Category Archives: Florida

Local Fall Festivals

One thing I love about the south is the abundance of festivals. Down here, we can find any reason for a festival. Holidays, food, animals, civil war battles, you name it! Below, I’ve listed some of the best festivals coming to the north Florida area this fall!

September 14th-16th
Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival
100 James Rd, Jekyll Island, GA
(Free Admission – $10 Parking)
Presented by Southern Living, the Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival combines the classic southern dish with family-friendly entertainment, artists market, live music, craft beer, and more!

October 6th-7th
Datil Pepper Festival
St. Johns County Agricultural Center, 3125 Agricultural Center Drive, St. Augustine, FL
(Free Admission)
Celebrate St. Augustine’s very own datil pepper with pepper cook offs by local chefs, tastings, along with datil pepper products and plants to purchase. It’s a great time for the whole family exploring the local culinary culture of our oldest city.

October 12th-13th
French Country Flea Market Fall Show
Sweet South Cottage and Farms, 6007 Veterans Memorial Dr., Tallahassee, FL
($7 Admission – Free Parking)
Presented by Sweet South Cottage and Farms, the French Country Flea Market showcases antiques, hand painted home goods, shabby-chic style furniture, vintage curiosities, local art, live music, and delicious southern delicacies.

October 13th
ButterflyFest
Florida Museum of Natural History
3215 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL
(Free Admission)
Explore the lives of bats, bees, and butterflies at the 13th annual ButterflyFest! Learn about butterfly gardening, conservation, backyard wildlife, and more! Other fun includes butterfly releases, a “pollinator” parade, and plant sale.

October 13th-14th
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Plant Sale and Orchid Show
Gainesville, FL
(Free Admission)
In celebration of the gardens’ 32nd birthday, there will be over 50 booths set up selling a wide variety of plants. In addition to the sale, there will also be an orchid show put on by the American Orchid Society.

October 20th
McIntosh 1890’s Festival
Van Ness Park, McIntosh Fl
(Free Admission, both free and paid parking available)
With it’s inaugural event  in 1974, this festival has grown to over 250 vendors and an estimated 35,000 visitors annually. Come and enjoy crafts, food, and a good time!

October 20th
Florida Bat Festival
Lubee Bat Conservancy, 1309 NW 192nd Ave., Gainesville, FL
($8 Admission)
The 14th annual Florida Bat Festival will offer fun for the whole family including games, music, environmental discussions, vendors, crafts, food trucks, a beer garden, and the world’s largest bats with 6’ wingspans.


October 27th-28th
Micanopy Fall Craft Festival
Micanopy, FL
(Free Admission – both free and paid parking available)
In the heart of downtown Micanopy, expect hundreds of booths full of homemade candles, soaps, clothing, planters, jewelry, art, etc. There’s also a large section dedicated to tables full of antique and vintage items.

 

Walt Disney World – Initial Planning Process

Over the last few years I’ve had a number of people ask me for advice on their upcoming Disney World vacations. I’m not an expert in any way, but I’ve been going to the parks since I was a child and I do have quite a bit of experience under my belt. Over the next few weeks I will be talking about my favorite tips and tricks for making your Disney World vacation the best.

Before I start with the planning, I want to encourage any of you who are resisting a Disney Vacation to give it a try. While Walt Disney World isn’t for everyone, it’s truly a magical experience for children and adults alike. The thought and detail within the Disney parks is almost overwhelming. The level of customer service cannot be beat! There’s a little something for everyone on Disney property. Rides, shows, water parks, fine dining, mini golf, shopping, horseback riding, holiday celebrations, guided tours – you name it! Having a good plan can vastly affect your Disney experience.

Today I want to talk about the importance of planning when considering a Disney vacation. Let’s be real, Disney World can be expensive and even stressful for some. Ticket prices, hotel stays, food, souvenirs, etc. will all add up to a pretty penny. I believe that to get the most out of your money, time, and sanity, planning out your trip is essential.

First, consider what’s important to you and your party. Prioritizing is key when planning a trip of this type. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you want to come back to a luxurious hotel room with all the bell and whistles after a long day at the park? Or, would you prefer saving on the hotel room and possibly use that savings on souvenirs or an extra day in the parks?
  2. What are your date options? Crowd sizes vary depending on the time of year, festivals within the parks, new ride openings, and race weekends. Weather should also be a factor when deciding dates. Historically, Saturdays are the busiest and Mondays are the least busy.
  3. Which parks will you be visiting and on which days? This will affect your fast passes and  dining options.
  4. How important will dining be to your party? Are you interested in fine dining? Character meals? Will your budget allow you to eat at the parks or will you need to bring your own snacks/packed lunches? Do you or someone in your party have dietary restrictions? Will you be purchasing a Disney Dining package?
  5. What are your park priorities? Are character meet and greets important to you? Do you want to ride as many rides as possible? What fast passes are you interested in? What about parades?
  6. What logistics do you need to consider? Will you be flying or driving to Orlando? Will you be renting a car from the airport or using Disney’s Magical Express buses to get to your hotel? Do you need to rent a stroller or wheelchair?
  7. Are you interested in any of the “Extras” at Disney World, such as appointments at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique, races, or guided tours?

Making a list of your priorities will help to weed through some of the planning process. For example, Ray and I are not interested in character meals, so when we’re planning our dining reservations we can automatically eliminate character restaurants.

I’m very passionate about the planning process because I hate to see people fail to plan and end up having a not-so-magical trip. I truly believe that a well thought out plan (with consideration from everyone in your party), can vastly improve your trip. I also believe it’s important to have flexibility within your Disney World plans. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes rides break down. Sometimes it’s 100 degrees with 90% humidity. Sometimes you’re feet are too tired to walk one more step. Always plan for breaks and be flexible!

Do you have any Walt Disney World planning questions? Send them to me! The next post in this series will be on choosing a Walt Disney World hotel.

Anniversary Weekend

It’s so hard to believe that Ray and I have been married for 5 years. Some days it seems like we’ve been together forever and some days it feels like it hasn’t even been a year.
Below are some snapshot from our anniversary weekend getaway. We stayed in the sweetest air b&b in Palm Harbor, FL. We spent Saturday eating delicious Greek food, exploring the Tarpon Springs sponge docks, and talking about some of our goals for this year.IMG_6545IMG_6541IMG_6543We watched the sun set at Fred Howard State Park, and witnessed an awkward matchy-matchy family photo shoot in the wild! See below! IMG_6561IMG_6566IMG_6567IMG_6569Sunday morning we decided to drive across the state to Cocoa Beach. First, we made a stop in Ybor City to have lunch at The Columbia restaurant, my favorite! You can’t beat the 1905 salad and sangria! Neither Ray nor I had been to Cocoa beach since the 90’s, and well, it hasn’t changed much. The Space Coast is pretty high on the tacky scale, but that’s only more reason to love it! We stayed in Fawlty Towers hotel (named after the show and run by Brits) which looks like a castle and is painted various shades of pink and teal. Fortunately, we were really close to the beach. Unfortunately, we slept on the most uncomfortable bed on planet earth. We spent Sunday afternoon swimming in the ocean! IMG_6576We drove home Monday and made a quick pit stop at Disney Springs for lunch and a little shopping! It was a great weekend!

Big Talbot Island

drift wood 1On the same day we visited the Warhold exhibit, Ray, Drea (cousin extraordinaire), and I also made a stop at Big Talbot Island state park aka the driftwood forest. I’ve seen photos of Big Talbot Island beach for years, but didn’t realized until recently how close it is to my home.
Florida is such a strange and wonderful place!bti 4bti 2byi 3bti 1bti 6bti 8bti 5
bti 11bti 9bti 7 Having lived in Florida for 30 years, you could say I’m pretty familiar with the beach. Most of the beaches I frequent have white sands, warm water, and giant hotels dotting the shore line. Big Talbot Island couldn’t be more different! It’s an untouched, preserved piece of north Florida paradise. Big Talbot Island is beautiful and I highly suggest you make a visit to this crazy driftwood beach!

love Florida

One of the best parts of living in North Florida is the abundance of fresh water springs that feed into our rivers. The spring water stays at a constant temperature of 72 degrees, which is refreshing (and freezing) in the Florida summers. Here’s a photo of my mom and her family at Silver Springs experiencing the glass-bottom boats!springsWhile looking for old North Florida pictures for a work project, I came across a bunch of spring and river photos from the early to mid nineteen hundreds from floridamemory.com. The pictures are so special I had to share a few!spring swimmers spring swimmers 2spring swimmers 3Ray and I are hoping to take a few river and spring trips this summer. What are your summer plans?