St Augustine, Florida

Family Friendly Road Trips Travel

St Augustine, Florida

What a treat to live within driving distance to the oldest city in the US. Here you will find some of my favorite hot spots! A perfect weekend road trip from Central Florida Florida or South Georgia.

Where to Stay:

  • Airbnb List: St Augustine AirBnBs
  • For an AirBnB discount (first time users only), use this: Discount Code
  • Casa Monica Resort, a wonderful Marriott-Owned hotel in the historical district
  • Hilton Historic Bayfront
  • Bayfront Martin House Historic Inn

Where to Eat:

  • The Floridian
  • Al’s Pizza
  • St Augustine Seafood Company
  • Meehan’s Irish Pub
  • Aunt Kate’s
  • The Tiny Martini Bar
  • Gas Full Service
  • Prohibition Kitchen
  • The Hyppo Ice Pops
  • Peace Pie
  • Colombia (chain, but always a tradition)
  • The Spanish Bakery Cafe
  • Preserved
  • Rain Tree

Don’t miss:

  • Walk across the Bridge of Lions
  • St Augustine Distillery
  • Old Town Trolley Tour
  • St Augustine Lighthouse
  • Castillo De San Marcos National Monument
  • Flagler College
  • Old Jail
  • Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth
  • Whetstone Chocolate Factory
  • San Sabastian Winery
  • Crescent Beach/Vilano Beach
  • Old Wooden School House
  • St George Street
  • If you’re a runner, St Augustine hosts a great 1/2 marathon every November

 

Nashville in a Nutshell!

Family Friendly Road Trips Travel Travel Tips

Nashville in a Nutshell!

I get asked about Nashville more than any other destination in the US. For me, it is a must-visit city at least 2-3 times a year. It has been so much fun watching it grow and grow and grow…. I have also enjoyed trying new restaurants as well as the ones that have been around for decades. I love visiting the touristy honkey tonks just as much as the local favorites. There are so many places to shop and so many things to do. Believe it or not, Nashville is also a family-friendly city and I have meet some wonderful people who I now call friends. Music City has become a place I would even love to live one day.

You’ll see a lot of entries on my blog about Nashville but, this one sums them all up!

**These are all my opinion only. None of these restaurants or companies paid me 😁

MUST EATS

  • Urban Grub (every thing and every meal there is wonderful)
  • 5th and Taylor (probably my favorite! Bacon wrapped quail and biscuits!!)
  • The Farm House
  • Caviar & Bananas (super fun place) 
  • Frothy Monkey
  • Five Daughters Bakery
  • Biscuit Love (bonuts, fresh OJ and Pork Rinds & pimento cheese)
  • Butcher & Bee
  • Pancake Pantry
  • Martin’s BBQ (the best in Nashville) 
  • Acme (streetcorn)
  • Party Foul (excellent beer selection)
  • Fin & Pearl
  • HUSK (this a noteworthy “chain” that I love)
  • SILO
  • Salt & Vine
  • Nashville Biscuit House (oldie but goodie)
  • The Row (get the Midtown Mule!!)
  • E3 Chophouse (it’s new and AMAZING! Known for their steaks….the raspberry spritzer, filet, bacon wrapped dates were delicious)
  • donut+dog (I was so excited about this because I’ve been following them on IG. I was disappointed that the Nashville location doesn’t serve a full breakfast yet. The donut was good, but Five Daughters is better) I’m looking forward to trying the full menu soon.

MUST DOS

  • Take a picnic lunch to Arrington Vineyards
  • Centennial Park
  • The Parthenon
  • Walk around Hillsborough Village
  • The Gulch
  • Walk around 12 South (great restaurants and shops)
  • Check out the capital building and surrounding blocks. They’re beautiful!
  • Visit Cheekwood
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Tour The Ryman
  • See a show at the Grand Ole Opry 
  • See a show at Bluebird Cafe
  • Find the popular murals (I’ll write another separate post about this) and take pics!
  • Attend a Tennessee Titans football game
  • Attend a Nashville Sounds minor league baseball game
  • Attend a Nashville Predators hockey game
  • Run the Rock n Roll or Hot Chocolate 15k race series if you are a runner
  • Drive down Music Row to see all of the recording studios
  • Drive out to Leipers Fork

MY FAVORITE BROADWAY HONKEY TONKS

  • The Stage (I just love this bar. The entertainers are always sooo good)
  • FGL House (great food, too – their soft pretzel is fab!)
  • Luke’s 32 Bridge (all levels. Check out the safe on the bottom level! This used to be a bank)
  • Jason Aldean’s (Love the rooftop bar)
  • Tootsies (the upstairs back bar is always wonderful)
  • Honkey Tonk Central (all levels)
  • Whiskey Row (rooftop bar on Saturday afternoons!!)
  • Wild Horse Saloon (my kids love this one, they teach line dancing)
  • Winners and Losers Bar

MUST SHOP

  • Serendipity (12 South)
  • Uncommon James (The Gulch)
  • Tribe Kelley (Hillsborough Village)
  • The NASH Collections (Broadway)
  • Draper James (12 South)
  • Kittenish (The Gulch)
  • Imogene + Willie (12 South)

DON’T

  • Expect to find a “cheap weekend” to visit. Hotels are outrageous and every weekend there is an event. It’s less expensive during the week on occasion.
  • Rule out booking an AirBnB. There are hundreds of these in the city, but book ahead! And read the reviews!
  • Park downtown
  • Wear nice shoes on Broadway (especially a night)

DO

  • Use Lyft or Uber. Parking downtown is outrageously expensive
  • Rent a car if your AirBnB or hotel offers free parking. This will save you from having to spend money on an Uber/Lyft to/from the airport. Also, you can drive to other beautiful areas like Arrington Vineyards, Creekwood or even Franklin for a fraction of the price it cost for an Uber or Lyft. You can get a rental car for around $80 for a long weekend.
  • Tip the entertainers!!! I usually take a bunch of $5 bills and when I leave a bar, I drop it in their bucket. Sometimes, they come around with a bucket too. Respect these aspiring singers and song writers!

HELPFUL TIPS

  • Try Southwest airlines for cheap(er) flights
  • Rent a car only if the AirBnB or hotel offers free parking
  • Buy tickets on line ahead of time for the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman, Bluebird Cafe and Grand Ole Opry. Some of these tend to sell out fast. You’ll also save by booking on line.
  • Use an online dining app to make reservations (Resy, Open Table, Yelp)
  • Kids are welcome in the Broadway Honkey Tonks until a certain time. Check with each one, because some are later than others. Typically, around 8-10pm (mine love Honkey Tonk Central and Wild Horse Saloon)

Happy to help book hotels in Nashville or use this link for $55 off your first time visit to any AirBnB!

Have fun in Music City!

Angela M Newell
Wander & Roam, LLC
{via Cruises & Tours Unlimited}
863-581-1965
IG: @wanderandroamtravel
FB: @wanderandroamtravel
Twitter: @wander_roam
CLIA 00409065
IATAN 10766674
 
Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas

Cruise Family Friendly International Travel Travel Tips

Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas

My family just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. We set sail out of Port Canaveral on The Mariner of the Seas. They offer 3 and 4 day cruises, which take you to Nassau and Coco Cay (Royal Caribbean’s Private Island) The newest port renovations now allow for larger ships and Mariner is currently the largest ship sailing from Port Canaveral. Mariner of the Seas also went through a major renovation in 2018 and added a wonderful area for kids, new restaurants, updated staterooms, a state of the art computer system and more. This is most definitely a family-friendly cruise unlike some of the other ships sailing from Tampa and Port Canaveral.

I highly recommend booking and traveling with a passport. You can still board (via cruise ship only) with an original birth certificate, but the lines are longer. **If traveling to the Bahamas by air, a passport is required** RC suggests using their app to get your set sail pass, register each guest, check in, book excursions, schedule your daily activities and print luggage tags. The app is essential for boarding. You will not receive your room key/card until your room is ready. So, the set sail pass on the app is what you will need until then.

For the kids, the ship has 2 large slides, a sky pad/virtual reality trampoline, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, arcade, escape room, laser tag, teen club, kids club, movie on the pool deck, mini golf, basketball court, ping pong, ice skating rink and flow rider surf simulator. My kids, age 14 & 9 stayed busy and happy the entire time. They will not run out of things to do! The casino, sports bar, poolside bar, adult only pool area, spa, art gallery, comedy show, bingo and more will keep adults entertained as well.

Nassau is nothing fancy. Visiting the Atlantis was nice if you haven’t been, but my kids wanted to spend more time on the ship, so we spent a few hours at the Atlantis, had lunch at Margaritaville, then back on board to enjoy the ship’s amenities.

CocoCay was absolutely amazing. You have to pay for entry to the water park, excursions and alcohol, but food and beverage are included. The water park was well worth the $45 entry fee per person. We also booked a ‘Swimming with the Pigs’ (refer to the app) excursion that ended up being so much fun and a highlight of the vacation. 

Royal Caribbean provided excellent service throughout the cruise. From the cleanliness of our stateroom to the service at dinner, everyone was great. As mentioned before, the app is a huge help and we used it daily.

Here are a few tips/recommendations:

  • We are a family of 4 and even the ‘Spacious Ocean View Balcony Stateroom” was small for all 4 of us. One suitcase fit under a bed and 3 fit in the closet. Pack only necessities! (swimsuit/cover up during the day/something to wear to dinner at night and one night is formal)
  • Buy lanyards for your room key/sail and sign card! These are especially helpful for the kids. We have these lanyards, but they are hard to use at the arcade. Waterproof, but hard to keep having to open/close when scanning the card at the arcade. Almost everything else can be scanned through the plastic.
  • We also have these luggage tag holders and they were super helpful since you have to print them at home. They fit perfectly in these holders.
  • Bring a thermos. You can carry this around with you and keep refilling with water. We chose not to buy the soda package (I don’t allow my kiddos to drink a lot of soda), so this was perfect! Tea and lemonade is free. Here’s information about RC’s Drink Packages
  • Save room in your luggage and don’t bring a beach towel. The ship provides unlimited towels on the ship near the pool and one each in Coco Cay as well.
  • If you want to purchase professional photos, BE SURE TO BUY THEM WHILE AT SEA. They will not allow you to purchase them while at port when you return. I tried and was sad to find out there was nothing they could do. You have until 11:30pm the evening before you disembark at Port Canaveral.
  • Bring a small blanket to use in your stateroom, on the balcony and on the pool deck during the movie nights. It gets a little cool on balcony, and deck at night.

Always happy to book this cruise…..or any cruise for you! 863-581-1965

Ireland

International Road Trips Travel

Ireland

“story horse?” (meaning: What’s Up? in America)

It is hard to believe next month will be a year since I’ve been to Europe! Ireland had been on my list for several years, so I was super excited to make this special trip across the pond. A lot of planning went into this because I wanted to see EVERYTHING. I was so worried my husband wouldn’t enjoy being in the car so much, but it was literally the perfect trip, so he enjoyed it. Precise planning was key.

A few posts ago, I wrote about Iceland. We scheduled a stopover in Iceland on the way to Ireland and it was remarkable. A great way to experience another country in a short period of time. Stopovers have become quite popular in the travel industry over the last few years and I highly recommend them to get the most out of your trip.

We flew into Dublin, Ireland and rented a car. We checked into The Trinity City Hotel and walked to the very first O’Neils. It was lovely. Exactly what I would expect from an Irish Pub! My husband doesn’t drink, but believe it or not, there are other things to do and enjoy in Ireland. The pubs have excellent food. I tried my first Guinness at O’Neils and The bartender suggested a “Guiness Black” which adds dark cherry juice and kills the strong taste, so this American could enjoy it. From that point on, I ordered a Guinness Black and felt like a local….

The next day we began our 7 day cross-country road trip. The very BEST way to travel Ireland. The first stop was Waterford. I really wanted to experience staying in a castle and this was a perfect spot. Waterford Castle was breathtaking and the staff was incredible. We stayed for 2 days and never left the property. Spectacular views, amazing food and the staff became friends. (The GM, Miss Bernadette is the owner’s sister. and the family story behind this gorgeous property was beautiful) It was everything and more I had imagined Ireland would be.

Next up was The Blarney Castle. This had been on my bucket list for over a decade. I just wanted to run up and ‘kiss the stone’! The Gardens were gorgeous and we were so lucky to have stunning weather. The leaves were turning and fall was definitely in the air. This was such a happy day for me. Oh! We did kiss the stone and I received the ‘gift of gab’ October is the perfect time to go, because there were no crowds or lines. We felt like the only one on the castle grounds. We pre-purchased tickets on line through the website (linked above).

Killarney was our next stop. We stayed at the Victoria House Hotel, which was situated along The Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park. This was a super (and adorable) convenient hotel and we were able to drive about 1/2 of The Ring in one day. In addition, we toured the Muckross Abbey and Farm on a horse and carriage. It was outstanding…We got to see more castles, beautiful wildlife and amazing scenery. Torc Falls, Ladies View were a couple of our stops as we drove. The drive itself is stunning. Nightlife in Killarney was typical of Ireland….street musicians, shops and pubs. Courtney’s Pub is the oldest pub in Ireland and still owned by the same family. A MUST visit. The fireplace in the middle out of the bar was so fun. It’s a local favorite, but attracts lots of tourists as well. We also had a wonderful Irish dinner at The Laurels that evening.

The next day, we drove to the West Coast and experienced one of the most surreal views I have ever seen.

The next day, we drove to the West Coast and experienced one of the most surreal views I have ever seen. The Cliffs of Moher was literally a dream. It did not seem like real life. Again, a very light crowd, so we got to see mother nature at its finest. DO NOT miss this. By far, my favorite day of our Irish vacation. Movie fans…scenes from Princess Bride and Harry Potter (and many more) were filmed there! Please take my advice and DRIVE there. Don’t waste your money on a tour. There are so many other stopping points along the way.

Before we headed back to Dublin, we stopped in Galway. I wasn’t very impressed, but at this point, we were so tired. I heard lots of great things about the city, but we stayed at the hotel and had dinner there. Didn’t venture out much. 

Back to Dublin for our last day/night in Ireland. Dublin is very overcrowded and busy. Driving is almost impossible, so its quicker to walk.  We walked for miles through the city. We checked out Grafton and the City Center. We really enjoyed lunch at The Temple Bar, which is a pretty popular tourist destination. We dined with lots of Americans. They offer 92 sandwiches on the menu. Loved it.

Add Ireland to your bucket list, but take my advice and road trip. We saw so much in 7 days that would’ve take several trips back if we had stayed close to Dublin. 10 days, 2 countries and too many cities to count. 

Slan leat, Ireland! It was a dream!

**Avanti Destinations booked everything for us. I use them for clients as well.