Archive for Florida

04 Mar 2015

Family Fun at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida

No Comments Adventures, Disney, Family Travel, Florida, Kids, Orlando, Review, Travel Tuesday

Updated February 22, 2016

Each year, I have the opportunity to visit the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival that takes place early March through May at Epcot in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Backyard Garden Epcot

It is by far, one of my favorite times of the year to visit Disney. The weather is beautiful and the sites are just gorgeous! The topiaries, flowers, experiences throughout Epcot are amazing and each year they bring out new bands, food and more to bring the festival to life.

Muppet Topiary Epcot

This year, 2016, marks the 23rd annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. It will kick off on March 2nd and runs through May 30, 2016. A few new additions that we can report are the following: (pictures to follow)

  • The Garden Rocks concert series kicks off weekends and with a view overlooking the water, it’s just perfect! Catch The Gin Blossoms (I know, right?!) on May 6-8 and various artists every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Shows will be at 5:30pm, 6:45pm & 8pm at the America Gardens Theatre and are included in admission.
  • Follow along with others on social media using the official hashtag (which hasn’t been updated as of today’s post).
  • Illuminated Gardens will have you wanting to stay into the night to visit the park while the gardens are a glow! You must stay for the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, award-winning fireworks display at 9pm nightly. Have your spot picked out or purchase tickets to the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party and be ready to enjoy desserts from all around the world.
  • Butterflies on the Go Presented by Go Go squeeZ: The butterfly garden is always our favorite as you can marvel at these gentle creatures as they fly around this beautiful garden! Always a favorite with my kids, this year, the garden will have some wonderful surprises from the gang at Go Go squeeZ!
  • Of course, the famous character topiaries are always a must see! For a full line-up of who is where, visit the Disney Parks Blog here.
  • Dining our way through the World Showcase at Epcot is always on our list of things to do. Of course, you can dine with the characters at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway (make reservations here) or watch fireworks from your window side table at Tokyo Dining or on the patio at the Spice Road Table. There are so many place to choose from…what are you in the mood for!
  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

    Your entire family will enjoy Epcot during this amazing time of year. Spring is even more beautiful than you could have ever imagined. And of course at Disney, it’s even better.

    What’s your favorite part of the festival?! Talk with me on Twitter throughout the festival and let me know!

    25 Feb 2015

    Valspar Golf Championship Comes to Tampa Bay

    1 Comment Adventures, Florida, Kids, Review, Sponsored, Tampa, Tampa Bay

    Jake learning golf from the First Tee of Tampa Bay.

    This is a sponsored post by Valspar Championship.

    Golf is a life long sport. It is an amazing sport to introduce to children. We have

    I have always wanted my kids to familiarize themselves with golf for a number of reasons. Golf is a wonderful sport for anyone to learn at any age at anytime. And most that are introduced at a later age would agree that they wish they would have learned it at a younger age. Here are 5 reasons golf is a great sport for kids:

    1. Learn etiquette. Golf is a game of etiquette. You learn the rules. You follow the rules. You behave in a certain way when playing the sport. It’s a perfect way to learn characteristics that are often missing in the youth sports arena.

    2. It’s a lifetime sport. One can play golf for a lifetime. It’s a sport that is a timeless classic and can be played by many at various skill levels.

    3. Teaches personal responsibly. There are no teammates to blame if a shot doesn’t go your way. You learn to own the outcome of what transpires during each round.

    4. Learn to focus. Concentration. Focus. Patience. Strength of character. Golf takes all if these skills and teaches kids to control their emotions during the highs and lows of the game. Just like in life, we must learn to deals with the good and the ugly, and by using lessons from golf, why not practice these skills.

    5. Push away the screen. Playing golf is a fun activity to get kids outside (or inside) and away from the screen. With childhood obesity at an all time high, activities that help kids have fun and become active are needed!

    For more ways to Push Away The Screen, visit Fit Kids Playground.

    The Valspar Championship is the perfect place to take children (kids under 15 are free) so that they can experience golf at its best. The course is beautiful and it’s an professional experience that will get them excited to learn the sport.

    For a listing of scheduled events for the upcoming championship, Sunday, March 8th through Sunday, March 16th, click here. There is a Jabil Family Fun Zone presented by Publix (8th and 9th holes) during the Championship rounds starting Thrusday, March 8- Sunday, March 12.

    About the Championship:

    The Valspar Championship is considered the most colorful PGA TOUR tournament in world, featuring some of the biggest names in golf, an interactive Family Fun Zone, a complimentary Saturday night concert featuring The Band Perry and opportunities to meet the players and receive autographs. The tournament takes place at the Innisbrook Resort and is scheduled this year for March 9-15, 2015. For ticket packages and information, visit ValsparChampionship.com or call 727-942-5566.

    If you have an interest in starting your child in golf after the tournament, I personally recommend The First Tee of Tampa Bay. They have partnered courses all over the Tampa Bay area as well as classes and teams that are forming year round. Their mission: To impact the lives of young people in the Greater Tampa area by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.

    I have donated my 4, one-day tickets to the tournament, to The First Tee of Tampa Bay for families who will be taking their children to the Valspar Championship in hopes to inspire them to golf and learn the sport.

    I loved golf from the moment I began playing when I was 9. I hope that other kids will learn to love it too.

    If you’d like to win tickets, hop on over to my friend, The Eco Chic, where she is giving away 4 tickets!

    12 Feb 2015

    5 Reasons Why Ulele is the Ultimate Date Night Restaurant in Tampa

    2 Comments Family Travel, Florida, Opinion, Review, Sponsored, Tampa, Tampa Bay

    Kids screaming. Baby crying. Homework is coming out of your ears. Laundry is to the ceiling. Girl Scout badges need to be sewn on. Grocery shopping needs to be done. The house needs a super deep clean. Better start filing taxes… And on and on the list goes. I get it. You need a break. We all do. A night. Take three hours. To relax. Enjoy your significant other or even a friendship. Just an escape. Even a three-hour break each week can immensely improve your mood for the other 165 hours I need to be on the clock.

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    23 Nov 2014

    How To Have a Snowy Holiday in Florida

    No Comments Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Holidays, Kids, Uncategorized

    Dreaming of a white Christmas…in Florida? Long shot, right? Well, maybe not…

    Moving down to Florida from Wisconsin when I turned 13 was devastating to me during the holidays. It wasn’t Thanksgiving with 80 degrees and lots of sunshine. It surely didn’t feel like Christmas in shorts either. I have never truly adjusted to not having a white Christmas in Florida, but with kids, this is the only holiday they know, so it’s up to me and Chance to make it “feel” like Christmas this time of year. I have mastered a few tricks that work for us to get the kids in the holiday spirit.

    Finding The Typical Christmas Memories

    While there is typically a slight chill in the air, it’s the snow, the ice skating, the hot chocolate, the cookies, the carolers and of course the Christmas trees and music that give kids (and grown ups) a sense of holiday happiness. For me, this is the first year that Christmas actually felt like Christmas. It has always been difficult to feel like it is “the season” when it’s 80 degrees outside. But this is what my kids know. They didn’t grow up with snowbanks to climb at school, snow days or a white Christmas. I have learned to adapt, but I hope that the snowy holidays I can show them will get them in the spirit too!

    So what if I REALLY wanted them to experience what a Snowy Holiday in Florida? I have just found the answer.

    1. Experience Kissimmee. Just go. You won’t regret it.

    Last year, was my first time visiting Kissimmee and we had really just stumbled upon all that Kissimmee had to offer. We only went to the Gaylord Palms, but now that we know there is so much more is happening, we are sure to make this an annually trip (or trips) to experience a fun day, night or weekend that will become our snowy holiday tradition each year.

    2. Spend an evening (or a few nights) at Gaylord Palms

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    My parents were down from Chicago in November last year and we decided to stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort. We had never been so we were all so excited! I had heard about ICE! but didn’t know what to expect there either. We had the time of our life and experienced Christmas like never before. We had such an amazing time with all they had going on for Christmas that it’s now a tradition that we go back each November or December, even if just for the day (but a few days is so much better!)

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    So much happens each year on their property. Decorations, the show, the ICE! exhibit, Gingy’s House, seeing Santa are reasons to come over and enjoy a holiday get away. The show…THE SHOW. In their lobby each night is a free show that rivals any holiday show I have paid for. Combine aerialist, music- the Luminscent band, the Orlando Ballet plus all their holiday light on display and what you have is wrapped up into the best 30 minute holiday show you’ll ever see. It happens nightly in their atrium and is a show you must see. The music is heavenly and the visuals that accompany the show are just stunning. Did I mention it’s free? If you are only there for an evening, pay the valet fee, come in for dinner at one of their amazing restaurants and grab a seat at the show. Then head over to the ICE! exhibit and head home for the night. If you are staying, be sure to check out the Florida Buzz Report for some great deals at the Gaylord Palms.

    And what exactly is this ICE! exhibit I’m speaking of? Each year, over 2 million pounds of ice is hand carved and put on display where spectators are able to marvel at the intricate sculptures carved by the

    3. Visit Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

    Of course Mickey knows how to throw a Christmas party! And what a Christmas party it is! The lights, the decorations, the shows, the Christmas parade and the Cinderella’s castle! This year, the show blended a Frozen theme with their show and the lighting of the castle was actually Elsa icing the castle. Olaf, Anna and more Frozen cast members were on hand to help Elsa let her powers go! Pure magic! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party does require an extra ticket to attend. You can enter the park at 4pm and stay past midnight. There are only a select few weekends that this happens and once tickets are gone, that’s it. In addition to being open for later hours, because there is only a certain number of people who are able to attend each night, the lines are definitely shorter as there isn’t a great number of people inside the park. We had an amazing time at Magic Kingdom and will definitely be back to celebrate the holidays with Mickey.

    For more information on Walt Disney World Mickey’s very Merry Christmas Park visit the Trekaroo blog.

    4. Stop by Celebration for a Snowy Night

    Just outside of Disney World itself is the town that Disney built. You might not even know it’s there. Celebrate in Celebration as kids will play with faux snow, ice skate (on synethtic ice in 80 degree weather) or have a holiday dinner at the Columbia restaurant. Each night, starting at 6pm, the town square in Celebration becomes a place for carolers and families looking to celebrate the season. Take pictures in front of their Christmas tree for your holiday card or just stroll around the quaint shops complete with whimsical Christmas window decorations. Time seems to stand still here and maybe it will for you too while you celebrate the season.

    For more on Celebration and their Snowy Night Celebration visit the Trekaroo blog.

    I’ve realized over the years that it’s not just the snow that evokes my Christmas memories, but more about the traditions my kids will remember to bring their childhood to life during the holidays. But yes, because I grew up having a mostly white Christmas, it’s so fun to visit these places that help to bring me back down to memory lane, while creating fun memories for my kids.

    Plan your trip to Kissimmee to see these Snowy Holiday events by reading more about them on Trekaroo.com.

    For more information on a Snowy Holiday in Kissimmee, here are a few links:

    The DadScribe Blog
    Fun and Frugal Mom Blog
    JonahBonah Blog

    Disclaimer: I was hosted by Experience Kissimmee to experience these activities. All opinions are my own.

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    11 Nov 2014

    Family Friendly Dinner and a Movie at Studio Movie Grill Opens in Tampa

    No Comments Ad, Dining Out, Florida, Sponsored, Studio 10 TV Segment, Tampa, Tampa Bay, Tampa Restaurants

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    Studio Movie Grill has recently opened in north Tampa at the University Square Mall. Their state of the art theatre and newly renovated high tech theatre is a perfect place to brain the whole family for dinner and a movie (or even date night if you are that lucky.)

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    05 Oct 2014

    Best Family Sunday Funday Ideas in Tampa Bay

    No Comments Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Opinion, Tampa, Tampa Bay

    Launching a new series of ‘Tampa Mama Says’! This week is best family Sunday Funday ideas in Tampa Bay. These are not ads but curated lists based on what we like to do as a family in Tampa Bay on a glorious Sunday.

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    17 Aug 2014

    Winter has Hope: A Dolphin Tale 2 Movie Review

    1 Comment Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Opinion, Review, Sponsored, Tampa

    Inspired by true events.

    You could stay the storyline was written in the stars…

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    After the amazing heart-warming and true story made the movie “Dolphin Tale,” we were inspired to say the least. We were so excited to hear “Dolphin Tale 2” would be out in 2014. Being that we aren’t in L.A., New York or Chicago and don’t have too many movies filmed in the Tampa Bay area, visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) where both movies have been filmed has been a highlight for people near and far for so many reasons. People all over the world visit to see and meet Winter because they have been truly inspired by her overcoming the loss of her tale and how she hasn’t given up.
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    14 Jun 2014

    The New Junior Ride-Along Program at the Richard Petty Experience at Walt Disney World

    No Comments Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Review

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    “Is this your first time in a race car?”

    This was the first question my son asks the VERY experienced driver about to take him on the ride of his life.

    “Nope. Not my first time.” (I was hoping he’d say yes and see how my would react.)

    I about died laughing! I was replaying this amazing experience at home last night, and watched it from my nine year- old sons perspective of what it was like to drive in a 600 horse power NASCAR race car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience for a Junior Ride-Along.
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    06 Jun 2014

    75 Things To Do in Tampa Bay Over Summer With Kids on Vacation

    4 Comments Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Tampa, Travel Tuesday

    Tampa Bay Kids on Vacation

    Today is day 1 of 75 glorious days of summer. Oh to be a kids again!
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    17 Mar 2012

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Tampa!

    No Comments Adventures, Florida, Holidays, Tampa, Tampa Bay

    Thanks to the wonderful City of Tampa and the Tampa Downtown Partnership, we now have a NEW tradition! The Hillsborough River will now be dyed GREEN and there will be a family friendly Mayor’s River O’ Green Fest that will take place at Curtis Hixon Park along the beautiful Tampa Riverwalk.
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