Checking In: Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

I have a confession to make .. I think I have only ever stayed in 1-2 Marriott properties. I honestly do not know why I haven’t stayed before – but I am 100% sold on staying in their hotels in the future. They exceeded any expectation I had and I already cannot wait to return to explore more of this area. The property overall is fantastic. I found it to be light and airy, extremely clean, and overall offered a lot of open spaces – my only wish is that I had gotten the chance to stay longer.

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Beach Sunset

From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed into a gorgeous lobby that had beautiful decor throughout and sun shining right through. I could see children laughing and running in the distance and I knew I was checking in somewhere special. The check-in process went so smoothly and the staff was incredibly friendly.

Lobby

Lobby

The hotel offers 2 pools, a luxurious spa, 2 restaurants, 1 bar, in-room dining, gym, beach front access, and a trip you are never going to forget!

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Outdoor Area

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Cabana Area

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Pool

The Room:

I checked into a 1 bedroom condo with an ocean view during my visit. I was extremely pleased with the large amount of space, washer and dryer, separate living space from the bedroom, the beachy upscale decor, and the lush marble bathroom.

Something that caught my attention right away was the well curated minibar options. Since the room has a full size fridge, there were plenty of beverage options and the liquor options came in pint sizes versus the single serving sizes. In addition – I loved that the hotel gave popcorn in the minibar snacks since the room has a microwave – perfect for a movie night.

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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Luxury Bath Amenities

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

My favorite part of the room is the balcony from which I could see both a sunset and a sunrise! I had the best view in the entire hotel in my opinion. There is something truly magical about enjoying peaceful time on your balcony with the breeze from the water and seeing the sun in all her glory.

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Balcony Sunset

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Balcony Sunrise

 

Room Features

  • 800sqft/72sqm
  • Air-conditioned
  • This room is non-smoking
  • Connecting rooms are not available
  • Outdoor spaces: balcony (1)
  • Living/sitting area
  • Dining area
  • Living room is separated
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Living area is separated from bed by privacy wall
  • Walk-in closet
  • Windows, soundproof
  • Total outdoor space: 74sqft/7sqm
  • King Bed
  • Marble bathroom
  • Outlet with dual voltage adaptors
  • Desk, writing / work, electrical outlet
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Washer and dryer
  • TV’s – 2

Dining:

Marriott Singer Island-3800 Ocean Restaurant-2

During my stay I had the pleasure of dining at 3800 Ocean. I had a moment to chat with the chef about the food and you could tell he was very passionate about his work – which ultimately shined through in his culinary creations.

I had a charcuterie board, fried green tomatoes with pork belly confit and a watermelon and goat cheese salad. I cannot possibly choose a favorite because each dish was amazing in its own way. I loved the rich flavors of the green tomatoes but also the softness of the goat cheese paired with the watermelon and arugula salad (which to be honest – I did not know if that would taste good but I love trying new things and it was fabulous!). I was completely full from all the amazing food that I just could not eat anything else – so I opted not to get an entree or dessert.

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Delicious Bread

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Charcuterie Board

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Fried Green Tomatoes With Pork Belly Confit

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Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad

 

Additional Information:

  • Address: 3800 North Ocean Drive · Singer Island Riviera Beach, Florida 33404
  • Phone: 1-561-340-1795
  • Distance from West Palm Beach Airport: ~20-25 minutes
  • Parking: Valet is available – Uber is also readily available throughout the area

Overall:

I loved my stay here and completely fell in love with the area.

 

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Marriott Palm Beach

Disclaimer:

I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board, but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

7 Experiences To Have In The Palm Beaches, Florida

I just returned from a quick 4 day trip to the Palm Beaches in Florida and it was packed with incredible things to do. I honestly had not done much research prior to visiting but I had heard a lot of great things so I knew I was in for something special. The area is so beautiful that I feel like I photographed every inch of every place I went to. I came home with over 2,000 photos and I cannot get over how much I love the area.

I put together my favorites from my trip to share with you that I think really stood out and made the trip extra special.

Visit Flagler Museum 

The Flager Museum is one of my favorite things to do in the Palm Beaches. I am obsessed with architecture and interior design and Flagler brings it all and more. The museum actually used to be a home, Whitehall. Henry Flagler bought it for his third wife as a wedding gift and it only took 18 months to build .. and it is comprised of 75 rooms. Can you even imagine having something with such a gorgeous grandeur built that fast? Every room is different and designed in the Beaux-Arts style. You can expect to find large amounts of marble, rich colors, murals on the ceilings, and Henry Flagler’s train car on property.

I don’t want to give away anymore but there is a great story of how it came to be and why Flagler had his own train car.

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

Breakfast or brunch at Circle at The Breakers Resort 

The only thing I wish that had gone different at The Breakers Resort was me staying there for more than a meal. Not only is the food incredible and a must visit – but the hotel is absolutely beautiful! Just walking around the property was so special. I loved seeing all the light leaking in through the glass windows and the decor is top notch. I will definitely be returning for a stay.

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As for the food – I have made it no secret that I judge restaurants on how well they poach eggs and Circle does it quite perfectly laid over the hash I ordered. I also ordered their homemade granola and yogurt and it was so good AND the presentation is beautiful.

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Breakfast at Breakers Resort

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Breakfast at Breakers Resort

Catch a sunset AND a sunrise 

If you know me .. you know this is a priority when I travel. I like to see the sun and all its glory. I was really fortunate to see an incredible sunset and sunrise at the Marriott on Singer Island when I stayed there.

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Sunrise at the Marriott Singer Island

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Sunset at the Marriott Singer Island

Try local beer

I did a brewery tour and tasting at Twisted Trunk Brewing and learned so much about brewing from the owner, Fran. On our tour of the brewery he let me see how the beer is made and let me taste some of the different barley’s they use to make beers. I tried a beer that they make that I loved and think is perfect for summer called: Watermelon Saison! It may sound strange but I promise it was delicious. The watermelon did not overpower and it was subtle.

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Twisted Trunk Brewing

Tour Palm Beach 

Easily the most beautiful city I have seen. Every corner is brimming with gorgeous architecture, beach coastlines, high-end and boutique shops, and friendly faces. I took a tour with Leslie from Island Living Tour and she is so incredibly knowledgeable about the area – she lives there and she is very excited about sharing it.

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

Spa day at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa 

Eau boy was this an experience! Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa is such a marvelous property! I was only on site for an afternoon for lunch and a massage but I could certainly see myself staying for a weekend .. or two! Before I went to the spa I explored the property a little bit and had lunch on site at Breeze Ocean Kitchen. The food is so fresh and so delicious. I cannot stop talking about the ceviche they have made with passion fruit. It is the best I have ever had – so make sure and get this when you visit!

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

As for the Eau Spa – what an incredible experience. This is only the second time I have left my phone behind (which I always should, I know) to get the real spa experience. Prior to my treatment I enjoyed the whirlpool and sauna and just relaxed. No talking, no thinking about the things I needed to do – just me time. Eau Palm makes this easy with the ambiance of the spa. I should also mention they have champagne and cupcakes – they definitely know what they are doing!

My massage was perfect! I did a 60 minute Swedish massage and was able to select my oils, sounds in the room AND color – if that isn’t personalized, I don’t know what is! After your treatment you can retreat to the lounge, the whirlpool and steam rooms or there is an outdoor relaxing area that is truly a peaceful area.

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

 

Eat ALL the food 

I cannot rave enough about how AMAZING the food is here. Everything is so fresh, so original and overall everything I ate was sensational! Typically when I travel I seek out food that is different from where I live or things that are special to the area. As it turns out – a lot of the area is farm to table and uses the freshest ingredients.

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Salt7

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Crab Stack Deck 84

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Deck 84

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Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen

Read More: Foodies Guide to the Palm Beaches

 

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palm beaches activities

*Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board, but as always – opinions are entirely my own. 

Checking In: Seagate Hotel & Spa Delray Beach, Florida

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The Seagate Hotel & Spa is located in Delray Beach, Florida among the Palm Beaches. Nestled beautifully within the Delray neighborhood, it has easy walking throughout the city to many bars, restaurants and shops.

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Delray

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Lobby and Reception

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Sitting Area

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Sitting Area

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The hotel has a private country club with 18 holes for golf and 9 tennis courts, a beach club, private beach access with umbrellas and chairs, pool, and 2 restaurants offsite that you can take their shuttle to for use during your stay.

Downtown Delray Beach The Seagate Beach Club

Delray Beach

Hamlet Country Club

Golf

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Seagate Beach Club

I love that the property is a boutique property and isn’t overly big – it felt more catered to the guests. There was never any lines to check-in or out or a wait for anything. The pool was also never crowded.

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Amenities:

  • High speed internet
  • Concierge
  • Newspaper delivery
  • Twice daily housekeeping
  • Business center
  • Luxury car service – available from 8-11 within a 3 mile radius of the hotel. First come basis.
  • 24 hour valet
  • Seagate spa
  • Steam rooms
  • Fitness center with classes
  • Outdoor pools with Jacuzzi
  • Seagate Beach Club’
  • 24 hour room service
  • Pool bar service 11-5 daily

The Room:

During my stay I checked into a Deluxe King Room. Offering 500 generous square feet of space right in the heart of Delray, oozing with luxury. Some of the features I loved most about the room were the balcony overlooking the pool, the deep soaking tub with bubble jets, gorgeous marble bathroom, super soft Egyptian cotton sheets, and the nightly turn down service that came with a box of delicious chocolates and a purple orchid.

Bonus: I slept with my doors open for that nice Florida breeze as it isn’t too hot yet and I could hear the water lightly.

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Deluxe King Room

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Deluxe King Room

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Minibar Snacks

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Luxury Bath Amenities

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Sitting Area

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Nightly Turn Down

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Chocolates

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Balcony Views

Room amenities:

  • SMART Room Technology
  • 42″ HDTVs
  • DVD players
  • iHome docking stations
  • In-room movies
  • Three telephones
  • Mini-bars
  • Microwaves
  • Safes
  • LEED certified
  • Luxury Egyptian cotton linens
  • Luxury bath amenities by Gilchrist & Soames
  • Keurig coffeemakers
  • Umbrellas
  • Glass-enclosed walk-in showers
  • Lighted makeup mirrors
  • Blow dryers
  • Robes
  • Slippers
  • Scales

Dining:

Due to my busy schedule I did not get to dine in any of the fabulous establishments within the hotel but I did order room service my last morning and it did not disappoint. I was delivered the fluffiest of pancakes with pancakes.

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Overall:

Loved my short stay with Seagate Hotel and Spa! Boutique luxury is my favorite kind of luxury and the hotel met and exceeded my expectations in every way.

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Additional Information:

  • Address: 1000 E Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33483
  • Phone: (561) 665-4800
  • Distance from West Palm Beach Airport: 19.2 miles ~ 30 minutes drive
  • Parking: 24 hour valet

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seagate hotel and spa

Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board and the Seagate Hotel, but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

9 Foodie Spots You Must Try In The Palm Beaches, Florida

Never have I been to a destination where everything I ate was so fresh, so delicious and begging me to return. I recently returned from the Palm Beaches and truly believe the area is a culinary delight. I’ll be honest – usually when I travel I find a dish or something I don’t really like .. but not this time. Every single dish was incredible.

Here are my recommendations for food in the Palm Beaches:

Salt7: for the meat eater 

The Executive Chef, Paul Niedermann won a season of Hell’s Kitchen and is now serving up incredible food at Salt7. I love that this restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating and welcoming vibes to its guests.

For food I would highly recommend the peppercorn crusted sirloin and the Australian lamb lollipop! The meats were cooked to perfection with lush pink coloring and flavored perfectly.

For drinks I would try the smoked peach old fashioned.

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Salt7

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Salt7

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Salt7

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Salt7

Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen: for the best avocado toast

Now I realize you can order this anywhere .. but it is vastly different from restaurant to restaurant. This one from Farmhouse Kitchen had green pesto and ricotta and I added blue crab. It was all placed atop a thicker piece of toast and garnished with radishes and sprouts. It had the perfect amount of toast crunch with its toppings.

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Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen

Breeze Ocean Kitchen at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa: for the freshest food on the water

Not only is Breeze Ocean Kitchen situated perfectly on the water with the best beach views but the food is sensational. I opted to let the beach vibes pick my dishes!

For food you should definitely get the locally caught ceviche as it is made with avocado and passion fruit – and I cannot think of a better combination! Also delicious are their salads and coconut sorbet.

For drinks get the mojito made right in a coconut!

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

Deck 84: for the BEST fish tacos

I almost did not eat here because I was so tired and I am SO glad I did!! Hands down, Deck 84 has the best fish tacos I have ever had around the globe. They make them with their fresh catch and you pick how you want them cooked, I opted to have them fried. Then they are layered with creamy coleslaw and pickled jalapenos. So.Dang.Good.

I also ordered the crab stack and a coconut sorbet that were unbelievable.

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Deck 84

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Deck 84

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Deck 84

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Deck 84

The Circle at The Breakers: for the best brunch 

Breakfast and brunch are my favorite meals. I am obsessed. I 100% judge a restaurant on its ability to poach an egg and it was perfectly poached over the hash at The Circle. In addition, I ordered a probably the best yogurt parfait I have ever had. They make the granola in house and the presentation is just incredible as well as delicious.

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The Circle at Breakers Resort

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The Circle at Breakers Resort

3800 Ocean: for the best charcuterie board and mix of ingredients

Located in the Marriott on Singer Island, this was my last dinner of my trip and it was a fine finish. The chef brought me a beautiful charcuterie board with meats, cheese, nuts – the works, and if you know me I am such a big fan of cheeses. I took a risk and ordered a salad with ingredients I wasn’t sure would pair well together and surely I came out wrong – but that is the best part of eating, trying new things. I went with the watermelon and goat cheese feta salad that was on arugula with pistachios and lychee vinaigrette. Highly recommend both dishes!

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3800 Ocean

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3800 Ocean

Subculture Coffee: for the best coffee 

I had heard about Subculture Coffee before ever going and it is rumored to be an institution by those who have been. Artisan roasted coffee and delicious food. What more could you ask for? I went for a cold brew and fritatta sandwich.

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Subculture Coffee

Guanabanas: for the best Floridian fritters and waterside lunch

I really fell in love with Guanabanas! I love that they have Adirondack chairs lining the front of the establishment when you arrive and that the restaurant is so lush with greenery and facing water.

I went out on a limb and tried 2 things I had never had before: Floridian fritters and a fat Cuban. The fritters are made with local shrimp and have this incredible sweet mustard sauce paired with it. The fat Cuban was oozing with cheese and so good!

For drinks I would recommend Guanabanas’ Cat 5 – made with rums and fruit juices! So fresh and delicious.

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Guanabanas

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Guanabanas

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Guanabanas

The Seagate Hotel and Spa : for the best breakfast room service

I stayed at the Seagate for 2 nights during my trip and opted for a delicious room service breakfast during my stay. I went with the buttermilk pancake stack and bacon and it was just scrumptious! I am a big fan of bacon and they cooked it just perfectly. The bacon is also not pictured because I ate it before I could photograph it.

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Breakfast at Seagate Hotel

 

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Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Palm Beaches Tourism board, but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

21 Photos To Inspire You To Visit The Palm Beaches, Florida

I just returned from a gorgeous trip in the Palm Beaches, Florida and I am overwhelmed with how incredible the area is, how fresh the food is and how nice the people are. I don’t know how else to say this, but you are doing yourself a disservice everyday that you don’t book a trip and head here.

I remember when I was coming in for a landing at the West Palm Beach airport and I could see the stunning shades of blue that the water had to offer its coastline beaches. I am already planning my return. Until then .. I hope these photos inspire your trip!

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Sunrise at the Marriott Singer Island

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Flagler Museum

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Fish Tacos Deck 84

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Palm Beach

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Flagler Museum

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Breakfast at Seagate Hotel

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Seagate Hotel Trolley

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Salt7

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Palm Beach

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Crab Stack Deck 84

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Delray

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Salt7

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Flagler Museum

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Floridian Fritters Guanabanas

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Sunset at the Marriott Singer Island

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Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen

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Twisted Trunk Brewing

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Lunch Guanabanas

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Lunch at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

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Breakfast at Breakers Resort

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Seagate Hotel

 

 

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Palm Beach Florida

*Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board – but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

Checking In: Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando Florida

Ice Cream Party-4

The Ritz Carlton is easily one of my favorite hotel brands. I know exactly what I am getting when I stay there: top notch customer service, attention to detail, a luxurious property – each decorated and unique in its own way, delightful food, and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Staying with the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes was an easy pick for me because I love Orlando, Florida. The city truly has something for everyone of every age. From theme parks, dining, golf, museums, NASA, and so much shopping!

The Hotel:

This is one of the biggest hotels I have ever stayed in, coming in with 582 guest rooms, a 40,000 square foot spa, 47,000 square feet of in-door meeting space, and 11 dining options! With influences of Italy you will notice throughout in the architectural design. The location of the hotel is situated on the lake and around the Greg Norman designed golf course – there is beautiful views from every angle of the hotel.

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Welcome Circle of the Hotel

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Hallway

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Entrance

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Lobby Area

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Stairwell

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Balcony Lake View

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Balcony Sunset

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Main Hotel Pool

 

Executive Suite:

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Welcome Snacks

I stayed in an Executive Suite during my stay that was a club level room, giving me access to the Club Lounge.

The specs of the room:

  • 960 sq. feet
  • Separate bedroom with king size bed
  • 2 balconies
  • 2 bathrooms
  • Master bathroom equipped with separate marble shower and tub & a double sink vanity
  • Work station
  • Coffee and Tea
  • 65″ HD LCD TV in the master bedroom
  • 65″ HD LCD TV in the living room
  • iPod docking station
  • DVD player
  • Cable and satellite TV with premium movie channels
  • Vanity
  • Generous sized walk in closet

I found the room to be extremely spacious. There is an option to get 2 double beds and would be perfect for friends or a family who want to share a room. With multiple seating options inside and outside, it will never feel crowded.

The master bath is absolutely gorgeous! The marble is a lighter shade and really makes the room shine. If you love taking baths like I do, then you will love it.

One of my favorite features of this room was having two TV’s – one in the bedroom and one in the living room. It gives you the option to watch TV in bed and/or in the living room from the couch or chair. Plus – if you have kids or friends staying with you, they can both be in use at the same time and everyone is happy.

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Living area

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Living area

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Second bathroom

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Living area

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Bedroom

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Vanity

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Lounge in the Bedroom

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Walk-in Closet

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Work Station

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Master Bath

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Master Bath

 

Club Lounge:

I am a big fan of the Club Lounge. Other than the amazing service, scrumptious food and exclusivity to Club Level guests – I would say the next best thing was the view from the lounge.

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View from the Club Lounge

Club access also gives you 2 pressed garments per day, a dedicated concierge team throughout the day, wifi, work stations, a media room with movies and games, and complimentary Ritz Kids programming for up to 3 kids per room.

The Club Lounge offers 5 culinary presentations a day with alcoholic beverages available 11 a.m – 10 p.m. daily.

  • Breakfast 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Lunch 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Light Snack 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Hors d’Oeuvres 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Desserts, Candies and Cordials 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
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Wine Station

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Club Candy Wall

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Breakfast

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Breakfast

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Breakfast

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Breakfast

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Lunch Items

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Canapes

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The best cookies EVER!

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Desserts

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Dessert

 

The Spa:

With over 40,000 square feet of space, you can only imagine how incredible the spa is. Located on multiple levels, the spa also has its own pool, cafe, fitness center, and barber shop.

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I enjoyed a 50 minute relaxing massage during my stay and left feeling like a new person. One of the coolest features of the spa is that they grow their own herbs! I don’t think it gets more personalized than that.

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Spa Herbs

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Spa Pool Cabana

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Gym

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Cabana

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Hammock

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Spa Balcony

Dining:

With 11 options to choose delicious food from – you can essentially dine somewhere new everyday. What I love about the restaurants is that they source local ingredients and ingredients from their own farm, Whisper Creek.

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I dined at Highball & Harvest while I stayed at the hotel and was overly impressed by the food. The food is southern and the mixture of ingredients blew me away. I asked my server for her recommendations based on the area and everything she recommended was top notch. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining options.

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Indoor dining

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Outdoor Dining

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Bar

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Menu

The showstopper for me was the shrimp and grits. I actually did not even want this dish – but I am so happy I got it. The grits had more of a creamy texture because there was goat cheese mixed in – and the dish was just exquisite. If this is the only dish you can eat in Orlando – I promise it will be worth it.

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Dinner

I also tried a charcuterie board that had so many amazing meats and cheeses on it – I only wish I had more people to share it with.

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For dessert I went for chocolate – and the cool part of this dish was the popcorn flavored ice cream.. I know, it sounds strange, but I promise, it was amazing. It paired perfectly with the chocolate and do-it-yourself mint.

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Do make sure an order a cocktail! I tried the mojito and the mint was just as fresh as could be – possibly the best mojito I have ever had.

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Overall:

I loved my stay the this Ritz Carlton hotel. It is easily accessible to all the theme parks, the decor was gorgeous, loved the food, the staff was extremely helpful and gracious, I felt relaxed after getting a treatment at the spa, and to be honest – I did not want to leave! I will definitely be coming back in the very near future.

Additional Information:

  • Address: 4012 Central Florida Parkway Orlando, Florida 32837
  • Phone: 407-206-2400
  • Distance from airport: 10 miles
  • Shuttle available (24 hour notice required) for guests to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Sea World
  • Access to lazy river pool at the JW Marriott next door

Pin for later:

Ice Cream Party-4

 

Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Ritz Carlton, as always opinions are entirely my own

*Some photos were provided by the hotel

 

 

27 Photos of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

I have been a Harry Potter fan since my younger brother introduced it to me when we were wee little kids.  I will admit, I was skeptical to read the books and wasn’t sold until I waited all night to see the first movie with my brother who was obsessed. Then was born a lifelong fan.

The Harry Potter series is one of the most notable book series in my generation to sweep the world. There are many lessons to be learned about love, bravery, loss, friendship, and so much more.

I just recently toured both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida – and I am completely blown away by how well Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have come to life. You literally feel like you got your letter to Hogwarts (finally) and are shopping for your school items. You can even ride the Hogwarts Express between the two parks.

Here is a collection of photos I took while visiting both parks that I hope inspire you to visit.

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Diagon Alley

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Directions to the attractions

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Diagon Alley

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Hogwarts Express

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Sugarplum’s

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Knight Bus

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Diagon Alley

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Butterbeer – the most delicious thing to drink here

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Gringotts Bank

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Catching the train for Hogwarts

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Leaky Cauldron

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Gringotts

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Diagon Alley

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Platform 9 3/4

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Hogwarts

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Mystical shopping

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Diagon Alley

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Hogsmeade

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Butterbeer

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Casting spells

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Hogsmeade

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Entrance

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Hogsmeade

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Shopping

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Owl Post

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Leaky Cauldron

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Entrance to Diagon Alley

 

Additional Info:

  • Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure
  • Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios Orlando
  • If you have a park hopper pass you can ride Hogwarts Express between both parks
  • It will be crowded – even during off season
  • Express Passes do not work on the rides in these parks
  • Drink as many butterbeers as possible – they are delicious

 

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Disclaimer: I was hosted by Universal Studios, but as always – opinions are entirely my own. 

Circa 39 – Hotel Review

Circa 39

Miami/South Beach is full of hotels to choose from, making it hard to narrow it down to one. I have been more interested in boutique hotels lately and heard on good authority that this hotel was a good pick, so I gave it a shot. Circa 39 fit the bill when it comes to boutique luxury at a fraction of the cost.

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The hotel itself isn’t that big. They offer 97 guest rooms but offer the amenities of a large scale hotel. For their guests they have a Wunderbar, restaurant, outdoor pool, Wunder Garden, gym, and beach access.

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The hotel reminded me of a whimsical fairy tale. The decor was beautiful throughout, vibrant colors and patterns, twinkle lights, plush seating and loungers, travel decor on the walls, and a garden full of Wunder.

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The room was vibrantly decorated and welcoming. It is one of the more thought out rooms in terms of design and decor in my travels. All the elements of the room work together. They even give you orange towels for the pool!

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Overall I found the staff friendly, the price was right, I enjoyed the pool, I slept well, the food was good, and I liked the vibes of the hotel. I would stay again when I am back in the Miami area.

Tip: DO take advantage of the evening swimming under the twinkle lights

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Best Activities in Key West

Best Activities

Key West has something to offer all types of travelers. Whether you are a beach goer, a haunt seeker, a conch eater, a water sports fanatic, a sunset chaser, or even a drinker, Key West has it all. I spent two days in Key West walking the flat streets taking in all it had to offer and came up with a top list of things to do.

Visit Ernest Hemingway’s home and museum.

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The home of American novelist and Nobel Prize winner, Hemingway, is on display in Key West for visitors to walk through and hang out with the cats. All the cats that I met at the home at 6 toes! It’s quite a treat to play with them and take cute photos. You can find them playing in the garden and all around the backyard.

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I think the max time you would spend on this visit is about an hour. The house isn’t too big, I think you will spend more time outside with the cats and looking at the pool. Fun Fact: Hemingway’s pool was the very first in-ground pool in Key West – and it still looks magical! Secluded by trees with hues of blue. You can envision yourself outside all day back there, reading, writing, have fun.

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Ghosts and Gravestones Tour

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As scary as it sounds .. you are the doomed! The ghosts and gravestones big trolley vehicle drives around and you can have the windows down on it and as you go through town, locals and others who have been on the bus shout “you are the doomed!” You are to reply “we are the doomed!” During this tour you get to go into a haunted civil war fort, meet Robert the Doll, see various homes that are thought to be haunted, and if you are lucky, catch paranormal things in your photos.

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Key West is thought to be the 4th most haunted place in the top 10! So if you weren’t scared before – you should be now.

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Tip: when you are in the presence of Robert the doll – don’t do anything that would upset him. Don’t bestow the curse upon you.

Take a sunset cruise and reef eco-tour

Fury Water Adventures combined these two items for a 2 hour tour to give you the best of both worlds. Hop on board the glass bottom boat that takes you out to see North America’s only living coral reef. Alive with colorful fish, beautiful coral and a great view without having to be inside the water.

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After the viewing of the coral, enjoy a champagne toast and sit back to watch the sunset over the water.

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Tip: they provide sodas and light snacks.

Fury also offers a lot of other water sport activities. Because my trip was so short, I did not get to do everything I wanted to do. They do offer snorkeling over the reef if you wish to see it from a different perspective.

Walk down Duval Street

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Lined with colorful buildings and palm trees, this street reminded me a little bit of New Orleans – like Bourbon Street but not really. Filled with bars, shops and plenty of places to eat – this street becomes alive at night with live music and party goers.

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These cookies were bigger than my face!

 

Hop Aboard the Conch Tour Train

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This train is basically a hop on hop off tour with only 4 stops and is a guided tour of Key West. While I was there, 1 of the stops was under construction so we did not stop there. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and makes a couple of stops that allow you time to use the bathroom, grab a drink and then get back on before departure, or you can opt to stay at that stop and sight see and catch a later train.

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Grab a drink at sunset pier

With open-air seating and a knowledgeable guide, you’ll be sure to leave the tour with a well rounded overview of Key West and its history.

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NYAH Hotel – Review

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NYAH – which stands for “Not Your Average Hotel” is just that, not average. In fact, it is more than that. The hotel is sort of a boutique hotel & hostel with a touch of luxury. While you don’t have to share a room with anyone, you do have the option to book that way.

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Tucked away in a cute neighborhood, when you first arrive to NYAH it looks like a home. Once you walk in you see a large reception area, and beyond that, the open shared spaces and pools surrounded by lush greenery for privacy.

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Some of the fantastic amenities that come with this not so average hotel include:

  1. Happy hour everyday from 4:20-5:20 – hello wine and cheese!
  2. Free continental breakfast
  3. Free WiFi
  4. 3 pools and 2 hot tubs
  5. Large LED TV’s in the rooms
  6. Charging station at each bed with twin ports and a reading light – charge your phone and camera!
  7. A closet for each person that is opened only with your room key – never lose your things
  8. Plush bedding
  9. Air-conditioned rooms
  10. Shared open spaces
  11. 24 hour front desk staff
  12. Bike rental right on site
  13. Free Starbucks coffee

Having stayed in hostels and guesthouses before, NYAH does not even compare. The idea behind the hotel is that you can book a room with as many beds as you want for you and your friends OR you can book a bed in a shared room. One thing NYAH offers that I have not seen in hostels is that they give each person their own locker in the room that fits all of your things (for FREE), including your suitcase. In addition, they provide towels, rags, cups, blanket, and even a pillow (all for free!)! Bonus of staying at NYAH is that you have all the amenities of a luxury hotel for a fraction of the cost. While the rooms are minimalist, you will find that their sleek design and amenities make it cozy.

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Shared balcony off our room

One of the things I was impressed with are their upscale bathrooms. A lot of luxury hotels have not even upgraded to vessel sinks yet and here we had one in our bathroom with a beautiful counter top and a full glass shower.

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One of my favorite things to do while staying at NYAH was to hang out by the pool. It was really warm in Key West and the pool was simply perfection. I could get some wine and cheese at happy hour and retreat to the pool to relax from the day before heading out for the evening.

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There are many options of places to stay in Key West but what I loved most about NYAH was the atmosphere and customer service. All the staff was very friendly and extremely accommodating, the property was pristine and in a great neighborhood to walk to things, I always felt safe – even late at night walking a mile home, and I felt comfortable there – the beds were amazing, the rooms weren’t hot, there was plenty of hot water for a shower, and there was always Starbucks coffee to wake up to.

 

Disclaimer: I was hosted by NYAH, however all opinions are my own.

Key West Road Trip

Florida Keys

Driving through the Florida Keys has been one of the most beautiful road trips I have gone on. The water is beautiful hues of blue, quirky buildings and places on each side of the road, eateries, and an all around great time to put your top down on your car and drive.

We started in Miami at ACE Rent a Car. The customer service was excellent and they got us out of there and on our way in lightening speed. We ended up with a convertible, a VW Beetle. A perfect car for a girls road trip.

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The drive itself from Miami to Key West is 160 miles, or about 3.5 hours – if you don’t stop anywhere. You don’t have to stop if you don’t want to, the scenery itself is worth the drive. We took our time both coming and going and made various stops to explore and take pictures.

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The vibrant colors and lone palm tree drew me in.

You will see interesting things along the way. For us it was this excellent boat car. Where do I even get one of those for myself?

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The Florida Keys are connected by bridges. There are plenty of opportunities on each key to visit parks, go swimming, or walk around the bridges.

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Walking under a bridge


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Taking in the views

Don’t forget to pull off the side of the road, everyone else is doing it, to get a much closer glimpse of the magical water.

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When you arrive in Key West – grab a drink and relax for a few days. 🙂

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Some tips for driving through the Florida Keys:

  1. Wear sunscreen! Especially if you are driving in a convertible. The sun is very hot.
  2. Wear a bathing suit so you can save time from having to change – and you will already be ready to go when you stop.
  3. Pack moisturizer and chapstick. Your face and skin get dry from the salty air.
  4. Turn up your music and have a blast! This is a fantastic road trip I would recommend to anyone of all ages.

If you want to see more photos from my Key West Trip, you can see them here.

I  was hosted by ACE Rent a Car – all opinions are my own.