Where Dreams Come True

The beach is glorious and a great way to spend free time…if you enjoy the sun and putting on lots of SPF! After the beach, finding entertainment options for a family of six within a reasonable budget was the next task.  Florida loves attractions and making their guests happy, so it was not impossible (thankfully).

Next stop: Walt Disney World.

There are 6 Walt Disney World amusement parks (4 themed and 2 water). We are still going for reasonable, so a trip to Disney everyday is not at all recommended. For four adults and two children, a day at Blizzard Beach cost about $300. The great thing about this park is that even with all the food locations inside, outside coolers and food seem to be permitted. Unfortunately, we didn't know that, so we left the park in search of junk food to satisfy our hunger.

Largest food chain in America: McDonald's to the rescue…so we thought. There was no dollar menu. Value meals began at 7.99  (and that wasn't for chicken. Of course we left and found something more reasonable, but if you are at Disney World, realize that commercial food in the same vicinity is probably double the normal price.

Anyway, Blizzard Beach turned out to be fun. We went on every single water ride in the park that we were allowed to do. I even tried to get on rides for 12 year olds, but was turned away (for obvious reasons). My mother joined in on all of the fun as well; including "Summit Plummit", a 120 feet high slide that "has a 12-story drop and speeds riders down the mountain at 50 to 60 MPH".

We got to the front of the line and it took 10 people to jump us in the line before my mother decided to go down the slide (it was such a long walk down). She sat, stood up, said 'no', then after praying, she went down the slide and vowed not to do it again.

Disney is definitely a great day adventure, especially when you're with kids that love the Disney Channel (myself included), but there are other options. Orlando is loaded with miniature golf. I also saw this pattern in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so it may be a popular tourist attraction.

I have never played miniature golf, nor did anyone in my family. There was a great deal with CiCi's Pizza ($5.99 value) and mini golf ($9.99 for 18 holes), where eating and playing 18 holes would only cost $12.99 and we even got it for only $9.99. Why not get a great workout after dinner with mini-golf? So that's what we did.

Disney and mini-golf were great family recreational activities and a lot of fun in general. All of these family vacations are making up for my missing summer quality time…and it's definitely a good time. :)

Son Of A Beach

Submission by: Brendan Marmolejos from New York, NY

As a full-time Communications student, working 40+ hours a week during the dreaded graveyard shift in the city that never sleeps, I would assume it’s safe to say I’m in dire need of a damn vacation! Twenty years old, and I just might be the busiest person I know within my age range. Scratch that–without a doubt, I am the busiest person I know!

After consistently being denied time off, my boss eventually accommodated my need for leisure. Either that or a nervous breakdown would have subsequently ensued. Well, maybe not–but I sure as hell would have been pissed! Call me dramatic, but a little drama never hurt!

Long story short, I quickly booked my flight to the Sunshine State where my family resides. As much as I would love to travel to the Caribbean, the South Pacific, or anywhere tropical; it’s far out of my budget, and there is always room for compromise. South Florida will suffice. After all, it is in the Tropic of Cancer, right?

First stop: Siesta Key Beach–one of the few places I can go where my thoughts are as free as the coastal breeze. It’s the single habitat where my inhibitions are flushed with the crashing of each turquoise wave and replenished with the scent of the flowing sea air. The caressing warmth of the Sun combined with the cool, pristine water gives one that nurturing sense of comfort and complacency, maneuvering life’s many demands into a realm of temporal non-existence. This is what I call bliss–supreme happiness without regard to reality!

To say the least, I have become completely enamored with the beauty that encompasses the beach, and nature in general. Perhaps I was Pagan in another life, and my naturalistic customs were transferred to my present. I suppose living in New York City has allowed me to notice the alluring essence of the ocean.

That being said, the beach is my mother, and I am her son. I am the son of a beach...

Florida Beach Recommendations:
  • Siesta Key Beach- Sarasota, FL
    • Located on the Gulf coast of southwest Florida, Siesta Key Beach is recognized for its sugary white sand which resembles that of baby powder. It is said the sand is so fine due to the fact it is made of pure quartz. Siesta has held the title of #1 Beach in the United States for eleven consecutive years. The calm, shallow waters and quick access to delicious food vendors make this vacation spot perfect for families.

  • Jensen Beach- Hutchinson Island, FL
    • Located on the Atlantic coast of southeast Florida, Jensen is far less popular than most of the beaches on this list; however, it is just as tasteful as the rest. Considering the “Gulf Stream” current runs just off the coast of this sleepy coastal town, Jensen is ideal for adrenaline pumping water sports such as surfing and wind sailing.
  • Miami Beach- Miami, FL
    • One of my favorite beaches has to be Lummus Park in the international city of Miami. I travel frequently from New York City to Miami for work, and when I’m off the clock; my first trip is usually this particular beach. Located in the world renowned South Beach, where the most beautiful people on Earth roam, and where a plethora of nightclubs can be found in every direction; this diverse city is excellent for people watchers, party goers, spring breakers, and even the young at heart. Please note Lummus Park is a nude beach; thus, I would not recommend it for families with young children.

  • Panama City Beach - Panama City, FL
    • Not to be confused with Panama City, Panama; the Panama City Beach I am referring to is located in the panhandle of northwest Florida. This young, eclectic beach haven has been widely chosen by various groups of people and social crowds. If you like to drink, party, swim, and tan, then this beach is most definitely where you want to be. If you fancy the party scene, Panama City is home to the largest night club in the United States, Club La Vela, with Miami’s Club Mansion ranking in second. Seeing that PCB is mostly occupied by binge drinking college students on term breaks, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to the average, conservative American family.

  • Key West Beach - Key West, FL
    • Just 90 miles north of Cuba is the southernmost point of the continental United States--Key West, Florida. The beaches of this barrier island are full of breathtaking coral reefs, in which a countless number of tropical sea life habitats, allowing for perfect snorkeling and scuba diving conditions. Key West is for everyone under the sun, from couples who would prefer to lie in a hammock under a palm tree and appreciate its grandeur, or an energetic child whose felicity is brought out by splashing around in the ocean. Local government should consider changing the name from Key West to Key BEST!

Want to be featured on She Wants It Her Way as a guest blogger?? Email me your idea/post!

    Fun in the Sun!

    The downside about being in Orlando is the lack of a beach. The great thing about being in Florida is having options to quench your thirst for summer fun and lovin'.
    Beach Options (approx. all the same distance): Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, and Clearwater Beach

    Although I lived in Florida for 2 years (2004-2006), I never visited the Gulf Coast. This family vacation changed that. Going swimming sounds like an opportunity to visit the West, eh? Away we go, on another car drive; this one only lasting 2 hours.

    BTW, did I mention that I have a phobia?? Gephyrophobia: Fear of Bridges -- [for me], mainly bridges over water. I don't care how long or short they are, I become extremely anxious when I have to travel any distance over the sea, bay, river, stream, lake, pond, etc. I usually just close my eyes, but my family loves to mention that we're over water and then I think about the possibility of a disaster -- isn't that encouraging? I will overcome my fear.

    Clearwater Beach was absolutely beautiful. From the moment we entered the city and got a glance of the newly model city buildings to crossing the bridge and arriving at the beach, my family and I were astound by the beautiful splendor of this magnificent city. And so we wondered why we had never discovered it before.

    Clearwater Beach accolades include: 
    • Best City Beach
    • One of America’s Top Family Beaches
    • One of the Top Singles Beaches in Florida; and
    • One of the Best Beaches from Maine to Hawaii
    Beautiful clear water that glistens when you walk across the sand...

    What appeared as crystals in the water...
    It was beautiful (LIVE footage of Clearwater).
    No wonder they've been attributed with being one of the best!

    My parents said the beach was almost as beautiful as the beach in Puerto Rico (I don't know what tops the Caribbean Seas). Not only was the sand white, but the water was warm and inviting. I'm usually not fond of beaches because the ocean can take you so far, but I didn't want to leave the water. It was too perfect and I wanted to bathe in the sun with the waves against back, and many attempts to go against the tide.

    The beach was not crowded, so it was not difficult to find an umbrella and some chairs to sit under. Be aware, however, that these umbrella's cost $10.00. That's not bad at all with parking only about $3.00 for 3 hours (free after 6PM).

    Beach time, anyone? Fourth of July is coming up soon...and I think we have a winner!!

    Just a taste of Heaven

    Eighteen hours of driving, three hours of being stuck in traffic (Thanks, Virginia), lots of improvisation -- AND WE'RE HERE! The destination? Buena Vista, Orlando, Florida -- also known as Kissimmee, FL.

    The Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista welcomed us on Saturday afternoon. It's been two days and I have yet to see any disappointment from this hotel. There's an Applebee's restaurant attached to the lobby, which made figuring out what was for dinner a breeze after that long drive, PLUS "Kids Eat Free" if you're staying at the hotel (yesss!). There's a convenient store, arcade, and home theatre (mainly for children) in the lobby area as well, so there's really no need to get bored.

    The pool is heated and a great amenity for the family. My personal favorite is the hot tub, of course. There's nothing like a glass of wine (which they sell in the convenient store) and  a hot tub to sink into.
    Imagine yourself slowly submerging into what you think will be a scorching hot tub, but finding that it is a perfect balance of the already hot Florida weather and what your body temperature can handle -- perfection. And the view , well…see for yourself...

    And with a religious family like mine, you can't forget going to church on Sunday morning.

    Forget the traditional Pentecostal/Non-denominational charismatic church with a live band. Oh, no! We went to the place it all began -- The Holy Land [Experience] for our morning church service. I don't have anything meaningful to report, but I really love this building/temple.

    There are still 4 days to make this trip in Florida exciting.

    No Surprises

    Traveling a long way can become irritating, boring, and just frustrating. Driving to far destinations can seem endless, but have no fear -- you're getting closer and closer to your destination. It's important to keep that time occupied so that you don't get irritated, bored, or frustrated.
    Things to do while traveling:
    • Read books (literature, comics, magazines)
    • Coloring books -- age ain't nothin' but a number
    • Sing-a-longs
    • Make lists -- like this one
    • Listen to music -- I recommend Slacker Radio or 8tracks.com
    • Write
    • Play games on your telephonic device -- Angry Birds certainly lives up to its rep.
    • Play car games -- like the license plate game or call dibbs on the nicest cars you see...even though you probably don't actually want it in real life
    • Eat
    • Watch a movie -- invest in a laptop, car t.v. or portable DVD player

    We all know gas prices could be lowered and sometimes I wonder if the prices of some of these gas stations are permitted or rigged. Why is there such a big gap between gas prices between the South and the Northeast? I know everything is cheaper in the South, but a 30 cent difference is causing me to question why the prices are such a big difference.  

    Living in Florida, you learn about price gouging (Thanks Gov. Bush). My initial thought would be that living/working in Washington, DC and being aware of gas prices, Congress/the Senate should be aware of these ridiculous DC Gas Prices ($4.50/gal) in comparison to the rest of the country. In rural Maryland, my parent's 2010 Toyota Corolla filled up at $3.63/gal for $60 worth of gas. In South Carolina, the gas was $3.37 and cost $30 to fill up.

    What is the rest of the country looking like? I'll be in California and New Jersey soon, but the quicker with answers, the better! What are gas prices looking like in your town? Lmk.

    The Things You Do

    When a mother's  heart has been broken one too many times by the children she loves, you learn to take one for the team. No matter how much it does not seem like a good idea, you make it work; for old times sake. You never know when you'll get another opportunity to create memories  that will last a lifetime or another family vacation.

    So this, I bring to you: My 'Summer 2011 Travels.'

    [And that's how you let the beat build]

    P.S. You do it most importantly for love

    The Intro: Summer 2011

    I am a Twenty-Year-Old college student from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. I have the heart, commitment, and passion for exploring, traveling, and learning new things. As I go on adventures, even something as small as a trip to the supermarket, I am open and prepared for anything.

    My travels, however, are much greater than the quick run to pick up dairy. Summer 2011 destinations include: Washington, DC. New York, New York. Orlando, Florida. Asbury Park, New Jersey. Los Angeles, California. Melbourne, Australia.

    View Summer 2011 in a larger map

    And  that is just what has been planned. Prepare to connect. Prepare to engage. Prepare to travel. Anticipate a learning experience that will never have you second guessing.

    Tune in for more! :)

    P.S. I set my own boundaries. After all, she wants it her way....