Tag Archives: nature

Coffee Breaks Make Great Dates

Lately, I’ve been on the go a lot. Between weddings, anniversaries, family visits, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a quiet weekend at home. It was nice to not have any sort of plans or schedule this weekend and just play it by ear, exploring our own back yard.

First up, Greenwood Urban Wetland Park.

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This beautiful oasis is plop in the middle of Downtown Orlando, but surprisingly quiet and peaceful.

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No water under this bridge

Thanks to the recent drought, water levels were surprisingly low, but it was still beautiful and quite scenic. I can’t wait to go back after a nice long rainstorm.

We continued relaxing over some cold brews from Foxtail Coffee Co. I’d consider this another first for me since my first visit to Foxtail wasn’t as pleasant. I was suffering from appendicitis and didn’t know it. This time was far more enjoyable.

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We sat in the grass, beneath the palm trees, people watching for the next few hours. It was absolutely perfect.

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And to round out the day of firsts, we had dinner at Reyes Mezcaleria, a brand new Mexican restaurant in Downtown Orlando.

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Exploring Northwest Florida

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost

Steinhatchee, Florida could be described as the road less traveled by, unless it’s scalloping season. This quaint fishing town is definitely for those looking for a place to relax, unwind and explore natural Florida. Ideal for a weekend getaway.

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Although I am a native Floridian, the Northwest Gulf Coast of Florida is an area I was pretty unfamiliar with. It’s not your typical Florida, and I loved it. Making our way up from Orlando, we took the backroads, passing through various small towns and marshlands. The further north we got, the less tropical it began to feel.

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Our home for this weekend getaway was Steinhatchee Landing Resort. Our private cottage was extremely spacious and cozy. For fun, we even left the fireplace going in the evenings; it reminded me of being in the mountains. It’s Florida though, and early May, so it wasn’t an actual fire. The resort had a quiet, old Florida feel that was just as beautiful as it was romantic; the perfect place to rest our heads between our adventures.

Coming from a somewhat big city, it was amazing to actually sleep through the night without the sounds of sirens, traffic, and airplanes flying above. Just the chirping birds as a morning wake up call.

As I mentioned before, Steinhatchee Landing was our home base between adventures.

These adventures included:

Steinhatchee Falls

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When I read waterfall, I was thinking actual water falling from a mountaintop, cascading over rocks and flowing down a stream, but this is Florida…no mountaintop here. Still, Steinhatchee Falls was quite peaceful and definitely off the beaten path.

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Surely more peaceful today than it was hundreds of years ago when settler’s cut through these waters in their horse-pulled wagons. You can still see the wagon ruts in the limestone rock.

Suwannee River State Park

We began this adventure with a picnic along the banks of the Suwannee River before we began our hike along the bluffs overlooking the water below.  There are a series of trails to choose from, ranging from a quarter mile to 18 miles. We veered in and out of various trails, following sights that interested us.

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Florida Caverns State Park (this one is a little further north, but if you are coming from South Florida, it’s worth a visit)

Caves in Florida!? Yes, it’s true, and it was completely unexpected. This is the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours.

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So next time you are looking for a little off the beaten path adventure, head to Northwest Florida. You won’t be disappointed.

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Wekiva Springs: A Central Florida Oasis

I felt like I was in a scene from The Notebook –you know when Allie and Noah are out on the water, in a canoe, and all of a sudden it starts pouring down rain—yes, that happened on a recent trip to Wekiva Springs.

Just about 20 minutes north of Orlando lies this peaceful oasis of sorts. A perfect relaxing getaway, ideal for unwinding after a busy week.  I was literally forced to unplug since I was without cell service most of the day.  Normally the only way I can disconnect is when I am on a cruise, so it is nice to find these spots sometimes where you are forced to unplug from technology and just take in your surroundings.

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After parking beneath the large oak and palm trees, I opened my door to the peaceful sounds of nature and kids splashing in the crystal clear waters just over the bridge connecting the parking lot to this natural sanctuary.

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I wasn’t quite in the mood to go for a swim, so instead we ventured off onto a nature trail. It was tranquil, quiet and highlighted what I like most about Central Florida–going from urban to nature in just a matter of minutes.

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Following the hike, we rented a canoe and set off into the water. I could see the bottom of the springs the entire time.

And then came the rain. Luckily, there were so many trees lining the waterway, we were able to keep cover until the rain shower passed.  We laughed as the giant raindrops from the tree leaves hit us in the face as we pushed our way back into the springs.IMG_7321

Soon we made our way to a river bend where to our surprise we found a small island. We thought about stopping for a bite to eat, but figured with the threat of rain looming from above, we should probably turn around and head back.

Now that the smell of food had awakened our stomachs, making it back seemed a little more challenging. Then the rain came down again, harder this time. This was The Notebook moment I was referring to. Despite getting soaked, there was still something tranquil about being out on the water, watching the rain drops dance on the surface of the spring.

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Once we made it back, we jumped in the car, air on full blast to dry off, and drove just down the road to Wekiva Island. It was a quaint, rustic spot, perfect for concluding a wonderful day trip in Central Florida.

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