Travel

MY GUIDE TO FLORIDA / WHAT TO DO IN KISSIMMEE AND ST. PETE / CLEARWATER

7th June 2017

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Finally I have the chance to sit down and write this blog after a crazy busy couple of weeks since returning from my 3 week trip to the US, plus my recent trip to Portugal (blog for this coming soon).

How time flies, about a month ago I took a weeks trip to Florida with Norwegian Airlines, Experience Kissimmee and St.Pete Clearwater.  I want to share my experiences with you on today blog “ My Travel Guide To Florida”.

I’ve always considered Florida as the place to visit with the kids to enjoy all that Disney has to offer, however after experiencing some of Florida’s most beautiful sites in Kissimmee and St Pete Clearwater It’s completely blew my mind how much more there is to this wonderful place. Im going to talk through the best things to do in Florida.

Flight: Getting to Florida

Traveling to Florida is pretty easy and surprisingly cheap. Iv always assumed it would be quite expensive to get there, however learning about Norwegian airlines, who fly direct to Orlando it was much cheaper than I thought. When I book flights I usually go through Sky Scanner to find the best price. Norwegian are normally always at the top which sometimes can put people off as I guess we always compare a cheap flight to something like Easy Jet and Ryanair.  However my experience completely changed that view as my journey from start to finish was very smooth and certainly didn’t feel like a low-cost long haul flight. I was located in premier class seats which are the comparison to a business class seat on other airlines. It offered amazing extra legroom, a quality food menu and the staff were a delight throughout the flight. As well as the extra leg room my seat extended back making the journey much more comfortable and helping me get some shut eye so I can arrive feeling nice and fresh, which I feel is a huge thing when traveling abroad and changing into a different time zone. The premium cabin also offered access to airport lounges, fast track in security and two pieces of checked luggage up to 20kg. I find traveling can be the most stressful part to your trip and its one of the most important parts as It is the start and finish of your vacation. Norwegians extra services just completely removed any stress I normally have. Here is a link to Norwegian’s page to check out more information. (Click Here)

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Experience Kissimmee

Visit Experience Kissimmee’s website for any help you need with any planning you need on your trip.

Where to stay:

When we arrived in Orlando we took a short drive to Kissimmee where we would be kicking off our week of adventures. We arrived at the biggest, coolest villa, actually no MANSION I have ever seen. I felt like I was a part of MTV and was like hey guys welcome to my crib (ha-ha) the Jeeves Florida Rental property slept 22 people, a stunning swimming pool area and each room had the interior we would all die for (I wanted to move in immediately) When we all arrived we picked names out of a hat to choose which room we would get, the master room was the size of my London flat offering a incredible bathroom, walk in wardrobe ( the size of my bedroom ) a small kitchen area and of course a bed that felt like it was set for a king. Back to the part where I had luck on my side of course my name was pulled out and the master room was MINE ! There was about eight of us on this trip and only two of us guys so I felt like it had my name on the door from the start. I honestly woke up the next morning and felt like “ Is this really my life?” It just gave me such a happy feeling inside experiences such a beautiful villa.

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What to do;

The agenda for this trip was very exciting with several activities that I have not experiences before so here goes with what you need to be doing in Kissimmee;

Gaylord Palms

Ok, I may have laughed once or twice at the name Gaylord Palms, which was a stunning hotel were we enjoyed a delicious breakfast in one of the restaurants inside. As you can see by my photos the inside of this hotel felt like something from the medieval times with incredible designed gardens. If you have been to Vegas and love exploring the different themed hotels then this is right up your street. Each room of the hotel looks out into the gardens which had waterfalls and a river running through it.

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Boggy Creek Airboat rides

Ok, Ill be honest I did have a blonde moment for a second and thought we would be stroking alligators, however I was well and truly put straight that if I wanted to keep both of my hands and legs in tact it would not be a great idea. I loved the airboat ride soaring across the open waters spotting several alligators (which I didn’t touch) cows, birds and many other animals. I laughed as I had Boggy Creek water sprayed into my face (Not a good idea opening my mouth) as the driver drifted from side to side this was actually one of the funniest actives I have done and very thrill seeking.

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Kayaking

Apart from the fact I did all the hard work while Em Sheldon who was in my Kayak just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine and breathtaking views that Shingle Creek had to offer, while my arms where being put to work going from left to right to left I really loved this activity. I think my favourite part was seeing two of the PR’s stranded at one point, we was not alone on the creek there was also alligators in there and one was blocking the path. Me being me I braved it and paddled past however the other two ( who were not the best at kayaking) chose to hold onto a tree and sit for 20 minutes waiting for the alligator to move ha-ha. It defiantly made this activity one to remember.

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Disney Springs / Paddlefish

When we found out we was visiting Disney Springs the girls on the trip could not hold in their excitement. Paddlefish was a restaurant located inside of the park and as soon as I walked in I felt like I was 10 again, the atmosphere was just magical and everyone was just so happy. Paddlefish was actually a restaurant on a boat which

was pretty cool, we got to enjoy a delicious meal, glass of wine (of course) and watching the beautiful sunset.

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Celebration Town

I have never seen a group of girls so excited to visit a town (Celebration was pretty cool though). Its actually right near Walt Disney World Resort and was originally developed by the Walt Disney Company (Hense the cheesy name) We took two trips to the town due to high demand from the girls ha-ha. We had lunch at Columbia which was a very tasty tapas spot and also enjoyed a delicious breakfast the following morning at the Bohemian hotel. We couldn’t leave without stopping off at Wisteria Lane which is located in Celebration as the girls had it in their minds they were going to bump into some of the Desperate House Wife’s cast (Sadly they didn’t)

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Hot Air balloon

One activity I was most looking forward to was the Hot Air balloon ride we had planned. Waking up at 4am is certainly not easy however for this I was up at the crack of Dorn ready and raring to go to catch the morning sunrise while high up in the skies. I nearly cried when we arrived at Orlando Balloon Rides to be told their was a slight wind and we couldn’t do it. I guess this just means I need to take another trip and sadly this is one activity not yet crossed off my bucket list. Safety first I guess 😉

Orlando Tree Trek

The last activity we squeezed in before sadly leaving Kissimmee was something right up my street NOT ! Someone that is not a fan of heights this was one activity I was not looking forward to however I am someone who doesn’t chicken out so tree climbing it was. I think my favourite part was zip lining through the tree’s and looking back watching everyone in the group wobble around each section and of course lots of screaming. Defiantly a activity I would highly recommend doing with a group or family as it certainly brings you together helping each other out around the course.

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Im interested in hearing if you have visited Kissimmee before yourself? what activities did you get up to? Let me know in the comments box.


Clearwater

After a short car journey from Kissimmee, we arrived to some of the most beautiful stunning beaches I have ever seen amazing place Clearwater and St. Pete. When I told friends I was visiting this area the amount of comments I received re the beaches was through the roof and now I totally understand why. Clearwater is located on the Peninsula of Florida’s west coast and is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The sand and stunning sunset we arrived to felt like something out of a movie.

Where to stay:

Wyndham Grand

I stayed in the newly built (In 2017) Wyndham Grand. Located right on the beach front, literally out the lobby doors a few steps and my toes where filled with perfect golden sand. The Wyndham offered breathtaking sea views, which was a delight to wake up in the morning to watch the sunrise from my balcony with a nice cup of coffee, a good sized gym and a very modern feel which always is a double tick from me.

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What to do; / Where to eat:

Frenchy’s

After a very quick change in the hotel room, 15 minutes to be percist which even for a guy wasn’t long enough!!! we took a walk on the sea front, which we managed to hit at the perfect time to capture an impressive sunset. Just a short walk away we arrived at Frenchy’s Rockaway grill, which couldn’t have gave us a better spot to enjoy some tasty food while continuing to watch the sunset. This is not one of the more fancier restaurant like some of the other places we visited however it had a great vibe and lots of tasty cocktails which was the perfect way to end our long busy day.

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Dolphin Tour

I highly recommend this to anyone that visits this area, I climbed upon The Tropics Boat Tours camera at the ready. I sadly didn’t capture any dolphin photos as I was enjoying myself far to much with a cocktail in one hand and fist pumping with the other. We did spot many Bottlenose dolphins thought. We breezed across the the Gulf of Mexico with great music, great staff and lucky for us a beautiful sunny day. Top Tip – Make sure to take lots of sun cream with you, I sadly didn’t and lets just say I was in lots of pain the next day oops.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

I know visiting a aquarium has different views for everyone,  however the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is completely different. This aquarium is actually a marine hospital with its main focus to rescue injured dolphins and other sea animals. Their main attraction was Winter, the famous dolphin who sadly lost a fin but then became a star. It was great to see the staff so passionate about each and every animal making sure they were happy and getting the treatment they needed.

Have you been to Clearwater? What did you think and where did you visit? Let me know in the comments box below.

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St. Pete

Last up on our Florida trip was St. Pete, a short drive from Clearwater. St. Petersburg is a city on Florida’s gulf coast, part of the Tampa Bay area. It’s known for its pleasant weather (hence its “Sunshine City” nickname)

Where to stay & What to do;

The Vinoy Renaissance

I walked into The Vinoy Renaissance (which is a Marriott property) and a glass of champagne was at the reception waiting for me. Defiantly my kind of hotel 🙂 it had some amazing detail to it and a vintage old fashioned feel. It is not one of those places you walk into and it screams luxury as its not your typical modern interior however the service was impeccable and the rooms were good in size, plus the hotel is in a perfect spot for all that St. Pete has to offer.

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The Mill

Highly spoken of, The Mill was my favourite restaurant we dined at across the duration of my trip. It felt very British actually and the food was delicious. I of course had a steak ( My typical order) and the cut of meat was one of the best I’ve had. We were seated in a private room next to the restaurant so I cant comment on the atmosphere etc myself however the staff and food was 10 out of 10 for me.

Shuffle Boarding

Ok so I think we were all a little confused when we saw shuffle boarding on the agenda, to be honest none of us really knew what it was. I had the idea it was standing on a surfboard paddling in the sea, which I did find strange It being 9pm at night. On Friday’s at the Virsburg Shuffle Boarding Club they have BYOB night. Music was being played with lots of young and old couples and friends enjoying the game. I am not going to try and explain what this sport actually is because I will defiantly not give it justice so just give it a google to have a look yourself. I have be honest this was not something I really enjoyed myself and don’t think I will be playing it again however we had a great evening as a group and certainly had lots of laughs over more drinks.

Locale Market

When we was told we was going to a local market in the daytime I think a lot of us where at first very dissapointed to spend 2 hours in a market while the sunshine was outside. That quickly changed when we stepped inside food heaven and got to enjoy lots of healthy tasty treats while being shown around by the market manager. To be honest we had to be dragged out of there by the end of it.

Mural Tour

Have you ever been to shorditch in London? Ok so this was pretty similar however with the sun shining on each piece of graffiti art on the walls just made the colour pop so much more. The Downtown St.Pete area is known for its urban art scene, lots of stunning murals which the story behind each one was explained to us by the local tour guide.

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So that was my fun 5 day trip in Florida squeezed into a nice blog for you. This is just a snippet of each activity we did, now its time for you to head over to these locations for yourself. Let me know if you manage to visit any of these places I would love to know your thoughts.

To see more from my trip just click the video below where you can watch my full vlog I filmed throughout the trip.

Hope you enjoyed this blog, until next time

Peace

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