Seeing is Believing: Video of Lido Key

Seeing is believing.

I could go on about Lido Key’s clear water, and how its color reminds me of a robin’s egg. I could wax poetic on about its soft, white sand, and about the quirky shops and great cafes in St. Armand’s Circle. I could even swear on my flip-flops that it’s one of the finest beaches in the country, never mind Florida.

But none of my words would have the impact that seeing it for yourself would. Check out my video for a peek at this little gem, located by Sarasota, just a splash north of famed Siesta Key.

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The Inside Scoop on the Florida Keys

Sure, you’ve heard about the Florida Keys. Who hasn’t? After all, they’ve been featured in movies like Key Largo, Matinee, True Lies and more. They invoke images of tropical islands and palm trees, of Margaritas and Tiki huts.

But what are they really like?

Check out this short overview to see if the Florida Keys might be your key to paradise.

Note: This blog covers the Florida Keys with the exception of Key West. The Conch Republic is a whole different planet from the rest of the Keys.

The general vibe:
Once you leave the mainland, you’re on Island time. The mood is laid back and friendly. People mostly wear things like fishing hats and shorts, not heels and ties. It’s the kind of place you’ll get the best stone crab claws you ever ate, served with an iceberg-lettuce salad and a plastic fork. Your hotel may lend you a kayak but don’t expect valet parking. If you’re looking for an outlet mall, you may be in the wrong place.

What you’ll see:
As you roll down the Overseas Highway, you’ll be treated to an abundance of murals adorning buildings, swirling with fish, dolphins, manatees, the currents of the ocean and more. The colors of the Keys tend to be bright and tropical; you’ll see vivid purple fences bordering pink structures, lime green signs screaming offers of parasailing and kayaking, and giant statues of questionable taste.

Though occasional long driveways curve through sea grapes to elegant estates and resorts, most of the dwellings and hotels are far more humble. Mom and Pop hotels — some weathered and some spanking clean with fresh paint — are the rule, as are tiny cafes and quirky shops.

You’ll cross lots of bridges, so you’ll get a good peek at the waters of the Keys. They tend to be a dreamy blue-green color, reminiscent of a robin’s egg. If they’re churned up by the wind, they take on a still-beautiful milky hue.

What you should do:

  • You should snorkel. North America’s longest living barrier reef runs parallel to the Keys, and the waters are usually clear, which means you’ll have a great view of lots sea critters as well as the colorful reef.
  • You should fish. VISIT FLORIDA’s Fishing Insiders can give you a much better overview of the area’s offerings, but suffice to say the sport fishing is spectacular by any measure.
  •  You should eat lots of seafood. It’s everywhere, it’s fresh and it’s usually good. If you find a spicy conch chowder on the menu, try it.
  • You should visit a park. The Florida Keys offer a treasure trove of parks, all affordable. Bahia Honda State Park, Curry Hammock State Park and John Pennekamp State Park are but a few of the glorious offerings.
  • You should enjoy nature and outdoor sports like biking, hiking, kite-boarding and kayaking.

What about the Beaches?
The Florida Keys are not renowned for their beaches, which is counterintuitive because the islands are surrounded by water. Several exceptions exist: Bahia Honda State Park features beautiful, award-winning Sandspur Beach, and Sombrero Beach in Marathon provides a pleasant respite.

Because as Lily Tomlin says, “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
 

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Race a Super-Car in Orlando or Daytona Beach

Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches, oh my.

Wonder what it’s like to crawl behind the wheel of one of these super cars? I’m not talking about just admiring one while it’s parked, either. I’m talking about seeing what it can do, ramping it up to speed on a real race track, screeching around cones and stomping on the brakes.

I got to enjoy this amazing adventure at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando. You can enjoy it there and at Daytona International Speedway, too, thanks to the Exotic Driving Experience.

Here’s how it works.

First, you pick your ride from a fleet of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Porsches, Audis and Nissans.  After some instruction, you wipe the sweat off your palms and take your new set of wheels out for a spin. You have a professional driver in the passenger seat to help you navigate the course, give you driving tips, and insure you live to see dinner.

My experience was fun, adrenalin-inducing, and definitely different from anything else I’ve ever done.

Insider’s tip: If you want enough brownie points to open a fudge factory, give this experience as a present to the thrill-seeker in your life. Through Dec. 31, 2012, EDE is offering 10 percent off all driving experience reservations.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

Happy Thanksgiving!

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A Month of Holiday Fun in Delray Beach – Including Ice Skating!

I expected Delray Beach to offer up a sleigh-full of holiday spirit.

After all, this charming village by the Atlantic is renowned for showing folks a good time. It was even recently named the ‘Most Fun Small Town in America’ by Rand McNally.

So I was hardly surprised to see it was hosting lots of holiday beach fun: a tree lighting, visits with Santa, music, food and events galore, even a holiday carousel. But outdoor ice-skating?

The Delray Beach Holiday Festivities kick off with the lighting of the famed 100-foot Christmas Tree at Old School Square (Atlantic Avenue at Swinton Avenue) Nov. 29, 2012, and continue through Jan. 3, 2013. And the ice skating rink is open every day 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Bet you’ve never gone ice-skating by the beach before!

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Southernmost Christmas Tree Celebration Sparkles in Key West

Want to celebrate the season in true beach bunny fashion? Head south – way south.

After all, balmy breezes and fresh seafood are infinitely more pleasurable than snow and ice, at least in my book. The Southernmost Christmas Tree Celebration, sparkling into Key West (1401 Seminary St.) 3 p.m.. Dec. 16, 2012, is guaranteed to help you get your jingle on without freezing your tush off.

You’ll kick off the festivities with free conch chowder. Then you’ll board Conch Tour Trains and head to the continental United States’ Southernmost Point. At this iconic landmark, you’ll set up the southernmost Christmas tree at sunset.

Now that’s getting into the holiday spirit, Sunshine State style!

Call 305-294-9526 for more information.

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Events, Parades and Tours: New Smyrna Beach’s Christmas on Canal Street

Does your holiday spirit need a little pick-me-up?

I have the perfect recipe for an attitude adjustment.

Just grab your flip-flops and splash over to New Smyrna Beach. This charming Atlantic village boasts 13 miles of beach, 300 surfable days a year, warm water and fab fishing. It also boasts Christmas on Canal Street. This annual tradition features a variety of festive events, including:

  • Spark the Spirit, Nov. 23, 2012
  • Coastal Christmas Market, Nov. 24, 2013
  • Christmas Parades — Land & Sea, Dec. 1, 2013
  • Girls Weekend Out, Dec. 6- 9, 2013
  • The Bed & Breakfast Tour, Dec. 9, 2013

If that doesn’t tickle your jingle, nothing will!

Continue reading Events, Parades and Tours: New Smyrna Beach’s Christmas on Canal Street »

Events, Parades & Tours: New Smyrna Beach’s Christmas on Canal Street

Does your holiday spirit need a little pick-me-up?

I have the perfect recipe for an attitude adjustment.

Just grab your flip-flops and splash over to New Smyrna Beach. This charming Atlantic village boasts 13 miles of beach, 300 surfable days a year, warm water and fab fishing. It also boasts Christmas on Canal Street. This annual tradition features a variety of festive events, including:

  • Spark the Spirit, Nov. 23, 2012
  • Coastal Christmas Market, Nov. 24, 2013
  • Christmas Parades–Land & Sea, Dec. 1, 2013
  • Girls Weekend Out, Dec. 6- 9, 2013
  • The Bed & Breakfast Tour, Dec. 9, 2013

If that doesn’t tickle your jingle, nothing will!

Continue reading Events, Parades & Tours: New Smyrna Beach’s Christmas on Canal Street »

Frost-Free Fun in South Walton This Holiday Season

Come the holidays, I like glittering trees and tables groaning with festive fare as well as anyone. But I hardly need frost and snow to tinkle my sleigh bells.

If you want to celebrate the season in Sunshine-State style, too—with sand between your toes and a warm breeze caressing your shoulders, consider a visit to South Walton. Its beach neighborhoods, nestled on the emerald-hued waters of Northwest Florida, offer holiday lights, visits with Santa, a host of holiday meals and events, and more.

The frost-free fun includes:

Because cranberry sauce just tastes better when you’re wearing flip-flops and shorts!

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Something to Sing About: Karaoke on Sanibel

I sing like I feel.  ~ Ella Fitzgerald

Sanibel Island always makes you want to sing.

World famous for shelling, this little sliver of paradise is nestled in the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida. It’s a place where bicyclists pedal by and wave, a place with no traffic lights, a place with tangles of mangrove trees hugging the roads. It features kayaking, birding and nature of all sorts. It even has great shopping and dining.

So it’s only natural that visitors to the Island might feel compelled to belt out a tune – and I know  the perfect place to do it. You can enjoy Karaoke Night every Thursday from 9-11 p.m. at George and Wendy's Sanibel Seafood Grille.

The Sanibel Seafood Grille offers lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, a late-night menu and changing daily specials. The focus of the menus is fresh, local and fun cuisine. The Grille also features a full bar with an extensive wine list, lots of local, domestic and craft beer and fun drinks like mojitos and other tropical favorites.

And remember, there’s never enough singing!

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