Tag: Florida

Officially a Florida-Michigan Anti-Snowbird!

IMG_1124

Michigan Cabin, April

After a month of being astounded by the spectacular scenery of Michigan last fall I was hooked. I knew I needed a place up here. It was the same feeling I had about Florida before I got the condo there. And despite extensive traveling, and having an incredible time in so many places, I never quite felt this way about anyplace else. I was home. Twice.

IMG_0863

Beach by Florida Condo, November

Since I got this cabin in Michigan people have constantly declared “Oh, so you’re a snowbird!” But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I suppose the origin of this assumption is that, perhaps, these people themselves would prefer year-round summer, so it makes sense to them? (Is this you? Please leave a comment!) I grew up in Boston, and after being in Florida for a year actually missed the seasons, especially my favorite – autumn. Just so happens autumn is, at least in my opinion, the most spectacular time of year in Michigan. The trees are blazing with vibrant color, and the most succulent, delicious apples await your selection at the vast pick-your-own orchards across the state. A drive through the “tunnel of trees” and visit to the peak of Brockway Mountain in the Upper Peninsula provide the perfect immersion into this fall fiesta of firey shades.  Sometimes change is good…

And then there’s the oft-shunned winter season. I get it – growing up in Boston the first snowfall was always welcome, but that welcome usually wore out fast. And by mid-January, true, I was so over it. But imagine my delight closing on this cabin in Michigan, in April, and experiencing the snowfall that had eluded me after spending most of the season in Florida. The dazzling sparkle of fresh, clean snow, the brilliant bounty of white trees, the powdery sift of snowflakes sprinkling through the sky, the pleasing crunching sound the snow makes when you step through it… This isn’t the warm, tropical, ocean-breeze paradise of Florida, but it’s paradise in its own way.

Diversity of experience makes life more interesting. I find this applies to the seasons as well. I admit – I doubt I’ll be spending the whole winter in Michigan, but I definitely won’t be following a snowbird schedule, either!

Advertisements

Winter in Cocoa Beach, Florida!

img_1377

The Pier at Cocoa Beach

While many beaches across the United States are closing up shop for the Winter, Florida’s beaches stay open throughout the year – and with temperatures frequently getting up into the high 70’s (Fahrenheit), and higher, even in the peak of winter, they are a joy to visit! So don’t pack away your shorts and swimsuits just yet – instead considering packing your bags for a winter visit to the Florida coast!

The Pier at Cocoa Beach, and neighboring beachfront, is the most popular attraction in Cocoa Beach. Here you will find sunbathers, swimmers, volleyball players, bars, restaurants, retail, and fishing off the Pier. For a nominal fee you can rent fishing time and equipment (including the fishing poles and gear as well as a fish cleaning station!) Fishing season here ends on December 15, but you can get some “winter” fishing in if you arrive before then!

img_1385

Cocoa Beach: popular with surfers

Cocoa Beach is notorious for being a draw for surfers. Nearby you can also explore Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center Visitors’ Complex. This area is often referred to as “Florida’s Space Coast” in tourist brochures. Surfers just call it paradise! If you fancy a cruise on one of the major cruise lines, those depart from neighboring Cape Canaveral too.

img_1386

Ron Jon Surf Shop: largest surf shop in the world!

The Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach consists of 52,000 square feet spread across multiple buildings. The complex includes a gigantic retail outlet, surf museum, and surf lesson studio! It is the largest surf shop in the world!

Cocoa Beach is a fun place to relax and unwind or test out your surfing skills, whatever the season! Should you be visiting nearby Cape Canaveral, don’t overlook the additional attractions here in Cocoa Beach, well worth the detour!

You may view my full tour here!:

Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

$1.00

Orlando, FL – a Tale of Two Hotels, an Eye in the Sky, and a Trip Around the World!

Orlando is a city of whimsy, fantasy, and wonder. Here are theme parks that indulge your craving for thrills, excitement, and childlike wonder by day, and nightlife and accommodations to cater to your grown-up need for peaceful relaxation and blissful self-pampering by night. At The Castle Autograph Collection Marriott in Orlando, fairy tale fanciful meets trendy chic. This completely unique boutique hotel floods the senses with fairy tale inspired fantasy, including gargoyles, crenelations, and towers on the exterior, and brilliant colors, furniture and decor inspired by nature and luxurious hedonism on the inside.

After an exhausting day of hiking across the globe at Epcot, the outdoor bar, jacuzzi, and heated pool were just what Mickey ordered. Basking in the warm January sun, I had found the ultimate escape. Orlando poses two perplexing decisions: which theme park to visit first, and, with an abundance of competition vying for your business, which hotel to choose. The Castle is definitely one I will be choosing frequently on future visits.

Right next door to the Castle is the breathtaking and imposing Orlando Eye, standing out like an exclamation point over the city as you traverse the highways on your way into town. Towering over a small neighborhood of touristy restaurants, shops, and bars, it is an iconic Orlando landmark. You can ride it for spectacular views of the skyline, theme parks, and more.

After gaining a birds-eye view of the city, I left the pricey tourist area for a strip mall right next door where I found “China Buffet,” a delicious value a short walk back to the hotel. After having some fun practicing my Mandarin Chinese with the staff, I walked back through the garage towards the hotel, which, to my delight, held an extraordinary surprise!

magic edit

Orlando is full of delightful surprises like this. It is also a vast metropolis. On another side of town rises another phenomenal hotel option: the Orlando World Center Marriott.

This is a colossal property with a multitude of restaurants, shops, pools, and meeting rooms. A laser show floods the sky with color over the main pool at night. Here, “bigger is better,” and the size of the lobby, pools, water slides, rooms, televisions, and balconies attest to that. This is a dizzying place to explore, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

OWM pool edit

 

But I couldn’t visit Orlando without a stop at the most notorious Orlando icon of all: Disney World. Intrigued by the idea of traveling the earth in a day, I opted for a visit to Epcot.

True to reputation, lines were long – even in January, although admittedly it was a Sunday. There were rides, shows, and exhibitions involving space, the natural world, and miniature villages representing several countries from around the globe. I have a theory that places like this are for adults, not kids… I witnessed numerous children crying and whining while most of the adults seemed to be having a great time! Epcot seems to be a particularly good choice for the adult visitor, because “exploring the world” is something that can appeal to everyone. The scenes and structures are convincingly rendered, at least from a distance, and while it is not a replacement for the “real thing” it’s a fun way to sample a variety of foreign cultures and architectural styles. “Reflections of China” comes with my highest recommendation for adults. This thrilling film surrounds you with 365 degrees of amazing footage of some of the most spectacular sites in China, with no interruption from cartoon characters (like some of the other attractions here.) Other countries represented at Epcot include Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Norway, and Mexico. Regrettably, my camera battery failed fairly quickly (perhaps not regrettably: now I must return!)

Orlando has a tremendous bounty of places to stay and great things to do. It is the perfect city to return to again and again, or for an extended stay. Subscribe to my brand new YouTube channel for upcoming video tours of these hotels, attractions, and more (hopefully getting better and better as I get used to the platform!):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC91pXs3Ydbrw5Uc3EFSkO5Q?

Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

$1.00