Archive | Worth the Drive

Beaches Near Orlando – Hit the Beach! Don’t Get Hit!

If you are here on vacation, you may want to check out the beaches near Orlando – Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach or New Smyrna Beach. They are all about the same distance driving time – about an hour. If you don’t mind an extra half hour or mileage on your rental car, the beaches in Tampa/St. Petersburg are very nice. While they all provide like-amenities, the east coast beaches allow driving directly on the beach in many areas.

Beaches near Orlando

Driving on the beach is nice, because you don’t have to find parking, or tote all of your umbrellas, towels, chairs, coolers, etc. for blocks just to drag it through the sand and back at the end of the day. It allows you to play your tunes, or seek shade inside your vehicle throughout the day. Driving on the beaches near Orlando is a nice convenience, however, it also presents a danger you don’t often expect to encounter at the beach. Note: Most beaches now charge to drive on the beach.

Driving Safety When Visiting Beaches Near Orlando

Over the years several accidents on our east coast beaches have caused quite a concern with beach-goers. Deaths have included a 4-year-old who was killed by a driver on Daytona’s beach as she darted in front of a vehicle. A 23-year-old woman was ran over while lying on the beach between two parked cars. Although it is a violation of county code to layout between cars, Volusia County Beach Patrol officers only cited the driver who rolled over the woman.

Bottom line is, even though you’re at the beach, you still need to pay attention and use some common sense. Don’t lie down between your car and another vehicle. Go closer to the water, or layout behind the row of parked cars where no one will be driving or parking. Look both ways before crossing the “road.” Explain to your children that the strip of sand between the cars and water is the road and depending upon the tide, the location of the “road” can be different throughout the day.

Other required laws when driving on the beaches near Orlando include:

  • at least one window must be rolled down
  • low volume on your radio
  • obey the speed limit (zero tolerance)
  • lights must be turned on
  • no texting

For more information on beach safety, visit Volusia County’s website.

Other Safety Factors

If you have young children or are not a strong swimmer, find a spot near a lifeguard. Read all warning signs. The booth attendant (at the street entry) or lifeguard will have warnings posted. These warnings often include rip currents, jelly fish and strong winds. While these warnings can present problems, they don’t have to ruin your trip to the beaches near Orlando. Be aware, use good sense, and have a great time.

Other advice is to arrive early if you want a good spot. Bring plenty of sun screen and water. If you want to pack light, there are vendors on the beach; bring cash. Plan to stay an entire day. Because the waters are still cool, the breeze off the ocean provides hours of enjoyment without feeling as if you’ve been in the sun all day. You’ll most likely want to make an entire day of it.

The beaches near Orlando are quite a “hit” with our visitors, let’s keep it that way and be safe.

Bike Week in Central Florida Revving Up

Bike Week in Central Florida is revving up! Many tourists may not have realized they planned their vacation at the same time as Bike Week. Years ago they probably wouldn’t have even noticed, but as the event has grown and the activity area has spread throughout Central Florida, it’s hard NOT to notice. Even though the cold weather and tough economy have kept the numbers of bikers lower than in past years, there are still motorcycles everywhere.

Bike Week in Central Florida

If you are attending theme parks, your vacation will most likely be “business as usual.” Bikers primarily attend events created for them elsewhere. While the Daytona area attracts most of the crowd, DeLand, Orlando and other areas are luring the bikers away with great events. This also allows bikers to get in some great seat time (longer rides).

Events are not for bikers only, so feel free to drive your “cage” to any event. I recommend riding the loop, the roads to & from Mt. Dora and around Lake County. Places to check out are Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Old School Chopper Show, the many events and concerts at Destination Daytona, the concerts and events at Orlando HD, or the legendary David Allen Coe at the Ironhorse Saloon. If you want to see something a little on the wild side, there is coleslaw wrestling at the Cabbage Patch. Roads nearer to the events tend to become highly congested, so plan accordingly and PLEASE drive with safety in mind.

Safe Driving during Bike Week in Central Florida, Please!

Once Bike Week in Central Florida is throttled down, a transformation from bikers to spring breakers begins. Hotels will empty out, then fill back up, but one thing is for sure – the roads will be very busy. When learning to drive, I taught my kids to LOOK for the motorcycle. You’ll see the car. You’ll see the truck. You’ll see ALL of the other vehicles on the road, as long as you are LOOKING for the motorcycles (and bicycles).

Yes, I know a lot of motorcycle riders drive recklessly – so do cars! Please give bikers the same respect that you give any other vehicle. Don’t follow too closely, don’t cut them off, don’t stop suddenly in front of them, etc. This applies to the vehicles towing the bike trailers as well. The roads will be filled for the next two weeks with both, riders and trailers.

As always, Capone’s Dinner & Show welcomes bikers and all groups that want to have a great evening out at an Orlando dinner show. Whether you ride 2-up or come with a big ol’ biker gang, the wise guys and beautiful dancing girls will entertain and show you a great time. In fact, some motorcycle clubs make Capone’s Dinner & Show an annual event. Meet up as a group and ride on in. Parking is free for everyone. You only need 15 adults to get a group rate. Ride safe and enjoy Bike Week and all that is offered here in Central Florida!

Bikers Welcomed in Central Florida

For many businesses, Bike Week in Central Florida is welcomed with extra staff on hand, extended hours and additional inventory. Tourists are a huge part of our economy and bikers tend to spend a lot of money. Please be safe. Allow ALL of our tourists a return visit to these yearly events. Look twice, save a life!

Winter Park Autumn Art Festival this Weekend!

Just a friendly reminder that the annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival is this weekend. I have attended this festival many years, and it does not disappoint. If you are a tourist in the area, it really is worth the drive to attend this art show.

Winter Park Autumn Art Festival

2016 Festival Poster by Don Sondag

Held in Central Park, October 8 & 9, along the historic Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park, this event is the only juried art show to feature Florida artists exclusively. The festival is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days and admission is FREE. The community-oriented sidewalk show presents quality visual art and live entertainment the whole family can enjoy.

There will be ceramics, digital art, drawing/graphic art, fiber media, fine crafts, jewelry, painting (all media), photography, sculpture as well as live music and entertainment. Each year, this elite group of art enthusiasts support a 43-year tradition of producing a world-class festival.

Winter Park Autumn Art Festival Entertainment

In addition to the art, the Central Park stage will feature a wide array of entertainment including:

Saturday, October 8
9:00 a.m. – Mike Petrovich
10:00 a.m. – Mike Petrovich Trio
11:00 a.m. – Maitland Middle School Jazz Ensemble
12:00 p.m. – Casey Picou
1:00 p.m. – UCF Flying Horse Jazz Ensemble
2:30 p.m. – Cat Ridgeway
3:30 p.m. – Hannah & The Lionhearts

Sunday, October 9
9:00 a.m. – Nicholas Roberts
10:00 a.m. – Swamp Sistas Songwriting Circle
11:45 a.m. – Crenshaw
1:00 p.m. – WPHS Jazz Ensemble (Michael Clemente)
2:00 p.m. – Ukiah
3:30 p.m. – Beth McKee Band

*All acts subject to change

Other Features of this Festival

In addition to the art show, there will also be children’s activities and workshops. Prepare to do some shopping at this festival since the entire community gets involved and the shops offer some great items in their sidewalk sales. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from vendors at the festival. Also featured is a beer garden for guests (21+) to sample a variety of seasonal beer.

Parking is offered along Park Avenue and on the surrounding streets, with handicap spaces available in municipal lots throughout downtown as well as in the SunTrust and Park Place garages. SunRail will not be operating during the Autumn Art Festival. Pets are allowed, but must be on a leash, and well-behaved. For more information visit their website or call (407) 644-8281.

Keep your fingers crossed that this beautiful weather will hold out and another successful Winter Park Autumn Art Festival will be enjoyed by all. This is one of my favorite art shows in Florida. If you are looking for something special to do this weekend, visit Winter Park and enjoy autumn – at least Florida’s version within art.

Shrimp & Seafood Festival in New Smyrna Beach

Shrimp & Seafood Festival in New Smyrna BeachAre you ready for a road trip? If you like seafood and want to experience a small-town seafood festival, New Smyrna Beach is the place to be this coming Thursday, August 4, 2016. The Annual Shrimp & Seafood Festival takes place on Flagler Avenue (beachside) from 5pm – 9pm. During this festival, the street is blocked off and food, art and craft vendors are set up outside along the street. Live performances are featured on a small outdoor stage and visitors are free to wander around, sample the great food selections and enjoy an adult beverage (if old enough). Flagler merchants open their doors for guests to shop and escape the warm air.

Award winning area restaurants will be in attendance serving up the best seafood samples. Local restaurants as well as a few from the Daytona area are expected to have booths. Prices of these samples usually range from $3 to $6. Some are smaller than others, but by consuming 2 or 3 samples, you’ll manage to consume a nice meal at a fraction of the cost to dine at any one restaurant.

Shrimp & Seafood Festival Favorites

Shrimp & Seafood Festival favorite restuarantThere are many restaurants along Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach. The Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill at the end of the north causeway is one of the favorites at the Shrimp & Seafood Festival. Their booth will be along the avenue, or you can check out their restaurant location. Surf boards decorate the upper balcony with colorful paint. It is a fun location to sit outside and enjoy live music. The inside of the Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill is decorated tastefully in surfer fashion. Try the fish tacos. Some folks say they are the best EVER! The empañadas and hamburger are excellent too. Dishes from various regions are featured on the menu.

Flagler Tavern deckThe Bounty BarAlso located on Flagler Avenue is a newly renovated restaurant, the Flagler Tavern. While this location has been here for decades, this past year the restaurant added onto the front, side and top floor. Popular for its deck, this Shrimp & Seafood Festival vendor is a favorite among locals and visitors. Enjoy people watching from the deck, or sneak upstairs for a quite brunch or adult beverage at the bar.

Wide Variety of Samples

In addition to the local restaurants, the Shrimp & Seafood Festival also features restaurants from nearby Daytona, DeLand and others known for their excellent seafood. The festival offers a great opportunity to sample their dishes at one time and one location. With such a wide variety offered, you are sure to find several to sample.

New Smyrna Beach is about an hour’s drive from Orlando. Go early to get a parking place. Enjoy the seafood and the beach. If you can’t make it to this festival, try for another one. The merchants in NSB host a street festival almost on a monthly basis. They’re worth the drive!

This Central Florida Attraction Will Amaze You!

Central Florida has many attractions who’s founders based their theme park upon dreams and followed them up with a lot of hard work. Long & Scott Farms can be included in this list. A farm as an attraction? Well, this is no ordinary farm.

50 years ago, what started as a small farm located near Mount Dora (north of Orlando) was purchased, and dreams (and a few struggles, I’m sure) had begun. Today, the farm is not so small, and the dreams of a productive and successful farm can be experienced by hundreds of folks who are willing to make the drive. There is something for everyone to enjoy at this farm, including a market, cafe, and for the next few months, the Scott’s Maze Adventures. This is an Orlando attraction of another kind, and a great way to experience real Florida.

Scott’s Country Market is known for their Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. If you’ve ever attended a Zellwood Corn Festival, you’ll know that this corn is delicious. Even when it is not in season, this market is known for a lot of other freshly harvested produce. Local growers and farmers sell their best potted plants, cage-free eggs, Amish cheese, butter and bacon, local honey, dressings, BBQ sauces, jams, candles, cider, and much, much more! If you are looking for a farmer’s market outside of the immediate Orlando area, this market is open Tuesday thru Saturday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 pm- 6:00 pm and closed on Mondays.

Check out the market early in the morning and eat breakfast at Scott’s Country Cafe. If you’re not an early riser, plan on shopping and having lunch, although you can’t be too late. While the market stays open later, the cafe closes at 2pm on weekdays and 4pm on the weekends. Enjoy a meal made fresh from the farm’s very own produce. Unlike a few Central Florida attractions, this meal will be affordable, not to mention delicious! Be sure to have a cup or bowl of the corn chowder.

Long & Scott Farms MazesWhat truly makes this a Central Florida attraction is Scott’s Maze Adventures. For the past ten years people have traveled from all over to get lost in a cornfield! Located at the southeast corner of County Road 448A and Jones/Duda Road, the farm is fairly easy to get to. They provide very good driving directions, so you’ll not get lost. You may, however, get lost once you get there! If you like a challenge, find all 23 stations within the maze and successfully complete the game sheet. It can take up to 2 hours, or as little as 45 minutes to cover the 6-acre mazes. Many people come to this attraction for all of the other fun things to do outside of the maze. Kids will enjoy playing on the playground, bouncing on a huge jumping pillow, zip lining, going for a hay ride ($4) or fishing from a stocked pond ($2).

This year’s mazes highlight the partnership that the farm has with Second Harvest Food Bank. With the holidays nearing, it is a great time to visit the farm. Purchase customized, one-of-a-kind gift boxes and baskets for everyone on your list. If you are in need of a pumpkin they are available now. If you want a Christmas tree, visit the farm after Thanksgiving. The mazes are open through December 15 – weekends for the general public and week days for reserved groups. Cost for this attraction is $9 for youth (3 – 16); $11 for adults (17 & up), and free for children under 3 years of age. Admission includes:

  • Large & small Corn Maze
  • Tree Maze
  • Rock Maze
  • Mist Maze
  • Super Slide
  • Jumping Pillow
  • Zip Line for Kids
  • Playground
  • Picnic Area
  • free parking
  • access to food vendors.

It may be a little bit of a drive to get to this attraction, but you’ll be glad you went. It’s affordabe fun that the entire family will enjoy. In fact, I’m betting you and your family will have an aMAZEing time!