Travel

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Orlando

Disclosure: I received tickets to this attraction in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Please see my disclosure policy) 

This summer, my family and I headed over to Orlando for a relaxing and fun family vacation. One of the things that I love most about living in the Tampa bay area of Florida is that we are within hours of many vacation destinations that most folks have to travel hours for. One of our vacation destinations in Orlando was Ripley’s Believe It or Not on International Drive.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not is such a fun and bizarre place that deals in events and items so strange and unusual that many people may question their claim. My husband Keith and I visited the Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg, TN on our honeymoon 17 years ago, so we were excited to take our boys to the Orlando location.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not, is located right on the heart of International Drive, which is a major hub for tourist attractions in the Orlando area. With over 10,000 square feet and 600 exhibits and artifacts, there is something for everyone in the 16 unique galleries. While many of the exhibits will leave you speechless and shocked, there are also many, which will make you laugh and even cringe!

 

As you walk in to the Odditorium along the self-guided tour, one of the first exhibits that you will notice on the wall is a picture of Beyoncé made entirely out of sweets! How cool is that that? As we continued along our tour, we saw many bizarre yet unique items! My boys especially loved the statue of Robert Pershing Wadlow, who has been known as the world’s tallest man at almost 9 feet tall! My boys enjoyed standing next to the statue and really got a feel for how tall Robert was!

As we continued on our tour we noticed things like a two-headed calf, gorilla made out of tires, carved wooden Mercedes, dog sculpture made out of clothes pins, and much more! As you walk along, there are so many fun and interesting facts on the wall and throughout the rooms. There are even interactive items so that you can get involved hands-on with the exhibits. My son Brady and husband loved the huge Color Brite!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Orlando is open 365 days a year from 9am – Midnight daily. (last entry is 11pm) Tickets are $19.99 for adults, $13.99 for children ages 3-11. Kids 2 and under are free. If you book your visit online you can save an additional $3 for adults and $2 for children. There is also free parking, which is an added bonus for sure!

I highly recommend Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Orlando and feel that your entire family will really enjoy it! This would be a great rainy day activity or something fun to do for a few hours if you want to get out of the hot Florida sun!

Thank you to Paul and the staff at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Orlando for hosting us. We had a great time and great memories of our afternoon with you!

Crayola Experience Orlando Review + Discount Code for My Sweet Savings Readers! #CrayolaExperienceOrlando

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to Crayola Experience Orlando in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please see my disclosure policy)  

This past weekend, we headed over to Orlando for some Spring break fun! One of the stops along the way was the Crayola Experience. My boys have been looking forward to this for quite some time! We took our family friend Madison along with us to join in on the fun and made a day of it!

I had no idea that the Crayola Experience is so big. I mean BIG! In fact, it is 70,000 square feet of attractions and bigger than an NFL Football field! There is something to do for every member of your family and you are sure to have a great time!

We began our day in Wrap It Up. This is where you can make your very own Crayola Crayon! Pick what color that you want and give it a fun name! The kids got a huge kick out of this and had fun naming their crayons!

From there, we moved on to an area where the kids could draw in the dark and then to one of our favorite places of the day Art Alive. We stayed here for well over an hour! Art Alive is an area where the art you make on a tablet come to life on a big wall! Even the adults have fun with this one! This really lets the creative juices flow and your kiddos become a budding artist!

Drew and Madison loved Color Magic, a place where you can color a page and then let it come to life! As you can see from the photo, Drew was a happy boy here! I love how every detail of the Crayola Experience provides creative activity and play for kids no matter their age! 

All of the kids especially loved Modeling Madness. This was an area where the kids can use their creativity to make fun things out of Crayola Model Magic. The kids were so creative and each came up with some very creative designs! I think they have a future in design! 

By this time the kids wanted to take a snack break so we headed over to the Snack Shack for a yummy snack of Pretzels! After we were fueled up we headed off for more colorful fun! 

It was then on to the the La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil show! This special show is playing at the Crayola Experience Orlando through the end of the month so be sure to head there before it ends! We were blown away by the remarkable and daring acts!

The last thing that we did for the day was head over to Melt and Mold. This is such a fun place where kids (and adults :-)) can take a crayon to melt into a car, seahorse, shark or ring. We all made something different and had a blast! Look at the details of each item and how vibrant the colors are!

We were at Crayola Experience for over 4 hours and still did not see everything! We will definitely be going back this Summer when we can stay even longer! As we headed out of Crayola Experience, we headed into the Crayola Store where everything is all about Crayons! The kids just had to take a picture with these cute stuffed crayons! 

Thanks so much to Crayola Experience Orlando for our fabulous day! It was such a great time of colorful memories that will last years to come!

Want to head to Crayola Experience Orlando with your family? I have a special discount code for My Sweet Savings readers! GO HERE >>> http://bit.ly/2meMNXs to book your tickets now for only $17.99 per person! That is a savings of $5 per ticket!

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all the most colorful news at Crayola by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Valspar Championship 2017 Recap

Disclosure: I attended a VIP Blogger luncheon and received tickets to this event for free in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Even though I am not a golfer, I live in a house filled with guys who love to watch the sport. Each year when the Valspar Championship comes to beautiful Innisbrook Resort, they set aside one day to attend. Not only did my guys attend the event this year, but I was privileged to attend a #FoodieFriday blogging event during Championship Week.

This was actually my first time at Innisbrook Resort, and I was enamored with just how beautiful and big everything is. The buildings and golf course are in impecable shape and that is due in part to the remarkable and knowledgeable staff that Innisbrook boasts.

When we arrived at Inverness Hall, we were greeted by Matt Owen, Lauren Smith, Jomary Jiminez and Jessica Fox. These gracious folks either work with Innisbrook or are with the PR team that assists Innisbrook with their events. They hosted us throughout the afternoon and were so kind and professional to each of us.

We started our afternoon by heading to the new Grape and Grain Emporium for a Meet and Greet and Cooking Demo with celebrity chef Ming Tsai. When we arrived, he was cooking up Red Roast Duck Potstickers. Yum! Chef Tsai is so friendly and down-to-earth. He took the time to speak with each of us and take photos.

I am so very impressed with Chef Ming Tsai’s heart. He spoke with us in depth of how he has partnered with Family Reach, an organization that is a financial lifeline for those families fighting cancer as an Executive Chef Ambassador. Did you know that cancer is the number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States? I had no idea. For over two decades, Family Reach has been helping families with cancer manage the overwhelming financial and emotional barriers of the disease. Working in close collaboration with a network of more than 200 hospitals and cancer centers nationwide, Family Reach provides immediate financial assistance, education and outreach to qualified families in need. This is such a wonderful organization and I love what they do! You can see more about Family Reach and what they do to bless others HERE.

After we finished with Chef Tsai, we walked around to observe the tournament for a few minutes before heading over to the Market Salamander Grille for lunch. I love all of the cute touches to detail in every area of the property during the tournament! When we arrived at the Market Salamander Grille, we were greeted by Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort’s new chef, Executive Chef Thomas McKinney-Stehr.

Oh my goodness, Chef prepared quite the spread for us! Everything from Blackberry bourbon fizz, Colossal onion rings, Tuscan risotto fritters, chicken quesadillas, Carolina pork flatbread, Margherita flatbread, Bacon wrapped jumbo shrimp, Chicken wings and Kona crusted grilled lollipop lamb champs. The food was beyond amazing! One of the things that I love about Innisbrook Resort is that their restaurants are open to the public. Come and enjoy a delicious brunch, lunch or dinner anytime! I noticed that they have lots of wonderful activities for the family and Easter Brunch or Dinner for Easter weekend April 14-16, so you may want to check that out! I can’t wait for hubby and I to go back for a date night or brunch!

At the end of our lunch we were greeted by American businesswoman and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, Sheila Johnson. What a distinguished lady and businesswoman! I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity to attend this event and to network with some amazing influencers from our area! Innisbrook is truly a remarkable place and I am looking forward to returning! Thank you to the wonderful folks at Innisbrook for their amazing hospitality to us!

On Saturday, my husband and son Drew went back to the Valspar Championship for the day. They look forward to this every year and had a blast! They followed around many of the players on the course and had great father/son time! The Valspar Championship is definitely an event that you need to put on your calendar for next year! In the meantime, be sure to head on over to Innisbrook Resort to check out their delicious restaurants! 

Stay up-to-date on events and promotional opportunities by following both venues on their social media platforms.

You can follow the Valspar Championship on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

You can follow Innisbrook Resort on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

A Berry-licious Weekend With #FLStrawberry! #SundaySupper

Disclosure: I was provided with a media trip from #FLStrawberry and #SundaySupper. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please see my disclosure policy)

Photo Credit

I recently had the amazing opportunity along with other Sunday Supper tastemakers and social media influencers to attend a Berry-licious weekend at the Guy Harvey Outpost, A Tradewind Islands Resort on beautiful St. Pete Beach, FL. The weekend was packed full of learning about the gorgeous and tasty Florida Strawberry!

I was super excited on our drive over to Plant City, Florida to the Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association as I knew that we were going to be learning about all things Florida Strawberry! Our drive over was so much fun too, and it was a great time to chat and meet the other bloggers and influencers.

When we arrived at the Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association, we were greeted by Strawberry Sue and her amazing staff. They had the most adorable spread of drinks and refreshments for us! It was nice to relax for awhile  and to meet everyone and learn about what responsibilities they have at the Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association.

After our time of refreshments it was back to the bus and on the to the Strawberry Fields (Strawberry Station) in Plant City! I must say that I felt like a giddy high school girl out in the glorious Strawberry fields! Let me just tell you, Florida Strawberries are unlike anything that you have ever seen or eaten before. To eat a big plump juicy Florida Strawberry right from the plant is unbelievable! These gorgeous red gems are so sweet and juicy! Look at the size of the strawberry that I found! I was so excited to have found it and I gobbled down every bite!

While at the Florida Strawberry Fields, Mark Harrell, Strawberry Sue’s husband, shared with us about his Strawberry fields and how the process of growing Florida Strawberries works. It is an amazing process! The weather is a huge factor in how the strawberries grow and the crop that is produced. And, a little trivia for you. Did you know that the average strawberry has around 200 seeds? Amazing!

After our time at Strawberry Station it was on to Grimes Produce Company. It is here where we learned about how the gorgeous Florida Strawberry is packaged and refrigerated before it is sent to your local grocery store. The Florida Strawberry is actually picked right on the fields and placed into special clamshell packaging. I find this fascinating! They are then rushed to Grimes Produce Company where they are cooled and sent to the grocey store. The strawberries are usually sent from the cooling company directly to the store on the same day.

After a delicious lunch at Old Towne Pizzeria in Plant City, it was on to my favorite part of the day! We headed to the University of Florida Research and Education Center where Dr. Vance Whitaker explained in great detail to us about the science and research that goes behind the Florida Strawberry. There is so much more to the Florida Strawberry than just what you see on the strawberry fields. Since 2009, Dr. Whitaker has lead the strawberry breeding program at the University of Florida. He explained to us about strawberry breeding and how selection is enhanced by the genetic characterization of traits. I will never look at a Florida Strawberry the same way again. It was all so intriguing and very eye-opening to say the least.

After our visit to the University of Florida Research and Education Center, we headed back to the bus and it was time to head on to Tampa for our berry-licious dinner at Oggi Restaurant. Along the way, we had to make a stop at Goodson Farms. This is a locally renowned produce market that offers fresh produce, desserts and sandwiches. I picked up a jar of fresh strawberry salsa and jam as well as a bottle of strawberry syrup. We were told that that have the best Strawberry Shortcake in the area so Strawberry Sue ordered one for everyone! They were huge! The base was a moist shortcake that was piled high with Florida Strawberries, Whipped Cream and delicious vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Our day ended with a delicious dinner at Oggi in Tampa. If you are local to the Tampa Bay area, I highly recommend it! The food was absolutely amazing and the staff was so courteous and caring. Becuase of our large group, we were served family style with a menu that was prepared just for us! Our meal started off with the most delicious appetizers that include Strawberry Caprese Salad, a Mozzarella Wheel with Arugala and of courses, delicious Florida strawberries! For the entrees, we had Pistachio Crusted Chicken cutlets, Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti, a yummy chicken dish with blood oranges and potatoes, Chicken with Balsamic Berry reduction, delicious homemade meatballs with pasta and Rigatoni with mushroom cream sauce. There was also dessert! Yummy grilled pineapple with a special cream and Cannolis. The entire meal at Oggi’s was superb and I can’t wait to take my hubby back for a date night! It has the cutest atmosphere that reminds me of being in the heart of Italy!

After the delicious meal, we headed back to the Guy Harvey Outpost and called it a day. When I arrived back to my room, I found the most decadent Chocolate and Candy covered strawberries waiting for me in the refrigerator. Oh yes, I had one and it was amazing! It was then time to get some beauty rest for our next day which was sure to be filled with more food, fun and learning about the Florida Strawberry.

Sunday morning we headed over to the conference room at Tradewinds Resort for a day of learning sessions. Chef Aaron from RumFish Grill showed us how to make a Key West Shrimp and Strawberry Ceviche. Oh. my. word. This bite of food was the most delicious thing that I put in my mouth all weekend! In fact, I have not stopped thinking about this delectable dish and can’t wait to try and make it at home!

After our cooking session with Chef Aaron it was on to a berry-filled lunch at Bermuda’s. There were so many delicious choices! We started the meal with a fresh watermelon, strawberry and feta salad that was to die for! I could eat it over and over again. So fresh and light yet so fulfilling to the palate. I then had a yummy Grilled Chicken sandwich on gluten free bread. There was a side of strawberry basil compote and sweet potato fries! Delicious! Dessert was Strawberry Zabaglione, but I was too full to eat it!

The afternoon was filled with RumFish Grill mixologist, Anthony teaching us a few tips and tricks and a Photograph and Instagram session with Jeremiah Khokar. It was then time for a fun Facebook LIVE with Strawberry Sue. I thoroughly enjoyed this time with her as she showed us how make the cutest Football Strawberries for game day! I am definitely making them with my boys for the Super Bowl this weekend!

We ended our fun day with a gorgeous sunset and Strawberry S’mores at the beach. It was then time to head over to RumFish Grill for our LIVE #SundaySupper Twitter party. I had such a great time with the fellow Sunday Supper Tastemakers and it was a blast tweeting live!

After our Twitter party, it was time for dinner at RumFish Grill. This restaurant is gorgeous! It features a huge fish aquarium that takes up the entire back wall! It makes for a fun atmosphere while dining! My dinner was the most amazing shrimp and grits I have ever eaten. So creamy and delicious. It was seriously to die for and I ate every bite! I was way too full for the dessert which was of course, HUGE Strawberry Cobblers made with fresh Florida Strawberries.

I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity that I had to be with my fellow Sunday Supper Tastemakers and to learn about the amazing and oh-so delicious Florida Strawberry. I will never forget this special weekend and the wonderful friendships that were made. I also gained so much knowledge from each of the special people that I met and I will treasure that forever!

Would you like to visit the Florida Strawberry fields? See how you can win a trip for you and your family HERE.

Experience Everglades Holiday Park (Home of The Gator Boys!)

Disclosure: As a member of the USFG Bloggers I received Complimentary tickets in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please see my disclosure policy) 

I have lived in Florida for over 13 years but never really ventured into the Everglades. A few weeks ago when when my family and I were on vacation in Ft. Lauderdale, we had the opportunity to experience Everglades Holiday Park. If you are going to experience The Everglades, this is THE way to do it!

The Airboats are covered to keep you out of the Hot Florida Sun…..

Everglades Holiday Park is home to miles and miles of wetlands. The only way to really experience the “River of Grass” is with an Airboat Tour. Each Airboat has an expert guide who will explain the sights and sounds along the way and if you are lucky you will see gators! Airboats depart every 20 minutes and are approximately 60 minutes in length. We thought the tour was the perfect amount of time to see wildlife and to learn about The Everglades.

Our Airboat Guide showing us a plant and how it could be used for survival if necessary. The Airboat Guides are very knowledgeable!

Gorgeous! For as far as you can see……

Our first Gator Spotting!

I was amazed at the beautiful birds along the way as well!

This is the Purple Gallinule also known as the “Swamp Hen.” Isn’t it just beautiful?

After the Airboat Tour, we made our way over to the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue. Did you know that Everglades Holiday Park is home of the Gator Boys from Animal Planet? In the Alligator Rescue Show you will see exciting stunts, tricks and learn important information about the conservation and preservation efforts surrounding the American alligator and the wetlands they call home. I cannot believe some of the stunts that they do with the Alligators! They call it Alligator Wrestling! 

Gator Boy Jimmy Riffle Doing his thing with the Gators!

My family and I had such an Awesome time! I highly recommend that if you are in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area you check out Everglades Holiday Park. It is an experience that you are sure to remember forever!

For a limited time You can SAVE $4 Off Adult and $2 Off Child Airboat Tour, Gator Presentation & FREE Group Photo Ticket at Everglades Holiday Park. GO HERE for all the details.