Zika-Free Florida Vacation

Ritz Carlton Sarasota

Last week was pretty great. Anel and I took off five full days, something that we never do, to spend some time alone and under the sun. I’ve mentioned my struggle with seasonal depression before, but this year it was even more intense. I think it was a mix of being holed up during my first trimester when I was too sick to leave my house sometimes for days at a time (I promise to get you guys that recap soon), and a series of snow storms in a row. Either way, I was in major need of some sunshine, and while five days doesn’t sound like a lot, it made a huge difference.

We picked Sarasota as our getaway location for two reasons: 1. It’s Zika free, and that’s hard to find (read more here), and 2. It’s an hour away from my aunts who we stayed with for two nights at the end of our trip.

On Wednesday morning, we woke up at 4am to catch our 6:30am flight. That was brutal, but I figured it would be worth it for an extra full day there. It was! The day was perfect and we knew we wanted to spend it outside. We rented a car and drove straight to The Ritz Carlton, Sarasota. We parked, changed, and hopped on a shuttle to their beach club that was just perfection (shown in above photo). It was a little windy for the beach, so we sat by the pool and ordered fish tacos and a salad with chicken. It felt so good to lay in the sun with a good book for the next four hours or so.

Putting on a bathing suit in public for the first time was a little scary, but I guess I’m showing enough now that people could tell I was pregnant. A few people at the pool asked when I was due, without me even saying anything! That was kind of exciting. Anel thinks next time I should look at them and say, “What are you talking about?” Ha! I would never, but that made me laugh. That day I finished The Dollhouse (could not recommend this book more) and started Bringing up Bebe which is highlights incredibly fresh perspective on raising children. I’m loving it so far.

We headed back to the hotel when some clouds rolled in around 5pm, and took some photos before dinner at Jack Dusty. Usually, I’m not a fan of hotel restaurants (The NoMad excluded), so didn’t have high expectations for dinner. We were blown away! Everything we ate was amazing, and they even made me the best mocktail I’ve had yet with basil, lemon, and pink peppercorns. It was so good, that I ended up working with the bartenders the next day to create three mocktail recipes that I’ll be sharing with you next week. I think I’m way too excited about that, but not drinking on vacation was definitely… different.  Our favorite dishes at dinner were fried green tomatoes, watermelon and tomato salad, and the catch of the day, which was a Mahi Mahi. The best part of dinner was that the manager was from Bosnia, and immigrated a year before Anel, so they had a lot to talk about, in Bosnian of course.

Per usual these days, I was in bed by nine.

The next morning we ate a quick breakfast and I headed down to the spa for a prenatal massage. My hips have been really sore in the last month, so getting them rubbed feels beyond amazing. We got dressed and headed to Saint Armand’s Circle to check out the scene, buy a gift for my aunt, and finally check out Shore Diner, the restaurant that everyone told us was a must-visit. It was another beautiful day, so we sat outside as we enjoyed the Kung Pao chopped salad, fish tacos, and truffle fries. The drink menu looked incredible. Maybe next time!

We took a drive to Siesta Key beach, voted the number one beach in the country. How could we miss that? The sand was white and powdery, and the water was turquoise like the Caribbean. It was pretty stunning. We spent the afternoon there, and felt 100% relaxed by the end of the day. When we got back to the hotel, we got ready for dinner but prego exhaustion set in and I couldn’t move anymore. It happens sometimes and it’s the worst. I told Anel to go out without me but he wanted to stay so we ordered room service and went to bed early. It was a disappointing last night in Sarasota, but we made the most of it.

The next morning, I was on the hunt for a health-food breakfast, and found Ionie, a café that’s part of a cute wellness retreat facility. It felt good to eat and drink something super clean before our drive south. We then headed down to my aunt’s house for some family time and a couple days on the beach on Sanibel Island. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and it was nice to spend time with them! We’re thinking of going back for a visit in December after Christmas with the baby, and I’m crossing my fingers that it works out.

Striped Peplum Shirt (on sale!) / White Jeans / Clutch

A coconut-milk based mocktail from Jack Dusty

Pom Pom Cover Up / Eric Javits Hat c/o

Beach day essentials: Earrings / Bikini Top / Sunscreen / Natural Deodorant

Pink Maxi Dress (comes in 12 colors!) / Hat

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  1. Classic Catherine said:

    I love that pink maxi and that it was a “Zika-free” vacation, haha. I’m so glad you had such a good time!
    Classic Catherine

    2.22.17 · Reply
  2. Rebecca said:

    Julia, the link to the pink maxi is for your coverup! Can you please link to the pink maxi so we can all enjoy it this summer? Thanks!

    2.22.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Fixed it! So sorry about that 🙂

      2.23.17 · Reply
  3. Elizabeth Oliveto said:

    Looks like you had such a wonderful time! Love that striped cover up!

    2.22.17 · Reply
  4. Dana Mannarino said:

    Looks like SUCH a beautiful trip!

    Pink Champagne Problems

    2.22.17 · Reply
  5. Christa // Regina said:

    Sounds so wonderful! 🙂

    xo christa | http://www.gardeniasandmint.com

    2.22.17 · Reply
  6. Ashley said:

    We are considering a trip down to Sarasota or Sanibel next year for New Years with the little one! Great minds think alike!

    2.22.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      So fun! You’ll have a great time 🙂

      2.23.17 · Reply
  7. Samantha Tananbaum said:

    Sounds like a great trip! I think I commented on one of your Instagrams, but my grandparents bought a house on Siesta Key when my mom was in first grade. I’ve been lucky to take many trips there and the beach is just amazing. Glad you got some time away!


    2.22.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Lucky you!!!!

      2.23.17 · Reply
  8. Madeline Mihaly said:

    Sounds like you had fun! I also use the same native deodorant!

    xo, Maddy

    2.22.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Isn’t it the best?

      2.23.17 · Reply
  9. TWC said:

    What a dreamy vacation! My husband and I are heading to Scottsdale/Sedona for a babymoon in March and I really appreciate your outfit inspo! Would you mind sharing the link to the pink maxi dress from the last photo? The link in the post points to the pom pom cover up (which is also adorable)! Thanks!

    2.22.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Oh fun! You’ll have such a great time 🙂 Fixed the link in the post and it’s here too: http://bit.ly/2m8SSF9

      2.22.17 · Reply
      • TWC said:

        Thank you!

        2.22.17 · Reply
  10. Breanna Marie said:

    Happy to hear you had an amazing trip!


    2.22.17 · Reply
  11. Jordana @WhiteCabana said:

    Ah – now I noticed this recap post. Great itinerary! I’m making a note of this for my trip this summer. Hope you had a great time soaking up the sun!

    2.23.17 · Reply
  12. Katie said:

    I loved all of your Instagram stories from the trip- this part of Florida looks gorgeous!


    2.25.17 · Reply
  13. Morgan Roberts said:

    Can you provide a link to the sunglasses you are wearing with the pink maxi dress?

    2.27.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Absolutely! You can get them here: http://bit.ly/2lNa6Xa (Use code GOBIG17 before 3/5 and you’ll get 20% off too!)

      2.27.17 · Reply
  14. Camille said:

    Next time, go and visit Antoine’s as restaurant! We loved it: very helpful and kind people and delicious food!

    3.20.17 · Reply
  15. Catania Carhire said:

    very bright and colorful photos! I’m so happy a summer has come!

    6.7.17 · Reply