Life's Sweet Journey: FloRida
Showing posts with label FloRida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FloRida. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spring Skiing at Steamboat Springs Resort and Old Town Hot Springs

Spring in Steamboat Springs, Colorado!  

We've been in Colorado for about two weeks now and are LOVING it! When a friend gifted us with free lift tickets to Steamboat we booked it northwest just as quick as we could! We are now further east (almost to Utah) in a town called Grand Junction and are enjoying the warmer days and gorgeous, other worldly (at least for these Florida-natives) hikes. We will be sharing those soon, but Steamboat Springs can't be passed up. Here's why we loved spring in Steamboat Springs so much...
Spring Skiing at Steamboat Springs Resort

Steamboat Springs Is Easily Accessible 

This was the first time driving hauling Delilah the Dream Machine up really high inclines, so we were very grateful that it's pretty easy to get into Steamboat from I-70! The resort was also so gracious and allowed us to park in their lot overnight, when we found out we wouldn't be able to stay at the state park we were planning on. This is not customary and probably won't work during busy season, but it never hurts to call and ask. We pulled into their overflow late after the runs were closed on Sunday, were able to walk to the gondola that took us to the top of the mountain to ski Monday, and we're gone once the slopes closed at the end of the day. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

5 Reasons Cracker Barrel is a Full-Time RVers Boondocking Bestie

We did it!! 
We earned our boondocking in a parking lot badge! 
Ok, so as far as I know there are no actual full-time RV life badges, but there should be. 

Anyways, we spent this past Sunday night parked in a Cracker Barrel parking lot overnight and absolutely loved it!! I know what you might be thinking, "but, it's just a parking lot!" To me it is so much more. One, our night in the Cracker Barrel parking lot was our first night boondocking in Delilah the Dream Machine; two, the ambiance was actually perfect for a wonderful night's sleep. Here are 5 reasons we think boondocking at Cracker Barrel is an amazing component to full-time RV life.... 

Cracker Barrel for Full-Time Rvers

Cracker Barrel: The Bed and Breakfast for RVers

We actually ate two different meals at this specific Cracker Barrel. We pulled into the lot, after a long day of driving, and went in to grab dinner before tucking in for the night. We also made sure to introduce ourselves to the manager, just to let staff know we would be staying overnight. The staff was so hospitable and accommodating. The next morning, we woke up and went back in for a huge breakfast to fuel us for the next 6 hour leg of our trip out West. Cracker Barrel now offers specialty coffee beverages and we loved adding a little oomph to our coffee game with a caramel and mocha latte. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Full-Time RV Life: The Sad Truth || #TravelTuesday Travel Link Up

Happy #TravelTuesday!! 
Travel Blogger Link Up
I know, I know, but it's Thursday... 4 pm on Thursday. 
Well, y'all... life! Thanks for giving me some grace! 
Have fun travels to share? Adventures in your own backyard? 
Add them to the link up at the bottom of this post! 

This month's link up is a few days behind, because we have been crazy busy trying to pack up again and get on the road. We even gave ourselves an extra week in Orlando and it still wasn't enough time to get caught up with everyone! I have not had a minute to sit down and work on a post and probably should have just saved this one for today, but I wasn't really planning ahead, and then all of a sudden Tuesday came... and went. I did manage to get our Road Talk Tuesday video finished, so today that's all I really have to share. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Full-Time RV Life || Nashville, Providence Canyon, and Micanopy

I feel like I have been saying this so often, but yet again we have been a little MIA around the blog. We returned to Florida for a wedding in St. Augustine last weekend and, because we were so close to Orlando, we made plans to come back and catch up with friends and family before hitting the road again. We were only planning to stay for a week, but there was so much to fit in (and soooo much laundry to get done) that we have ended up staying for two. We've been busy running errands, placing Amazon orders, and catching up with everyone that we have neglected to do much updating around these parts. I have a few minutes between the chaos today to play catch-up, so I figured I would share a little bit about the last few spots we hit up before rolling back into Orlando...

Nashville, Tennessee 

Full-Time RV Life | Where Have We Been

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#TravelTuesday 22 // A Goodbye Tribute to our Travel Trailer

Happy Travel Tuesday Folks! 
I'm super excited for this month's link up and to see where in the world you have been! 
Add your link at the bottom of the post and let's adventure together! 

This month I am throwing it back with a tribute to our sweet travel trailer, Florida ReVa, and all the great adventures she brought us during the two years that we had her. It was a bittersweet day when we traded her in for our new home-on-wheels, but we needed something a bit roomier for full-time RV living. Here's a little taste of our life with our very first traveling home...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Great RV Camping Spots near Orlando and Central Florida

Central Florida has some great options for RV camping!

As weekend warriors camping near Orlando, Fl it could sometimes be hard to snag a great RV spot. Looking for off the beaten path campsites or booking well in advance are helpful. Here are a few of our the great RV camping spots we love within 2.5 hours of Central Florida and the greater Orlando area.

Great RV Campsites Near Orlando and Central Florida

1.) Moss Park in Orlando

Great RV Camping Sites Near Orlando and Central Florida
Moss Park is actually an Orange County Park, but it is one of our favorite places to go when we just need a quick getaway. We have gone for one night when we just need to shut the world away for a bit. We have spent full weekends there for Babe’s triathlons. It’s a beautiful, quiet park, with the camping tucked back away from the public access part of the park. There is a beautiful lake, both for boating and other water activities (the campground has it’s own boat dock if you have a boat to bring).

There is also great hiking, both in Moss park and at the adjacent Split Oak Mitigation Park through an access trail. It’s only $18 per night if you are an Orange County resident ($23 otherwise) and only about 20 minutes from our house, often with open spaces, even last minute. For those from out of state or further away in Florida, looking for a great place to camp that is close to all the theme parks, it’s a great alternative to some of the pricey spots out closer to all the craziness. It’s quieter and beautiful and not a bad drive into the parks at all (about 30 minutes). (Moss Park YouTube Review

2.) Rainbow Springs State Park (1 hr 40 min from Orlando)

Great RV Camping Sites Near Orlando and Central Florida

Rainbow Springs State Park is one of our favorite spots when we want a more relaxing weekend! Known for its river tubing, it is a great place to go when you really just want to kick your feet back. It can be really hard to get a spot in the summer, so this is definitely a spot you need to plan ahead for (we booked 6 months in advance), but it is totally worth it as a spot to beat the Florida heat! There is a tram that runs from the campground to the river pull out, but you do have to pay $15 to use that service (also includes a tube). To find out how we tubed for free, as well as more in-depth details of the park and amenities, check out our full post on Rainbow Springs State Park. 

3.) Highlands Hammock State Park (for Camping with Kids near Central Florida)

**Highlands Hammock State Park (a little less than 2 hours from Orlando)
Great RV Camping Sites Near Orlando and Central Florida
Highlands Hammock State Park was such a fun spot! Though the campground was very crowded when we went, and we found the spots to be a little too close together, the park is simply stunning. The trees there are thousands of years old and huge, some you can even stand inside of. I felt like I was walking through a scene in Jurassic Park! The trails are all really unique and very neat. We loved the catwalk trail, with the cut off boardwalk that ran through the swamp. The park also included a tram ride through ranger only park land, a museum all about the creation of the state park system, and a craft morning for kids (select weekends).

4.) A Historical City Getaway- Faver-Dykes State Park (1.5 hrs from Orlando)

We had been trying to find a spot to stay near St. Augustine, so that we could go explore the city and the history and eat all the yummy foods.  Anastasia State Park (just 5 minutes from St. Augustine) can be really hard to get into. Luckily, Faver-Dykers isn’t that much further; an easy 20 minute drive. It’s not only a convenient spot to get close enough to spend the day exploring St. Augustine (check out this post to see how we spent our 10 hours in the city), but the park itself is also great. It’s right off the interstate, but tucked far enough away that you would never know. There is a gorgeous river to spend the day paddle boarding on and a few fun trails to explore! The wifi is patchy, but that just makes it all the better in my opinion, because you can truly unplug. The spots are spacious and wooded and very well kept! (Faver-Dykes State Park YouTube Review

5.) Fort De Soto County Park (2 hours from Orlando)- great beachside getaway

Fort De Soto was actually the first place we ever took Flo, and we loved it so much, we were back just a year later to enjoy it with friends. The spots are great; most of them right on the water. From your spot it’s a super quick car (or bike) ride to the beach. They also have the old forts to explore, as well as a museum that discusses the history of the forts and the park. Babe and I love exploring old forts and ruins and learning more about the history of Florida (well, he loves reading all the signs and learning all the facts; I love exploring all the nooks and crannies and pretending like I was living in the forts back when they were actively used). There is also a ferry that you can take to Egmont Key, an island accessible only by boat, for a day of more fort exploring fun, a more private beach experience, and the possibility of wading with the stingrays!

6.) Manatee Springs State Park (2 hrs 15 mins from Orlando)- Perfect for Paddling

Manatee Springs State Park, though the furthest on the list, is a great spot to do a little river paddling. Manatee Springs has an outdoor outfitter that you can rent canoes or kayaks from right there in the park. Anderson's Outdoor Adventures will provide you with an rental equipment (or you can bring your own) and they will then take you up river by van so that you are paddling back to the park with the current. It's a ten mile paddle back to Manatee Springs from where they drop you off so it is still a good full morning of paddling, you just don't have to fight the currents! If you leave early enough in the morning you can be back in time to get some super yummy BBQ that they make right there on property. We each got a meal, but they are so big you could definitely split one between 2 people. They also have the MOST AMAZING SWEET TEA that I have ever had (and I like to think that I have had some good ones)!! There is also a swimming/ snorkeling spot in the park, as well as a system of underwater trails for anyone who is scuba certified. 

If you liked this post be sure to also check out campgrounds and RV parks in Orlando for 10 more great spots throughout Florida! 

Honorable Mentions
Though we prefer to stay at state or county parks, because of cheaper rates and having everything right there (hiking, outdoor activities...) these two Thousand Trails resorts get honorable mentions. Even though the price per night is a bit more they were super clean, had full sewer hoookups and great resort amenities! 
* Crystal River RV Resort- right on the water with the ability to rent pontoons and in close to proximity to being able to swim with the manatees!! 
* Clover Leaf RV Resort- We stayed here and then drove over to Weeki Wachee for a day with the mermaids!! 

These are just some of our favorite, easily accessible spots, from here in Orlando. For an even more extensive list of Orlando RV camping spots check out this list from my friend Kim of Wanderful World of Travel. There are still so many to explore and we can't wait to do just that! What are your favorite spots for a weekend in the woods?! Any good camping near you we need to check out? 

What adventures have you been up to? 
Try a new restaurant in your own backyard? 
Taken a day trip in your home state? Journeyed to far off lands? 

Link up below and let's travel together!! 

~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel post and would love to see where you have been exploring!
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest account. 
~Please leave a little love on the post directly before yours and then anywhere else you like! That way we can all grow this community together :) 
~Not many other rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
~I will also be sharing my favorite post from the month before. April's fave was from Anne of In Residence, because her trip to Malta looked absolutely stunning and has me itching to visit! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Camping with Kids// Adventure Island Fun in Tampa, Florida

Camping with kids in Tampa, Florida? Make plans for a day at Adventure Island!

A few weekends ago Babe and I actually took a camping trip of a much different caliber... camping with kids! We took my nieces camping at LazyDays RV Resort and then spent a fun day at Busch Garden's Adventure Island water park in Tampa. 

RV Resort in Tampa, Florida

Lazydays RV Resort, near Tampa, is where we actually purchased Flo. They had given us two nights of free camping at their resort so we figured we would utilize it with the girls, since they have all the fun amenities like the pool and playground (and looking at RVs for sale)!! 

My youngest niece had been begging to take a trip in Flo (girl after my own heart) and so I told her we would take her and her girl cousin around her birthday. Y'all?! She was so stoked! Told everyone she could that she was doing that for her birthday, so the weekend before she turned 6 we loaded them up (with an early school release and all) and set out for big adventures!! 

While I would have been fine to spend the weekend at a state park, enjoying hiking trails and nature at it's finest, it was actually really nice to be at Lazydays. With the site voucher it worked out well!! We got there midday Friday and spent the first hour or so exploring the RVs for sale over at the dealership (it's connected to the campground). Though this part had originally been for me, the girls LOVED it; going in and out of the RVs they wanted to see, hopping on and off the bunk beds! We then headed off to take a dip in the pool, which was really nice. It's screened in and heated, so the lingering April chill was nothing! Plus they had a hot tub for this tired Aunt Mel, not to mention an attached bar. I love the peace and quiet of a state park, but I could get use to hot tubs and margaritas!! Considering camping with kids is far louder than camping without them, it was definitely a nice treat!! 

Things to Do in Tampa

Babe had decided we should do something a little extra special since it was also a birthday treat, so we looked up things to do in Tampa with kids and decided on Adventure Island (Busch Gardens water park). I will admit that I was a little hesitant. Being Orlando born and bred, anytime I go to a non-Disney water park I am usually sorely disappointed. This time was a far different story... 

This BBQ food truck was a great lunch option!! 

Adventure Island Water Park

Adventure Island is AWESOME!! Seriously, I actually think I preferred it to any of the Disney water parks (and for this #DisneyFreak that's saying A LOT)! It was clean, well kept up and super great for kids and adults alike. We got there when the park opened and got a spot right away. It was really nice not having to fight over chairs! 

While the park did fill up around noon, we basically got on-and-off each slide for the first 2-3 hours. It was so much less crowded than the Disney parks (even once it seemed full) and it also didn't seem like such a trek just to get to the top of the slide. My favorite area (which is where had put our stuff originally) is right where you first walk in. There are 5 different slides, coming out of a waterfall structure, that all spill out into the same pool. The girls were able to go by themselves, if Babe and I wanted to take a minute to relax on the lounge chairs. The waterfall feature was really cool too! You can enter the slides through where the waterfall runs into the pool, making it feel like you are climbing a real waterfall. 

There were tons of other slides in the park- some newer and some my husband remembered from when he was a kid (his dad lives in the Tampa area)- so it was fun to get a mix of the original and more updated fun! I LOVED the toboggan ride they had! It was scary and full of fun for this adrenaline-loving heart of mine! I did it a handful of times, as I could not figure out how to skid all the way to the end without falling off. The last time (after coaching from Babe, "Lean forward all the way down, then lean back once you hit the water") I finally managed to stay on until I hit the end of the water. Mission accomplished!! 

Great Water Park for Young Kids

One other super great perk of Adventure Island was that there were not many slides that both girls couldn't do; praise the Good Lord!! Makaylin (the youngest and birthday girl) was not too happy when she couldn't ride things her cousin could, but there were only about 2 slides she couldn't do. Some of the more intense slides simply required that the smaller kids either be with an adult or wear a life vest. If you have a kid (or ever take a kid) who loves to "do it all" you know what a relief this is!! She was able to do most of the things we all could do and we didn't have to worry as much about having her upset that she couldn't ride something. 

Adventure Island couldn't have been a better pick for our full day of fun on Saturday!! We shut the park down and headed back to the campground, where we actually spent even more time in our suits by taking another dip in the pool. 

While we made dinner the girls played Go-Fish and traipsed around the grounds. We then passed out in bed with tired bodies and happy hearts! Which was better than the first night, as we did have a little "snaffu" over the sleeping arrangements and one girl taking up too much room on the jack-knife-couch-turned-bed, so that we somehow all ended up in our not-completely-Queen-sized-bed during the first night. Given though how things can go when doing anything with kids I will say we came away pretty unscathed! 

I won't say which child took up all the room haha... she gets it naturally though y'all, it took me three years of marriage to stop sleeping sideways! Now just imagine that, for at least an hour, there was also an Uncle Andrew in here. He didn't last long obviously!

Sunday morning we woke up and made a pancake breakfast and then the anxiously awaited moment arrived... the girls getting to help dump the tank! You guys?! The amount of wonderment built up inside those two little girls about the idea of all their poo sitting under Flo, and the fact they were going to get to watch it get flushed out, was something that I can't really even describe. The first night, they literally had their heads inside the toilet trying to see if they could figure out where it went and we took a flashlight-lit field trip outside to explore the undercarriage of the trailer so that they could see the tank all of "it" was sitting in. Thankfully each spot had it's own septic spot, so that we weren't holding up a line of rigs waiting to dump while the girls "oohed and ahhhed" over the whole mess- literally! (Side note: the sites were really nice. They were paved, which kept Flo cleaner given the amount of feet trekking through her, and came with a picnic table) We then, sadly, loaded up and headed home. 

It made my soul so excited to see them loving the outdoors and getting so pumped about all things RV life!! When they said, "we love Flo! We want to live in Flo!" I simply replied "me too girls, me too!!" 

How about you? 
Ever been camping with kids? Any fun stories to share?

Edited memory: I love Friday in all it's end of week glory!! Babe and I were originally heading off to the Florida panhandle today for a weekend of camping a little further away than usual, since I don't have to work this Sunday, but y'all plans changed, because big things are happening. My best friend is moving away!! Far, far away!! To another state, away from me and this is her last weekend here! So I will be spending every last drop of time I can with her. Plus it should be noted that she is making my Disney dreams come true and we will be having a girls night at the Swan and Dolphin and sending her away in style. I am all kinds of excited for her and, given that I plan to visit her very soon after she moves, AND given that if I have anything to say about it we will be on the road, as full-time RVers, sooner rather than later, I am trying not to be so forlorn about her leaving. But given that the only time we have really ever spent apart was during our 4 (ok, 5) years of college this is going to take some adjusting, so to distract my little heart I figured it was time to share our most recent camping trip! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Camping at Faver-Dykes State Park

Right after Christmas we hitched up Flo and headed north towards St. Augustine. There is actually a state park only minutes away from the heart of the city(Anastasia State Park), which we hope to stay at sometime, but it books up months in advance because it's right near the beach. Luckily, we found Faver-Dykes State Park and had an absolutely wonderful time!
Faver-Dykes State Park is a wonderful option for staying near St. Augustine! We were able to go into the city for a whole day of exploring and then head back to the park for peace and relaxation the rest of the trip. We spent one full evening paddle boarding, searched for some Geocaches, and enjoyed the stillness of being tucked away from the rest of the world (internet included, as there was very little service)! It was a beautiful, quiet, well-cared-for park and we would definitely go back again! 

Hope you have a wonderful Friday!! 
We are off to explore Arcadia, Florida, and finally check Myakka River State Park off the Florida bucket list! 
What are your plan this weekend? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

10 Hours in St. Augustine, Florida

Happy Tuesday Adventurers!! 
Hope the first few weeks of your year have been filled with fun and excitement! 
Any travels of your own recently? Don't forget to join in this month's link up, which can be found in last week's post. Can't wait to see all your journeys! 

Right after Christmas Babe and I loaded up Flo and headed towards Faver-Dykes State Park, which is just 30 minutes from St. Augustine. While we spent most of our time at the state park (check out our YouTube video for all the fun), we headed into the city for a full day of history and exploration. Here is a peek at what we packed into our 10 hour window...

First stop was parking. We thankfully got there early enough (around 9/9:30, on the Tuesday after Christmas) to snag a spot in the parking lot that sits next to the old fort, right along the water. We weren't sure we were going to stay there, but we purchased the maximum time allowed (4 hrs for $6.00) and headed out. 

10 am: We started the morning with coffee, because I needed a place to plug in for a quick minute and send out an email for work. It was also a chilly, foggy morning and coffee was exactly what we needed to warm us up! Crucial Coffee was a cute little coffee hut that shared a courtyard with the Gourmet Hut (where you can get food). The coffee was yummy and reasonably priced. There isn't much seating inside, as you are supposed to sit out in the courtyard. However, due to a light rain we snagged the one little inside table and used the wifi for a second before beginning our day. 

10:45 am: We then strolled the streets for a minute and ultimately found or way into the Pirate & Treasure Museum. They offered a package which included that museum, as well as the Colonial Quarter Museum for $22.99 per adult if you review them on TripAdvisor (website says $27.99). We decided to give it a go and, since the pirate tour had already started, we headed over to explore the Colonial Quarter. We got there just in time to jump onto a tour that had just begun and sat down just as the guide was demonstrating with a rifle. Can't think of a truer definition of "starting off with a bang!" Our guide was wonderful and walked us through the history of the building of the city of St. Augustine. Babe loved learning all the facts of how the city ran, how they protected themselves and how they survived those early years of life. I loved getting to explore the old houses! After a little more exploring on our own, and a climb up to the lookout tower, we headed out in search of... 

11:40 am: Sangria!! The nice thing about your tour package is that it includes 10% off your food and drink bill at two of the restaurants connected to the Colonial Quarter. We headed into the Bull & Crown Publick House for a quick drink before the pirate tour. We shared one, since we didn't have much time and you can't beat a bill under $5 (don't forget to show your sticker for your discount)! It was super yummy sangria too (I like to consider myself a sangria connoisseur)!! There is also some cool history to the building, which was built on an original homesite. 

12 pm: The next guided pirate tour began at 12, with Captain Mayhem. What a fun tour!! Captain Mayhem was as pirate as they come and did a wonderful job of bringing history to life, as he walked us through each exhibit. While I would say that the Colonial Quarter is a better fit for an older demographic, this tour would interest even the littlest of adventurers! It was really interesting to separate fact from fiction when it came to piracy. There was a lot I didn't know, or had assumed was true, from movies. For example, did you know pirates didn't really make people walk the plank?! That became dramatized through the big screen. Babe was, of course, hanging on every word, but I loved that even while the guide was talking there were things that I could be doing if I felt myself zoning out. I listen a lot better with active hands (such a big kid), so while Captain Mayhem talked I explored the rooms and completed my treasure hunt. They had this super neat hunt, where you had to find skulls that would open drawers/ doors to reveal a treasure. You would then write down what you found and at the end you could turn in your paper to officially become a "pirate" and get a little "treasure". One more fun fact: pirates didn't actually bury treasure, they were pirates because they stole from ships and took mostly practical things that could then be traded for money, which they would then spend.

1:30 pm: We headed across the street to the fort. After putting a little more money in the meter, we paid our $10 admission (per person; good for an entire week) and entered the Castillo de San Marcos. We got there just in time to head up the stairs and watch the canon demonstration. The foggy morning just made it that much more exciting! It made me feel like a pirate ship might come sailing up at any minute.

2:15 pm: Homegirl got a little hangry, so before we could finish exploring the fort Babe realized I needed to eat (once I pass hunger, it takes him pointing it out to me that we need to grab a bite). So we took a break from exploring and went in search of food. There were tons of options, but we decided to go to the other restaurant associated with the tours so that we could use our 10% off. Apparently 2 o'clock, on a holiday week, is not a great time to stop for food, as the line for a table was HUGE! Thankfully we got super lucky by checking the bar. There was a table tucked into the corner that counted as bar seating and so we got  cozy to enjoy our lunch at Taberna Del Caballo. It was SUPER yummy!! I got the Cuban (and of course another Sangria) and it was almost perfection! It did take a little while for the food to come out, but it was definitely worth the wait.

3:30 pm: It was back to the Castillo de San Marcos for a few more minutes of poking around the fort and getting to go in all the old rooms.

4:00 pm: We took some time to stroll through town and decided to walk towards the winery and distillery that are located near each other at the edge of town. It was a good little stroll (maybe 15/20 minutes), but we got to see a lot of the little corners of the city.

4:20 pm: Winery tour and tasting fun at San Sebastian Winery! Due to the crowds, because of the holiday, things were set up a little differently. Instead of a wine tasting with scheduled times they had a walk through tasting set up. There were stations on both floors of the winery, with a different wine sample at each station. I really liked the ability to go at your own pace without feeling like you were holding up others, or feeling rushed to finish, depending on the pace of the group. San Sebastian is actually the sister winery of Lakeridge Winery where we have been on occassion, so it was actually the same wines with a different label, but it was cool to see the difference in presentation.
Cost: Free + price of bottles of wine we purchased

5:15 pm: St. Augustine Distillery tour! We actually started here originally (figured start with the hard stuff and work down to the vino), but they were so crowded that the first time available for the tour wasn't until 5:15 (we got there around 4:15). You could opt to do the tasting room, but we wanted to see the process and the distillery. With the winery being so close it was easy to change up plans and head there while we waited for our distillery tour time. We still got back to the distillery a bit early, but their waiting area is a really neat little museum with history of the old ice plant that the distillery is housed in, as well as the distilling process of bourbon, gin and vodka. The tour itself was really neat!! The guys that run it are very passionate about their booze and make the tour a lot of fun. Note: the warehouse is not temperature controlled; since we were there in December it wasn't too warm, but just make sure if you go in the summer you take water with you, because it is known to get really hot! After being walked through the distilling process and getting to see all the machinery, it's off to a special tasting room for those that took the tour. I was nervous, because I am not really a liquor drinker, so the thought of sipping straight vodka had my stomach turning. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they actually give you little mini cocktails!! We started with a Florida mule (yum), then moved onto a rum punch. You only get to try those if you do the tour. From there they move you into the main tasting room to try the Old Fashioned (Babe very much approved) and a Gin & Tonic. Babe liked the bourbon so much he grabbed a bottle to take home. We really loved the tour and would definitely do the whole thing again!!
Cost: Free, + price of bourbon

6:15 pm: We were planning to eat dinner at the Ice Plant that is actually attached to the distillery, but our car was back at the original lot we had parked in near the fort (we weren't sure what parking situation would be at distillery; they have plenty and it's free). Our walk back to get it was really nice. They light up St. Augustine for Christmas and it was beautiful!! We look a slow walk back, stopping to enjoy the lights and also take a peek around Flagler College. The school is stunning!! It is housed in the old Ponce de Leon Hotel and makes you literally feel like you are in a scene from some old movie that takes place in a boarding school (major points to anyone who has seen The Trouble with Angels). Being decorated for Christmas just made it that much more beautiful!!
Cost: Free 

7:00 pm: Dinner at the Ice Plant! Can you say, Oh. My. Yum?! One, this place has a super cool history! You are actually eating in what use to be the old ice factory, dating back from 1927. They keep with the 20s feel and it makes the atmosphere really cool (pun intended)! The bar makes amazing craft cocktails, each using a specific kind of ice depending on what you order. And then comes the amazingness that is the food!! My parents actually headed to St. Augustine that night to celebrate their anniversary and joined us for dinner, so we all got different meals in order to enjoy a little bit of everything. We started it off with the beef carpaccio and fried oyster appetizer, which I then actually ordered a second time as my meal, because happiness!! We also got the soft baked pretzel and loved that too. Our meals consisted of the pork belly, the fish of the day, and the butternut squash and mushroom lasagna, which were all amazing. This should definitely be on your list if you head to St. Augustine. You may be in for a longer wait as they do not take reservations, however, they have a one-of-a-kind bar to enjoy a drink at while you wait. Plus we were originally told over an hour wait time and were seated within 30-40 minutes.
Cost: Between drinks and food this was the most expensive part of the day, but so worth every penny. Meals average to about $20-25 per person and drinks about $10.

Parking: We ended up paying $12 to park (full 4 hours/ paid twice), but there is a garage as you enter the city that has $10 all day parking. It would have only saved us $2, but we also wouldn't have had to worry about heading back to pick up our car before dinner. also, if you are willing to walk/ plan to head to winery anyways, there is side street parking nearby that is free if you get there early enough to snag it.

We had an absolutely wonderful time and couldn't recommend a visit more!
Have you ever been to St. Augustine? 
Where have you been traveling lately? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Things to Do at Rainbow Springs State Park

At the end of last month we took a little FloRida trip, out towards Ocala, to have a little fun at Rainbow Springs State Park and do some tubing. There are so many things to do at Rainbow Springs State Park. It was the bomb!! Here's why... 

Where We Stayed: 
We LOVE staying at state parks and Rainbow Springs State Park just added to the reasons why! It was a beautiful park! It doesn't matter if you had an RV or a tent, the sites were so spacious and very nicely maintained. There was still a good community park feel, but with the right amount of privacy. We love getting to see everyone at the park, but we don't love being able to see in people's windows, ya know?! Pretty much every spot at Rainbow Springs State Park had a private little alcove, with bushes to separate you from your neighbors. There were also plenty of very nice bathrooms spread throughout the park. Though we didn't use them, for those that do, there will always be a bathroom just a short walk from your site (with laundry facilities and everything)! We also LOVED that our spot had it's own black tank hookup (a bonus surprise). For all fellow RVers out there, you know that's like gold!! We got up the morning of departure, got Flo all fresh and clean, and headed out without having to fight a line of others leaving. There was also a really nice dump station at the front of the park (double-sided, pull-thru), with nice hoses for washing your rig if needed. 

What We Did:
RIVER TUBING!! And lots of it! Rainbow Springs is located in Dunnellon, Florida and the river is pretty much the main means of entertainment- for good reason!! The river is beautiful and, because it is spring fed, it flows really fast; fast enough to tube down. The spring feeds into the river which means you aren't just floating on the spring itself, so the waterway is nice and wide, allowing for plenty of room to sit back, relax and not feel like you are right up someone else's rear-end. You do share the river with boaters, but they are mostly float boats and for the most part they are very mindful of the tubers.

We had brought our own tubes, but the park does have them available for rent, along with a tram ride that will take you from your car to the drop in point (cost is $15 per person). We chose to save the money and, because we were staying at the campground (the drop in point for tubers), Andrew was able to drive the car down to the main park entrance and then bike back to the site. He did that for each of the 3 trips we took down the river. The bike ride only took him 5-10 minutes and it saved us a bunch of $$$! We like saving money! If you aren't staying at the park, this option is still doable. You can either bring two cars, take one to the drop-in site and leave the other at the get-out point, or you can bring a bike with you and have one person drop everyone off with the tubes, drive the car down and then bike back. Yes, you would then have to pick the bike back up once you get off the river and to the car, but depending on the size of your group it can save a good bit of money for just an added 5 minutes. Remember though, this only works if you have your own tubes!! If you don't yet, I say invest in a good one! I love my flamingo tube, not only because he is cute, but also super functional (he makes the best head rest)! Babe is itching to get a double tube with a cooler. We saw a lot on the river and they definitely looked to be where it was at, in terms of ultimate river relaxation! 

When we first woke up on Friday morning we did take a little bit of time to go up and check out the other part of the park. Rainbow Springs State Park is divided into three sections and the headsprings is one of those (with the main part-for getting tubes- and the campground being the other two). It is a beautiful spot where you can swim, rent kayaks (also available and the campground) and walk around the grounds of what use to be an Old Florida attraction. The maps showing what all use to be at the park are really neat! You can walk around and explore the waterfalls and the remains left behind from when there was a zoo and other attractions at the park. It gives the park an almost eerie feel, once you get past the waterfalls and deeper into the old park, and I love me a good spooky thrill! There is just something about an abandoned place, thinking about all the stories that it holds, that builds up my adrenaline and makes me feel alive. Definitely a neat place to walk around and explore! It is also very family friendly as most of the trails are paved and therefore easily accessible by both strollers and wheelchairs! We saw a family pushing their grandpa through the park and I had to wonder if he had seen it in its hay day. 

After our trip to the headsprings, we were on the river the majority of the rest of our trip! There is a nice hike at the campground, which took us about 30 minutes, but the rest of the time was devoted to the water. We did one tube on Friday night and two on Saturday. My advice for those looking for a more intimate float, go Friday night! There was barely anyone on the river and we saw tons of wildlife, including 3 otters who were frolicking in the water! Saturday morning is definitely very busy with boaters, tubers, SUPs and kayaks. Since we weren't doing the tram we were able to time it right and wait until the tram unloaded and that group got started before we took off, so we were further away from clumps of people who had attached together, but it was still crowded. Saturday evening was quieter than the morning, but still more crowded than Friday night. So if you can get there for a weekend away definitely hit the river Friday night before the crowds come in. I would love to see what it looks like during the week!! I am trying to convince Babe that we should be camp hosts there one summer! 

And one last piece of advice! JUMP! Keep your eyes peeled along the river for swing or jump trees (on the wild side of the river; no swinging off peoples property, that's just not polite)! We found one about halfway down the river and, even though the river patrol had cut the swing and taken out the first wooden board for climbing, we were able to get up in the tree to jump out (I, of course, had to be boosted by Babe... note to self, strengthen upper body). Just do it, you will thank yourself once you are down! It was such a rush that we of course did it as many times as my climbing arms could handle! 

Where We Ate: 
We typically try to eat at a local BBQ joint on our way to set up camp, but we had left after I got off of work late Thursday and so, sadly, we didn't get to try any local fare. However, we drove through town a little bit and found a few spots to check out on our next visit, including The Blue Gator, which is along the river. We love a good riverside dive! 

We LOVED our trip! After a very go, go, go summer, it was nice to have a relaxing trip that allowed us to just sit back and soak in some of Florida's best features!! If I have anything to say about it, we will be going back again very soon!! 

Other Florida Adventures

Happy Travels! 
Where have you been off adventuring lately? 
Share your link below and let's travel together! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel destination and would love to see where you have been exploring! 
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest
~No real rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. Leave a little love where you like! 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
~I will also be sharing my favorite post from the month before. August's fave was from Away She Went, because I am itching to get to Glacier National Park! It has been on my bucket list for ages!! 

Excited to explore the globe with you all!!