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Swimming with Manatees

Crystal River

One of the things I love most about Florida is being able to see manatees during the winter. Well, at Crystal River not only can you see manatees, but you can swim with them! Swimming with manatees is an unmatched experience and a needs to be on everyone’s Florida list. My friend and I signed up to do this, when we first arrived at the registration building we sat down for a presentation on the manatees. We learned about proper interactions with them: you can’t go out of your way to pet a manatee, the manatees have to engage you first. You also can’t kick when you are near them, so really you float with the manatees instead of swim with them!

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Christmas Time in Orlando

Christmas Time in Orlando

Christmas is my favorite holiday! Nothing else compares to this time of year and there is no place I’d rather be during the Christmas season than in Orlando. Yes, it is hot during the holiday season, you can still get sunburned in December from the sun’s rays, you may even break a sweat, but despite the heat Orlando still encompasses the magic of Christmas. And why not with Disney right in the heart of the area?

Disney World
Cinderella's Castle at Christmas
Cinderella’s Castle at Christmas

Disney knows how to celebrate Christmas. Disney has the iconic Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom lit up; lights drip and sparkle from all around it. Up until 2016 the Osborne Lights were in Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios has a new light show instead, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to the Osborne Lights. Continue reading Christmas Time in Orlando

Manatees at Blue Spring State Park

Manatee Encounters in Florida

I heard about the manatee festival on the radio. It was early February and finally starting to feel like winter in Florida. A temperature drop brings the manatees in from the frigid ocean water to the warm waters of the springs. My first trip to see the manatees was at Blue Spring State Park. The park is small, but the trail around the springs is breathtaking. The water is an aqua blue, completely see through.

Manatees at Blue Spring State Park
Manatees at Blue Spring State Park

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Everglades Trip

The Everglades

Visiting the Everglades is a bucket list item that I’ve had in my sights since I moved to Florida. I just couldn’t make up my mind how to see the Everglades: a boat tour, an airboat ride, or simply go for a visit near a park entrance and try my luck. Then I ran across an article on the Shark Valley Tram Tour. A picture of the Shark Valley Observation Tower caught my eye and I knew I had just stumbled upon the inspiration for my trip. Continue reading Everglades Trip

Flagler College Tour

My second trip back to St. Augustine was just as wonderful as the first. I visited a  few new places: the brewery, the winery, and Lightner Museum, but the highlight of the trip was the Flagler College tour!

Flagler College Tour

The first time I went to St. Augustine I was told multiple times to book a tour to visit Flagler College. So, my next visit to St. Augustine was centered around going on the tour and I was not disappointed. Being in St. Augustine already made me feel like I had gone back in time, but when I walked through the gates onto the Flagler campus I felt transported back even further. The architecture is incredible. The orange-red clay used on the college is beautiful, the details intricate. There is a large fountain in the center, with different sculptures posted at each hour. Continue reading Flagler College Tour

My Favorite Rides at Universal Orlando

Just like with my Disney post, there are numerous posts on Universal Orlando. I decided to write a post listing my favorite Universal Orlando rides since this a question I get asked a lot. Let’s get this straight before we start, there are two parks at Universal: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure has more coasters and water rides, Universal Studios is, in my opinion, more for kids, although my favorite ride is located there! If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, go ahead and spend the money on the park to park ticket since there are two Harry Potter parks, one in each (smart move, Universal). Plus, you can ride the Hogwarts Express between parks so it’s worth it. Here are my favorite rides:

Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Florida
Harry Potter ride at Universal Orlando

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My Favorite Rides at Disney World

There are so many blogs out there about Disney World. You can find what to wear, see, do, and eat with a basic search. Information about the rides is readily available, but when my friends & family come to town they ask me which rides I recommend. So I decided to list my favorite rides at Disney World by each park! Here are my picks & why:

Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris:
Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Disney World
Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Disney World

Since I’m an animal lover this shouldn’t be a surprise, and of course, there are giraffes! On this ride you get into safari bus and go on a tour of the savannah. You can see Okapi, various birds, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, gazelle, monkeys, elephants, and more! Even once you’ve been on the safari no ride is the same, the next trip you may see an animal you haven’t seen before. I recommend going first thing in the morning or around dusk since the animals are more active. Animal Kingdom now has a night ride for the safari, but if you go after dark you aren’t going to see much! Continue reading My Favorite Rides at Disney World

Devil’s Den

Florida’s Best Kept Secret

My friend and I were more than eager to check out Devil’s Den Prehistoric Springs, an underwater springs inside a cave. There had been a lot of hype about it and I was dying to check it off my Florida list. Pictures online portrayed translucent cobalt waters surrounded by rock with a hole in the middle that let sunshine through. The underwater cave sounded incredible, but until I was actually inside I couldn’t comprehend how wonderful it was. Continue reading Devil’s Den

Canoeing Wekiva Island

Mirrored Waters

A dark brown shape protruded from the left side of the bank ahead. My gaze focused on it, trying to figure out if it was a branch or an alligator. I relaxed as we moved closer, it was a branch. But my defenses would soon be up again, there were all sorts of things in these waters.

Canoeing the Wekiva River
Canoeing the Wekiva River

The fourth of July weekend brought my parents in town. We didn’t want to go to the overcrowded theme parks or beaches so we decided to go to Wekiva Island and spend the day canoeing. The beginning of the trip was peaceful and beautiful, not a lot of people were on the water yet. Continue reading Canoeing Wekiva Island

St. Augustine Day Trip

The Oldest City in America

Sunset at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Sunset at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
St. Augustine

St. Augustine is one city that I was told I had  to visit ever since I moved to Florida. Now that I’ve been, I’m one of those people telling others to go! St. Augustine was built by the Spanish and is the oldest city in the U.S.; it was also the capital of Florida for 200 years. I decided to stop in St. Augustine for one day on my trip, but I wish I had planned for two days. The town is on the east coast of Florida and since I was driving up from Orlando, I made a checklist of my St. Augustine bucket list to hit in order on my way up. St. Augustine has so much history to offer and the trip was a nice change from the theme parks. Continue reading St. Augustine Day Trip