Florida Day Trips – St Augustine

Living in Central Florida there is always something to do, or somewhere to go, it’s one of the many reason I love living here! Having said that, I do like to venture out a little bit, and the wonderful thing about Florida is that you don’t have to go very far to feel like you’re in another world. Whether its Miami, Naples, or Clearwater, or if you’re looking for scenery, culture, or shops there is so much to see and each place is unique in it’s own way.

St Augustine
St Augustine

 

There are some great Florida Day Trips, and my favorite place to visit to is St Augustine. The city is the oldest continuously occupied European established settlement and port in the Continental US, with a founding date of 1565. If you have a passion for history and or architecture, then this city is for you! Aside from that, it also has some wonderful stores, carriage rides, restaurants, and we can’t forget the famous ghost tours!

St Augustine  Clock
Clock

Speaking of Ghost Tours a few years ago i did one of the guided ghost tours, and one of the points of interest were the city gates. Legend has it that a ghost of a little girl (Elizabeth) who died due to yellow fever can be seen waving to passerbys. Others just capture orbs within their photos of the gates at night. While on the tour I was the only one who caught orbs by the gates, many of them in fact, so everyone wanted to look at my photo.

 

gate orb St Augustine
gate orb

I recently went back to St Augustine on a day trip and took another photo of the gates, this time in the day light. I didn’t notice at first, but on closer inspection I noticed that I captured an orb this time too by the gates. It was during the day light, yet its as bright as it were night, right by the gate. Whatever your beliefs are, it is a strange coincidence to get orbs in the same place, this time with my iPhone, and in day time.

 

St Augustine

 

The only other place I captured one that day was by the Old School house, which is the oldest wooden school house in the US. It was just as bright as the one I captured by the city gates!

 

school house St Augustine
school house
St Augustine  Old School House
Old School House

 

If you get the chance you should pay a visit to the St Augustine Lighthouse and museum out on Anastasia Island. Built in 1874 and standing at 165ft , the 360 degree views from the top are amazing! Some come back at nighttime for the haunted tour, but I have yet to be brave enough to do this!

Lighthouse St Augustine
lighthouse
Views St Augustine
Views

 

The shops here vary quite a bit from gift stores, unique jewelry stores, health shops, and clothing. We especially loved our visit to the Arcade of Professional Artisans and Craftsman!

 

Arcade St Augustine
Arcade

One of my favorite places to go for lunch is the Spanish Bakery right there on St George Street. Not only do they bake the best fresh bread, but they sell Empanadas, sausage rolls, soup, cookies, and a lot of carry out options. I like to buy 3 loaves of bread, one to eat when i get home and 2 to freeze. Although, the bread is so tasty they normally don’t even make it to the freezer!

St Augustine

If you haven’t been over Christmas time to St Augustine i highly recommend it, they have light shows, trolley rides, and the decor is just stunning all over!

 

Christmas
Christmas

We normally end up visiting the beach on the way home, as its pretty quiet and very pretty. Its also not far from the center of town.

I feel like there is something for everyone in St Augustine, and I haven’t even mentioned Castillo De San Marcos, Ripley’s Believe it or not, or the premium outlets! With so much to do in St Augustine, you could come back each week and still find things you haven’t done or seen before!

the mill St Augustine
the mill

 

Im already planning my next visit back, maybe it will involve another ghost tour this time since I haven’t done that in a while.

Have you had the chance to visit St Augustine?  If so, what were some of your favorite things to do or see when there?

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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Annual Pass Program

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Unveils New 3-Tiered Annual Pass Program

 Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

New structure allows guests to customize their experience at the home of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has begun offering a new three-tiered annual pass program that allows guests to customize their experience at the must-see Central Florida destination.

This new annual pass structure offers expanded value and the ability for guests to select the level that best fits their needs and expectations,” said John Clifford, senior sales and marketing director of the Visitor Complex. “With the holidays approaching, it is a great time to purchase an annual pass to experience all there is to see and do at the Visitor Complex, including one-of-a-kind attractions such as the new Space Shuttle Atlantis and Angry Birds Space Encounter.”

 Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Annual Pass Program

The new tiered annual pass structure and benefits are as follows:

Tier 1: Discovery Pass, $75 plus tax for adults, $60 plus tax for children ages 3-11

· Unlimited admission for one year

· 10 percent off admission tickets for up to six guests per visit

· A Discovery Pass lanyard

· The Visitor Complex newsletter

Tier 2: Atlantis Pass, $89 plus tax for adults, $71 plus tax for children ages 3-11

· All Tier 1 Discovery Pass benefits

· Free parking

· 10 percent off souvenirs

· 10 percent off food and beverage

· 10 percent off Astronaut Training Experience® and Camp KSC®

· Exclusive special events and privileges

· An Atlantis Pass lanyard

Tier 3: Explorer VIP Pass, $139 plus tax adults and children

· All Tier 1 and Tier 2 Pass benefits

· One free KSC Up-close tour

· One free Lunch with an Astronaut

· A free collectible souvenir

· An Explorer Pass lanyard

Guests who have purchased the previous Commander’s Club annual pass within the last year will continue to receive those benefits through the expiration date of their pass.

Among the new Visitor Complex attractions and enhancements included in admission are:

Space Shuttle AtlantisSM: Visitor Complex guests can see the priceless, historic Atlantis spacecraft as only astronauts have seen it before – rotated 43.21 degrees with payload bay doors open and its Canadarm (robotic arm) extended, as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station. But getting nose-to-nose with Atlantis is not all guests can do at this $100 million, 90,000-square-foot attraction. The immersive experience invites guests to “be the astronaut” with never-before-seen, technologically sophisticated multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive, touch-screen experiences and high-tech simulators that bring to life the people, passion and patriotism of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImSg-zwVhIA&feature=share&list=UUxhza5Nkv4ukqKmIFLE9dgA

Angry BirdsSpace Encounter: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has partnered with Rovio Entertainment, creator of the globally successful Angry Birds franchise, to bring the popular game and characters to life. The 4,485-square-foot Angry Birds Space Encounter is the first comprehensive, interactive Angry Birds attraction in the United States designed for people of all ages and features such immersive activities as Eggsteroids Slingshot, Cold Cuts Tile Puzzle, Danger Zone, and Red Planet Lazer Challenge.

New entry and fountain honoring President Kennedy:The new entry includes a grand plaza and fountain; ticket stations and self-service kiosks; will call, guest services and information stations; a retail shop; and a restaurant. Guests are greeted by a first-ever 3D representation of the NASA insignia and a majestic 75-foot-long, 5000-gallon fountain that pays homage to the dreams of late President John F. Kennedy, for whom NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is named. Kennedy’s face, along with a quote from his famous 1962 “moon speech” at Rice University, are laser etched onto a skyward-reaching arch of blue granite.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex attractions and activities also include Shuttle Launch Experience, an incredible simulated journey of vertically launching into space and orbiting Earth aboard the space shuttle; Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX®); Rocket Garden; two IMAX® theaters; Astronaut Encounter;Lunch With an Astronaut; U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®; and Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted.

Located only 45 minutes from Orlando, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex features many attractions and year-round interactive programs, including meeting real astronauts.

For more information on Kennedy Space Center Complex, please visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex:

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun and educational activities, including the new Angry Birds Space Encounter, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and many other interactive exhibits. The new $100 million home for Space Shuttle AtlantisSM opened June 29, 2013. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, which opens daily at noon and closing times vary by season. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m.with closing times varying by season.  Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers annual passes starting at $75+ tax for adults and $60 + tax for children ages 3-11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

 

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Florida Adventures: East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach

I am always looking to find adventurous things to do in Central Florida.  When I first moved to the area I learned about something called paddleboarding.  Anything that involves water automatically peaks my interest!  When the opportunity came for Shelley and I to visit East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach, I jumped at it.  New Smyrna Beach is about 90 minutes northeast of Orlando just off of Interstate 4, so even if you are interested in taking one of the early morning sessions, getting there wouldn’t involve too early of a wake-up call.  We were able to leave Orlando at 7 and made it with time to spare before our 9 am tour.

East Coast Paddle Boat
Cheryl and Captain Todd coming to meet us in Mosquito Lagoon!
Indian River Manatee Sign
It is amazing how much effort and love goes into protecting the manatees.

We took the Stand Up Paddleboard Eco-Tour.  To start our tour, we met up with our guide, Cheryl and our captain, Todd, at JB’s Fish Camp on the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon.  Captain Todd pulled the boat right up to the dock and everyone in our group was able to climb right aboard.  Cheryl was an excellent guide, telling us all about the areas we would be seeing and giving us some tips on what areas we needed to avoid.  A large area of the river is actually used as an oyster farm for JB’s and there are oyster beds along the edges of the river too.  Cheryl informed us that these were areas to be avoided.

East Coast Paddle Group Photo
Shelley and I before the Paddleboarding Eco-Tour!

On our way out to the drop off location, we had our first wildlife spotting.  A dolphin!  This wouldn’t be the last spotting either.  Once we reached our destination, our boat was anchored and Captain Todd stepped out from behind the wheel to give us our lesson before we each got onto our boards.  I am an experience canoeist so I picked up on the techniques that he explained to us pretty quickly.  The most important part of the instructions included the positioning of the paddle in the water and the positioning of our hands and arms throughout the stroke.  Once you figured that out you were good to go.

East Coast Paddle Indian River
Shelley out on her Paddleboard!
East Coast Paddle on the Water
This is a shot of our group out on the water about to start the tour!

After our group pictures, we were all set out on the boards.  Cheryl went out first so she could capture our first moments out on the board and Captain Todd got us positioned on our boards one at a time.  The tour includes all the pictures they take of the day.  Cheryl sends out digital copies within a day of your tour!  When it was my turn, I climbed onto my knees on the board and paddled away from the boat.  Once I was far enough away from the boat, Cheryl told me it was okay to stand up.  That was the part I was most nervous about.  Despite the fact that Cheryl insisted that these were the most stable boards that they produced, I was still nervous about my ability to balance.  However, once I was on my feet, I was surprised at the stability of the board.  I even rocked it a little bit, just to test it out of course!

East Coast Paddle Standing Up
Here I am on my Paddleboard!

I was actually the last person in our tour to get onto a board so as soon as I caught up to the group, we began our journey down the river.  I was incredibly comfortable on the board.  With the exception of a couple times when I put a bit too much effort into a stroke, I never felt like I was going to lose my balance.

East Coast Paddle with Megan and Shelley
Shelley and I paddling along!
East Coast Paddle Group on Water
Another shot of our tour group! It was fun to share this experience with others who were just as excited as we were!!!

One of my favorite things about Florida is the wildlife and the tour definitely delivered on that front.  My favorite part of our tour was our visit to Manatee Cove.  We were surrounded by manatees who kept sticking their noses out of the water.  I admit that I was nervous that one of the manatees would try to surface right underneath my board, by I had nothing to worry about.  The manatees were close but not right underneath me.  After hanging out with the manatees, it was time to complete our tour and head back to the dock.

East Coast Paddle Manatee Cove
Getting instructions on how to paddle in Manatee Cove.

The tour we took is the best tour for beginners, however there are other tour options for beginners or more experienced paddleboarders.  East Coast Paddle offers lessons, fishing and rentals. In addition, they provide Paddle Fit classes and Yoga on Water.  I am definitely interested in the fitness classes that they offer.  In addition to the services offered on a regular basis, they are willing to create a customized tour for groups.  Just ask Cheryl about the bachelorette party that they planned during your visit!

East Coast Paddle Blanks
Its amazing all the work that goes into making these Paddleboards!
East Coast Paddle Glassing
I have my eye on a wood grained Paddleboard from East Coast…Do you hear that Santa??? 🙂

East Coast Paddle not only provides tours and lessons, but they also make the boards in their own factory.  After a morning out learning to paddleboard, Shelley and I were able to tour the factory.  All the boards are made using AutoCad (Computer Aided Drafting) Software to design the boards and they use their own 3D Shaping machine to cut the boards out of the blanks.  The boards are all airbrushed and finished in the factory to the specifications of each buyer.

East Coast Paddle Factory
It was a really great bonus to be able to see how these boards are made!!!

I had a great time with Cheryl and Captain Todd during my first paddleboarding experience.  They made the whole experience fun and relaxing, as well as a good workout.  I look forward to visiting them again and, in the future, purchasing my own board so I can head out boarding every weekend!  Make sure to visit their website and like them on Facebook.  Also, don’t forget to visit our Facebook page to see our complete album of pictures from our visit.

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