Christmas in the arms of Mickey?

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of October 3-9, 1996
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Christmas in the arms of Mickey?

Christmas in the arms of Mickey?
Question: We are a family of five, two adults and our three kids (ages 3, 7, and 11). We're planning our winter vacation in Florida December 9-31. In Denmark we usually have a nice traditional Christmas. What would your adventure advice be so that we (especially our kids) will have a nice Christmas in Florida? The kids beg for a Christmas in the arms of Mickey Mouse. Is that a possible solution, or what? Please help us.

Jakobsen family
Aalborg, Denmark
[email protected]

Sorry, guys. Katie says
the beach is better.

Adventure Adviser: It's not that I have anything against the Mouse, but Christmas with Mickey is, well, a mundane sort of proposition. Picture this: It's you, your family, and thousands of gape-mouthed, swooning hordes--all standing in line for a one-minute ride on the Tea Cups or a split-second photo op with Donald Duck.

My suggestion: Please the kids with a two-day Mickey fix, but spend most of your time somewhere else. As long as you stick to one Florida coast or the other you'll be practically guaranteed a vacation your kids will love. My recommendation is Siesta Key, an eight-mile barrier island just off Sarasota, about halfway down the Gulf Coast and a mere 120 miles west of Disney World. You'll be loving life on this quiet, relatively untouched-by-commercial-development stretch of sand, and from here you can easily make the quick trip inland to Mouseland in Orlando. (For motel options in the area, call the Orlando Chamber of Commerce tourist information line at 407-363-5871.)

For beachfront accommodations on Siesta Key, book a condo, with full kitchen and several bedrooms, through the local Chamber of Commerce ($600 and up, per week; 941-349-3800) or bed down at the well-endowed Captiva Beach Resort (doubles, $315 per night; 800-349-4131). Spend your days lounging around the blindingly white quartzite sand on Crescent Beach, along the island's midsection, or head south to Turtle Beach for shelling. Snorkeling is best along the reef off Point of Rocks. Mr. CB's Saltwater Outfitters (941-349-4400) rents all kinds of beach-related toys: bikes, inline skates, snorkel gear, etc. Ocean Boulevard's traffic-free bike path is a great place to get in your daily workout. Offshore, Sweetwater Kayaks (941-346-1179) runs half-day paddling tours in the Gulf, and All Watersports (941-921-2754) rents jet-skis and motor boats by the hour and offers charter fishing, waterskiing, and scuba diving outings. For more information, check out the Siesta Key write-up in "Esprit de Shore" in Outside's summer 1996 Family Vacations Guide.

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