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Romantic Miami Getaway

Miami Getaway

For our anniversary each year, we try to carve out some time alone, even if it’s just for a day away or a mini stay-cation. This year, we chose to venture down to Miami. I used to live in Miami-Dade County, and haven’t ever shown my husband around town so I planned a weekend getaway for just the two of us. It was just a short drive away, but it’s amazing what a time you can have as a tourist in a nearby city! Since I wanted to hit the top spots this was our itinerary:

Saturday

Breakfast at Versailles

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Versailles café is a staple in the Hispanic community of Miami. They have a walk up window as well as a full restaurant sit down option. News crews can often be found outside interviewing members of community, as this can become a gathering place of sorts. The walk up window can get very busy-so it’s best to go early, but even if you don’t, I can promise you-its worth the wait! They have a full bakery full of THE best Cuban confections; Cuban coffee and fresh baked Cuban bread. Since it was early and our day would include a lot of walking and standing, we chose to eat inside. I love everything so we ordered a little bit of it all! The extensive menu can be a bit daunting if you’re not familiar with the cuisine, but a go-to favorite is a ‘Cuban Breakfast’ which consists of Cuban bread that is butterred then toasted on a press, and Café con leche-a lovely mixture of espresso and warm milk.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

http.vizcaya.org

Our next stop was this local relic. If you live nearby, or even if you are visiting the area, this is a must-see! Created in the 1900s as a millionaire’s vacation home, it is now registered as a National Historic Landmark. If you love history, you can quickly get your fill here. For a nominal fee you can pay for the audio tour, which comes with a small hand held device and can be used with our without the accompanying headphones, or you can bring your own. They also offer group guided tours with an in person guide. Each room is rich with actual artifacts and facts escribed on plaques, and it is absolutely breathtaking, and that’s just the inside! The gardens span for acres and acres and are amazing. There is even a pool and a Café you can purchase lunch ( and wine or beer!) from.

Wynwood Walls

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Next on our tour was the Wynwood Walls. This location probably is one of the most instagrammed places in Miami. Its colorful walls make for instant art backdrops that instantly make anything art. What started out as one man’s mission to beautify the Warehouse district of Miami while highlighting the underappreciated beauty of traditional street art has absolutely exploded ! Wynwood walls now spans several blocks, and is full of trendy shop, restaurants, breweries, food trucks, and even a free indoor art gallery. The artists rotate frequently, so no two trips there are the same. Since its inception, it has transformed a once littlest known area in Miami to one of the trendiest hot spots. We meandered around, ate off of a food truck and took in all of the sights. This location can be family friendly during the day, but also boasts a popular night life.

Check into Villa

So in planning our adventure I looked for lodging in the area, I knew out ending spot would be homestead, as I had purchased a groupon deal for the Schnebly’s winery (see next) for that evening. Of course there are chain area hotels, but I found THE most amazing place on Airbnb.com. First of all, if you don’t already use AirBnb-you should! Since my discovery of this site, I have been able to procure us several listings that were not only budget friendly but in my opinion better than what was offered in way of hotels. Each host posts their listings and the dealings are handled via the site. Some are operated as traditional B&Bs, some like literal hotels, and some our actual rooms people rent out in their own homes where they currently reside. We have stayed at a Lake House, vacation rental townhouse and now an AMAZING villa. If you sign up via this link  you can get a $40 credit toward your first trip!

Ok so back to our Miami Trip. This Tuscan Villa was almost reminiscent of Vizcaya itself, albeit modern. It had a pool and a hot tub, gardens (Including a secret garden in the very back!) and tennis courts. With this listing, you have the FULL house and all amenities at your disposal. They rent the full house for wedding and events, or each room separately. We had our own private bathroom, but some of the rooms share. There were other guests there at the time of our stay or interaction was minimal. When we arrived, our host was there to greet us and even gave us a grand tour. There is a suite upstairs with a private bathroom, balcony, and secret spaces galore! Our room had a queen sized bed and a pull out couch, it was just the two of us but we could have easily fit our family of five! It opened directly onto the pool patio, which we utilized going in and out of the pool and hot tub. Probably the best part about this rental was the proximity to the winery- only about a mile away.

Schnebly’s Winery

https://www.schneblywinery.com/

This was our main event for the trip. I purchased a deal on Groupon but it is great to visit any time, night or day. While I love wineries, and wine, this place is very different. For starters, they don’t make their wine with grapes. It’s made out of farm fresh fruit that is grown locally in the Redlands farm area where the winery is located. Examples include starfruit, avocado, lychee, guava, and coconut! Their wines are like nothing else you have ever tasted. They offer tours, tasting, and even have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. The grounds are beautiful as well, with a waterfalls and Chickee hut viewable through the glass doors of the tasting room. There is also a restaurant and a brewery! The brewery and tap room/bar area has different nightly events and has pool tables, and cornhole games, and they also offer brewery tours and beer flights. You can walk back and forth between the two. For this trip, we mostly stayed on the winery side, but will definitely be back to check out the brewery side in more detail. This venue is also family friendly. Many families with children were present enjoying the live music. They allow you to bring your own food in, so we brought crackers, fruit and sliced pepperoni and salami and cheese to pair with the wine we purchased after our tasting. If you love their wine you can purchase bottles there to take home, but I’ve recently seen it for sale inside of our local Publix and Walmarts.

Sunday

Robert is Here

https://www.robertishere.com/

After a quick breakfast on the patio facing the pool and gardens, we packed up and checked out. Our next stop was just a few miles from our Villa. We stopped at another local favorite-Robert is Here. As yes, I’m sure you’re wondering, Robert was there! What started out as a farm fresh fruit stand is now so much more! They have an Animal farm area where you can view and purchase feed for animals, such as Emus, tortoises, goats, various birds, and chickens roaming around. They also have a plethora of antique farm vehicles and planes. The stand itself offers fresh fruit and vegetables, coconut curious, flavored honeys with free samples available, and homemade sauces. They also offered fruit filled made-to -order smoothies and milkshakes. We got a mango/coconut/pineapple milkshake and it was amazing!

Historical downtown Homestead

https://www.cityofhomestead.com/

The town of Homestead dates back to 1898 and is full of historical sites. On the city’s website, they offer a self-guided historical tour and printable guide which can be done by walking or by hopping aboard the free trolley. We drove to the downtown area and walked around. We attempted to go to the Historic Town Hall Museum, but it wasn’t open. The museum, which once housed the City Hall, Police Department and Fire Station, it’s on the local and national register of historic buildings. Check here for operating house so you don’t make the same mistake as us. http://townhallmuseum.org/ I’ve been before, and the photograph section is my favorite, although my husband was dying to get a close look at the antique fire truck they have on display.

After our museum fail, we headed home. It was a short getaway but so jam packed with activities, it almost felt we had been away much longer! What’s your favorite place to visit in Miami or South Florida? Currently taking ideas for next year’s adventure!

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The BEST family friendly Resort in Orlando

Cocokey Orlando Resort and Water Park

If you’ll be in the Orlando area with your family anytime in the near future, you MUST stay at the CocoKey Orlando Resort. We stayed with our family of five this June for our annual family trip and have only good things to report.

Check-in and out was a breeze. They give you a property map and an activity listing at that time as well. Daily activities were arts and crafts and make and take (or eat activities), dive in movies, as well as appearances from Coco, the feathered mascot of the resort.

The room we booked was a double queen, but it was the most spacious once we’ve stayed in. It had a separate table with two chairs, an armchair with an ottoman and a pull over table as well as a bench and a vanity with a stool and a mirror! It came with the standard coffee machine, iron and ironing board, and blow dryer. Although not listed, so I’m not sure if they all have them, our room also included a mini refrigerator and microwave. It was clean and bright and had hot water and cold air conditioning!

Cocokey water park and hotel family friendly travel

The water park situated at one end of the property is a venue in its own right. In fact, you can purchase day passes to the park in case you happen to be staying somewhere else, or if you wanted to invite someone to come and play for the day. We stayed there from 11 am to 7 pm. The juxtaposition of the restaurant and Tiki Bar makes it so that you don’t have to leave. Towels are provided and plentiful, and the water is heated and clean. With 14 water slides, including two that are tube rides (single or double tubes) there is something fun for everyone! There is even a shallow pool under cover and mini slides a splash features perfect for smaller ones or anyone wishing to escape the sun. Any place that can keep all the of our kids, aged 2,6, and 11 busy all day gets an A+ in my book!

There are two restaurants, the Tradewinds which features a breakfast buffet and the Callaloo Grill. The breakfast buffet was well worth the price, and had eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, toast, biscuits, gravy, grits, make your own waffles (who doesn’t love that?!) and cold selections such as cereal, muffins, and fresh fruit. For beverages they had whole and chocolate milk, coffee and tea stations, and various juice blends.Coco key water park and hotel family friendly travel

The Callaloo Grill offers selections such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, popcorn shrimp, quesadillas, mozzarella sticks, wings, and personal pizzas which the kids loved! You order at a counter and they give you a buzzer, and when it goes off you pick it up at a window. They have indoor and outdoor seating, as well as many tables around the pools.

For pool side selections, there is the Wet Rooster Tiki Bar, which offers daily drink specials and also has an appetizer menu. I had a hurricane, even though the weather was lovely!

The hotel also boasts a fitness center and a business center with computers with internet access, and wifi is free in your room or to connect your devices for the length of your stay. There are also laundry facilities located near the pool area.

The kids also had a blast in the arcade which offers some games that earn tickets that can be redeemed for prizes or candy.

There is even a convenience store on the property that offers food and drinks, easily forgotten essentials, (swim diapers and sunscreen!) that double as a gift shop.

The hotel is located less than 10 miles from all major theme parks, and even offers a shuttle service to and from the parks. There are many restaurants nearby, but with all of the amenities, why leave? We were so glad that we carved out a day during our trip just stay and play. While we were there, they were hosting several large groups, such as a family reunion and church group which to me seemed like an awesome idea! They offer group rates for booking 10 or more rooms,and even welcome weddings and corporate events. We will definitely be planning a trip in the near future, and you should too!!Cocokey water park and hotel family friendly travel

Coco Key Hotel and WaterPark

www.cocokeyorlando.com

7400 International Drive

Orlando, Florida 32819

Phone: 877-875-4681 | Local: 407-351-2626

Disclaimer: a small portions of the fees for our stay was paid for by the hotel

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Top 10 Travel tips for Families
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Top 10 Travel Tips for Families

Top 10 Travel essentials for Families

As has been our pattern the past 3 years, we are preparing for our up-coming Family vacation. We did Rapids Water Park (I was pregnant that year and so we couldn’t travel too far), and then Disney, which was actually two smaller trips. This year we are headed to SeaWorld! We have learned quite a few tips and tricks along the way, so I thought I’d share a few of our favorite essentials here.

1.Pop-up Hamper

I know this sounds lame, but this actually turned out to be a life saver, especially when traveling with our family of 5. It folded flat for traveling, and was nice to stash in the corner of the hotel room that way everyone knew where the dirty stuff went. IF you plan to do laundry on your trip it would be easy to lug to the washer, but to me it just helped avoid that game when you get home (What’s dirty? What’s clean? Now I have to wash everything!)You can even get them at the Dollar Tree!

2. Individual Rolling Suitcases
We invested in these this year, whereas previously we had used duffel bags. In years past we have packed two large bags (‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’) but that only works so long. Our kids our getting a bit older so it’s better for them each to have their own bags when they travel. Also each kid is MORE than happy to help roll their suitcase around.

3. Wipes

I can’t stress this one enough! Even if you have kids out of diapers, wipes are essential when traveling. For times when you are eating in the car, or the park, they can be used to wipe hands and faces, and you can use to wipe down surfaces in the hotel (Remotes, toilet seats).

4. First aid kit

Because you never know when can happen while traveling…..I plan on doing a more in-depth post of what I put in mine, but at the very least I say you can’t go wrong with band-aids and some triple antibiotic ointment, Tylenol/Motrin, tums, and soft ice packs. Soft ice packs are good for cooling off after a hot day, for headaches, and in case of sunburn.

5. Car activities
These can be super helpful for in car boredom, but can also keep kids busy in the hotels. There were times when traveling that I was getting a little one or myself ready, that it really helped having something simple on hand to occupy them. There is also an app of the ever famous license plate game.Its aptly named ‘Find the lisence Plate’ We resume our game every time we travel and we hope to one day get them all! Look out in Target’s dollar spot for cut little magnet game boxes that work perfectly for traveling. Also Dollar Tree always has coloring and activity books or notebooks and crayons and pens.

6. Food Caddies

I found these at the Dollar tree and I use them for lots of things! But they also happen to perfectly hold a drink and food all in one spot easily for little hands. Plus, the kids find them fun!

7. Themed toys



This is a budget friendly trick I have learned along the way. I sometimes prefer to purchase small themed toys or shirts prior to our trip to avoid the added cost. You can find lots of things on Amazon, or at Target or even the Dollar Tree! Our kids especially loved the mini character flashlights we bought, and they helped for nighttime bathroom trips in the unfamiliar environment of the hotel room.

8. Shout spray/ wipes
I keep this on hand at home and spray down stained shirts before I toss them in the laundry, but it’s especially essential while traveling-since it may be a while before you do laundry.

9. Gallon size Zip top bags.

I actually prefer these, with the slider top because I feel like they close more easily and effectively. These come in SO handy on a trip….for wet suits/clothes, and a dry change of clothes in the parks, for holding leftover food, for toiletry kits, for first aid items, to hold snacks, to make an ice pack, the list goes on and on! Some people even like to pre-pack with daily outfits (I wish I were that organized!) for each kid.

Click here for Amazon promo code

Hefty Slide top bags

10. Cooler

This one came in handy in the car, and the hotel room. We were able to keep cold drinks and snacks on hand (our kids love yogurts and cheese sticks) in the car and hotel room. Some hotel rooms will come with a fridge, but even those that do are often tiny. Most hotels, do however offer free ice via machines. We filled up our cooler and it came in handy for food/drink storage as well as to have ice on hand to make an ice pack, etc.

What are your essentials for family travels? New tips and tricks welcome!

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