Annual End of the Year/Beginning of the Year Family Trip to Florida 20173:00 AM
Hey Yall! I hope your New Year is starting off on the right track. It was refreshing leaving my laptop behind, and not putting any focus on my blog for a week. A break was undoubtedly needed; I needed to refresh my mind and rejuvenate, and a lot of relaxing I did on my Annual End of the Year/Beginning of the Year family trip.
I do these trips in celebration of the year, reflecting back with my family and we discuss our future goals together. And, boy did I have a lot of goals I want to achieve this year. I'm going to keep what I want to do to myself because I like to roll in silence. I do this because I don't like people to copy what I want to achieve or try to block it. Sad it has to be that way, but not everyone has the best intentions.
Last year's trip, I broke our tradition of heading down south to Florida, instead, traveling to Myrtle Beach. But now, we're back to our routine. We needed some warmth in our life and traveling more north is not cutting it for us, we were icicles vacationing in Myrtle Beach.
Each time we visit Florida, we visit one of the major amusement parks, this year park of choice was Busch Gardens. This would be our first time visiting there, which means now we have visited every major amusement park in Florida...I believe. We've been to Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Legoland, now Busch Gardens. Are we missing anything else?
We took a seven-hour road trip to Kissimmee, FL to ring in the New Year in a dope way! We arrived at our hotel, Embassy Suites about 9:30 pm, and settled in.
Unlike the Embassy Suites in Memphis with the terrible customer service, this one in Kissimmee was fantastic! Friendly staff, clean rooms, great location, close to Disney World, restaurants, and shops.
But I will say they have something to work on, and it's their free breakfast each morning. Food is sometimes cold and undercooked. I picked Embassy Suites because of their free breakfast to help save money. When I visit Florida with my family, the cost of breakfast at restaurants cost anywhere from $50 or more. I didn't want to pay that high amount for the four days we were out there.
Embassy Suites is a place to consider while visiting Florida, no resort fees, free breakfast, bigger rooms, priced lower than $200 a night. However, there is a $10 a day self-parking fee/ $15 valet a day fee.
Yeah, you won't get the whole magical, luxurious experience of what Disney resorts offers, but I rather keep more money in my pockets to use for other things, plus my girls are not into eating with the Disney characters, they've outgrown that.
An Embassy Suites staff member recommended us to celebrate New Years at Disney Springs since it's free. I thought that would be a good idea, well I was wrong!
When we got there, the crowds were thick; people were elbow to elbow with each other. Plus, found out once there, there would be no fireworks display at midnight. Dang, that's the whole reason why I was there to see the fireworks. Disney has the best fireworks. I guess I can't have it all when I didn't pay anything.
When the clock stricken 12 am, people started going crazy! And my poor baby Michelle was getting hit, almost trampled over. She was in tears. Disney is the Happiest Place on Earth and here is Michelle hurt, crying wanting to leave immediately. We should've stayed in the hotel and watched the countdown on tv.
Happy New Year! How we spent our New Year....sleeping the whole morning away. Well, we did get up to get breakfast, then quickly back into our beds for more rest. That drive took a lot out of us!
It was late afternoon, we got dressed and went to my favorite outlet stores for shopping. Another reason why I like visiting Florida during this time of year, the best sales and I love their selection of merchandise. You know the sales are good when you see a bunch of people rolling around stuffing their suitcases with items they purchased.
This day was all for the kids, Busch Gardens! And I'm notice something while driving next to Busch Gardens, the location of it is in a run down neighborhood, as well as Legoland, what's up with that? When we were parking at Busch Gardens, Mr. M was like, "I don't know about this, I'm not feeling this area." I wonder if both Busch Gardens and Legoland thought about the look of the vicinity. It doesn't look inviting, plus makes you worried walking around there at night. Disney has certain standards of the looks surrounding their parks, but I guess that standard doesn't matter with Legoland and Busch Gardens.
Busch Gardens Tampa (formerly known as Busch Gardens Africa) is a 335-acre 19th-century African-themed animal theme park located in the city of Tampa, Florida.
Busch Gardens is a bit pricey, but not as much as Disney. Price for a one-day ticket cost $100 per person at the park, but you save more if you purchase online, and bundle with other parks like Seaworld and Aquatica. I recommend doing unlimited visit pass; you will not get to do everything in one day.
Busch Gardens seems to be more of a zoo, than all about rides, and I don't mind that I love checking out animals and learning about them. I'm not into thrill rides; I hate things that go fast and high in the air. I get on one of those; next thing you know you'll see me posting about I landed myself in a hospital from a heart attack!
My girls did a couple of rides, but enjoy checking out the animals as well. We felt like we were on a safari hunt, and my camera was my binoculars zooming in getting a closer look at all the exotic animals that were from mainly South America and African regions. The topical landscape gave the perfect touch of feeling like you're actually in a wild jungle, never would I have thought Busch Gardens would look like this while driving pass on the outside of the park.
As I mentioned, get an unlimited pass, we missed out on a lot. We didn't get to see any shows, missed out on the safari tour to pet and feed the giraffe, and I'm sure we missed out on other things. This park is huge! Something for everyone to enjoy, young and old.
We'll go back again for sure!
Another reason why I visit Florida is for their beaches. Each year, it's a must for me to visit a beach at the beginning of the year to watch and listen to the ocean while giving God thanks for his blessings. I find peace and tranquility at the beach to help me bring in the year with positivity and strength. I come back home feeling refreshed and renewed.
Every time we do a road trip to Orlando; we see billboard signs to visit Cocoa Beach, so this time we visited there.
It's the closest beach to Orlando, a little over an hour away.
When we got there, we noticed that Cocoa Beach is more of a retirement community, but we didn't mind that, means no ruckus.
But I will say I was disappointed in the looks of the beach. Seems old, and the sand was filled with bugs and fleas. We couldn't enjoy ourselves since we spent most of the time slapping bugs off us.
Also, Cocoa Beach had some construction going on near the public side of the beach which had roads blocked off. With all those one-way streets, it made finding parking a bit more difficult.
Cocoa Beach is home of one of the largest Ron Jon Surf Shops, two-stories filled with surfing gear. Open 24 hours, so if you forgot something for your beach trip, Ron Jon is guaranteed to have it. They even have stuff for you to rent.
I must mention our dinner that evening back in Kissimmee. Thee best seafood I have ever had!!!!
My family went to Johnnie's Hideaway after reading all the glowing reviews online, and having our dinner there was the best decision. Yes, it's expensive, more of a restaurant for a date night and celebrating an anniversary due to the romantic atmosphere, but it's worth every penny.
My meal of choice was the Madagascar shrimps, one of Johnnie's Hideaway's popular dishes. The shrimp was rich in flavor, a cross between shrimp and lobster taste. But man, taste is pure perfection! Cooked and seasoned just right. Had all my family's hands trying to steal a taste of my gigantic shrimps. It looks like we found our new dinner spot in Florida.
Before we headed home, I promised the girls we would go back to Disney Springs to do a bit of shopping there.
The crowds were nowhere near as much as New Year's Eve, so we got to enjoy ourselves peacefully.
Walking around, I notice there were new shops that have opened since the last time we were there during Spring Break. Disney Springs is a must visit place for all things shopping, dining, and entertainment. They did an excellent job on the renovations. Lots to do and see.
Disney cast members are some of the most friendliness people I ever met. They make sure your vacation is a joyful one. They were making sure that we were okay, found everything we needed, if something was wrong they fixed it for us, and chatted with us about our drive from Atlanta to Kissimmee. Because of this excellent customer service, it makes me want to plan our next Disney World trip soon.
It was hard returning home, from 80-degree weather to cold 30-degrees. I got home and spent my time lounging on the couch, eating snacks, taking naps, and watching tv. Ahhh...the good life!
I'm back to my regular routine this week, I'm ready to hit the ground running.
No travel plans as of yet for 2017. As some of you know I'm the spare of the moment kinda chick. When an idea for a trip pops in my head, then I make it happen. Will I travel almost every month like last year? Probably not. I have been enjoying staying home a lot more, maybe because I'm in a new house and love everything about it. It's warm, cozy, a home that I can finally call my own. Once I'm almost or finished decorating, I'll do a house tour post for ya'll. And no, my home won't be looking like some house out of a magazine, I'm not much of an interior designer.