Summer of More at Gaylord Palms – Orlando

Let’s talk about SUMMER. Your favorite parts… the best parts… the memory makers. For us, that is hands down Gaylord Palms Summer of More.

Even though school is already back in session for most Florida kids, you can still celebrate the summer with a weekend away. An amazing weekend away your family will talk about for quite a while. I know because everyone in my family absolutely loves it.

By far the atrium view completely changes a typical hotel stay. This is such a sensory experience. The trees, the waterfall, the porch to sit and people watch. Early in the morning, the middle of the night, and as a great way to end your day around the resort. Check to see when their atrium light shows are. You can watch from your room or grab an ice cream and watch right below.

One of the amazing thing about Gaylord Palms is that they have awesome family events throughout the year. This summer we going in on the Explores Club.

It is a small socially distant tour throughout the atrium with a tour guide. As your family walks and explores, the guide points out native plants and trees to Florida, as well as fun facts about the turtles and alligators there.

Our tour guide was able to answer even random questions about the property and history of Florida, that it felt like a truly inclusive experience.

There is a travelers guide that the boys traveled with and marked off each location as well as gathered small Polaroid pictures from our guide. Give anyone in our family any type of scavenger hunt list, and we accept the challenge.

Hear about the true Florida ghost story of Colonel Garcia Marti and his young wife Dolores in 1794. Read more here. Just the right amount of spooky and strange.

This was our first time to actually feed the fish too! My little one could have stayed here for an hour and he would have been happy.

Once you finish the tour there is also an Explorer’s Bar with refreshments and a themed lounge to enjoy. It for sure gives off Halloween vibes and I loved every minute of it. They have non-alcoholic drinks for the little explorers too.

Something that we can’t wait to do is take advantage of their on property waterpark. They by far have the best children’s splash pad area. Grown ups and join in on the slides and fun there too.

Take a minute to see more in our vlog of the Gaylord Palms Water Park here. They have really considered everything a family would enjoy on a getaway… including their brand new “lazy” river… Crystal River Rapids. It’s not really your classic lazy river, and the next day I could feel it everywhere in my body.

Take your family away, or take a girls trip for the weekend. What are you waiting for? The holiday season will be here before you know it and these days of summer are flying away so quickly. Take time to make more summer memories.

Beyond Van Gogh – Immersive Experience

Beyond Van Gogh – Immersive Experience

Last summer I absolutely fell in love with Emily in Paris on Netflix and this amazing Van Gogh exhibit she visited in her travels. It was something that as soon as I saw it, knew that I had to go. I started researching the cities the exhibit was in, where I needed to go. Nothing (darn COVID). There was nothing in my area and so I put that on. My list of things to keep checking back on.

I’m glad I did. Beyond Van Gogh is now in Miami with other locations around the state and region too.

I will admit, I didn’t know too much about the artist. Other than the basics that I think everyone knows. I loved Starry, Starry Night when I was in high school and felt very grown up and artsy when I had that image on my first credit card.

When you first enter the exhibit there are rows and rows of artist back story and his history. This area can give a snapshot into the world of Van Gogh and some of his struggles and inspiration. Once inside, you can take as much time as you’d like to walk through and read. To be immersed in his life and feel a little more connected to him.

I was amazed to learn that he signed all of his artwork Vincent, because he thought his last name would be too difficult for people. That broke my heart.

There are only two rooms in the exhibit. The first hall that has the hanging frames about Van Gogh and then the larger main room. They average 20-25 minutes for the first room , and 35 minutes for the second. Although there is no one that actually makes you leave at an hour – it is up to you how long you want the experience to last.

A lot of times I venture out to experiences like this, other parents ask if it’s kid friendly. Absolutely. Although it is different, and something your kids might not have done before…it is an amazing experience for them to go, sit and pause. To take it all in. The colors, the art, the music.

There were plenty of families with kid (including strollers) and if a baby gets fussy, you could easily step out side for a moment. Honestly though, the music was loud enough that it could cover most fussy kid concerns. Once I was in there I was able to block most everything else out.

Both of my sons loved that the art work wasn’t just on the walls. It was everywhere. To watch the paint stretch across the walls and floors along with the music. The art was alive and they could be a part of it. There was something special about that.

There were certain areas that were more congested than others but they still have a limited admission (June 2021) to make sure not too many people are inside at once. I would recommend buying all of the tickets together, because once the time slot is sold out it is difficult to add anyone else one.

Once you exit the exhibit there are awesome picnic tables and hammocks to relax in and grab a snack or drink from the refreshment stand/ cafe. There were actually free range chickens roaming around and the boys loved being able to sit and relax. I loved being able to swing and talk about everything we had just seen instead of just getting in the car and heading home. It was something I wasn’t expecting

No matter what part of the country you are in, I highly recommend looking into the Beyond Van Gogh Experience. Either as a family day (special Sunday rates) or a romantic afternoon date. It’s something I’m glad we were able to experience together and honestly hope other artists can find a spotlight like this as well.

A Family Fun Day in Vero Beach, Florida

Sometimes I feel bad for smaller towns in Florida. The larger cities seem to get most of the attention and unless you’re a local there are tones of spots you may miss.

I actually worked in Vero for a brief time, and never really took the time to explore or get to know the area.

Now that Disney has its reservation system, there are weekends that we aren’t able to go to the parks. I’ve decided to use those weekends to get to know more about where we are.

As I started my research I discovered that the Vero Beach Museum of Art is free the last weekend of every month. As our family travels more and more, finding things that are fun and affordable has climbed high on my list.

Located in a beautiful part of town, this museum is very family friendly. Sometimes I get a little nervous taking young children to places known to be adult oriented, but this was very different. Unfortunately because of COVID their children’s area was not open when we visited (we will make sure to go back later on in the year). But there was a nice outdoor are that we could use relax a bit and get to know more of the art and structures.

Just like other museums, they have exhibits that rotate out seasonally. We were lucky enough to experience a light exhibit that the boys absolutely loved and still talk about.

After the museum, we grabbed our Treasure Coast Wine and Ale Trail and popped into the American Icon Brewery for lunch.

I have driven by here honestly hundreds of times, but never stopped. I’m so glad we added this to our day. It was open and airy with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. There was a large grassy area that the kids were able to run around and let out energy while we enjoyed drinks and large outdoor games to play.

We get asked ALL.THE.TIME. if we are comfortable taking our kids to breweries. Most of the time it is from people who don’t really understand that during the daylight hours…breweries are great for families. The staff is friendly, they know their menu and the pace is casual.

I highly recommend finding a local brewery with a restaurant and starting there.

American Icon Brewery had an extensive menu that the entire family was happy with. Anytime I can order local flights (variety of beers) I do. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to try out new drinks and maybe find a new favorite.

I always ask my server the most popular, as well as what their favorite selection is too. It let’s me add drinks that I might not choose otherwise and I have found some that were amazing.

There was a fun atmosphere here too. So many new things to see and the boys weren’t in a rush to leave. I call that a win.

Of course we wanted to finish out our day with a drive by the beach and fun dessert treat. A local friend of mine recommended Countryside Ice Cream located on Ocean Drive. It’s actually located inside El Sid Taqueria and has a very limited menu — but it was exactly what we were looking for.

I had to order the popular orange and vanilla swirl, it’s their most popular and for good reason. The boys went with classic chocolate sugar cones. There is outdoor seating beside the shop but for the best view…

Make sure to walk behind the building to the beach to enjoy your treats and people watch. This was the perfect way to end the day and would recommend this small spot to anyone in the area.

As we were out exploring there were tons of other small businesses I want to add to our next adventure and can’t wait to get to know Vero Beach a little bit better. Do you have any favorite places in Indian River County?

Turn Your Space Coast Day Trip into a STAYCATION at Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

We don’t live far from Cocoa Beach — probably about 90 minutes. Far enough that it’s not just a quick pop in place to go during the day, but close enough we could drive up and back the same day if we wanted to.

I didn’t want to.

We planned on visiting Kennedy Space Center for my youngest’s 5th birthday — and instead of a bunch of gifts, we decided to stay the night at Beachside Hotel and Suites. We have become big on gifting experiences and not just “stuff”.

It would be the perfect #staycation location…especially after a long day of exploring, it would be nice to go back to the hotel and hang out at the lazy river. That’s just what we did. I mean… look at it… it’s adorable!

Lazy River at Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

I’m not sure what my boys love more… staying at a hotel, or lazy rivers at a hotel. Either way, this was the perfect way to end our day at Kennedy Space Center and start our stay. Since I knew we were making it a staycation weekend, I made sure to find a location that was pet friendly too. That way we could take our furry family member with us. We requested an early check in, so we could drop off all of our things, let Zero walk around the property a bit and then be on our way.

It was also nice knowing that if we needed to pop in and check on him during the day exploring we could, and he wasn’t far.

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, FL

There was plenty of room at Beachside Hotel… and two separate rooms in case we wanted to put the boys to bed a little earlier. My favorite was that we could sit on the porch right outside of our room and enjoy a few adult beverages, while the boys were relaxing inside. It was a mini date night overlooking the pool on a nice Florida evening.

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

We were also able to take a walk over to the beach, and I made a mental note to book a stay there the next time there was a weekend rocket launch. It is the perfect location. It’s very near the cruise ship ports too… we were able to see a few Disney cruise ships waiting for us (fingers crossed for 2023???) on our drive to Kennedy from the hotel.

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

There was a fun retro “throwback” feel to the property. With their on-site bar and restaurant right next to the sand play area for the boys. We felt right at home, and plenty of room for being socially distant. We had planned on going out for dinner, but once we were there and enjoying the lazy river and sand area… the boys didn’t want to leave. Neither did we. 🙂

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

It occurred to me a few times that evening that we could be driving back home… or we could already be home… but I was so happy that we stayed. It was something we needed and something that felt special. The boys were elated that we were somewhere that felt like a vacation, but it wasn’t too far from home.

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach, Florida

Because of Florida weather, you never know what you are going to get. Locals understand this and always have a backup plan. Even if there are afternoon rain showers, stick around… it will change in a matter of minutes. Something I didn’t know until we got there, and I thought was awesome were the complementary bikes to use around the area.

They also had anything else you might want to take for a weekend away at the beach… one less thing to worry about. We hadn’t planned on popping over to the beach because the forecast hadn’t looked all that favorable, but there was a clear spot in the morning we were able to walk over and grabbed boogie boards for the boys. It was a complete surprise for them but made it look like a was a superhero.

Beachside Hotel and Suites – Cocoa Beach Florida

No matter where you might be in Florida… Beachside Hotel and Suites really does offer the perfect weekend away. Wether you are up the street or a few hours away, it feels like you are on vacation. That’s something we could all use right now… a socially distanced get away with your family. Making memories one weekend at a time.

SummerFest at Gaylord Palms – The Must Do Florida Family #staycation

It’s not a surprise how much I love Orlando. Tons of things to do and something for any interest you may have. Orlando can be exhausting though. When there are too many places to go, it feels like you are always in a rush and can never fully enjoy one thing before rushing off to the next.

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The BRIGHT Way to Vacation this Year: Stay Home, See Solar

Vacations have gone virtual while we’re taking the necessary time for social distancing. When you’re ready to explore, the world of FPL SolarNow awaits… in the meantime, these five reasons to enjoy a “Solar Staycation” will help you bring the vacation spirit home.

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