Category Archives: Family travel

Recap of Jan 25th’s #flkeys chat

Do the Florida Keys really have it all?

They do! Jimmy Buffett has the right idea. We learned all about the best restaurants, best beaches, and best coffee in the Florida Keys yesterday during the first #flkeys chat.

We met so many great people and got some wonderful ideas about dining and beaches. I was just blown away by the participation, thanks everybody! Claudia Miller (@KeysClaudia) was a fabulous host and shared many wonderful pics. We talked about Bahia Honda, the Dry Tortugas, Sombrero Beach, Coco Plum, and Zachary Taylor. We also learned about Seven Fish’s great meatloaf, Hawks Cay Resort’s flaming coffee, and key lime margaritas. This is the link to the Storify archive and here’s a video recap:

We can’t wait till next month’s chat on Feb 29th at 2p EST. Use hashtag #flkeys to participate. Won’t you join us?

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Filed under #flkeys chat, Beach, Florida, Travel

Talking the Florida Keys with Claudia Miller (@KeysClaudia) #flkeys

What are the best beaches in the Florida Keys?
What are the best restaurants in the Florida Keys?
Where’s the best coffee in the Florida Keys?

@KeysClaudia and I will be chatting on Twitter about these subjects and more on January 25th at 2pm EST. We hope you’ll join us! Use hashtag #flkeys to join in. For more information, check out the Storify log for the #flkeys hashtag.

Claudia Miller is a writer and weekly blogger for Florida Travel + Life Magazine . Check out her blog to learn more fabulous Florida Keys tips.

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Filed under Family travel, Florida, Travel

Warm Mineral Springs, Florida

A Florida spring with healing properties

That’s Warm Mineral Springs’ claim to fame, anyway. I’m not sure if that is true, but going there is a lovely way to spend the day. I’ve been there many a time and I do feel refreshed. But, keep in mind that you leave there feeling refreshed in a different way than most springs in Florida.

Warm Mineral Springs is, well, warm! It’s 87 degrees year-round. That’s a really nice temperature for water that you soak in. The other difference is that the water has the 3rd highest mineral content in the world. Because of this, it is a destination for many Europeans and visitors from across the world. That’s one of the fun parts of the springs–hearing many languages spoken around you.

Floating and swimming around the spring is a pretty neat experience. It might not be for the faint of heart–there is a sulfur smell and there is floating algae–but it’s usually enjoyed by all. It’s a great way to relax and meet new people. You can truly say this is not a theme park experience and your northern visitors will have something to write home about.

Now, I haven’t been there since the new owners took it over. So, I truly can’t speak for the atmosphere now. But the many visits I made in the past were highlighted by the food. A quick look at the menu shows me the food is a little different, but I see the pierogies on there. I hope they are the same! Try them! The rest of the menu looks updated and more spa-like. I bet they worked hard to create a menu that went with the healing properties-it looks healthy. Let me know how it is.

It’s also worth the time to read about the history surrounding Warm Mineral Springs. Ponce de Leon thought it was the Fountain of Youth and archaeologists have found cool stuff there. Some of the history is detailed at the springs and some also on their website. Don’t miss reading up on this unique aspect of the springs.

Warm Mineral Springs is a unique Florida experience. Check out their website to learn about their hours and prices. I’d love to hear about your experience, don’t forget to share by posting them on Twitter and doing an @pineapplepress. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Filed under Our Town, Sarasota, Travel

2011 Florida Holiday Events

Author Bruce Hunt is discussing Winter in Small-Town Florida today (Monday Dec 5th) at 12pm on Twitter via a Twitter chat.
Use hashtag #smalltownFla to follow along.
Follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceHuntImages. You can reach us via @PineapplePress

A sampling of Florida’s holiday fun for 2011

Florida is a fun place to spend the holidays, especially if you want a different spin on winter events. Those of you visiting from up north might be surprised about what Floridians created into winter fun!

South Florida

Holiday Historic Lighted Inn Tours: Visit beautiful Key West inns while sampling mouth-watering foods and seeing exciting performances. Dec 9-10 and Dec 16-17. Learn more at www.schoonerwharf.com

Annual Dropping of the Conch Shell: Sloppy Joe’s is home to this annual New Years Eve event. Learn more at www.sloppyjoes.com

North Florida

Pensacola Winterfest: Looks like it’s a month-long celebration in Pensacola this December. Learn more at www.pensacolawinterfest.org

Regatta of Lights: St. Augustine’s spin on Christmas lights. See a parade of boats in historic St. Augustine. Dec 10. Learn more at www.visitoldcity.com

Central Florida

Cruising Downtown DeLand Car Show: Classic cars and crafts bring the holidays to DeLand. Santa Claus is the special guest. Dec. 17. Learn more at www.plantcity.org

Mount Dora Christmas Events: Mount Dora is famous for their many Christmas events. Lights, shopping, and oodles more fun. Learn more at www.mountdorachristmas.com

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Lithia Springs Park in Tampa, Florida

There’s no need to travel to north Florida for a swim in a Florida spring.

A relaxing afternoon can be found at Lithia Springs Park in the Tampa, Florida area. It’s a refreshing swim at a great price.

Don’t go looking for the same ambience as a north Florida spring, because that’s not what Lithia Springs Park has. There’s no tubing or large areas to swim in. And the swimming area doesn’t feel overly natural because of the cement and railings they’ve built around it. However, the water is clear, the bottom relatively free of debris, and the swimming area separated into shallow and deep areas. You’ll also find a friendly crowd–most are swimming as part of their weekend picnic.

Another thing Lithia Springs is missing is the distinct smell of Warm Mineral Springs. It’s also missing the floating debris and really slippery rocks that are hard to avoid. I’m not dissing Warm Mineral Springs, because I actually quite adore it too–but this is a whole different experience that I’ll write about another time.

The picnic area at Lithia Springs is in great shape and quite shady…full of people laughing and having fun. It’s quite large and there seems to be two distinct areas. There are grills and pavilions, so it’s perfect for a large gathering. There’s also a nice playground and the bathrooms aren’t bad either.

If you live in west, central or south Florida–Lithia Springs is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and families. If you want to swim, don’t go in winter because the 72 degree water is a bit chilly. A summer swim feels refreshing, but you wouldn’t catch me there in the winter. For picnics or other outdoor fun in winter, the park would be a great option because they offer a cheaper ticket if you choose not to swim.

Check out Lithia Springs if you’re in the Tampa area and want to have a relaxing picnic and a refreshing swim with friends. Lithia Springs is perfect for a group looking to swim as part of their day outdoors, not those looking to swim all day. Every visit I’ve made has been very pleasant and I find it preferable to the long drive north to the other natural springs of Florida. It’s a true outdoor gem for this area.

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Stephen J. Wortham Park and Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve

Horse owners rejoice!

Any horse owner looking for a new place to ride their horse needs to check out the Stephen J. Wortham Park and Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve.

We happened upon the park by accident. I wasn’t looking to find a horse-related area, but was excited to see such a space surrounded by other great natural areas. It is a little remote, but perfect for those in the Riverview area or someone looking to escape the city of Tampa.

In addition to the horse-related amenities, it’s a terrific place to fish. I didn’t personally partake in any fishing, but do plan to check it out again with poles in-hand. The pond is right by the bathrooms and playground. If you have kids, you know this type of arrangement is exactly what you need and exactly what is hard to find. You can have a picnic, help your kids fish, take them to the bathroom, and never leave the immediate area. The playground is pretty nice too-it would be a great place for a birthday party. We did some swinging and sliding while we were there and found the equipment to be in good condition.

It was a nice Saturday morning spent in solitude that I highly recommend to anyone in the Tampa area.

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Sarasota Chalk Festival

The buzz in Sarasota, Florida this weekend is the Sarasota Chalk Festival. It garners attention from around the world because the chalk art is so spectacular! I’ve compiled some resources for you if you are thinking about attending:

Information about the event itself:

http://www.chalkfestival.com/
http://www.bradenton.com/2011/11/03/3620357/sarasota-chalk-fest-to-draw-thousands.html
http://sarasotavisualart.com/2011/09/2011-sarasota-chalk-festival/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarasota_Chalk_Festival

 

 

Information about food for the event:

SRQReviews.com: http://networkedblogs.com/pt1ps

 

Information about Ego Leonard:

Ego Leonard washed up on Siesta Key Beach a while back. He’s a rather imposing plastic-like man and rumor has it that he is connected to the Chalk Festival. Check out these articles to catch a glimpse of him and decide for yourself.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20111101/ARTICLE/111109970
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/entertainment/2016682761_legoman03.html
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/large-lego-man-ego-leonard-appears-time-beach-florida-article-1.968370
http://www.egoleonard.nl/ego_gb.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_Leonard

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Filed under Family travel, Our Town, Sarasota, Travel

Florida Halloween events

Here’s a last-minute list of some 2011 Florida Halloween events to check out this weekend:

Guavaween: An adult event in Tampa’s Ybor City. Everyone needs to experience it at least once. Saturday from 3p till ??

Jacksonville Zoo Spooktacular: A great time at the zoo for the whole family, with Halloween events and food. Oct 28-31.

Halloween Ghost Train on the Seminole Gulf Railway in Ft. Myers: A Halloween murder mystery for adults. Oct 28th-31st.

Downtown Pensacola Trick or Treat: Costumed kids 9 and under can trick-or-treat at about 50 stores. Oct 28th.

Spookover at the Deering Estate at Cutler (Miami area): Adults can spend the night with ghost hunters while searching for a woman in the Victorian dress. Oct 28th.

History Mystery Tales and Tours III (New Smyrna Beach): Take a mysterious walk in downtown New Smyrna Beach on the evening of Oct 28th.

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Tampa’s First Food Truck Rally

First Tampa Food Truck Rally posterThe Cuppin Cake Who made it out to Tampa’s First Food Truck Rally this past weekend?

I started seeing the hype a week or so back, and knew I had to attend. The food truck movement is going strong in Miami, but this was the first time I saw some evidence of it in our general area. This rally is the first in a series of rallies, and I think the events will gain more fans for the food truck concept. I can’t wait.

This one was held in the Hyde Park area of Tampa, in the parking lot area of a local church. There was live music, restrooms, and free childcare!! We got there a little after 11 and the lines were already long. The food smelled great and ranged from cupcakes to sandwiches to vegetarian dishes. Some of the attendees are complaining about the execution for the event, but the idea is so great that it can only improve next time. I must admit I only sampled a cupcake—but I will definitely bring more hardy companions to the next event, ones who will not shy away from a line so I can taste more. I hope everyone hangs in and supports this exciting new part of Tampa’s food life. And hopefully Sarasota’s food truck culture will not be far behind!

The Facebook page for the event is here: http://www.facebook.com/TampaFoodTruckRally

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FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD VISIT CAPE HATTERAS LIGHTHOUSE

  1. If you make it to the top, you can say that you climbed to the top of America’s tallest lighthouse.
  2. It’s an excuse to visit the pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
  3. To see where and learn how the beacon (which is the equivalent of a 12-story building) was moved. A remarkable feat!
  4. Because it is one of the few lighthouses that permits night tours and full moon climbing tours (seasonally).
  5. The view from the top offers a bird’s eye view of the lower Outer Banks.

For more on Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and all the other beacons that dot the shores of the Carolinas, check out Lighthouses of the Carolinas Second Edition, by Terrance Zepke. For more on the author and her books, visit www.terrancezepke.com


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Filed under Beach, books, Travel