Holle Abee and her family love going on beach vacations in Florida.
My family and I just spent a week in Port Richey, Florida, for one of our semi-annual family Florida vacations. We had planned on going to the “Redneck Riviera,” but the oil leak changed that. I certainly didn't want to visit the Gulf beaches with oil present. I was trying to decide on a place for our family vacation and searched for gulf coast rentals. Amid my search for vacation homes, I remembered how much a close friend loved the Port Richey area, so I began my search for Port Richey homes on Vacation Rentals by Owner, or VRBO. I was specifically searching for waterfront rentals on Vacation Rentals by Owner. I found several Port Richey homes for rent, including several waterfront rentals. I was pretty amazed at how inexpensive most of the vacation rentals were, especially when compared to other popular Florida vacation spots. For cheap vacations, check out the Port Richey area!
Port Richey, FL
Luckily, among all the Port Richey rentals, I found “Sunset Bungalow.” It’s located right on the Cotee River, and it has its own private dock. It’s also just across the street from a great marina called “Sunset Marina.” The same people who own the house own and operate the marina, and with the house rental, you get the free use of a pontoon boat for eight hours. You can use all eight hours in one day or split it up into two days. Since we’re a family of fishermen, this sounded great to us, so I sent the deposit for our vacation home.
We'd never been to Port Richey before, so we weren't sure exactly what to expect. We were pleased to find out it was a slow-paced, laid-back place with lots of old fashioned charm and plenty of outdoor activities we could take advantage of. The citizens were friendly, and the fresh seafood was awesome!
Okay, back to cheap vacations. How does a canal-front three-bedroom house with a private swimming pool for $700 a week sound? Or what about this one: a gulf-front condo with a clubhouse, a boat launch, swimming pools, tennis courts, and an exercise room - for just $1600 for an entire month? See? I told you Port Richey was a great place for cheap vacations!
A great house for a family vacation!
We loved the Port Richey vacation home. It was built in the 1930s and had beautiful knotty pine panelling throughout. It wasn’t fancy, but it was clean and comfortable, and the price was right! In fact, it was about one-third of what we we've paid for gulf coast rentals on the panhandle. Downstairs were two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a breakfast room, a dining room, a living room, a reading room, and a den. A couple of the sofas could be made into beds, too. Upstairs was another bedroom, along with another kitchen, a sitting room, and a dining area. There was also a large grassy yard for the kids to play in. The layout was perfect for my family vacation.
Port Richey Homes
The house is located in a quiet neighborhood of similar Port Richey homes and has little traffic. My two granddaughters took their bikes and enjoyed riding them on the side streets. There were several kids in the neighborhood, so they were in good company. This is a neighborhood of older homes, so we got a good taste of "old Florida."
The best thing about the house for the adults was the river. The Cotee River, a saltwater river, was just across the narrow street, and we had our own private fishing dock. We made friends with the captain of the shrimp boat who stopped there for refueling, and he often left us free bait shrimp. The kids caught lots of small fish from the floating dock, and we saw lots of birds nearby, too.
Next to our dock was the marina, run by Kristen and Tim. They were extremely friendly and helpful, and the location of the marina was very convenient. We could buy bait, ice, snacks, and drinks by simply stepping across the lane. And when we wanted to use the pontoon boat, they had it ready and waiting for us.
Kristen went over maps with us and gave us directions to interesting sites in the Gulf of Mexico. She also made sure all the kids were properly fitted with life jackets, which the marina supplied. We rented the pontoon boat for several outings, and we had a blast. The boat was large enough for all of us, and there was a top for shade. There were also tables on the deck. We packed a picnic lunch, and there was room for our fishing gear and coolers, too.
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Things To Do In Port Richey
There are plenty of things to do in Port Richey - and nearby. We were very near several great restaurants, and we took advantage of that! Several were right on the water, and we could visit the waterfront restaurants via the pontoon boat. Kristen told the kids about a swim park that was near the house, and they loved the pools and water slides. You and your family might also enjoy Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, the USA Flea Market, Regal 18 Hollywood Cinema, or deep-sea fishing. Of course, we also spent a lot of time on the dock – fishing, bird watching, and experiencing the glorious sunsets over the water. That’s the great thing about waterfront rentals!
Drive over to New Port Richey, and you'll find lots more to do and see: bowling, the James E. Grey Preserve, the Suncoast Theater, Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, the Robert K. Rees Memorial Park, and Anclote Island. You might also enjoy the New Port Richey River Walk, where you can picnic, fish, walk, and jog. Of course, if you want to find lots, lots more to do, all you have to do is drive twenty-five miles to Tampa!
Port Richey is in a great location. It’s close to Tarpon Springs, so we spent a day at the sponge docks and took the kids to the Tarpon Springs Aquarium. We also ate Greek food and shopped while we were in Tarpon Springs. The streets are lined with small shops and restaurants, and most have a distinct Greek flavor.
Tarpon Springs was largely settled by Greek sponge fishermen, and the town has an atmosphere much like that of a Greek fishing village. I found the history of the town fascinating. If you indulge in a Port Richey vacation, be sure to set aside a day for a visit to Tarpon Springs. It's a short drive, and it's definitely worth the trip.
Port Richey is also near Weeki Wachee, and the kids had a blast there. They played in the water, slid down the slides, and saw the mermaid show. Weeki Wachee is a beautiful natural spring with cold, crystal clear water and a white sandy beach. The swimming area is open year-round. There's also Buccaneer Bay, the only water park in the state of Florida fed by a natural spring. Buccaneer Bay features a kiddie pool, a relaxing lazy river, and water slides.
Live shows are performed throughout the day, and the granddaughters loved seeing the mermaids swimming underwater. The kids were fully convinced that they'd witnessed real mermaids. We had a devil of a time convincing them that mermaids are mythical creatures.
Weeki Wachee is easy to find. It's located where state road 50 crosses U.S. Highway 19. This place has been in business for well over fifty years, and it's been a favorite with tourists for decades. It's one of those old fashioned roadside attractions you once saw all over the Sunshine State, before they gave way to larger and more high tech giants like Disney World and Universal Studios. In 2008, Weeki Wachee became a state park.
Things To Do Near Port Richey
We also found a nice beach near the house that Kristen had told us about – Fred Howard Park. It’s a nice place for sunning, swimming, and fishing. The park has several covered picnic areas, hiking trails, and a playground for kids. At the beach, you can rent several different types of water toys.
Sunset Bungalow is located just off Highway 19, so there’s plenty of shopping and entertainment nearby. There were several miniature golf courses, including one that you play inside a dark warehouse-like structure.
Our vacation home in Port Richey was also very near the Gulf of Mexico. We took the pontoon boat out for three days for flats fishing and cruising. Near the mouth of the Cotee River are some amazing stilt houses, flats fishing, and a private island with a wonderful secluded beach. The Grands loved playing in the sand and in the clear, shallow water, while the guys and I enjoyed some Florida fishing on the flats.
If you've never been to the Florida flats, allow me to explain. It's a saltwater area that remains shallow for a long, long way out. The bottom is mostly covered with grass, and the water is very clear. Pinfish are everywhere, and they're easy to catch and make great live bait. We caught cobia, redfish, and sharks.
Along with some great Florida fishing, we also did some exploring on the pontoon boat. We checked out the Gulf stilt houses, which are pretty amazing. It's rather strange to see a house out in the middle of the flats! We also found a few small islands that were totally deserted. It was like having our own private island vacation!
We had a great family vacation, and we plan on returning to the same spot! I highly recommend Sunset Bungalow to anyone who’s looking for a fun, relaxing family vacation.