Sarasota Girls’ Weekend Highlights

The past four days I spent with three of my best friends in Sarasota were filled with lots of pool time, beach days, delicious dinners and long chats over wine.

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This is the first time I’ve seen Carrie, Michaela and Leah without the craziness of wedding-related activities in years and it felt so great to enjoy four days of no obligations and lots of quality time together. I left Sarasota with a happy heart!

Here are some highlights from our time together:

  • Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

There’s a reason Siesta Key seems to constantly appear on America’s Best Beaches lists. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the sand is incredibly soft! The first thing my girlfriends commented on when we arrived at the beach was the sand. It truly is unlike the sand you’ll find anywhere else! Though the water is still quite chilly, we waded in a few times and had fun taking a dip in the saltwater.

  • Getting Ready Together

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I know this is probably something very trivial, but I miss the fun of getting ready with my girlfriends! We had a great time blasting music and sharing our favorite beauty products with each other while we got ready for the night ahead. (I am now on a mission to buy Carrie’s favorite Almay makeup remover pads. They were gentle but had no trouble removing my waterproof mascara. My girlfriends seemed to love my Big Sexy Hair texturizing powder.)

  • Relaxing Poolside

Hyatt Regency Sarasota Pool

The pool at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota was perfect for lounging! We spent hours laying out on the comfortable chairs and took advantage of the free beach towels available to hotel guests. (Bonus points go to Michaela and Leah who brought a bunch of celebrity gossip magazines for us to browse through during our trip!) The poolside bar had lots of specialty drinks including all of the basics like mojitos, Miami Vices, piña coladas and more. Plus, who could forget complimentary freezer pops!? YES! While I’m mentioning our hotel, I must also give a shout out to the hotel staff who were all incredibly friendly and welcoming. Leah found this hotel for us after comparing prices online and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a great place to stay in Sarasota! Our room was clean, the beds were comfy and the location was ideal.

  • Cake Pops

Lollicake Queen Sarasota

A box of cake pops from The Lollicake Queen in Sarasota served as the perfect afternoon pick-me-up nearly every day of our mini vacation. This box included key lime pie, chocolate peanut butter and gluten-free dark chocolate coconut cake pops. The dark chocolate coconut was my favorite! 

  • Manatee Sightings

Sarasota Manatee

Though I’ve lived in Florida for a little more than 10 years now, manatee sightings are still rare and exciting to me! While looking out over our hotel balcony, we saw a manatee twice during our visit. So cool!

  • Card Games

Cards and Cocktails

Enjoying happy hour by the pool with delicious cocktails and card games made our trip really feel like a mini spring break! At the liquor store, Carrie and I got a little too excited when we received free light-up ice cubes with the purchase of a bottle of vodka. (Mine kept sinking!) We played some throw-back games (Circle of Death) and had fun by the pool before dinner.

  • Evening Walks Along the Water

Marina Jacks

With the exception of our final night in Sarasota, we left my car at the hotel and walked to and from dinner. It was warm enough outside and the slight sea breeze kept us quite comfortable!

Owen's Fish Camp

Owen's Fish Camp outside

This restaurant took the top prize! It had everything: Delicious food, a fun and laidback ambiance and delicious wine.

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When I arrived back in Ocala, I told Ryan we must take my in-laws there the next time we’re in Sarasota. Owen’s Fish Camp has so much character. Twinkling lights, driftwood and nautical décor can be found throughout the house-turned-restaurant. Plus, they have fresh shellfish which always makes me a happy girl!

  • Long Evening Chats

Every night, we managed to spend several hours lingering over wine after dinner which made me so happy. There’s never a dull moment when I am with Leah, Michaela and Carrie and it felt good to joke and laugh together but also delve into serious stuff knowing support and encouragement could be expected every single time.

Epicure Sarasota

Ryan’s recommendation took us to this adorable café for a late lunch on Monday. We had no trouble finding comfortable seating and dined al fresco! The bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar at this place are worth the visit even if you only order a few small plates because you fill up on the fantastically fresh slices of white and wheat bread. 

  • The Silly Stuff

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Michaela, Leah and Carrie can make me laugh harder than most people on this planet. They feel more like members of my family than my friends. We love to mess with each other, joke around and somehow always pick up right where we left off whenever we see each other and fall right back into the comfortable groove of our friendship.

  • Playing Tourist

Ringling Gardens

Though the majority of our trip was spent at the beach and the pool, we managed to play tourist a few times and made our way to the Ringling Bayfront Gardens which were absolutely beautiful and took some time to stroll around St. Armands Circle. (The frozen yogurt I got from the Sarasota Frozen Yogurt Company was some of the best I’ve ever had!)


Thank you so much to Carrie, Leah and Michaela for a wonderfully memorable four days together. Your friendship means more to me than you can possibly imagine and I’m already anxiously awaiting our next visit!

Questions of the Afternoon

  • Do you still stay in touch with friends from elementary school or high school? If so, how often do you see each other?


  1. says

    No way, getting ready together is not trivial! My close group of girlfriends and I all moved away after college and it is something I miss the most about the good ol’ days! We have a trip coming up next month and I can honestly say it’s one of the things I am most looking forward to. Your trip looks like it was a blast – glad you enjoyed it!!


  2. Kelsey says

    What a wonderful weekend! Reading this post made me so happy.. I’m in my senior year of college right now and have three best girlfriends as well. We always worry about staying in touch and keeping our “sister-like bond.” I showed them pictures from your weekend and it made us so happy to see other girls staying so close! :)


  3. says

    It sounds like such a great weekend!! I am still friends with some of my friends from elementary school and middle school! My maid of honor in my up coming wedding has been my friend since we were 3! All my other bridesmaids are middle school friends!


  4. says

    Looks like such a fun weekend! I still keep in touch with my best friends from high school. I see them every time I go visit my hometown and they come visit me too. I love that we are all still friends as our lives have evolved and grown.


  5. Tara says

    A few summers ago I had been in the audience of the Oprah show and she gave us all two nights at any Hilton. My sister and I decided the one in Longboat Key was our best option for the perfect girl’s trip. Still to this day, my favorite meal of all time was at Mar Vista Dockside restaurant. I had the seared Ahi Tuna (that the bartender recommended to me) and I still dream about that meal! I highly recommend it!


  6. Danielle says

    Sarasota is a great place! Did you try Perq? Its a coffee shop located right next to the Lollicake Queen (it’s owned by her brother-in-law). It’s some of the THE BEST coffee you will ever taste. So good you can drink it black. There’s also a really yummy bakery in downtown Sarasota called “The Short Giraffe”.


  7. Mary Beth says

    I have two college friends that I adore. One is in Colorado, and one is in Atlanta (I’m in Michigan). I just got to see my girls a few months ago at my wedding, and spent as much time as humanly possible latched at their sides (even though it was a weekend dedicated to the new hubbs). I also have a network of friends closer to home, but still 45 min away from where I live now. The best part is that everyone gets along! So I can mix and match my groups of college, and post college friends and family and you’d never know we haven’t been one happy “chosen family” for our whole lives.

    One recommendation for your next Sarasota trip – Old Salty Dogs. The food isn’t always healthy, but it sure is tasty with great atmosphere!


  8. Brynn says

    I love my girlfriends! I have a group from high school, college and my girlfriends I’m close to now. It’s so special to have those bonds.


  9. says

    Such an awesome trip! Great that you’re all still so close. I think that distance sometimes is really the true test of friendship and means the time you do get to spend together is appreciated so much more. You get each others full attention rather than fleeting moments here and there!


  10. says

    As the years go by it gets harder and harder. I still have the same group of college girlfriends (some are from high school) and we only seem to get together for wedding-related baby-related activities now. However, I did have a group of my besties visit me in San Francisco last year all the way from Florida, and that was a fun time!


  11. says

    I wish I was better at staying in touch with my friends from that long ago. Since we moved it has made it even harder. Thankfully we are moving back closer soon so I hope that will allow me to be able to re-connect with some!


  12. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie says

    What a fun weekend! Those cake pops look amazing! I unfortunately don’t get to see my high school girlfriends as much as I would like. The last time I saw them was at my wedding last summer before I moved to Omaha. I miss them!


  13. samantha says

    This may sound surprising, but I have not stayed friends with my high school friends. All of us have grown up with extremely different lifestyles, a lot of whom have made a lot of not so smart choices or healthy ones (i.e. drinking, drugs) and I can’t put myself in that type of situation. I’ve never done drugs and I hardly ever drink, even when I do I still usually order a virgin drink so I can drive home and it’s cheaper. So sometimes it’s better to make new friends who do agree with your lifestyle choices and make smarter decisions than to stick with people who aren’t what they use to be, make bad choices, as well as stupid choices, and just go your own way.


  14. Janessa says

    I have several friends from school that I am still in contact with, thanks to Facebook! We never get to see each other as often as we want because we live three states away! The last time I saw my very best friend from high school was 3 years ago when I went out for her college graduation. Sad how that happens when we get older.


  15. says

    My best friend, who I’ve actually known since we were 4, only lives about 20 min. away! We didn’t see each other too often since college because our schedules were so different, but recently she has become more available. We have plans to run more with each other (we like to do half marathons together)!


  16. Heather says

    I still stay in touch with a few close girl-friends from middle school/high school. Even though we now live across the country from each other we get together a few times a year, and it’s like we’ve never been apart. That’s how you know you have true friends!


  17. says

    My best friend Brooke has been my best friend since before she was even born…I was a baby and her mom moved to the neighborhood, pregnant with her. My mom and her mom became best friends, and then Brooke and I became best friends, walking to each other’s houses EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have remained best friends to this day–I was the maid of honor in her wedding, and she is my maid of honor in my wedding coming up in October. Now she is pregnant with a little one, and we joke about how maybe I’ll get pregnant on my honeymoon and then our babies can be best friends too! haha…There is something special about someone who has known you your ENTIRE life but isn’t related to you. To me, it’s an even stronger love than family because it is by CHOICE, not by birth or by blood, if that makes sense.


  18. Amanda @ A latte Learn says

    When I lived in Florida for a year Sarasota was my favorite place! I still am best friends with my close friend from high school! Also, those Almaty pads are amazing!!! I got them on clearance at Target recently.


  19. says

    Awww Julie this sounds like so much fun! (On a side note, I’m sorry I’ve been SUCH a terrible commenter lately – I’ve been reading along just haven’t had time to comment in ages!) I think it’s awesome that you still hang out with your elementary school girlfriends. I lived in Alberta until I was 13, then moved to the Middle East from 13-18. I wish I could say that I still keep in touch with my friends from my hometown, but distance has definitely pulled us apart both geographically and friendship-wise. Having said that, I do have some close girlfriends that I’ve met through different activities since I moved back to Canada in 2010, and one of my priorities is making time to spend with them. Just like you and your friends, I know I can tell them anything!


  20. says

    I stay in touch with a couple of friends from grade (and high) school…we don’t see each other more than once a year, but do talk every so often – it’s so nice to be able to check in occasionally and chat away like there was no time in between.


  21. Elisabeth says

    I’m still best friends with my girls from high school, too. One I’ve been beasties with since first grade, another since fifth grade and one since seventh grade. I kind of joined everybody up in eighth grade ;). We don’t see each other as much as I’d like (one lives in Nebraska, one lives in North Carolina and two of us lived in Ohio, but I just moved to NC, too!) , but when we do, it’s like there was no time apart.


  22. says

    Awwww this is so sweet, Julie! I bet it makes a lot of us reminisce time with our girlfriends~I know I do because I get to see them every now and then, but usually not in groups because of baby and work schedules. You guys had so much fun, and that fishers’ restaurant looks so adorable~!


  23. Veronica says

    I still stay in touch with a few friends from elementary school, but most of my real close friends come from high school. I even went out of state for college, and even after returning back home for my career, I’m still close with my high school friends. Of course your college friends are always there, but its nice having the easy, laid-back, I’ve known you longer than my brother, relationships. HAHA …but really. My brother is 7 years younger than me, so some of my friends since Kindergarten, I’ve known longer than my brother.


  24. says

    Getting ready with girlfriends is awesome!! It’s one of the biggest things I miss about living with girls- that, and borrowing clothes!! I love that hangout time!


  25. says

    This made me miss my girlfriends sooo much! I keep in touch with a handful of friends from highschool and further back. Last time we all hung out was getting ready for my wedding. It was fantastic and perfect. I love them to pieces.


  26. says

    I have a couple friends that I still stay in touch with! My best friend is currently living in China but we Skype and text all the time! She is coming home this summer and we are planning a 5 day girls trip to DC in June! I’m so excited to see her and hang out and explore DC with her! We’ve both never been there.


  27. says

    Such a fun weekend!!!! Makes me miss my girlfriends SO much! This reminds me of my college housemates and I. We are similar in that our only get togethers over the past 4 years have been wedding related. It’s just refreshing to know that no matter which direction you all go in life, everyone can pick right back up where you left off. <3


  28. Amanda says

    That weekend sounds so fun! One of my absolute best friends has been that since 6th grade! We went to different colleges but only 25 minutes apart and lived in the same city for about a year after graduation. She then moved to Nashville (while I was in Lexington, KY) which was a blast because Nashville is AWESOME. I moved to South Carolina last year and then she and her husband just moved to Manchester, England a month ago! Talk about an awesome place to get to visit! :)


  29. says

    Hi Julie – quick question about beach logistics – was the beach walkable from the hotel? I tried looking online and couldn’t tell if it was right there or a close drive away? My friends and I are looking to do a similar girls weekend and we want to head to Florida, but have done the Miami/Orlando areas before. This looks like a perfect place to relax in the sun for a few days. THANKS!!!


  30. says

    Owens Fish Camp is the best! Their sangria and their shrimp and grits are my favorite,. The only thing that stinks about it is that normal hour long wait for a table, haha. Did you guys have a long wait?

    Funny, I grew up in Sarasota and am moving back there this weekend. We went there last weekend and I went to Café Epicure for the first time ever, and loved it as well. I love that even the waiters are authentic Italian! Haha.

    Glad you had a great time in my home town!


  31. Lacie says

    I met my best friends in the 9th grade (14 years ago :/), and we are actually planning our own getaway for next month. Life-long friends are the best!


  32. says

    Your trip looks like a great time! Fun, sun, and good friends. Everyone should have a set of friends that feel more like family…so I know exactly what you mean.


  33. Diana says

    I just had dinner tonight with my girlfriends from high school and middle school (a couple of us have been friends since pre-school!). It’s so special to have these friendships that last through all the different changes in our lives as we get older.

    Owen’s Fish Camp sounds awesome. My hubby and I will have to go there for a date night soon. I’m glad you liked Epicure, it’s so good there!



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