The Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl

On one of those off-days from the parks or a rainy evening around Disney World, Florida, think about trying a Disney monorail ride….with a twist. The Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl is becoming a fun and different thing to do for adults visiting the Land of Mickey.

On a recent stay at Disney’s Saratoga Resort and Spa, my wife and I tried the monorail pub crawl for ourselves. And though we did a little research and set up a plan for the day, I’d like to share our itinerary and experience with you.

The Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl consists of stops at the three Disney resorts along the monorail route; the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary resorts. We started our day by taking a Disney bus from Disney Springs to the Polynesian Resort for a little late afternoon lunch at Capt. Cook’s poolside restaurant. The counter-service restaurant had a nice selection, and great atmosphere around one of the Polynesian’s pools.

After lunch we boarded the monorail at the Polynesian and headed for the Grand Floridian Resort for our first pub crawl stop. Though we had heard real good things about Mizner’s at the Grand Floridian, they were closed for the afternoon so Rachel and I headed for the Courtyard Bar. Set along side one of the Grand Floridian’s many pools, this location was ideal to take in our first cocktail and poolside sunshine. While my Strawberry Margarita was good and somewhat typical, Rach’s Pina Colava was sensational. This fruity spin on the Pina Colada, included red raspberry puree for a fantastic surprise taste!

Our next stop along the Monorail Pub Crawl was Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It was at the Outer Rim Bar that we found a breathtaking view of grounds from high above, and I found myself trying their version of a Pina Colava. And it didn’t disappoint. Rachel enjoyed their Bahama Mama concoction. Make it two for two! Located just off to the side of the hustle and bustle of the Contemporary’s main floor (second floor), the Outer Rim was air conditioned, had several large screen TVs, and played good music while we were there.

The final stop on our Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl was back at the Polynesian Resort. We had heard great things about Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, located on the bottom floor of the resort’s main building. As we walked through a windowless door, we entered a South Seas island environment, complete with active volcanos, shrunken heads, and a highly active wait staff. As patrons ordered their beverages, each selection would trigger the waiters or the bar itself to break into chants, rainstorms, or volcanic eruptions. Our choice was a drink called the “Uh-oa”, a drink made for two to share consisting of a variety of rums, fruit juices, and cinnamon; all of which is set on fire prior to drinking. What, you expected nothing less? And though the drink is delicious and highly recommended, the “show” that goes on inside this interactive tiki bar is well worth the visit.

Though our monorail pub crawl was over, we took the monorail one last time back to the Contemporary Resort, and visited the Disney Vacation Club’s Bay Lake Resort, located next door to the Contemporary. Once there we showed our DVC membership card and were escorted to the Top of the World Lounge for a premiere viewing experience of the Magic Kingdom’s “Happily Ever After” fireworks show from sixteen floors above. It turned out to be the perfect way to end our memorable day.

Whether traveling as a couple or with a group of family or friends, the Monorail Pub Crawl is a fun diversion from your typical Minnie-Mickey experience, and a great way to take in the many offerings of some of Disney World’s highly acclaimed resorts.

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Summer & Fall Food Truck Festivals in the U.S. (….and more)

asiseeit_fayette_headshotThe food truck craze has continued to grow in the U.S. over the past decade. Large and small cities alike now feature this meals on wheels alternative all across the country. While food trucks traditionally find prime pedestrian locations within a city and sell their mouth-watering creations curbside, a new push is to bring these “city vendors” to the suburbs (and beyond) and feature them at annual community festivals. Some areas are even featuring weekly and monthly days and nights throughout the year.

Here are some popular food truck festivals around the United States and Canada for the summer & fall of 2015:

June 6
Providence/Boston Food Truck Showdown
Providence, RI

BostonProvIndia Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island will again be the setting for one of New England’s best food truck events. Food trucks from Boston, Providence, and surrounding areas will be serving up a great variety of food on the first Saturday of June. VIP tickets ($20) will allow guests to enter the festival one-hour early (11:00am) and get started on their tastings. General Admission ($5) will run from noon til 4:00pm. For those RedSox fans in attendance, a quick drive to Fenway from Providence will allow them to take in a 4pm ball game vs. the Oakland A’s.

June 13
King City Craft Beer & Food Truck Festival
King City (north of Toronto), Ontario, Canada

KingCityJust north of Toronto, Canada sits King City. Every year they host their Craft Beer & Food Truck Festival. The beer flows, the smell of incredible food from gourmet food trucks fills the air, and the music rocks for this day long celebration. Crafts, activities and more make the King City Craft Beer & Food Truck Festival an ideal event for the whole family. Tickets are available online or the day of the event.

August 7-8
Kirkland Summerfest
Kirkland (Seattle), WA

Kirkland SummerFest, August 10-11, 2012

The Kirkland Summerfest plays host to a variety of performances at various venues and spaces along the waterfront and in downtown Kirkland, which is located across Lake Washington from Seattle. The weekend-long festival delivers family activities and exhibitions, along with the best in music, dance, and comedy the northwest has to offer. And when it comes to food, some of the country’s finest food trucks can be found in Kirkland. Located in Marina Park along the shore of Lake Washington, The Food Truck Plaza is ideally located just off the main stage.

August 14-16
Columbus Food Truck Festival
Columbus, OH

columbusThe Columbus Commons will be the location of this three-day food truck festival. With over seventy of Ohio’s best food trucks, the Columbus Food Truck Festival has become one of the largest and most popular events in the country. Starting on Friday, August 14th at noon and running until Sunday, August 16th at 6:00pm, the event will feature live music, crafts and fun activities for the entire family to go along with the large variety of unique food samplings.

August 29
Cape Cod Food Truck Festival
Falmouth, MA

capecodThe 3rd Annual Cape Cod Food Truck Festival will take place at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. The festival features live music, beer and wine, and New England food truck favorites. The festival’s schedule is planning on featuring over twenty of New England’s more popular food trucks serving up an array of menus items including fresh seafood, BBQ, gourmet pizza and more. Along with the great food selections, local artisans will have their crafts on display. The Cape Cod Food Truck Festival is an ideal way to celebrate the end to another Cape Cod summer.

October 4
New Hampshire Food Truck Festival
Portsmouth, NH

newhampshireFood Truck Festivals of New England heads to New Hampshire during the first week of October for the New Hampshire Food Truck Festival. The Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth is the venue for a day full of food truck specialties and fun for all ages. For only $5, this annual event is growing in popularity throughout the region, as some of New England’s most popular food trucks make their way to New Hampshire for a crispy fall weekend.


October 17-18
Pocono Food Truck Festival
Pocono, PA

poconosThe Pocono Food Truck Festival features favorite food trucks from the Pocono region, as well as from New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. The Poconos provides a beautiful backdrop for this autumn weekend event. Tasty street treats will feature savory and sweet favorites. The Pocono Food Truck Festival will have a variety of live music throughout the weekend, along with incredible views from the chairlift ride at the Shawnee Mountain Ski Area in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
And throughout the year the following locations feature food trucks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis in a festival-type environment:

Every day
Disney Food Truck Park
Downtown Disney, FL

disneyThe newly opened Disney Food Truck Park on Downtown Disney’s Westside is catching on very quickly. Building on the nation’s growing food truck craze, the folks at Disney have created a variety of food trucks, representing the different parks of Disney World. Fantasy Fare (of Magic Kingdom), Superstar Catering (from Disney Studios), and Namaste Cafe (representing the Animal Kingdom) are just a few of the food trucks. Located along the water, the Disney Food Truck Park offers a wide menu and  plenty of tables to rest and enjoy your food truck feasts.


Every Monday night
Food trucks at Arts Park
Hollywood, FL

hollywoodFlEvery Monday Night at Arts Park in Hollywood, Florida food trucks pull up and put on one of South Florida’s most popular weekly events. Considered a great place to visit,  enjoy Arts Park on a Monday night and select your dinner from over twenty-five food trucks in attendance. It’s no wonder this event is quickly becoming a weekly staple in Hollywood, Florida.


Every third Saturday of the month
Wheelin’ Dealin’ Street Food Festival
Magic City Casino
Miami, FL

miamiStaying in South Florida, a short trip south from Hollywood to Miami finds the Wheelin’ Dealin’ Street Food Festival. Located at the Magic City Casino, food trucks from around the region create a culinary festival every third Saturday of the month from 5-9pm. Sponsors feature giveaways at the event, like tickets to concerts at the Magic City Casino and more. A variety of beverages are sold at the Wheelin’ Dealin’ Street Food Festival, and parking is never a problem.


Every third Friday of the month
(April – October)
Downtown Street Food Gathering
Huntsville, AL

huntsvilleDowntown Huntsville, Alabama will again host a gathering of area food trucks every third Friday of the month from April 17th through October 16th. Known as Rocket City, Huntsville is already gearing up for its 2015 season kickoff in April with live music, craft beer, and new food trucks. After drawing huge crowds last year in their inaugural season, organizers are excited with what their second campaign will bring.


Last Wednesday of the month
(April – October)
Food Truck Rodeo
Rochester, NY

rochesterWith nearly thirty food trucks serving up their unique and great tasting cuisine, the folks of Rochester, NY look forward to the opening of the Food Truck Rodeo every April as the true passage from winter to spring in the northeast. Organizers say that “just about everything and anything that is served from the back of a truck can be found at Food Truck Rodeo.” And every last Wednesday evening of the month thousands flock to the Lilac City’s Public Market for some of the nation’s best food truck cuisine. Visitors can enjoy local bands and artists while taking a breather from the food trucks.

Though the food trucks and the events that I’ve highlighted are just a sampling of the growing number of Food Truck festivals popping up throughout the country (and Canada), we’d love to hear about some of your favorites by following us on Twitter @EdFayette and @DestinationsMag, #FoodTruckFestivals.

Ultimate Rest & Relaxation Getaways

asiseeit_fayette_headshotMany of the vacations we take every year involve family-packed amusement parks, day-long sight-seeing tours, and shopping galore. Of course then there’s golf, skiing, and other outdoor activities that we choose to take up hours of our day. And while these are quite often the most popular types of getaways and activities, we often find ourselves looking forward to returning home for some rest and relaxation from our vacation. After all, the all-inclusive island resorts’ watersports and endless Tiki bar or the all-you-can-eat cruise ship buffet can be down right exhausting. Sometimes all we really need is to get away from it all, and I mean “all”. You know, the way we romanticized about how early writers and artists nestled themselves in the middle of nowhere to conjure up their creative inner genius. So for 2015, here are four of my ultimate rest and relaxation getaway spots in the U.S. to assist you in recharging your mind and soothing your soul.


THE LODGE AT GLENDORN

Bradford, PA

A stay at this “paradise in the woods” will have you instantly questioning why you haven’t done this before, and planning on when you’re visiting again. Located in north-central Pennsylvania, The GlendornLobbyLodge at Glendorn is within hours of Pittsburgh to the south, Buffalo, NY to the north, Ohio to the west, and the NYC and Philly region to the east. Founded by the oil-rich Dorn family in the late 1920s, this 1500 acre retreat is where the family spent many vacations for generations. In 2009 Cliff Forrest and his family made Glendorn their own, and opened it as one of the premiere retreat resorts in America.
The accommodations at Glendorn are unique, with each of its various rooms and cabins whispering stories of bygone days. The origiGlendornMillerCabinnal home of the Dorn family is known as the Big House today, and houses several suites and rooms as well as the main dining room and recreation room. For more privacy and seclusion the cabins that are scattered throughout the woodland-filled acreage may be just what the doctor ordered. All cabin accommodations include outdoor fire pits for their guests to enjoy while taking in the evening constellations. My stay at the Miller Cabin was pure rustic elegance. Situated just over a rushing brook from the Big House, Miller Cabin possesses two living areas, two full baths, a full kitchen (with a bottomless chocolate chip cookie jar), a screened in porch, as well as two gas-assisted fireplaces. With full maid service twice a day, including turn-down service, the treatment guests receive at Glendorn rivals that of royalty.
GlendornOutdoorDinnersDining at Glendorn is a true culinary delight. Each meal is an experience and every bite of food becomes a fond memory. With a grand piano playing on weekend evenings in the main dining room one can easily harken back to the days when this estate was filled with family laughter and joy. Guests are even invited to make a reservation with the executive chef for a personal cooking class. My lesson in preparing a monk fish with polenta entrée was amazing!
The Lodge at Glendorn spans over 1500 acres, through valleys and streams to the winding trails that lead to the tops of some of the Allegheny Mountains. The resort’s Bondieu Lake plays host to summer barbecues, peaceful paddle boats and fishing lessons. Mountain biking, hiking, and even a Jeep tour of the entire grounds are available during your stay. Skeet & trap shooting along with top-notch fly fishing can also be planned during a stay at the Glendorn.GlendornJeep
For those that feel more like pampering themselves, The Forest Spa is a full service spa ranging from Swedish massages to pedicures. From the moment you enter, the sounds and aromas calm your mind and body.
If you find time to pull yourself away from the fireplace and put down that favorite book, make your way into Bradford, PA. This quaint town has some unique shops and restaurants, but even more importantly is home to the famous Zippo Lighter Museum and Factory. Hmm, who knew?

THE HYATT PINON POINTE
Sedona, AZ
The lavish Pinon Pointe resort by Hyatt is known as one of the luxury jewels of Sedona. From the gorgeous red-rock landscape to out of this world sunrises and sunsets, Pinon Pointe is the ideal location for unwindingPinonPointeTerrace one’s mind, body, and soul. Nestled in Red Rock Country, this resort by Hyatt is also just steps away from year-round outdoor adventures, upscale shopping, exquisite dining, and incredible art galleries.PinonPointeTerrace
With over one hundred 2-bedroom/2-bath and 1-bedroom/1-bath units, Pinon Pointe is nothing less than what one would expect from the Hyatt brand. Many of the rooms feature private balconies with breathtaking vista views, while all rooms provide guests with the feeling of getting away from it all, while possessing all the conveniences of home.
The heated outdoor pool and two outdoor spas invite hours of R&R, while the on site tennis courts and fitness center are available for those that need to break a little sweat.
When you have relaPinonPointeFirepitxed to your fullest, explore the dozens of canyons and red-rock trails in the comfortable desert climate. Whether hiking or biking, the unique desert environment invites you to break away from the norm and experience once-in-a-lifetime sights and sounds of the American southwest.
Revitalizing the spirit is what Pinon Pointe is all about, as Sedona’s reputation as the center of healing, creativity and spirituality fills the air. Pinon Pointe has extraordinary dining to match its spectacular views and surroundings. From the fresh menu selections at Bistro Bella Terra to one of the community’s cafes and restaurants located in the Shops of Pinon Pointe, foodies can delight in the variety. The Shops at Pinon Pointe are located next door to the resort, and offer a variety of shopping experiences when guests need their foodie fix or some light shopping rehab.

THE OCEAN EDGE RESORT
Cape Cod, MA
With nearly one hundreOceanEdgeResortd newly renovated elegant rooms, guests of the Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, Massachusetts will feel as if they’ve been transported back to a simpler time of the 19th century. The Mansion-side of Ocean Edge has been awarded AAA’s Four-Diamond rating for its luxurious accommodations, dining, and location. Only a short walk from most rooms, guests are treated to a private beach, outdoor and indoor pools, tennis courts, and a fitness center with a spa.
On the grounds of the Ocean Edge Resort are two unique restaurants. Bayzo’s Pub is a quiet gathering spot offering a wide variety of pub favorites like fried cod tacos, burgers and pizza. This English style tavern has live music on summer weekends, and sports screens throughout. The Ocean TerraceOceanEdgeVillas features an inviting bar and dining area located next to the historic Nickerson Mansion, preserved to resemble the 1900s period.
Guests to the Ocean Edge Resort are able to enjoy access to their private beach, complete with beachside service. Bonfires on the beach during the warmer months are a perfect way to round off a stay at one of the northeast’s premiere resorts.
Rooms at the Ocean Edge Resort range from the Presidential Bay Collection, two- and three-bedroom villas, to the Grand Corner Suites, all with the relaxing feel of a traditional seaside cottage.
Just moments from the quaint towns found on the mid-Cape, visitors can take a short drive to Provincetown and the nearby Cape Cod National Seashore. In the other direction guests can travel to Falmouth to take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket for the day. With its central location, Ocean Edge is the virtual hub of all there is to do on Cape Cod. And if you choose to do nothing at all, perhaps simply resting your toes in the tidal waters of Cape Cod Sound is all you need for the day at the Ocean Edge Resort.

 
THE HEIDEL HOUSE RESORT & SPA
Green Lake, WI
Along the shoreliHeidelHouseGroundsne of Green Lake, in Wisconsin, sits the Heidel House Resort & Spa. This year-round midwest resort destination has become one of the favorite return spots for guests and their families year after year. The Heidel House is a breathtaking full service resort, with incredible lakefront views of pristine Green Lake and countless forest trees that provide the perfect backdrop for a much-needed getaway. Since New Year’s Eve 1945, guests have returned to the Heidel House to enjoy top shelf dining, peaceful spa retreats, along with boating, hiking, and golf outings.
Located on twenty wooded acres along Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake, the Heidel House offers numerous amenities including nearly two hundred guestHeidelHouseLobby rooms, plenty of meeting space for conferences or corporate gatherings, soothing spa services at the Evensong Spa, and elegant dining at the famous Grey Rock Restaurant. The Boathouse Pub and Sunroom Lakeside Restaurant are also on-site restaurants that serve mouth-watering breakfasts, lunches, and even late night favorites.
The Heidel House is a short drive from Madison and Milwaukee, and offers a wide variety of accommodations. From first-class rooms and suites to more of a casual stay in their vacation rentals, this one of a kind getaway offers old world charm for every type of guest.
Selected as the 2014 Best Honeymoon location in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Bride magazine, Heidel House is always a popular destination for wedding parties as well as honeymooners.
HeidelHouseSpaFor those looking to venture out into the community, hot air balloon rides, Clydesdale horse rides, wine tasting and of course cheese tasting are all within minutes of the Heidel House Resort & Spa.
So as you fill your calendar for this coming year, why not take a break from the ordinary and make your next vacation extraordinary at one of these remarkable retreat resorts. Whether planning for winter, spring, summer, or fall, these incredible locations are sure to tantalize your taste buds, invigorate your spirit, and renew your sense of being.

8 Great “Destination Wedding” Venues in the US

asiseeit_fayette_headshotMany couples tying the knot these days are not only looking for different kinds of ceremonies and receptions, but unique and memorable locations as well. More and more weddings are veering away from the traditional ceremony and reception, and instead heading toward what is known as the “Destination Wedding”. Typically these types of weddings result in smaller numbers of people attending, but allow for couples’ friends and families to experience an unbelievable day to remember.

Here are some of the most popular “Destination Wedding” ideas happening around the U.S.:

Central Park- NY, NY

The Wedding of Evan and CherylNew York City is arguably the most iconic city in America, so why not select a weekend afternoon in the ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ to exchange wedding vows? Though the venues in NYC are seemingly endless, perhaps Central Park is the most ideal location for a wedding. Nestled between the busy city avenues and skyscrapers, sits the tranquil beauty of this green-filled park. With nearly a dozen locations available throughout the park, the Conservatory Garden, the Pond, and the Boathouse are three annual favorites for weddings. It should also be noted that the famous Tavern on the Green is currently under renovation and inquiries about its expected time of re-opening should be checked on a regular basis. It’s important to know that there are fees, applications, and certain restrictions that go along with having a wedding in Central Park; for example No alcohol, amplified music, or tents are permitted in the park. For more information and to download an application visit the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation’s website at www.nycgovparks.org/.

Mall of America- Minneapolis, Minnesota

moaGetting married in a mall? Yes, believe it or not, America’s largest mall plays host to hundreds of weddings a year, having had more than 5,000 performed since its opening. With over 4-million square feet of building area, 520+ stores, and a twenty-five ride and attraction amusement park built inside, it’s no wonder that more than 40-million people visit the MOA every year. But a wedding, really? The fact is the Mall of America has several venues to accommodate just about any style and budget. The MOA even has… (Move over Elvis…) The Chapel of Love! Catering to those who can’t get enough of ‘retail America’, the chapel has photographers, hairstyling, dresses and tuxes, and more all at your disposal. And they of course take all major credit cards. Find out how to book your nuptials by visiting www.MallOfAmerica.com .

Grand Canyon

grandcanyonFor a more rustic approach to tying the knot many couples are venturing to one of the country’s great natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. Some of the more popular ways to celebrate the big day in that area is to be helicoptered in and dropped off onto the peak of a mesa, or ride the historic Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona that winds through the magnificent canyon with all its colors and beauty. The helicopter rides range in price as well as duration. Bridal parties can view the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas from high above, as well as take in remarkable sunsets as they come and go from the majestic Grand Canyon. Staying more down to earth, the Grand Canyon Railway excursions offer a slower pace, yet still a memorable wedding day. Bridal parties can reserve their own 1923 rail car or mingle in with other passengers. Full-service wedding packages are available and an outdoor wedding permit is required by the National Park Service by calling (928) 638-7841.

Monterey and Carmel, California

MontereyDotted along the Pacific coast sits some absolutely incredible venues for a one-of-a-kind wedding. Carmel and Monterey, California offer breathtaking backdrops for a bride and groom’s magical day. From Monterey’s rocky cliffs to Carmel’s soft sandy beaches, this region gives couples a variety of spectacular venues to choose from. From Stewart’s Cove to Carmel Beach, and Cypress Point at Pebble Beach to the Monterey Stone Chapel in the Redwoods, this area of the Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of “I Do’s” each year. Booking reservations at a specific area requires timely planning and flexibility of venues and dates, so couples are encouraged to make their plans as soon as possible. www.MontereyWeddings.com is a great place to view all that is offered for weddings in the region.

Rocky Mountains- Colorado region

rockiesIt’s widely known that for skiing enthusiasts there perhaps is no better place to be from mid-autumn to late-spring than the ski trails of Colorado. So it only seems natural that for those who happen to be planning a wedding and enjoy fresh Rocky Mountain powder Colorado is a perfect destination for them. Of course the summer months in the Rockies are also ideal for a memorable wedding. Perhaps the most popular location in the region is Aspen. With an array of hotels, restaurants and activities, Aspen is built for special events. Other Rocky Mountain venues that are perfect for weddings are Golden, Denver, Breckenridge, and Vail, Colorado. Whether winter, spring, summer, or fall, the Rockies offer fun, adventure, and endless memories for brides, grooms, and their families and friends. Finding a location and time of year to suit the soon-to-be-newlyweds in the Rocky Mountain region will take some research and maybe even a couple “fieldtrips”. A great online resource to get your magical day planned is appropriately titled www.RockyMountainBride.com .

Atlantis- Paradise Island, Bahamas

atlantisLike Muhammad Ali knew boxing, the Beatles knew rock n’ roll, and Michael Jordan knows sneakers; with fifteen locations situated around Paradise Island, Atlantis knows weddings. Whether it’s a sunrise or sunset ceremony, a flower-filled or sandy beach backdrop, or a reception for twelve or five hundred, Atlantis at Paradise Island has it covered. From barefoot casual to over-the-top elegant the possibilities are endless for one’s storybook wedding. With the serenity of the Caribbean rippling in the background couples can exchange vows at the secluded Cove Beach. For those looking for a little more ‘wow-factor’ in their ceremony and reception a reservation at Ripples may be just the ticket. Surrounded by a Mayan-style décor and breathtaking water features, a wedding at Ripples will have guests talking about it for years to come. A complete guide to weddings on Paradise Island can be found at www.Atlantis.com . Here visitors will be reminded of what to ask and what to expect when planning a destination wedding in the Bahamas. And remember, U.S. citizens are required to have a passport in order to return to the U.S. (which when you think of it, may be a great place to get stuck for awhile).

Epcot- Disney World, Florida

epcotFor generations Disney World in Central Florida has been thought as a childhood destination. But today the land of Mickey is playing host to nearly two-thousand Cinderella-like weddings each year. Though Disney offers dozens of places to hold a ceremony and reception, I think the most unique venues can be found at a place that may not come to mind right of the bat– the Epcot amusement park. Epcot’s World Showcase takes visitors on a trip around the world, with an incredible attention to detail paid to each country’s highlights. It is here that a bride and groom can choose to be married alongside an English countryside, next to a cascading Canadian waterfall, or with a replica of Rome’s Trevi fountain set as their backdrop. From flowers to cakes, and ceremony to fireworks-filled reception, the wedding planners at Epcot will be there to assist the happy couple every step of the way. Wedding venues at Epcot’s World Showcase can be found within the countries of Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, China, Germany, Japan, and Morocco. To start making plans for your Epcot destination wedding visit www.disneyweddings.com .

Fenway Park- Boston, Massachusetts

kimberly + blake | fenway park wedding | boston, massThere are sports fans across the country that would go to the ends of the earth for their favorite team or player. Perhaps there is no place in America where this is truer than in the city of Boston, where fans do just about anything for their beloved baseball Redsox. Having been crowned World Series champions three-times over the past decade, there is no hotter ticket in sports today than that with the Boston Redsox logo attached to it. With all of that in mind, many fanatic couples try to make the Redsox part of their wedding day in any way possible. Whether they decorate their reception hall with red and blue flowers, or have their bridal party decked out in home and away uniforms, some fans just want their favorite team part of their big day. On the other hand, more and more couples are taking their fanaticism to a whole new level; “upper deck level” that is.  The Boston Redsox, like many other sports franchises across the country, are now catering to their over-the-top fans by opening sections of the stadium for wedding ceremonies and receptions before, during, and after the game. Fenway Park’s history and charm can now be captured on sunny afternoon or starlit night during a Redsox home-stand or even while the stadium is vacant. Brides can say their vows from the famed Green Monster, or overlooking homeplate from the EMC Club, which seats up to 300 guests. So warm up your vocal chords for a rousing rendition of “Sweet Caroline” and contact the management of Fenway Park at www.Redsox.com  to book your upcoming wedding.

So from a ballpark to a mall, or an island to a mountain top, the U.S. has some amazing venues for those couples looking to create a once-in-a-lifetime wedding memory. Where will your dream wedding be?

Family Getaway: Key West

asiseeit_fayette_headshotFor decades Key West, Florida has been seen as the ultimate adult getaway. From Bike week, the Hemingway Festival, and FantasyFest, Key West has created an aura of over-indulgence and the lowering of one’s inhibitions. And while to many that may truly be the case, my annual visits over the past ten years have found a let’s say, ‘Kinder and gentler Key West’. I have traveled there with my wife many times as a couples’ retreat, but we’ve also included the entire family as well on occasion. From seemingly limitless eating choices to non-stop water fun, the Conch Republic is a fabulous place to plan your next family getaway.

My home away from home is always the Hyatt Sunset Harbor located on the Gulf end of Duval Street. This resort is located just next to Mallory Square and its boardwalk. EveningsIMG_4003 produce breathtaking sunsets, while mornings awake to cruse ships making Key West their next port of call. The rooms at Sunset Harbor range from studios to 2-bedroom suites. All accommodations are spacious, and always up to Hyatt expectations. Their pool and hot tub are the centerpiece of many daily poolside activities.

If a resort setting isn’t your family’s style, Key West is packed with Bed & Breakfast inns, as well as VRBOs (vacation rentals by owner). Depending on your budget, your stay can be in an entire house or the sharing of one with another couple or family. Many of these rentals will even allow for the family pet to come along as well, but always make sure you check that out with management, and get it in writing, prior to arrival.

For those that have always dreamed of living on the water, there are many motor yachts and houseboats that are able to be rented out by the week or month. Some come with a complete crew, while others allow you and your family to sail solo.

IMG_4059When it comes to the ultimate in getting away from it all, there is no better place to stay in Key West than on a private island known as Sunset Key. Approximately three-quarters of the island located just to the west of Mallory Square consists of private homes, but the remaining quarter of the island has 1-bedroom to 3-bedroom cottages, along with pool facilities and a private beach. My annual visit to the island’s exceptional restaurant, Latitudes, lets me enjoy the surroundings if only for a couple hours, and keeps me dreaming for yet another year.

Getting around Key West is extremely easy. No car necessary! While my family usually walks from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean (about 14 blocks on Duval), bicycle and motor cart rentals are also available on a daily to weekly basis. Taxis are readily available, as well as pedicabs too. My taxi driver (I like to say that…) is saved in my contacts for a quick call when I arrive at the airport, and when my vacation is over. When staying in the historic section of the island known as Old Key West that’s about the only time I ever need a cab. While Key West is very pedestrian-friendly and speed limit concerns are rarely an issue, its always important to still be alert so your stay isn’t cut short by an incident.

Water fun on Key West can be non-stop. From ocean fishing to sunset dinner cruises, and jet skiing to snorkeling, the activities on the water are so numerous that you may not have a enough time toIMG_4031 take them all in on one stay. While I have enjoyed several excursions with the Fury and Sebago companies, my most enjoyable have been with Danger Charters. While the larger companies have you aboard with 40-50 others, the Danger Charters schooner only holds about twenty. My most recent adventure with ‘Danger’ started around 9:30 in the morning. Sailing out about five miles to the Strait of Florida we were able to snorkel for about 90 minutes on one of the world’s greatest reefs. One of the three crew on board Danger Charters actually became our snorkeling guide as she showed us the places to view amazing fish and underwater creatures. Following a fresh fruit and water break, two of the crew split the group and took us on a fabulous kayak journey around the Key West National Nature Preserve. This uninhabited island plays home to incredible wildlife as well as unique trees and plants. On our return the sails went up on the multi-mast schooner for a fun 60-minute sail.

Booking for either half-day or full-day excursions is as easy as going online and selecting the package that is right for your family. Whether it’s parasailing over the Gulf or jet skiing around this 2 by 4-mile island of Key West, a day on the water is sure to create a lifetime of memories. And when the busy day is coming to an end there is no better way to take in the famous Key West sunsets than by enjoying them aboard dinner and/or sunset cruises. Many companies have varied packages with one to surely fit every family’s needs.

IMG_4017If you’d rather enjoy a meal on dry land Key West is certainly not lacking for fantastic food choices. Many of the island’s restaurants have been featured in worldwide publications and on national food and travel television networks. Starting off in the morning a trip to a couple of Key West’s best breakfast stops is bound to get your family’s day rolling in the right direction. For me it comes down to three ‘can’t miss’ places. Two Friends Patio is open all day long, but their homestyle breakfasts are always a good start to the day. LeCreperie is an amazing new restaurant on my ‘foodie radar’. Located just off Duval St., their savory crepe stuffed with scrambled eggs, various cheeses, and bacon is enough to make you wish breakfast time would never end. Perhaps my favorite breakfast stop is Pepe’s, located down by the marina. While they serve what may be considered a typically good breakfast, be sure to order their ‘toast of the day’; and pray to God that it is Coconut Toast. One bite of this beautiful piece of toasted homemade bread, and you may never look at toast the same way ever again.

The lunch choices on Key West can range from a one-of-a-kind burger experience at Garbo’s Grill to a mouth-watering lobster roll from DJs Clam Shack. I also recently stumbled across a great little Italian food and pizzeria restaurant called Onlywood. Located down a narrow lane off of Duval sits this little slice of Italy. With tables for eating inside or out, this place fires up some of the most outstanding pizza I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. With its wood oven approaching a mind-boggling 1,000-degrees, the custom made pizza pies are ready in mere moments after ordering. Blue Heaven, Sunset Pier, and Sloppy Joe’s are also fun places to take the entire family for lunch. With great live entertainment daily and unique surroundings, all three locations serve great-tasting lunches with flair.

For evening dinners, one of the largest menus in Key West can be found at Fogarty’s on Duval. With open-air seating, this restaurant serves up great tasting juicy burgers to high-quality steaks, andIMG_4076 savory salmon to delicious desserts. Located adjacent to the restaurant is the Flying Monkey Saloon, serving delicious frozen drinks for moms and dads, as well as for the “under-agers” too. Fine dining reaches its pinnacle at The Hot Tin Roof, located at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, this premiere location is only outdone by its exquisite menu. Starting with an appetizer of tuna tartare and a tomato burrata salad, followed by an entree of scallop risotto or Latin braised short ribs, executive chef Jason Westphal promises a dining experience to remember. For dining in a less formal setting, a family can enjoy a great dinner at the Conch Republic Restaurant by the marina or Pinchers Crab Shack located along Duval St. Both serve a wide menu that is sure to please adults and kids.

History abounds in Key West. A stroll through the Truman Annex will lead you to the Little White House where President Harry S. Truman spent much of his time when not in Washington DC. Various art galleries and antique shops line the streets of Old Key West. One of the highlights of the history of Key West is the Mel Fisher treasure museum, where visitors can view Fisher’s motherload from the Atocha shipwreck. This, as well as the Key West Aquarium, Fort Zachary, and the Shipwreck IMG_4082Museum can provide hours of learning and fun while on vacation. Imagine that?!

Hitting the beaches while in Key West is highly recommended. Smathers Beach along the Atlantic Ocean and Fort Zachary State Park are two of the best. While Smathers is free, Ft. Zachary is a little less crowded because of the nominal fee. At Ft. Zachary State Park beach goers will enjoy a sense of complete solitude, while those choosing Smathers Beach will have a large selection of water sports and rentals to choose from.

So when you hear someone mention Key West in the future don’t be fooled by what you’ve heard about the crazy Spring Breakers or FantasyFest crazies. Check the KeyWest.com website Events Calendar, and you may find your vacation will coincide with their annual Food Festival or Key Lime Pie Week. As I’ve so often said, Key West is Paradise Found, for couples and families alike.

Welcome to Miami Beach

asiseeit_fayette_headshotFrom Aventura to Key Biscayne the winter months in Miami Beach area are covered in white…..from the miles of sun-soaked beaches that is. Though snow doesn’t fall in South Florida, there is fun for all ages. Sunny Isles, Bal Harbour, Miami Beach, and South Beach all sit along the Atlantic Ocean inviting visitors to their pristine beaches and 75-degree waters. Just across Biscayne Bay Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, and Littlewelcom-miami-beach Havana are bustling with various weekend that meld cultures into one. So for a change of pace from falling snow and temperatures in the forties, consider Miami for an upcoming winter getaway.

Tours around the Miami area are as diverse as the culture itself. Whether strolling through the Art Deco District of South Beach, sobeenjoying the beauty of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, or experiencing the tastes of region with the Miami Culinary Tour, this slice of paradise is sure to have you quickly forgetting about the snow and cold back home. Along Ocean Drive is the historic Art Deco District of SoBe (South Beach). The architecture is timeless, the names iconic, and the history behind each building is fascinating. From The Clevelander to The Carlyle the beauty of the area screams SoBe! Just a few blocks from the Atlantic sits a quiet and serene setting known as the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Open during the daytime hours, this 2 ½ acre area of greenspace offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Built in the 1960s and refurbished in 2011, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden is home to many native miacultourplants and flowers such as the palms, cycads, and orchids and many others. Whether you’re in Miami for the first time or making a return visit, a ‘must do’ is booking an afternoon or evening with the Miami Culinary Tour. On a recent visit to Miami Beach my daughter, Morgan, and I were given a walking tour through the streets of South Beach with more than a half-dozen stops at some of the area’s finest restaurants. Mirka was our energetic and informative guide for the Miami Culinary Tour, and shared with us the history, culture, and even gossip of SoBe. Our 3-hour tour (nod to Gilligan) included tasty samples of authentic empanadas, ceviche, churros, and gelato. All of these locations aim to help make your stay that more memorable.

While northerners may be skiing the slopes or sliding down Grandpa’s hill during the winter, those guests to Miami can kayak the waters of Oleta River State Park or soak in the sun on the miles kayakof beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Nestled in North Miami is the Oleta River State Park. From the moment you arrive it’s hard to remember that you are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in America. The Oleta River State Park offers kayak and canoe rentals through the mango trees and even mountain bike rentals through several trails of various skill levels. Imagine kayaking on Biscayne Bay instead of fighting snowplows? After an enjoyable day at the park maybe grabbing a few hours of the fading winter sun on the sands of Miami Beach is just what the doctor ordered. From Sunny Isles to South Beach, and then Key Biscayne and Coral Gables, the Miami region has miles of beautiful sand beaches.

artdecoMiami is packed with fantastic stores and boutiques. From the Aventura Mall located in the northern part of Miami to the open air market-like experience of Lincoln Road, guests and locals always find unique shopping and a variety of restaurants to enjoy throughout the Miami region.

miabchEntertainment is nearly non-stop in Miami. From the hundreds of clubs and pubs to world class entertainment, there is always something going on in and around South Florida. The NBA’s Miami Heat and NHL’s Florida Panthers will all be hosting home games during the winter months and into the playoff drive of the spring.

So think about putting the parka away and start digging out that beachesswimsuit from the back of the closet, Miami Beach awaits you with warm temperatures, sunny skies, and friendly locals to help you forget about the winter season.

Golf Gadgets for the Holidays

asiseeit_fayette_headshotGolfers all around the world are constantly looking for that newest golf ball to give them added distance or that latest club to give their game confidence and control. Walk into any sporting goods store or browse golf items on Ebay and you will see that there are dozens of tools and gadgets to make your golf game that much more enjoyable. Like the ball retriever or the adjustable loft iron, many of these items come and go as fast as a Tiger Woods tee shot. However, over the last few years course GPS and range finders have made incredible leaps and bounds, both technologically and price-wise. The neatest thing about many of these new items is that they’re available on your Android or iPhone.

Here are five of what I think are the best golf apps and gadgets available this holiday:

Golf Logix– This free app is able to be used on just about any smartphone and boasts nearly 35,000 golf courses in its library. This app not only provides you with accurate tee to pin distance, but it also has features that will give you distances to hazards or lay up locations. One of the neatest things about this Golf Logix app is its “fly over” feature. One touch of your smartphone and you get to see a tee to green birds-eye view of the hole you’re about toGolfLogix play. This feature is extremely helpful when playing a new or unfamiliar course. Golf Logix also has built in features to allow for not only scorekeeping, but shot by shot record keeping and even post-round video lessons on the areas your game needs work on. Golfers can even book future tee times at thousands of courses through Golf Now on the Golf Logix app, with daily updates and discounts. It’s pretty obvious why over 3 million golfers have chosen this app as their go-to golf app.
Swing By Swing- This golf GPS range finder and scorecard ups the ante a bit on other golf apps by also offering wind speed and direction on every hole. The unique “Plays Like” feature takes into consideration wind and elevation to give the golfer a more realistic distance that the ball needs to carry. Claiming to have every golf course in the world in its library (by the way, I didn’t check each one) Swing By Swing also offers a website community where golfers can share theirs scores, stories, and even pictures from their round. The scorecard feature not only keeps track of every stroke entered, but will also help organize various betting games such as Skins, Stableford, Nassau, and more. Swing By Swing is free for life and available for download on most platforms.

 
Golf Pad GPS– Don’t be fooled by it’s name, this handy little golf caddy is available for smartphones as well as iPads and tablets. Featuring over 30,000 free golf courses, Golf Pad GPS has taken the best features from the industry’s top apps and 81D-BiffmtLmade them even better. The GPS range finder gives distances to the front, middle, and back of every green, while also giving distances to course hazards. The 4-players scorecard tallies the shots, putts, and even penalties of every player playing in the round. Hole by hole fly overs, round by round playing history, and accurate game-improving statistics are just some of the reasons why Golf Pad GPS is quickly gaining in popularity in the free golf app category. And by the way, if you find a course that this app doesn’t have a simple visit to their website allows you to map the course in about 20 minutes.

 

SkyCaddie LINX Golf GPS Watch– For those not wanting to constantly be fidgeting with their smartphone while playing golf, one of the GPS industry leaders, SkyCaddie, has introduced its new Golf GPS Watch. While this isn’t designed to have all the colorful bells and whistles of the smartphone apps, it does get the job done unite well. For around $150 this versatile and sporty watch can be worn on and off the course. It skycaddie-linx-front-black-white-400cwfeatures not only the time, but also a built in odometer which users can then download onto their own profile on the computer. With regards to the GPS range finder feature, this SkyCaddie watch gives a large display of the distance to the front, center, and back of the green. Distances to various hole hazards can also be displayed with a click of a button. This watch is water resistant and durable. It comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and includes mini-USB cable for charging. For me, this SkyCaddie Golf GPS watch could be my next acquisition. A simple glance to the wrist will provide me with more than my next golf shot will need.

 
World Golf Tour (WGT)– For those days when your golf game gets rained out WGT comes to the rescue. Escape the local thunderstorms by playing a round at historic St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, or any other spectacular course around the world. World Golf Tour is truly the most realistic online golf game ever. This virtual golfing world allows players to connect with one another and play amazing golf courses regardless of the weather outside, day or night! Whether you play from your computer, smartphone or tablet, WGT offers realistic play which even the pros have claimed adds to the improvement of your golf game by working on your course management and decision-making skills. World Golf Tour simply requires a one-time sign up (username and password) and within minutes you’re playing with friends that you’ve invited in, or others from halfway around the world.

worldgolftourRemember that while these golf apps and gadgets are on the cutting edge of technology and offer never before applications for one’s game, nothing will ever replace the need for practice, play, and the occasional lesson from a PGA professional. But with that being said, those looking for a slight competitive edge, or just some plain fun to add to their game, the download of any of these five will surely not disappoint the inner Jack Nicklaus or Natalie Gulbis in all of us.