Going to the beach on the cheap

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Already sick of winter? Join the club. So when we got an opportunity for a cheap beach get-away, we jumped at the chance. We headed south to Siesta Key, Florida, with our daughter, her boyfriend, and a van filled with our toys; including tennis rackets and golf clubs. Siesta Key is about 10 miles south of Sarasota, and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

While driving 21 hours is a major drag, the price was right. Gas kept getting cheaper the further south we went and we were able to go there and back for less than $200. A few stops at Cracker Barrel gave everyone nice choices for breakfast or catfish for lunch. While there was sometimes a short wait, they have a lot of junk in their store to look through.

Lodging on the beach at Siesta Key was plentiful. There were a lot of vacancies in the area with many rental companies offering "special deals." Siesta4rent offers a wide variety of properties that can be rented by the week or month. Currently they are offering a 20% discount for anyone still booking for January. With the amount of vacancies in the area, the best bet is to wait until shortly before you leave and get a last minute deal. Often the owners are willing to negotiate, especially if you want longer than a week.

Food was excellent in the area and not pricey in some of the out of way spots. One of our favorites was a small seafood place at the end of Pelican Point Road south of Siesta Key. The crab cakes and calamari were excellent and you could watch the sunset over the bay. The smaller restaurants, like Gilligan's seem to be a better value than the more expensive stops. Most had outdoor seating and pleasant atmospheres.

The whole trip for the four of us cost less than $1,000. Now that I am back in Wisconsin and the temperature is -17 below with windchill, I'm wishing we had stayed a few more weeks.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. Get a copy of Barb's book to build your relationship. Visit: Marriage Tips

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