Head to St. Joseph Bay for World-Renowned Scalloping

Have you ever gone scalloping?  Personally, I had not, until this year in Gulf County, Florida.  I wasn’t even sure what the act of “scalloping” was.  Yes, getting scallops, surely, but how? And what did that entail?  It turns out, it’s both fairly simple, and not as easy as you would expect.

One basically needs to get to a body of water that contains these mollusks, which are both mild in flavor and extremely healthy for you.   You can charter a boat, get on a kayak, or find a company that does scalloping tours. If you head out without a guide or boat captain, you will need a Florida saltwater fishing license, a mesh bag, and a dive flag. Get your license ahead of time online or head to the experts at Bluewater Outriggers. They can get you a license, supplies, tell you the local hot spots, and tips on how to find scallops.

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We first tried our hand on the Break-a-Way Charters boats, owned and operated by the father and son team of Captain Bobby and Captain Wade Guilford as well as Captain George Lautt.  The boat tour we were looking to go on revolved around scalloping, but we ended up doing more then that. The first stop where we tried for scallops came up empty handed, but we were able to go shelling along the beaches of Port St. Joe and St. Joseph’s Bay.

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The shelling could easily have been the highlight of my day- it was peaceful, quiet, and something you could do either by yourself or with someone else.  I headed out for some alone time, enjoying the solitude while seeking out shells on the beaches.  The guides were able to identify the shells when we returned- what type they were, what lived in them, and other interesting shell-related information.

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Break-a-Way Charters offers inshore & offshore fishing, shelling, sightseeing, scalloping and  are the only locals able to provide“snuba” trips.  What is snuba?  Part snorkeling, part scuba “diving”, snuba allows you to dive into the water with air but without the tank, so no special certification is needed.

shelling in florida

We headed back onto the boat with our newly found treasures to try another location for scallops. We found all sorts of shellfish, interesting shells, sand dollars, starfish, and more- but no scallops. The clear, warm water however made for a perfect place to swim and lounge about; no one was in a rush to go try another spot.

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We decided to head to lunch, and taste the scallops that had been eluding us instead. At Indian Pass Raw Bar, they continued to be evasive, but the food was so amazing that we didn’t mind. If you didn’t know any better, you’d be tempted to pass what looks like some “hole in the wall” convenience store looking building.  Looks can be deceiving.  Once inside, seat yourself and grab a drink from one of the “coolers”.  Decide what you want by checking it off of a “ticket” and handing it in- the staff will bring your choices to you when ready.  The menu is on the smaller side, but the food is amazing, offering barbeque, stuffed shrimp, and melt-in-your-mouth parmesan baked oysters that will convert many who swore off the sometimes off-putting shellfish. This friendly and unassuming restaurant is come-as-you-are, flip flops and shorts, and operates on an honor system (yes, really).  Located in a corner of Florida’s Forgotten Coast, the food and staff are anything but forgettable, and you will find yourself planning another visit to this local favorite into your schedule.
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Medieval Times – Kissimmee, Florida

A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, Medieval Times is a great show that the whole family can enjoy.  No worries, the little ones won’t be afraid- the show is very tame (rated G!) while still offering tons of fun and action. Make sure you arrive about an hour early to give yourself ample time to explore the Medieval Village, the only one in the country.  Launched in Spain in 1973, and in Kissimmee, Florida just 10 years later, it is widely regarded as the longest running and most popular dinner attraction in North America- and I have to concur.  During this 2 hour live performance, you and your family will experience a glace back in time- when knights defended the realm, and chivalry was not dead.

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The exhibit showing the clothes and artifacts from the times that the show was based on was not just educational- it was fun, and I highly recommend it.  There was a woman making thread and clothing there as well, and my son thought that was the coolest thing. If you have very small children, as I do, I will personally recommend that you turn back when you reach the rooms that exhibit the torture devices.  While morbidly fascinating, even non-readers can understand what some things were used for, and there were illustrations.  Most were not graphic- but for younglings and those with a weak stomach- skip that area. Areas of interest for everyone will be the stables, pottery, loom/seamstress area, carpentry, metal smith, and more.  My son loved the metal smith and carpentry areas the best- he also got a huge kick out of the looms.  It really interested him to see how clothes were made and fabrics created.  (Who knew?)  Other high points from the village were authentic chainmail suits, and fired and even some painted pottery.
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PLEASING THE LITTLEST PARK GOERS IN ORLANDO

There’s no need to wait until kids are in elementary school to bring them to Orlando — not when every park has plenty to wow the littlest park goers and their parents, including big, interactive play areas designed just for them.

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At Walt Disney World:

  • The Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland doubled the size of Fantasyland with everything from the iconic Dumbo ride, the chance to meet and greet the princesses at A Princess Fairytale Hall, and the Barnstormer coaster that’s the perfect size for preschoolers.
  • The Boneyard at Dinoland U.S.A. at Animal Kingdom lets your little paleontologists dig for “fossils” in a gigantic sandbox, play on a xylophone that looks like dinosaur ribs and head down prehistoric slides.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush is that loveable animated creature’s home at Epcot’s Future World.
  • See “Muppet Vision 3D The Great Movie Ride” and “Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage.”
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Turning Your Day Upside Down at WonderWorks #Florida #Travel

wonderworksLet your imagination run wild at WonderWorks, where there is something fun to do for any stage and any age. With over 100 hands on exhibits and attractions, you and your family will never be bored. This unique building is built to appear as though it is upside down, which has been an endless topic of conversation for my son. He was really confused, then intrigued by that. Inside, the walls appear to be broken and falling down around you, lighting is odd, and the whole building looks damaged as if by some tornado. Very interesting!

05 30 12 169One of the first things you may do when you get inside is take a spin in the “inversion tunnel” so that, once on the other side, you can spend time playing in this “upside down” building without landing on your head. (Note- while the floor doesn’t really move, it FEELS like it does- and is in fact very dizzying, lol.)

You can feel what a 5.3 earthquake feels like in the disaster zone, or be blown away by 73 MPH winds. Check out how light and sound move, and test your reaction times. Find out how foce and distance will affect pulling your own body weight up while seated. Dance the day away on a giant piano (reminded me of the movie “Big”) and then shake your groove thang and watch your shadow stay behind.
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Wingate by Wyndham Hotel Review #Florida #Travel

If you are looking for a hotel that is close to Universal Studios, Orlando, and the airport, feel free to check out Wingate by Wyndham Universal and Convention Center. Great for business or pleasure- or a mix of both- the Wingate is a great place to stay that won’t break the bank.

I am traveling with my son, who is 5. I know this is terrible of me, but I really liked the fact that there was an IHOP, KFC, and Taco Bell in the parking lot of the hotel. He almost never eats fast food, but when on vacation, hey, you never know when you will need food in a hurry 🙂 The hotel also is a stop for the I RIde Trolley, which is a fast and easy way to travel the Orlando and Kissimmee area. You can hop on and off all day long for a flat fee of $4, free for kids under 12. Go to any of your favorite spots like Sea World or WonderWorks, even hit up a 7-11 and grab a burger and then head back to your hotel- all for less then parking. Easy.

There was an extended continental breakfast in the dining area off the lobby, were you can have some toast and coffee, or waffles, cereal, sausage, eggs, and more. It always makes traveling so much easier when the hotel has breakfast included. When booking a hotel, it is one of the first things I look for. I hate having to go out to breakfast, and since most hotels do not include kitchenettes, it’s just extra money that doesn’t need to be spent.
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Wordless Wednesday – Ground Control to Major Tom

The Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center

One of the nicest resorts we have been to in a long time, the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center was a vacation all in itself. With lovely rooms, several restaurants and dining options right on site, as well as shopping available, and it’s own pool and water park, you won’t need to leave the campus to have a great time. Beautiful gardens with running rivers and waterfalls, fish (including mangrove snappers, redfish, snook, stingrays and tarpon) and koi fish, alligators, turtles, and other aquatica abound in over 360,000 gallons of water, you may forget you are indoors as you stroll around the atrium.
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Paddle Boarding in New Smyrna Beach

Tired of the crazy, frenzied, tourist rush? I love theme parks as much as the next gal (maybe more!) but sometimes, you just have to get away. My son, a friend, and I took a day trip out to New Smyrna Beach to paddle board at East Coast Paddle, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. Spending the day out in the quietude, in nature, and with only 5 people visible to me (including myself) was a welcome break from the crush of crowds you typically find at most attractions.

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About and hour and a half from Kissimmee, East Coast Paddle is an award winning-company, run by a husband and wife team. Proud parents themselves, they are excellent with children. Mine was smitten with wife, Cheryl, who toured about with him on her board the morning through. Cheryl, who has a doctorate in addition to her company and expert paddle boarder-status (and is a boat captain as well- yes, she makes us all look bad, LOL) also acted as tour guide in the river in New Smyrna for us, and was more then patient as we found our balance (or didn’t) and with my son, who kept dangling his feet in the water (which I am sure did not make steering easy for her!) Her husband, Tim, joined us in the beginning, and gave us our “lessons” on how to properly use the paddles and boards before we got on.

I think I annoyed him mildly, as I was only half paying attention (my son was asking a million questions, and also since he was on a boat and wandering, I was nervous- even though he was standing with Cheryl and I was an arm’s length away, LOL. What can I say, nervous mommy!) When we got on the boards, I found myself not having much of an issue finding my balance or keeping it. As a yoga lover for many years, I think that helped a lot, and did a fondness for kayaking. My son got right on Cheryl’s board, and stayed there, no problem. How she kept her balance with his wiggling is beyond me, though! My friend had a rougher start, but then he found his groove and we were on the way.
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