Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

postheadericon Siesta Beach, Florida

Siesta Key

Siesta Beach, Florida

On a recent trip to Longboat Key, Florida I just had to get over to Siesta Beach in Sarasota and see what Dr. Beach ranked the #2 in the USA.  (Back in 2011 it was ranked the #1 Beach in the USA) .

The beach is complete with volleyball nets, a snack bar, grills, tables, beach rental services, bathrooms, and lifeguards.  I can see the draw as it does have calm clear water and nice white sand.  The stretch of sand from the parking lot to the beach is wide and hard packed and once you’re at the shoreline you see a line of umbrellas and chairs stretching each direction.  The Gulf of Mexico’s warm, calm water makes it the perfect place for small children.








2016 Dr. Beach # 1 Beach

Hanauma Bay  Nature Preserve, Oahu

Hanauma Bay


I have to agree with Dr. Beach on this one.  It’s one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve been to and, like so many beaches in Hawaii, holds a very special place in our hearts.

Hanauma Bay allows you to get up close and personal with the amazing sea creatures of Hawaii and the view from the beach to die for!  There is something very special about being on the crescent-shaped coral sand beach!!


I love seeing The Dr. Beach Best Beach List come out every year and get excited seeing some of our favorites on it!  Have you been to any on the list?   What’s your favorite beach?  Feel free to share it in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!!!



postheadericon Longboat Key, Florida




Visiting Longboat Key with Kids

A true Floridian at heart, this summer I wanted to get back to my roots and visit the Gulf Coast of Florida where I grew up.  I chose Longboat Key for its charming, laid-back, quite vibe, beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water.  It neighbors the popular and touristy Anna Maria Island, but offers a more upscale and low-key atmosphere.  It’s close enough to things to do yet far enough to feel like you’re on a relaxing getaway.  There is never a need to fight for space and you won’t find a single chain hotel on the entire island.

Visiting Longboat Key with kids is a great choice because most accommodations are condos.  It’s nice to have your own space, a kitchen, and be right on the beach.  We stayed in Whitney Beach and can’t wait to visit again!


Our amazing view from the condo.

Our amazing view from the condo.


After visiting beaches all over the US, including some of the best beaches in Hawaii, it’s easy to say that Longboat Key is still one of my favorites.  What I love about it is that the water is fairly shallow even if you’re really far out and the waves are not too big.  Every day we would see dolphins swim by us and we were even lucky enough to see a few manatees.

There is very little public beach assess so it’s not uncommon to have the beach all to yourself!


Hello Manatee!

Hello Manatee!



Things to Do on Longboat Key

  1. Lounge at the beach all day.  Build a sandcastle.  Collect shells.  Take a long walk!  You can easily spend days just lounging at the beach taking it all in!
  2. Search for sand dollars and conch shells.  These are found mostly in the water and should only be looked at!  The little critters inside the conch shell doesn’t like to be touched!
  3. Go shelling.  Every day new shells wash up.  You can find beautiful treasures up and down the beach.
  4. Find coquinas in the shore break.  All you have to do is burry your feet a little!  These little creatures get exposed with the crashing waves and it’s fun to watch them bury themselves back in the sand.
  5. Search for ghost crabs at night with flashlights.  If you’re quiet the come out during the day, too.
  6. Watch dolphins and manatees in the wild.  It’s not uncommon to see dolphins and manatees just offshore.  You could be driving over the bridge and spot them or see them right from your window.
  7. Visit the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
  8. Hang an ENO at Beer Can Island.  This is one of the most beautiful spots on the island.  It’s at the north end and you can walk to it from the public parking area on North Shore Rd.
  9. Visit Joan M. Durante Community Park.
  10. Rent a boat and visit the local sandbars.




Things to Do NEAR Longboat Key

  1. Visit Anna Maria Island – ride the free trolley or visit a beach.
  2. Go shopping or have lunch at St. Armand’s Circle.
  3. Go to Bean Point – one of the best beaches in Florida.
  4. Eat at the Rod and Reel Pier.
  5. Visit Coquina Beach and Coquina Baywalk.
  6. Make your on concoction at The Donut Experiment, Anna Maria Island.






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postheadericon Visiting Epcot with Kids



Epcot may not be the first park you think of when you’re planning your trip to Disney, but it should definitely be on your list!  Although it doesn’t have the big roller coasters that are so attractive at the other parks, it has something that the other parks do not….Worldly Experience!  Out of all the other theme parks we’ve been to, Epcot does the best job of sharing these other countries with you in a way that keeps both adults and kids engaged!  Does it have the same ‘magic’ that Magic Kingdom does, no, but it has many other reasons to fall in love with it all the same!

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postheadericon Six Great Places You Can See Marine Life in the Wild


Monk Seals Hawaii

It’s an amazing feeling to see animals in the wild, in their natural environments.  There is something refreshing and peaceful knowing they’re doing exactly what they’re meant to do….what the choose to do.


Six Great Places You Can See Marine Life in the Wild

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postheadericon Welcome Donna, Travel and Photography Today’s Newest Author!


Donna and Family


Meet Donna, Travel and Photography Today’s newest addition!

Donna currently lives in Jupiter, Florida with her husband and two children!  She recently moved there after many years in Charlotte, NC.  It didn’t take long for her to settle into that tropical beach lifestyle and we’re glad to have her here where she’s going to share all that South Florida has to offer!

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postheadericon Travel Tip: Disney Crowd Calendar

Cinderella's Castle


Travel Tip Thursday

Are you thinking about booking an Orlando Vacation, but are unsure of when to go?  You don’t want to spend your day waiting in long lines and I’m sure your kiddos don’t, either!  Check out this awesome, and by awesome I mean totally awesome, crowd calendar  from Undercover Tourist.  It will not only show you the best parks to go to on specific days, but it will show you how busy it’s going to be for the entire year!  The calendar is based on anticipated crowd levels, but in my experience, it’s been right on!

You might Also like:

Great Photo-Op Spots for Cinderella’s Castle!

Crystal Palace Character Dining!

The New DUMBO Ride

postheadericon Daytona Beach with Kids: Overnight Stay @ The Shores Resort and Spa



Who:  My husband, myself, and our two girls!

What and Where:  The Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, Florida

Why:  We were cruising out of Miami, Florida and it was the perfect location for us to stop overnight on our long drive from North Carolina to Miami.  It was a little more than a half way point, about 7 hours from Charlotte, NC, but we knew the area well and wanted to insure a great start to our vacation!

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postheadericon Beaches Worth Checking Out – Favorite Five

Five of My All Time Favorite Beaches


1.  Kaanapali Beach ~ Maui, Hawaii:  Voted my #1 because of its sugary soft sand, light waves, sandy bottom, beautiful coral, abundance of marine life, and breathtakingly beautiful backdrop.  Black Rock is known for its frequent visits by sea turtles, too!




2.  Crystal Cove State Park ~ Laguna Beach, California:  Voted my #2 because of its quaint feel, unique tidal pools, and fun character.  Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, grab a bite to eat, horseback ride, or explore, this beach has it all!




3.  Bean Point ~ Anna Maria Island, Florida:  Voted my #3 because of its private and unspoiled feel.  Just off shore is a sandbar where you can find sand dollars, conch shells, or possibly see a manatee swimming by.  Anna Maria Island has many beautiful beaches, lots of activities, and good restaurants!



4.  Black Sand Beach ~ Maui, Hawaii:  Voted #4 because there are not many black sand beaches making this a unique and beautiful spot.  Black lava rocks, black sand, and deep blue water make this beach a favorite for its picturesque quality!  It’s located off of the Road to Hana, one of the most beautiful drives in the world!




5.  Lanikai Beach ~ Oahu, Hawaii:  Voted my #5 for its relaxation and beauty.  There are no facilities and it’s located in a residential community, but it is by far one of the most serene beaches I’ve ever been to!


postheadericon Cinderella’s Castle – Great Photo-Op Spots

Disney is such a great place to take pictures!  With so much going on around you it’s hard not to walk out of there without hundreds of photos on your memory card!  But, above all other shots, it’s probably safe to say that most people don’t leave without having their picture taken in front of the most famous park icon, Cinderella’s Castle

Cinderella's Castle

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postheadericon Feed and Pet Kangaroos @ Busch Gardens, Tampa!


Walkabout Way @ Busch Gardens, Tampa

One of Busch Gardens newest attractions, Walkabout Way allows you to get up close and personal with kangaroos and wallabies.  If you choose, you can purchase a cup of food for $5 and feed them or you can just walk through and pet them.  They love being scratched between their arms!

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