Florida Travel Guide
Tax day is coming, and you're probably excited...but not because you look forward to sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.
We know what you're thinking, Florida, really? Yes, really. The mere mention of the sunshine state can conjure up images of screaming kids and Mickey Mouse, but Florida also offers some of the country's best food and beaches.
If it's a little R & R you're after, head to the Gulf Coast, where the white sand beaches in Sarasota, Pensacola, and Tierra Verde were recently named among the best in the entire country.
How To Get Tickets To / Food Travel / Miami Travel / Food Festivals / Miami Beach Travel / Events / → All Tags
This weekend the white tents will once again line Ocean Drive as the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE descends on Miami.
The festival will take place February 21 – 24, 2013 and it features dozen of special tasting and celebrity events including Garden to Glass with Emeril Lagasse, a Celebrity Chef Golf Tournament, the Southern Kitchen Brunch hosted by Trisha Yearwood, and the Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray, all in addition to the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village.
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Emeril Lagasse is taking a break from his day job in New Orleans and hitting the road for a new series, Emeril's Florida.
The famous TV chef will crisscross the Sunshine State to find its best cuisine. “Florida is not only about theme parks and water slides,” Lagasse said. “Sure we’ve got a little bit of that, but we’ve really mixed it up here, we’re following wine, food and farmers.”
The Sierra Club is proving volunteer travel doesn't have to be a major expense or time commitment.
The environmental organization already has dozens of trips planned for 2013, including a five day winter break in Florida's Ocala National Forest.The Ocala National Forest is home to the world's largest sand pine scrub ecosystem featuring hiking trails and camping sites, including the Florida National Scenic Trail.
It's that time of year again when all of our friends with kids start planning (and in some cases dreading) their annual trips to Disney. Amusement parks are fun for kids, but it's easy to get burnt out after a few days of non-stop characters, candy, and rides. So why not take a break and do some good at the same time?
Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Florida is a 70-acre resort with over 140 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 115,000 families for a once-in-a-lifetime, cost-free vacation.
How To Get Tickets To / Disney / Epcot / Food Travel / Drinking Travel / Florida Travel / Food Festivals / Festival Travel / → All Tags
There few places you can taste French crepes for lunch and, after a little stroll, delight in a Japanese bento box before finishing off with a Mexican churro for dessert. The easiest destination for such multicultural indulgence is Disney's Epcot Center in Orlando. Now, with the International Food and Wine Festival, visitors can taste even more international fare.
The festival is celebrating it's 17th birthday this year and will tickle park-goer taste buds with cuisine from 6 continents. Fill up at 29 food stalls , with tapas-size portions of national cuisine from over 20 different nations. For all you DIYers out there, chefs will even be hosting cooking demos.
If you're a fan of Comic-Cons but aren't a fan of spending three or four days in a stuffy convention center, we have just the thing for you. CruiseCons has just announced their first Celebrity Cruise Convention which will bring all of the best elements of conventional Comic-Cons out to sea.
The cruise will include guest talks, Q & A's, autograph signings, comic vendors and fan parties. So far, Star Trek's George Takei, Jewel Staite (Stargate: Atlantis), Julie Benz (Dexter), Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise/Stargate: Atlantis), Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica/Smallville/Stargate), Bianca Kajlich (Rules of Engagement/Halloween), Keith Szarabajka (Angel/The Dark Knight/24), Jerry Doyle (Babylon 5/The Jerry Doyle Show) and Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Bring It On/House) have all signed on to join fans on the ship.
Beyonce was spotted getting a head start on the Fourth of July weekend in Miami Beach yesterday, where she apparently went swimming with her clothes on. The singer does deserve a little R&R however, since it's been a busy week what with performing at the BET Awards and double dating with Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow in Beverly Hills.
According to the Miami-Herald, Beyonce isn’t the only one spending the holiday in Miami. Despite the economy, Miami’s hotels are filling up and are expected to be solidly booked for the weekend.
The Viceroy Hotel, a place to see and be seen in the city, is getting into the spirit of the weekend by offering a special package deal that includes a $100 spa credit, breakfast for two, preferred VIP seating for fireworks display, two free drink coupons, 10% off bottle service, VIP access to Club 50 and valet parking starting at $295 per night.
The hotel is also welcoming locals on Saturday by hosting the “Best 4th of July Fireworks Display in Miami”. The festivities include a pool party on their 2-acre pool deck featuring private cabanas and entertainment by top DJs, all beneath a canopy of the city’s best fireworks displays from Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Downtown Miami from 7 pm to 1 am. During the day, local families are welcome to enjoy the hotel’s pool from noon to 5pm. There will also a BBQ and drink specials, tickets start at $5.
· Viceroy Miami To Debut on March 1st [HC]
· Gwyneth Paltrow & Beyonce: Double Date! [Just Jared]
· Despite economy, South Florida hotels fill up for Fourth of July weekend [Miami Herald]
· Celeb Travel [Jaunted]
[Photo: Just Jared]
The internet really is an amazing thing. Last week, for some reason, I was thinking about an obscure old ride at Disney World that I doubted many people remembered. Lo and behold, a quick search revealed not only extensive information about it, but a couple of first-person videos as well. The ride was called If You Had Wings, and it was essentially a big advertisement for Eastern Air Lines, which was, at one time, the official airline of Walt Disney World. My dad was a pilot for Eastern Air Lines, and so we made a point of riding the Claude Coates-designed Omnimover Dark Ride whenever we went to the park, and I loved it.
The gig is up for Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, who is currently in a lower Manhattan jail awaiting sentencing for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. Unfortunately for his victims, most of the money disappeared into thin air, but authorities are doing what they can to identify and liquidate his remaining assets. The action last week centered on south Florida, where marshals seized his yacht, "the Bull," from Roscioli Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale, and entered his $10 million Palm Beach Island home to inventory its contents.
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We're headed to Key West next month and I've been geeking out on the research, poring over all the travel guides I can find and lining up a few bars, restaurants and museums to check out while we're there. I wanted to pick up one of those Streetwise maps, but they don't have one for Key West yet, so instead I ordered a Rand McNally Fab Map for six bucks from Amazon, and I'm glad I did.
We've spilled more than a few pixels on the subject of kayaking, but that's because it's just such a perfect vacation activity. It's cheap, it's fun, and it always provides a unique perspective on your destination. Last year might have been the year of the kayak, but the trend is showing no signs of abating, if a story in Friday's New York Times is any indication. It highlights a kayaking adventure in the Florida Keys, where the abundance of shallow water, mangrove swamps, and marine life make the kayak the preferred mode of transportation for those seeking to leave the highway behind. With so many kayak outfitters on either side of the Overseas Highway, "it is entirely plausible to go on three different types of kayak trips, in three distinctly different environments in the Keys, all inside of a single day." Sounds like a nifty challenge to us.
In Key West, for example, the Lazy Dog Kayak Company will ensure that your kayaking won't come at the expense of your drinking, as an open-air bar is located just 20 feet from the put-in area. Those looking for more action can join a kayak fishing expedition organized by Key Largo-based Florida Bay Outfitters. A sizable tarpon is strong enough to pull your kayak around for half an hour, giving you the ride of your life. And to really feel like you've left civilization behind, Reelax Charters on Sugarloaf Key will ferry your kayaks in a motorboat to remote beaches and mangrove islands about as far away from pavement as you can get in the Keys.
But whatever kayak journey you take, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views and that unique feeling of floating that somehow makes all your troubles seem smaller.
[Photo: The New York Times]