A primer on vis­its to two Florida is­lands

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - — C.S travel@wash­post.com

Mon­days at 2 p.m., The Washington Post’s travel writ­ers and ed­i­tors dis­cuss your travel sto­ries, ques­tions, gripes and more at live.wash­ing­ton­post.com. Here are some edited ex­cerpts from a re­cent dis­cus­sion:

My hus­band and I want to spend a week on Sani­bel or Cap­tiva Is­land (in Florida) this sum­mer. Any recs on places to stay, things to do and eat?

I have vis­ited both places, but haven’t stayed overnight. I have heard good things about Is­land Inn and Water­side Inn on Sani­bel. On Cap­tiva, Tween Wa­ters Inn has good rep. As for food, I did not do any fine din­ing there, but quite liked the Is­land Cow. As for what to do, ride bikes and visit the Ding Dar­ling Na­tional Wildlife Pre­serve.

— An­drea Sachs

I read a very pos­i­tive ar­ti­cle that sug­gested Van­tage River Cruises for solo travelers. Do you have any in­for­ma­tion about Van­tage?

Are there any other river­cruise com­pa­nies that you would rec­om­mend with solo cab­ins or no sin­gle sup­ple­ment fee?

Van­tage Deluxe World Travel has been around for about 35 years and works di­rectly with its pas­sen­gers. It doesn’t have a PR team and last I heard, it does not work with travel agents. I’m not sure where you heard the is­sues you’ve cited in your ques­tion, so can’t com­ment on that. Most river-cruise com­pa­nies of­fer oc­ca­sional deals geared to­ward solo travelers in­clud­ing Premier, Tauck, AmaWater­ways, Avalon and Vik­ing. I do not know of any that have ded­i­cated sin­gle cab­ins.

— Carol Sot­tili

I need to stay some­where in­ex­pen­sive out­side NYC, prob­a­bly in New Jersey. Can any­one rec­om­mend a ba­sic ho­tel near trans­porta­tion into the city?

I would check ho­tels in Jersey City and Ne­wark, though you will still pay around $150. I would not go any less, for fear of the un­known.

(I have had some seedy ex­pe­ri­ences.) Also, check Brook­lyn. On Ho­tels.com, Ho­tel Le Jolie is $134; Red Lion Inn is $136. In the city, the Jane has good rates if you don’t mind a shared bath.

— A.S.

Is there any­where, within an hour-or-so drive of Washington, that’s great for bird­watch­ing?

My life list in the Washington area has more than 160, so the birds are def­i­nitely out there! Sign up for the bird walks of­fered by Audubon Nat­u­ral­ist So­ci­ety and the Audubon So­ci­ety of North­ern Vir­ginia: They are of­ten free and led by ex­perts who know the ter­rain. Some of my fa­vorite spots in and close to the District in­clude Hunt­ley Mead­ows, south of Alexan­dria; Dyke Marsh, also near Alexan­dria; the C&O Canal Tow­path; Theodore Roo­sevelt Is­land; and Mon­ti­cello Park in Alexan­dria. Far­ther afield, check with the Loudoun Wildlife Con­ser­vancy.

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