Sarasota, Florida: Atlantis Shuttle Launch, Siesta Key, and Harry Potter World

I recently went to Sarasota, Florida to hang out with my bf, his mom, and dog.  Sarasota, as one might imagine, is not exactly a Florida hotspot… especially mid-July.  The city’s heyday was probably in the 50’s, and now the streets are mostly aligned with ugly strip malls and nearly abandoned motels.  The “outskirts” of the city are new sub divisions named after the ranches that used to be there, and the population consists of, well, old people, but also, I think, local vacationers, i.e. Floridians enjoying Siesta Key and just relaxing.  Sarasota is way low key compared to other areas of Florida I’ve visited (Orlando, Destin, Miami, and Tampa).  There isn’t a whole lot there, but IT IS everything you need.

The Beach

Siesta Key is gorgeous, and apparently the #1 beach in the US.  One day the waves were rolling, another day quiet and calm.  This is me, obviously, having a good time.  I have some nice photobombers in the background there. NOTICE: there are a lot of people there.  Go early.  Bring food and drink… There really is no oasis around the beach area, except maybe a hotel bar.  It’s pure beach.  Parking to water seems like a mile walk in the desert, then you have to find a place to park your butt, and then you just sit and swim: glorious…. until you’re hungry or thirsty.

Atlantis Shuttle Launch

NOTICE: this is not actually Stargate Atlantis, but I thought it was funny that fb tagged it that way.  It’s just the last shuttle launch, that’s all.  Three hours to get there (we’re about 5 miles away on bridge on the side of the road) and it was MADNESS everywhere! People camped out in their cars.  Running across 4 lane traffic.  Risking their lives!  Hoping to catch a glimpse of this fiery triangle.  Traffic two and from: awful, but totally worth it.  You should go watch the ne… oh wait… THERE WON”T BE A NEXT.  Sad day at Cape Canaveral.  Well, you can always go to the Kennedy Space Center or hit up Cocoa Beach.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I realized on our three hour drive to Cape Canaveral through Orlando, HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER!!!! HARRY POTTER WORLD IS HERRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEE!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I”M SO CLOSSSSSSEEE!!!!! I HAVE TO GO!!!! I HAVE TO GO!!!!!!!!! EEEEE!!!! EEEEE!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

So, in the blistering heat on the weekend after the 4th and before the final release of HP7.2–me, bf, and his mom went to universal and islands of adventure for a day.  Just to clarify before you ask: Harry Potter World is a mini-theme-park in Islands of Adventure in between the Poseidon and Jurassic Park mini-theme-parks, and no, it does not cost extra to enter Harry Potter World.  However, it’ll cost you 11 bucks to get a Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice… Surely it isn’t that much in THE REAL Harry Potter World.  We skipped the pumpkin juice, but I enjoyed a frozen butterbeer (tastes mostly like a butter scotch smoothie, so if you don’t like butterscotch, you won’t like butterbeer) and a turkey leg in the Three Broomsticks.

The experience was surreal.  The setup was incredible.  I rode the hogwarts ride, and standing in line alone was incredible–you get to walk through Hogwarts!!!!!! Moving paintings (super cool btw), statues from the movies, entire classrooms, holographic characters talking to you.  Pretty awesome.  I probably could have spent a lot of time checking out all the detail, but alas, we had two theme parks to conquer in about 8 hours.

NOTE: the Spiderman ride in Islands of Adventure is still my favorite and most memorable ride EVER.  That is all.

So Sarasota, you were good to me.  Beautiful beach nearby.  Decent food if you yelp (seriously, YELP, otherwise you’ll be eating at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and IHOP the whole time you’re there).  And far enough away to avoid the crazy parts of Florida, but close enough to be able to go for a day if you want.  Everything I need: beach, space, and Harry Potter.

This weekend: Erie, PA (I know, I really get out).

….Still working on that visa…….. and wondering, should I get a bike in the UK?

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Author: Paige

Explorer. Healer. Eater. School counselor, teacher, party planner. Personal passions are holistic healthcare education, spirituality, food, and writing.

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