving, it was still nice and it really got me thinking about the holidays.
I spent the next few hours in the park doing a combination of walking down memory lane and enjoying myself at the Tampa Park. It was now getting later in the afternoon and I decided that it would be time to head back to the resort so if there was going to be any traffic, I could avoid it and also I could get a great table for sunset at the Beach Bistro.
The Beach Bistro location is amazing, and I just wasn’t ready, though, for what they had in store for the food option for the night. They were offering at the Beach Bistro an experience which equated to at least a six-course meal. I was even informed that they offered a select exotic menu for a little more, but I opted for the full bistro experience instead. That, when they mean experience, they mean an experience – this was a life event. Even if you’re not a foodie like me, the opportunity to try so many things with great Regional taste and flavor would be hard to pass up. It felt like you were on one of the nicest cruise lines in the world and being offered the full bill of fare. Everything tasted either fresh from the sea or fresh from the fields. Turns out in, Manatee County considers itself the Tomato capital of the world. So, when you combine that with fresh local seafood and amazing citrus, you have a fresh local ingredient that just knocks your socks off.
I have to take into account that I’ve already had two amazing meals since I’ve been here but this one’s probably be put into my memory file as one of the most amazing in my life. The freshness in the variety was something that you just can’t get to most places anymore. It’s sure that when you go fine dining, the chef typically shops locally and does everything they can do to get the freshest ingredients possible but they don’t have access both to the Gulf of Mexico, and the amazing Farms of Florida all within reach. Also, when I’ve had amazing meals in larger cities, you know that they bring in the best quality produce and meat from all areas of the world. Oh, but it just doesn’t taste the same, even if it’s only a few more hours old. It is hard to explain but everything just tasted a little like sunshine.
By the time that meal was over, it was a really good thing that I didn’t have to walk far or drive. I was full. I could not have eaten another thing if my life depended on it. The sun is already gone down, and I’d watch the sunset with dinner but now there was a full moon at least it looked full by the Gulf. Whenever you look at the sun or the moon cross an ocean or a large gulf like the Gulf of Mexico, the melee makes you feel a little more connected to nature, connected to the universe and just kind of plugged in about the same time being disconnected from all of your worries and responsibilities.
After about an hour or so, outside after dinner looking at the sun in the small waves in the Gulf of Mexico, I decided to turn in for the night so I headed back to my room Cheryl Lynn took a nice long hot shower and got some rest.
I woke early on day 3 since this would be my last day here of the short weekend holiday. I wanted to watch the sunrise of the ocean just as I had seen the sun set and the moon the night before.
There’s nothing quite the same as walking right out of a room, right onto the sand, looking out at the Gulf of Mexico. The only thing better was what I was doing down, which was watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico and the daybreak over those waves.
Waking up at sunrise over the ocean that morning was the reason that I decided I needed to get out and do something on the water itself. So, a quick look online helps me find a neat sounding dolphin adventure close by Anna Maria. It was an offer for an hour-and-a-half cruise where you might be able to see some manatees but you are sure to see some dolphins and some local birds and other wildlife. Fifteen minutes later, I arrived at the site. I found out that I only had about 20 minutes to wait until the next cruise was to go out, so I just hung around and enjoyed myself while we’re away as we waited for the cruise to begin.
You start at the waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club ( Waterline Mariana at 5325 Marina Dr. Holmes Beach) and as you go out, the captain let you know that you’re passing Longboat Key at the edge of Anna Maria Island.
Something I remember doing much earlier in my life, probably the previous visit to this area back when I was a child, was going on a ride like this with a glass-bottom boat to see manatees in the wild with my grandparents. That particular ride was made more entertaining because the captain really made a big deal about the manatees being mermaids. I was just young enough way back then almost fall for it so I was really engaged and it was fun seeing the local water right below you in the Reeds right below you in the glass-bottom boat. This boat wasn’t a glass-bottom boat, but it was a nice new boat. The captain was great The View was wonderful to see. It was not rough at all as we headed out. All in all, it was a really good experience.
I still felt full from last night’s meal (maybe it was a mental thing?), but I knew if I did not eat some lunch, I would regret it later. So, I found the Smoqe House (I know it looks like I spelled that wrong, but that’s the name). This place offered smoked meats of all kinds. Since I have never found a BBQ that I did not like, I opted for the pork BBQ and some hand cut fries. Now, I enjoy all BBQ but I confess I am also a bit of a North Carolina Style BBQ snob. Nothing else typically measures quite up. This BBQ certainly was in for the fight. You could tell it was slow cooked and smoked well. From the taste of it, smoked with a bit of applewood, and something else, maybe hickory. I would recommend the spot, and the BBQ it made for a great lunch.
Since Smoqe House was on the way to Bradenton Beach, I chose to go check it out, and I am glad I did. Taking this solo trip, I likely would not have been as warmly greeted on my return if I did not bring back some souvenirs. So, I went to Bridge Street which was like a shopping souvenir lovers’ port of call. It was also a good area to walk off the BBQ and enjoy the calm afternoon. After finding a little something fun for everyone on my list, I determined I would head back to the resort to enjoy the beach for the last few hours of light and another sunset.
One thing for sure, my checkout in the morning was one I wanted to put off. Not because of the drive ahead, but instead because I had such a good time over my long weekend.