Category Archives: Florida

Happy Meals: Upscale Dining at Walt Disney World

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Walt Disney World may be a kid’s paradise, but the dining options extend far beyond chicken fingers and fries. Grown-ups looking for a little culinary indulgence can choose from a variety of upscale restaurants. Here are a handful of our favorites.

Article appears in West Jet Air’s in-flight magazine. Read full article here: Disney Eats-up-Oct copy

 

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Beyond Orlando’s Theme Parks

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 19:  Singer Ricky Martin (R) unveils his brand new figure at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas on November 19, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Figure will soon travel to Florida for the spring 2015 grand opening of Madame Tussauds Orlando.  (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds) *** Local Caption *** Ricky Martin

Singer Ricky Martin meets his double at Madame Tussauds in Orlando, FL

Take flight high above Orlando; dive deep into three oceans; or take a selfie with famous stars. Merlin Entertainments, the second largest attraction operator in the world, is bringing three of its best-known attractions to Orlando: The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE Aquarium

Read the entire article in Allegiant Air’s in-flight magazine, Sunseeker. AllegiantOrlandoBeyondThemeParks copy

World’s Luckiest Fishing Village

(Guest  Contributor & Photographer: James Richardson)

Destin FloridaDestination: Destin, FL

As you arrive in Destin, Florida, from the west, a sign welcomes you to the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” If Destin is your final destination, you will find out, while the fishing is great, that there is much more to do here than fish.

The Panhandle of Florida is a growing area for many reasons. The major reason is the convenience and accessibility of the Panhandle to the rest of the country. The guidebooks say that Destin is nearer to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, than Destin is to Key West.

This area of Florida is commonly known as the Emerald Coast because of the white sandy beaches appearing green as seen through the shallow blue waters of the Gulf. Traveling to points beyond the Emerald Coast adds hours to a trip — valuable hours of soaking up the sun’s rays. Destin’s white sandy beaches are the major single attraction of the Emerald Coast.

(Click on Destination: Destin, Florida above to link to rest of article and great photos!)

How Not to Offend Southerners! A Humorous Essay

Wilmington, NC, Azalea Festival represents the South in all its glory!

Wilmington, NC, Azalea Festival represents the South in all its glory! (Photo by Sandra Chambers)

Traveling “Down South” the Right Way!

Since relocating to a beautiful coastal town in North Carolina—leaving behind my old life in the greater Washington, DC, metropolitan area– I have had a true “conversion” experience. My eyes have been opened, my mind enlightened, and joy has filled my heart – I have become a “true Southerner.”

Since my conversion, you will no longer hear four-letter words from my mouth– except for the occasional “y’all” or “yes’m.” I also sleep later, drive slower, and wear the T-shirt that says:  “I wasn’t born in the South, but I got here as fast as I could!

 Many of you already know you’re an outsider, which puts you one step ahead of people like myself who used to think of ourselves as  “part Southern.”  I finally had to admit that being born in West Virginia didn’t make me Southern. “Hillbilly” and “Southern” are not synonymous terms. (And, of course most people know that West Virginia sided with the North in the Civil War. Also, be aware that in the South you won’t hear about the Civil War; only about The War of Northern Aggression.)

Even living in Virginia (I was there for 25 years) doesn’t qualify me to be a Southerner. Coming from the northern Virginia area, I can attest to the fact that there are neither Southern accents nor Southern manners to be found in that area—especially when driving the Beltway! (A very recent trip to DC confirmed that!)

Because of my life-changing experience, I feel compelled to invite you to come along with me to discover this unique territory and culture known as “The South,” and to offer my assistance in making your visit more enjoyable and acceptable —both for you and the rightful residents of the land upon which we Northerners surely trespass.

Basic Rules for Traveling (and relocating) to the South:

 (1) First and foremost, practice your Southern drawl before arriving in the South. Like all foreign travelers, you are more likely to be looked upon with favor if you at least attempt the local language. Practice slurring your words together like “y’all.” Hold for at least two seconds.

(2) Never argue over Southern pronunciations. Although I was an English major in college, I have thrown away my Webster’s Dictionary in favor of the vernacular pronunciation. For example, Standard English will tell you that “Kerr” Avenue is pronounced with an “er” sound, but the Southern pronunciation is with an “ar.”

(3) When you order iced tea at any Southern restaurant you must specify “sweet” or “unsweet.” Of course, real Southerners always drink sweet tea (heated first so that the pound of sugar dissolves before chilling).  It is acceptable, however, to order half and half if you admit to being a recovering sugar addict.

(4) You also need to know that “grits” are not just for breakfast in the South. “Shrimp and grits” is standard Southern fare for lunch, dinner, or snack.

(5) Google Paula Deen before crossing the Mason Dixon line. You don’t want to be culturally illiterate when discussing fine Southern dining with locals. It would also be wise to know what goes into a “mint julep.”

(6) Be sure to eat at a Calabash Style seafood restaurant. Some Southerners will argue that it’s the only way to eat seafood (lightly battered and fried.)

(7) Last but not least –although I do not get the point of whipping my neck back and forth a hundred times while watching cars speed around the track—all true Southerners should know who Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon are.

There you have it– seven rules to help you make the most of your visit (or relocation) to the South. While you’re here on my site, check out some of the awesome Southern destinations we cover in this blog. Sign up to receive notice of any new Southern-Traveller blogs via e-mail or RSS feed. You will get an e-mail whenever I post–which is definitely on Southern time–maybe  once or twice a month. Then you can click to read the article or totally ignore it (which of course, defies all Southern politeness!)

© Sandra Chambers

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Opens at Disney World

New Resort Offers Fun for Entire Family

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For those of you planning a visit to Disney World this Summer check out their newest resort–Disney’s Art of Animation Resortoffering family suites that sleep up to six and the largest pool in Walt Disney Resort measuring in at 11,859 square feet. The pool is surrounded by larger-than-life Disney characters,  including a 35-foot-tall King Triton and giant-sized Mr. Ray, Crush and Squirt. The pool also features an underwater sound system. Continue reading

Orlando Eats

Orlando offers some great eats outside the theme parks

Bahama Breeze 

Bahama Breeze Island Grille on Urbanspoon

You’ll find yourself surrounded by a Caribbean atmosphere both inside and outside in the tropical bar.  In addition–the food is great! Try the Coconut Shrimp appetizer (their most popular).  It’s also available as a dinner entree. The seafood chowder is also amazing, as are the other seafood dishes. For desert try their famous Rebecca’s Key Lime Pie. There are two restaurant locations in the Orlando area.

Bananas Modern American Diner
Bananas Modern American Diner on Urbanspoon

A great local’s favorite, Bananas is a fun place to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It’s located downtown Orlando near the cluster of museums (See Florida-Orlando-What to do),  and is a great place for lunch instead of the fast food places at the museums. The kid’s will love the menu–especially the surprise treat at the end of their meal.  Bananas makes amazing milkshakes (try the Funky Monkey) and big juicy hamburgers– the Maui Wowie with grilled pinapple, applewood smoked bacon is my favorite.  As an appetizer I highly recommend the Funkey Monkey Fried Goat Cheese. Yum!

Orlando Golf | The Villas of Grand Cypress | Golf Academy

The Grand Cypress Academy of Golf  is a Jack Nicholas-designed 21-acre facility dedicated just to teaching the game of golf. It has been named a “Top 25 Golf School in America” by GOLF Magazine, and provides a comprehensive learning experience for players of all levels.

 I recently visited their golf school, had my swing analyzed by the most up-to-date technology and chatted with the academy’s director, Fred Griffin.  Here’s what he had to say:

Orlando Golf | The Villas of Grand Cypress | Golf Academy

You can also stay right on site at the The Villas of Grand Cypress. This Mediterranean-style complex offers a choice of luxury accommodations including Club suites and one-, two-, three-and-four bedroom Villas. The resort also has pet-friendly units.