Thank you for hanging out with me! From day to day you never know what life will throw at you. And it will often be this way in my blog as well :) But lest RUN WILD and LIVE FREE in this amazing adventure together!
This was my first experience staying at Hilton Hotel. It did not disappoint! Parking was super easy to find under the hotel. I brought my bike with so I never even had to take my car out of the lot. I highly recommend this if you can. It made for getting around town much faster. The signage was ample and easy to follow to find the front lobby from the parking garage as well.
Upon check in the staff was friendly, fast and amazing. Offering a bottled water upon arrival as well. The hotel has a great little store if you need snacks or essentials like toothpaste, toothbrush etc.
It was super easy to bring my bike from the parking garage and up to my room. The elevator had plenty of room for this! I thought that people would find this odd that I was doing this but found everyone very friendly and welcoming of my wanting to bring my bike. And did you know that even this fancy downtown Hilton is pet friendly? So bring your fur friend with you on your next stay.
The view from the Hilton was amazing. I could see the Soldier and Sailor memorial from my room. And one of my favorite things about the city is the River Walk and that is just a couple blocks away. I found that everything that you would need was well within walking distance as well.
My room was fantastic! Super comfortable king size bed and I had a room with a separate living area. Both rooms were ample in size and the living area had a pull out couch if you have kids with you. The room was quiet at night and my sleep quality was amazing.
There is the option for valet parking. Also a nice salon and fitness center on site. So check out downtown Indianapolis from this awesome central location! You will not be disappointed.
Below is a view from the hotel.
Looking for an option to go see some amazing sealife up close and personal? Than Gulfarium is your place. They have a wonderful and fun dolphin show. And their animals are in very open enclosures where you and really see them up close and personal. You can also put your hand in the ocean tank where you can handle live starfish.
You can see anything from reptiles (like alligators) to pelicans (not just one kind) and dolphins. They offer animal encounters as well where you can feed the amazing animals and sometimes swim with them.
So plan a day and go visit the penguins (yes there are penguins in Florida) and the amazing seals! You will not be disappointed.
There is also plenty of shade in the park so even during hot weather you will be comfortable.
This is a family fun adventure and so cool as it is right on the beach! So you can look out from the animal encounters to see the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Check out more information at their website here:
Manatee Park – Fort Meyers Florida
Ever want to see a manatee in person and in their natural habitat? Then Manatee Park is a must stop location. Even if you are in the area for short period of time you should be able to view them here. We only had bout 30 minutes and saw several.
The park has awesome nature trails that lead right down by the water. The manatee like to go here in the winter as the inland waters are warmer than the gulf. So this is an area they love and hang out in. So take a walk on the trails and enjoy the manatees. You can also see many different fish jumping in the waters while you walk
If you are looking for a longer trip and up-close experience you can rent kayaks or paddle boards to view the manatee right below you. Highly recommend this option and when we are back in the area will for sure be doing this! It was awesome watching the people out on their paddle boards and having the manatee right next to them.
You will have to pay to park but there is no actual entry fee. Then there is a nice little gift shop with bathrooms and manatee information. This shop is where you can set up your trip and rent the paddle boards and kayaks.
The website is a must watch tool as well. They post if they are seeing manatees and if it is a good time to visit:
Juana’s has so many fun activities to do and is not just a place to eat! It has taken us a couple visits to really understand the lay of the land here. There are several different eating options here. From Breakfast foods when you walk in the front door, being able to order food “to go” and also the options of ordering “in” and having a true restaurant service.
Juana’s is the “to go” place for activities as well. Volleyball courts on the beach are always busy. Bringing up your boat to shore and the docs is quite common as well. This location is always bustling with people and they hold tournaments/leagues for volleyball as well. This location is truly and “island style” feel and atmosphere. It is a gathering place for all ages. Though, be careful and aware that there may be some “language” you may not want your kids to hear due to the “bar” setting during the evenings.
We have eaten at all three options. The cinnamon rolls are amazing for breakfast and they do not skimp on the portion size. Pizza was fantastic that we got from the “to go” section and when we ate “in” at the restaurant we had quick service. Wonderful view and fantastic food. You also can’t beat watching the sunset over the Santa Rosa Sound from Juana’s. It is a great location to just unwind if you have had a long day as well. We also discovered on our last visit that dogs can hang out in the sandy bar area that is on the north side of the facility! Andy place that welcomes dogs wins a spot in our hearts.
Juana’s also offers rental services for Jet Skis, Sail Boats, Kayaks, Stand Up Paddle Boards,
Pontoon Boat, Beach Chairs & Umbrellas, Parasailing and Dolphin Cruises!
So go check out Juana’s. Their great food. Fun atmosphere and many activities to do!
Welcome to Scooters! The best, low key, seafood place in town. Typically one would expect to be paying quite a bit of money for seafood. And to find it at a place that is a sit down, serve you type of restaurant that is going to mean you need to tip and just add up the bill. But not with Scooters!
Upon entering you go right up to the counter to order (like a fast food restaurant) and you are quickly served your food. Seating is at picnic table style spots that are kept clean and fresh. Self served drinks and condiments are readily available.
And talk about the food! AMAZING! I personally am one who likes a more meaty fish/seafood. I don’t want the “fish” taste. And I was very pleased and loved my meal (I had Mahi). And Hush puppies! OOOOOH YUMMY. The first time we had them was in Myrtle Beach and we had not found ones as good since. But these were right up there! If you absolutely don’t want seafood they do have salad options and also chicken options. And it doesn’t smell like seafood the second you walk in the door (some people can’t handle that)
Our service was fast. Food was amazing. Price was on point for the three of us and the atmosphere of feeling like we were at a down south family picnic was so awesome and fun! They truly live up to their theme of “Quick Service Fresh Seafood”. We feel this would be the perfect option for that family with small kids who wants some great seafood, at a price that won’t break the budget and a location that doesn’t make you feel like you can’t make a mess! Enjoy your meal the next time you are in town!
Saltwater Cottage- Navarre Beach, FL
Talk about customer service. A business that goes BEYOND the norm. The second you walk in you are treated like family. Welcomed into the store but not having someone hover over you while you walk around. This is a cozy and quaint location that you may drive by with out even noticing if you don’t realize it is there. But it is worth stopping in.
Books galore greet you at the front door. Amazing natural products sources from local and other small business owners. Quality is KEY for the owners of Salt Water Cottage. And making sure that the products they promote and sell help others in the community along with keep the lovely beach and nature perfect. They have rugs that are made from recycled materials. Baskets that are all natural as well as towels that are made from recycled material too! The attention to detail in the products carried is bar none.
There is something new at every turn! And the positive vibe flows through the entire space. When we found Salt Water Cottage and visited we spent at least 30 minutes just chatting with Bridgett (one of the people who run the store) about us, our family, what brings us to the area (our own condo) and even got into our long term goals. We truly felt like we made a lifelong friend. Bridget even had her wonderful dachshund (Mandi) with her at the store. Something that really touched my heart as we have dachshunds as well! We were told the next time we had our dachshunds with when in town to bring them by! Being a dog friendly location is something we love.
We have since bought a few things that we had shipped up to Michigan and they arrived in a very timely manner. My purchase even came with a handwritten note from Bridget and she remembered some of the details from our conversation MONTHS before and mentioned those in our note. Just another little touch that makes the customer feel more like a friend and family.
Make sure you stop in and say hello the next time you are in the area! You will not be disappointed. Their motto is: “Start a ripple of kindness and watch the wave.”
When looking for something quick to do before heading home from a nice weekend in Florida we decided to stop at the Edison/Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers, FL. Upon arrival there was an instant calm that came over me. The mature trees, beautiful landscaping, awesome gardens and friendly staff was a breath of fresh air.
You can choose to walk the grounds on your own for a small admission fee or take a guided tour. I highly suggest the guided tour! It is worth the little extra to learn about the homes, the grounds, the many plants on the property and the reason they are there. You will be amazed at the innovation that these two men had for their time!
You will also see the tallest palm tree in Ft. Myers and learn about how they were the first people to line streets with Palm trees! You will see an old swimming pool where you can really envision the parties of old around the pool. All located along the beautiful river. It truly is a nice escape in the middle of a busy town.
We went during December and the homes were decorated with beautiful Christmas trees and they have a light show on the grounds in the evenings for the holidays as well. The tour guides are full of knowledge but also keep it very interesting even for those who are not "history buffs"
You will quickly fall in love with the grounds. The Homes. The staff and the history that is here. The tour lasts a total of about a hour and is all walking. Though not long distance!
To be honest….when I learned we were going here for our company Christmas party I wasn’t sure what to think. For this northerner this is an area you hear of when people are retired and go south for the winter. (aka older people). And when looking up the area there didn’t seem to be that much to do for younger families from what I could find.
And for the most part the idea of having things to do for a younger family (think touristy) there wasn’t much of that in the area. But for me this is what I LOVED! I Loved how the area was so quiet. So quaint. I found the area to be very clean. I felt very safe going out for a run in the mornings as our hotel/resort was located in an area with many homes and it gave the feel of a nice neighborhood. We ate at Tin City and this provided a fun atmosphere with many awesome shops. Then you must go check out the historic “downtown” area of Naples along 5th street. So many cute shops with so man fun and friendly people.
If you go during the first few weeks of December make sure to check out the area as well for the fun decorations, kids “skate” rink and many other activities for the season. When we were there they were doing taste of southwest Florida and had tables set up in the streets for people to sample foods of the local restaurants.
The beach was amazing as well. Super clear and clean water. Lots of wildlife. The sand was nicely packed and I found it very pleasant to walk and run on. Each morning there were dolphins playing right off shore and we even had one zoom up to ankle deep water chasing it’s morning meal.
If you are looking for a nice quiet town to visit with things for all ages to do near by (think Marco Island and Ft. Myers) this is a great option. The locals are nice and very helpful as well. Smiles abound on every person’s face that we met. Next time we are in the area we will have to check out the zoo!
This is a MUST DO and what great service we received. This company goes above and beyond to meet your every need. The tour we were on provided so much fun info on the area. We got to see dolphins jumping in our wake (up close and personal). We also got to see the Dome House!
Our group did a private beach day along with our tour and it did not disappoint. They make sure to book these based on low tide as the sandy islands get covered during high tide. But for those who love to shell….YOU MUST do this. Shells abound! I could have spend hours and hours finding shells. I have never seen so many sand dollars in one location before. Something new at every step.
The water was amazing in December. Clear and beautiful. A bit chilly for southerners but being a northerner it wasn’t bad at all! This area I found to be more of a shell bottom vs. the white sands of Florida so I would advise to wear some kind of “shoes” in the water. I wore my sandals and was fine. The area we were at as well you could walk about hip depth in the water to get from the main Island to the sandbar that held all the awesome shells.
The staff with Eco Endeavors was so helpful. Full of information. They even brought baggies for us to put shells and treasures in. Providing waters if needed/wanted and just went above and beyond.
There are many different tour options so make sure to check them out the next time you are in the area. Or if your first time to the area book something with them. It will make you quickly fall in love with this amazing natural area.