My sister and I had a wonderful girls weekend getaway thanks to The Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande, Florida. Boca Grande is just a short drive south of Tampa (under 2 hours) and the National Historic Landmark resort sits right on the heart of the beautiful and quaint Gasparilla Island along the Gulf Coast. The Inn is easily accessible by air, car or boat (you could fly into Ft. Myers, Sarasota or Tampa too).
The Gasparilla Inn takes on the motto of “Florida as it was meant to be” and I don’t think another statement could more accurately describe this little slice of heaven in the sunshine state. If you are not familiar with this area, it is unlike any other in Florida and it is no wonder that it has been named the #1 resort in Florida.
From the welcoming staff to the charming appearance, “Old Florida” traditions and historic buildings (open since 1913), there are not many places like this in the state or country for that matter. The beauty of Boca Grande and its beloved banyan trees, relaxing and laid back nature make it perfect for a family friendly vacation, romantic trip for two or for a girls weekend (like my sister and I enjoyed sans the boys).
What is also so special is that the Gasparilla Inn stays true to its seasonal traditions, dress codes and southern comforts by following a seasonal opening. Typically this runs October through the 4th of July so now is the time to go! Since it is the largest surviving wooden hotel in Florida and one of the state’s first resorts, (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and even Hollywood beauties like Katherine Hepburn have also stayed here), the Inn closes for the rest of the Summer through early Fall in order to help preserve the building.
While I had been to Boca Grande growing up and even got to see a close friend get married there, this was the first long weekend I had spent at the Inn in recent years and let me tell you, it did not disappoint one bit.
We were greeted and spoiled upon arrival with a knock at our suite’s door and a tray full of rosé and sparkling waters (my favorites!). The suite was absolutely beautiful and felt just like a home. Each room also comes with tempur-pedic beds and bath amenities by L’Occitane. The day before we arrived, the Inn had just wrapped up a beautiful event with Garden and Gun (also one of my favorites!).
Where To Eat
Miller’s Marina: After we dropped our bags and picked up our light blue golf cart, we headed on over to Miller’s for a delicious casual lunch full of fresh seafood (think: peel n’ eat shrimp) on the dock.
The Main Dining Room: Our first night, we were spoiled at the Inn in the Main Dining Room for dinner. We enjoyed more rosé, shrimp cocktails, Key West shrimp bisque, tomato salad, beet salad, salmon, grouper, espresso chip, strawberry & vanilla ice cream, espresso, among cappuccinos and yes, champagne. How did two girls eat all this? I’m still not sure but everything was absolutely delicious and the service was beyond hospitable too.
The Outlet: Just down the road from the Inn, we enjoyed a comfort heavy breakfast (think scrambled eggs, toast, diner coffee, your grandma’s type of cooking) at The Outlet. It was little too hot that day to sit out on the dock but that option is always there too.
South Beach Bar & Grille: We headed to the end of the Island to enjoy drinks at South Beach one afternoon (and also found ourselves conveniently stranded due to a Florida afternoon thunderstorm).
The Pink Elephant: On our last night, we enjoyed another delicious meal at a Boca Grande and Gasparilla Inn staple – The Pink Elephant. Truth be told, the time before I spent there was at the bar after my friend’s wedding events each evening but the food is delicious too! We started with cucumber crushes, tuna tartare and pimento and finished with mahi mahi and swordfish for our main dishes. Again, how did the two of us eat all this? I think the sun must work up your appetite.
The Loose Caboose: Before we left on our last day, we had a casual lunch at the Loose Caboose (also known for its ice cream) in town with salads and grilled shrimp and diet coke to go (for yours truly, of course).
Hudson’s Grocery: This little gem with its pink old gas pump out front is also a staple store for groceries and other necessities if you’re staying longer or book one of the Inn’s cottages.
What To Do
The Beach Club: Head to the Beach Club to soak up some sun on a private beach (complete with yellow umbrellas) or lounge by the pool. There are also dining options available here.
Explore the Island: There are a handful of local shops and better known ones in the small town of Boca Grande. I made my sister drive our blue golf cart all weekend long and the easiest + most popular way to get around is by golf cart. There is also a historical light house that is worth checking out too. Head to Banyan Street for some of the prettiest trees in the South.
Outdoor Activities: For those that want more outdoor activities there is golf, bicycle rentals, kayaks, croquet and inshore/offshore guided fishing expeditions (if you didn’t BYOB – boat, that is).
The Spa at Gasparilla Inn: Last but certainly not least, I would recommend checking yourself into the Spa for a few hours. We were also spoiled here with “Taste of Gasparilla” massages plus a few add-ons that included guava anti aging butter for me and extra aromatherapy for my sister. The massage also includes reflexology, stones and I opted for a ginger lily scalp massage. Both Melissa and Erika come highly recommended by my sister and I for services.
Shop some of the items I packed below.
Special thank you to The Gasparilla Inn & Club for hosting us for the weekend.
All opinions are my own.