Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Swim with Manatees in Florida

I am going to ramble on about the amazing thing our little family just got to do in Florida.  I want to go back and do it again as soon as possible, it was that incredible!

While fishing in Florida a couple of years ago we had a mother and calf swim past our boat and surface near us.  I was pretty excited.  They are enormous gentle creatures.

This winter we planned to go back to Florida and spend some time lower on the Gulf Coast.  Husband wanted to see the Everglades and Daughter wanted a nice beach.  I had the plans all set, hotels booked and a shell of an itinerary.  We would be in Fort Myers Beach, Naples and end around St. Petersburg.

I stumbled on a trip review that said  you could swim with the manatees.

Then I watched a video on Facebook and was determined to make this work three weeks before we traveled.  I read up a little more on the tours and knew I wanted a 6am tour for the best luck.  A little more shuffling and I had our vacation plans reworked and found a reservation that I was thrilled about.

We were able to use points to stay at the Best Western in Crystal River.  The hotel was two minutes drive from the Birds Underwater Dive Center.  They offer a noon check out and they have a large hot tub for guests in the pool area.

To make this work we had a long drive from Lido Key the day before.  No matter how I worked this trip we had to cover more miles than I usually want to deal with on vacation.  We set out with the intent to try to break it up into smaller chunks, that really did not pan out for us. We did spend the afternoon in Homosassa State Park and saw many manatees in the river there, so I was really hopeful.

Then “winter” hit Florida.  When we left the Sarasota area it was a nice sunny almost 80 degrees.  It was a cold, cloudy and barely 60 in Homosassa when I got out of the car.

Birds underwater

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

Continue reading

Advertisements
Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fair Trade Friday December

I was eagerly awaiting my Fair Trade Friday December box this year and a little worried when the postal service tracking showed it in transit for several days.  On Tuesday afternoon my little box arrived.

Fair Trade Friday

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

Yup, this month it was a box.

Continue reading

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christkindlmarket Chicago Evening

I have wanted to visit the Christkindlmarket in Chicago for several years.  Somehow we never made to Chicago over the holidays.  Too much going on, too much snow, and too little time kept us from Chicago after Thanksgiving.  This year I was determined to make it to the Christmas market, it was the one thing I wanted to do on this visit.

We arrived in Chicago on a Friday evening just before the rain started.  We almost made it to the Radisson Blu (free Friday night stay thanks to their last fall promotion) when the heavens opened up.  Trying to crush through the crowd under the entry awning with luggage is no fun in the cold rain.

We enjoyed our room for a couple of hours and hit the business lounge for some snacking.  I was a little resigned that I was not going to be able to visit the Christmas market on Friday night. We were contemplating hitting the hot tub vs putting on pjs and ordering food.

Around 7:00 it looked like the rain was letting up.  By 7:15 I had convinced Daughter to put on the coat, hat and gloves to brave the weather.  The rain was down to a light drizzle as we walked to Daley Plaza past the window at Macy’s.

As negative as the weather seemed it was perfect for visiting the market.  The wind was not too bad in the plaza and the crowds were pretty small.

Christkindle Market Chicago

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

Continue reading

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wander the Garden District

Christmas morning saw us with no concrete plans.  Old me would have had something booked, new me polls the family now.  The vote was to ride the street car to the garden district and poke around until we were bored.  I knew we needed the St. Charles line and our Free Tours by Foot guide had recommended boarding at the corner of Canal and Carondelet street.  Boarding there gave us the best chance to get a seat and not have to stand for the ride.  $3  a person gives you a 24 hour pass or $1.25 exact change each ride.

Canal street

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

We rode the streetcar down to Washington Avenue. This would also be where you would want to exit for Commander’s Palace Restaurant.   Right across the street is Lafayette Cemetery.  Since it was a holiday the cemetery was closed but normal hours are 7-3pm daily.

Continue reading

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tippecanoe Place Restaurant at Christmas

For part of our trip to the Oiver Mansion I wanted to include a lunch stop at Tippecanoe.  This home was the Studebaker Mansion before being turned into a restaurant in the 1980s. The Studebaker Mansion was finished in 1889 with approximately 40 rooms and 20 fireplaces.  This makes it a tad larger than the Oliver Mansion.

Tippecanoe

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

The restaurant is beautifully decorated for the season and the smaller rooms would be perfect for a family party.

Continue reading

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visiting the Oliver Mansion at Christmas

My Daughter and I enjoyed a tour of the Oliver Mansion called Copshaholm in October when we went to the Dressing Downton exhibit.  We really wanted to see this mansion decorated for Christmas.  The roads in the Midwest can be iffy at best in December but we lucked out and the snow changed to rain during our trip. The roads were not the best the whole time but we had safe travels.

We called ahead and were able to add our names to the 11am tour listing the day before.  I did not want to make the long drive and then not be able to tour the house.  You can do this by calling 574-235-9664 and speaking to the staff.

Oliver Mansion

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

This time our tour began in the carriage house connected to the museum so we had very little time outside.

Continue reading

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austin Trail of Lights

When we travel around Christmas I try to find holiday events to keep us in the Christmas spirit.  This year we attended Austin’s Trail of Lights.

We purchased our tickets off Groupon for $3 a person a couple of weeks before our trip.  Now there was no discount, it was the same price as buying them from the lights website but I did earn 4 Southwest points per dollar spent.  So 48 Southwest points towards our next trip, it all adds up!

Traffic getting to the park was horrendous so the taxi dropped us off about  two blocks out and we walked the rest of the way.  We could see the lights as we approached.  And also the horrendous line that stretched across the field to enter the lights.  Oy!

Luckily the huge line moved fast as we only had to turn our vouchers to enter.  Maybe we were in line for fifteen minutes max?  I had chosen Sunday night to visit thinking the lines would be shorter but I must have been off in that reasoning!

1040217_10206307570622869_3465356905550616833_o

The lights were amazing.  It did not disappoint!

Continue reading

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Fair Trade Friday November 2015

It was recently my favorite day of the month.  Fair Trade Friday!  I love opening the mailbox to the white priority mailer that they use.   Lets see what this month had inside…

Fairtrade Friday Nov 15

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

I could use a new clutch for church.  I hate to drag all my stuff with me and when I have time I quickly throw my wallet and phone into a clutch for church.

Fairtrade Friday Nov 2015

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

I love the necklace.  I had seen something similar on the website but had not had the chance to order one yet.  The elephant ornament will go on our tree this year.  I love a Christmas tree that reflects the family who puts it up.  Ours is filled with travel mementos, crazy pictures in little frames and things that truly reflect our little families personalities.

I am looking forward to next months Fair Trade Friday shipment.  If you want to sign up for Fair Trade Friday or for more information go here: http://fairtradefriday.club/

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Trip Recap

This is simply a rollup of our trip….

Two tickets on Southwest paid with cash and 1 ticket with points.  We booked these is early September to avoid high prices.

Two nights at the Radisson Resort at the Port free on points.

Three nights at the Radisson Oceanfront hotel, two on points and 1 on cash AAA discount.

The rental car was through the mousesavers discount and the lowest I could get was a little over $200.

Hands down our largest expense on the trip was dinner each night.  With two seafood lovers in the family the nightly bill usually topped $50+.  I need to increase my food budget for future trips now that Daughter is older and not stuck on Mac-n-cheese.

You cannot put a price on spending a week together in the warmth relaxing.  I think we did alright on expenses like paying for fishing, a Christmas light festival and mini golf during the week.  I would have liked more Groupons for dinner but I was unable to find any for local seafood restaurants.

We are tossing around where to go next winter.  Husband wants to go back to Texas, I want a new state and Daughter wants to eat rock shrimp.  Might not be lucky enough to go at Christmas again, that did not go over well with a few people. Husband wants to go over his birthday instead. Next time I guess I would do it in reverse and be in the very touristy area of Cocoa Beach on Christmas day.  Toss up between waking up on the ocean or having breakfast options outside the hotel.

 

 

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Space Coast Lightfest

After our filling Christmas dinner we headed five minutes up the street to the Space Coast Lightfest.  I really didn’t know what to expect but figured it was a good way to end the holiday.

The Lightfest is comprised of many light displays wrapped around the park.  After paying a volunteer asks you to turn off your lights and slowly wind around the park viewing the lights.  You are welcome to make the loop as many times as you wish before exiting.

li

Almost half way through is a picnic pavillion with bathrooms. Also they were selling hot cocoa for $1 and smore’s kits for the kids to grill up.  We paused for a few for Daughter to have a hot chocolate on the holiday.

ltt

Space Coast Lightfest

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

Some of the light displays, like Santa and his reindeer are so massive its hard to get a photo.

Space Coast Lightfest

A post shared by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

It took us a little over 40 minutes to see everything including the hot cocoa stop.  Perfect ending to the festivities for the evening.  We headed back to the hotel.  The pool and hot tub were empty so we couldn’t resist a soak to end the night.

More information can be found here:

http://www.spacecoastlightfest.com/

2785 Leisure Way, Melbourne FL

Categories: Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.