February, 2018, Venice, Florida for a Month of Golf and Sun

We went south in February of this year (2018). Our objective was to spend a month of the worst part of our northern winter in Florida, playing golf, tennis, swimming, and just enjoying the weather. Our friends, Bob and Sharon, own a home in Venice, which is about 25 miles south of Sarasota on the gulf coast. They offered us the opportunity to rent the place for February, which would include their membership in The Venice Golf Club. We jumped at the chance. So in late January we shipped our golf clubs to the club, packed some shorts and swim suits, and headed south. By the way, we use ShipSticks when we travel for golf, and they pick up our golf bags at our club (RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve), and drop them off at the club to which we are headed. It is easy and works very well.

We packed Karen’s car (more about this later), and drove through to Glen Allen (Richmond), VA, and checked into a Marriott Springhill Suites. That night we had dinner at Plaza Azteca, a Mexican cuisine chain, and then went to a movie. We saw “Twelve Strong”, about the first Special Forces group sent into Afghanistan after the World Trade attack and when the Taliban had taken over. It was a very good movie and we would not have seen it except that it was near, we were tired, and it was early evening. Hey, we are on vacation!

In the morning we drove through to Savannah, GA. As we drove through the town on the way to our destination, we were struck by the beauty of the tree-lined streets, parks at so many locations, and historic and beautifully kept homes. Savannah is a spectacular place to visit, and it exceeded our expectations. We arrived at Kehoe House, and were greeted by Lisa in Guest Services who gave us a tour of this historic house. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places, has only 13 guest rooms, and is located in the heart of the historic district. Kehoe House as build in the late 1800’s by William Kehoe, who came to America at age 10 from Ireland. He worked in the iron foundry, worked up to foreman, and eventually he bought the foundry. When he build the house, he used iron for many things like the front columns, stairs, and window casings, though they all look like wood or brick. Karen and I loved this place. Our room had a balcony and we could look across the street to Columbia Square. Beautiful area.

We stayed two nights, touring during the day. We could keep our car parked and hop on/off a tour mini-bus. We saw the house featured in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, and we toured many historic homes. But what I liked best were walking the streets in the historic area and through the many parks that seemed to exist at every intersection.

Below:Kehoe House from the Park; and our room in Kehoe House:
Kehoe House Our room

Below: Park across from Kehoe House; and a street as we wandered:
Park Street scene

Below: Karen at a cemetary in the historic district; and Chuck at a schooner on the Savannah River:
Karen at cemetary Chuck at schooner

Savannah has a number of very good places to dine. Our first night we had dinner at Chive Sea Bar and Lounge to make sure we sampled some of the local seafood. Good choice. In the morning we had breakfast at the Kehoe House, as worthy part of deal. After a full day of touring, on and off off the shuttle and throughout the historic area and the waterfront, we had dinner at Vic’s on the River. Vic’s is an upscale place overlooking the river and thoroughly enjoyable.

Then we drove to Venice, below Sarasota on the Gulf coast. Bob and Sharon’s home is in the gated Venice Golf and Country Club. It is a community of beautiful homes layed around the golf course. Our house (Bob & Sharon’s) had a two car garage plus a smaller garage for a golf cart. We drove the cart all over the community and to the club whenever we played golf, swam, played tennis, or had dinner. It was enormously helpful. We never unloaded our clubs from the cart during our stay. We ate out mostly, though we cooked in-house a few times. Karen’s brother Bill and his wife Lee visited us during the second week, and we had a blast together. When they first arrived, Bill found a brewpub to explore - he is an afficionado of the world of brewing and brewpubs. Lee put on a feast during their week-long visit.

Lee’s feast on the Lanai:
Feast

Most mornings we played golf at the club. We'd get up, have some breakfast, get on the cart, drive to the club, sign in, and play. A few times the golf pro paired us up with another couple, but mostly we played by ourselves. It was a fun course; a lot of water, but otherwise you won‘t lose a ball. The greens are fast - 10.5 or even more in the Stimp rating (a golf system for rating the speed of the green). Golf has terms, rules, and ratings for everything. I thought the course was attractive, and the wildlife interesting. We had gators on a few holes; one hole had two big ones on the tee box, at least one there every day.

Below: A view of the 5th hole from our lanail and the 10th hole in the morning:
A view from our lanai 10th hole in the morning

Below: Bill takes a swing; and Karen follows suit:
Bill swings Karen swings

Below: Gators sunning by the tee box - they were there every day:
Gators

Rather than go through an itinerary of all the excellent places we dined, here is a list of a few of the places we visited - with a few comments:

Dining in Venice

Venice Golf & Country Club
Main Dining Room - Good country club style food; large room, very busy for dinner
Veranda - not dinner options - at most, sandwiches; not a great view; use the main room
Ristorante San Marco
On the main drag of Venice, very nice
An outstanding and authentic Italian restaraunt - al fresco dining
Pings Chinese Shushi
Take out Chinese used twice
Casey Key Fish House
Ate there twice; once with Bill &Lee; in fast once, waited half-hour once
Fun bar (separate); and good food in a low-key, fun, active atmosphere
On a pier, with a great sunset, aggressive pelicans, and pleasant service
Pop‘s Sunset Grill
Ate there twice; once just us and once with a friend of Karen
Fun bar, seafood on the beach with a great sunset view
Got darn near blown away with two Rum Punches; careful, kiddo
Abby‘s on Miami
Okay place; not upscale; moderate
Sharkey’s on the Pier
Ate there twice; once just us and once with Bill & Lee
A great place in Venice, with an outstanding view if you seat on the balcony (we did)
Cassariano Italian Eatery
Ate there twice; once just us and once with Bill and Lee
Really great Italian food; authentic charm
Recommend this place for any special dinner
Al fresco on a busy sidewalk, but strangely seems private
Mi Pueblo
Mexican, we did for a change
Very nice and convenient, too
Gecko’s Dockside Waterfront Grill
Nearby but not in downtown Venice (timiami Trail)
Major sunset experience, viewing it through the masts
After a wait, a thoroughly enjoyable dinner with a sunset view to die for
Original Word of Mouth
We ate lunch there twice - very nice lunch place in a strip mall
Valenti‘s Allegro Bistro
Ate there our last night in Venice
Another very good Italian restaurant
Note: There were others, of course, but these I had some memory of.

Below: Chuck, Bill, & Lee at Casey Key Fish House; a pelican on the dock begging at a Casey Key Fish House table:
Chuck, Bill & Lee Pelican

Below: Dinner view at Sharkie’s at the Pier; and Karen, Lee, & me at lunch on the beach:
Sharkey with Bill & Lee Lunch at the beach

Below: A view of the sunset at Gecko’s Dockside Waterfront Grill:
Sunset

We went down to the beach at Manasota Key, by Englewood. The key is a very long peninsula with a beach on one side and the intercoastal waterway on the inland side. We walked the beach, or should I say they all walked the beach while I sat and read in the sun and walked along the boardwalk. We also went to the Venice beach and we walked out on the very long Venice Fishing Pier, then got some sun on the beach there. A little too crowded near the pier, but better as you moved away from it. The sun, however, was awesome.

Below: Karen and me on the pier; and a better view of Karen enjoying the pier:
Us on the Pier Karen

While we were in Venice, Karen's BMW had a service light come on. I took it to Horst’s Bavarian Autoworks for repair. They ordered an O2 sensor and I came back another day for the installation. Light went out. On the way back to Pennsylvania, the light lit up again. At home we took it to the BMW dealer and they said it was the computer and it needed to be re-flashed. Next day, light lit up again. Back to the dealer, who said there is another O2 sensor and it needed to be replaced. So, after four trips and over $1,000, the light is out... for the moment. Damn light!

On the way home, we stopped in Rocky Mount, NC, at a Courtyard by Marriott. We went out to dinner, then slept after a long drive. The following day we drove all the way home, following navigation instructions that took us into D.C. and along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. This was not the way to go, in my opinion. Lots of traffic, long and tedious. By the end of the day, we were home again. Even after a great vacation trip, it always feels so good to be back home. And especially after long and tiresome travel.

Return to top of Arizona, 2020

Return to top of Travel
Return to Personal Interests
Return to Home page