Gulf Coast Road Trip

This holiday season my boyfriend, Mike, and I decided to celebrate with a twelve day Gulf Coast – epic couples road trip. We traveled the gulf coast from College Station, Texas to New Orleans, and into Florida – where we made stops in Pensacola, Tampa and finally ring in the new year in the Florida Keys!

This trip was so memorable on many different levels – from everyone we met along the way to experiencing the local cuisine. The most important part for me was the time spent with Mike, building our relationship while traveling together. Simply put – it was a trip of a life time that I will remember forever.

I’m excited to recap every stop along the way, to share our experiences with you and to hopefully inspire you to hit the road on your next vacation! First stop New Orleans Plantation Country…

Road Trip Map Overview

Ok our bags are packed…we are ready to go on our great – big – road trip adventure. Mike and I decided to get an early start on the road trip and we jumped in the car at 4 AM to make our way to our first stop to visit the New Orleans Plantation Country, in Louisiana where we were guests at the famous Oak Alley Plantation.

Oak Alley Plantation

When we arrived at Oak Alley Plantation, I told Mike that it would be difficult for me to describe to my readers (you) simply because it was just so breathtaking. The trees were like arms that wrapped around the entire property, almost shading it from the outside world.

Our stay at Oak Alley was peaceful, cozy and more than we could have asked for throughout our entire trip in the Plantation Country. Did you know you could stay on the property? We actually spent Christmas in our beautiful cabin, woke up to southern biscuits in the morning and spent every evening strolling through the oak trees.

Our trip to the NOLA Plantation Country can be summed up in four words – Family, Tradition, Pride, and Community. Driving through Louisiana we shared the roads with sugar cane trucks and as I looked out of the car window, I watched as we passed small homes, large homes and ones that you thought maybe no one should inhabit, but they all shared the land – there was no division. From the homes people lived in, to the churches they attend, the overwhelming sense of community and oneness was the impression I took home from this trip.

During our trip to the Plantation Country, Mike and I learned about a Christmas Eve time honored tradition of the Bonfires on the Levee from our new friend Stephan Keller, owner of the Creole Sugarland Bonfire Tours in Vacherie, LA. On Christmas Eve we experienced this tradition and witnessed the burning of the bonfires celebration – where bonfires lined the Mississippi and fireworks filled the sky. It was like nothing else I have ever experienced or could have imagined, it was simply amazing to watch a community come together and celebrate as one.

Christmas Eve, Bonfires on the Levee

Christmas Day we decided to venture out and take a short drive to New Orleans, where we strolled the streets of the French Quarter. We enjoyed the sounds of street performers, the french architecture and our view from the balcony of the Royal House Oyster Bar, where we people watched for hours. Many of the shops were unfortunately closed, but we enjoyed the city for the day and quickly made our way back to our peaceful oasis at Oak Alley Plantation.

Our final day in the Plantation Country was spent touring The Houmas House Plantation , dining at the Houmas House Restaurant for a delicious lunch and then topped off with a private whiskey tasting at The Turtle Bar.

The Houmas House Plantation
The Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road

In addition to the beautiful plantation tour, The Houmas House has so much to offer in the entertainment and venue arena. The Houmas House makes an excellent location for your next special event, wedding or even a fun date night. In addition to hosting events, the private cottages tucked away at the edge of the property allow guests to also enjoy southern tranquility surrounded by beautiful oak trees and tropical gardens.

Everywhere we went the locals were friendly, they would stop us and genuinely want to know about us. There was no gain for them, other than to make a new friend. Louisiana locals welcomed us as if we were part of their family and as we drove away from Oak Alley I now know in my heart that I have a second home in Louisiana.

Driving away from Oak Alley Plantation felt like we were leaving home, but we were excited to see where the road would take us as we drove onto our next destination and second leg of the trip, Pensacola, Florida. We arrived in the evening to the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front hotel and we were pleasantly surprised by our three bedroom, full kitchen and two balconies, facing the ocean, hotel room. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner that night at Casino Beach Bar & Grille.

We unfortunately experienced some of the off season dreary weather while visiting Pensacola, so we made the best of it and spent the rest of our time visiting Downtown Pensacola, which turned out to be one of our favorite spots on the trip. The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar had been transformed into the “Miracle on Palafox: A Christmas Cocktail PopUp Bar.” And if you don’t feel the Christmas spirit running through you after you leave – then you didn’t do it right. Their holiday cocktails were just what we needed to warm us up before our steak dinner at Jackson’s Steakhouse.

After dinner we stopped by Bubba’s Sweet Spot and stocked up on taffy, fudge and sour treats. Across the street we explored The Bodacious Family of Shops featuring a coffee house, kitchen supply store and flavored and fused extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

Although our time in Pensacola was short, we enjoyed all that the city had to offer and we hope to come back in sunnier and warmer weather!

Our next stop took us to Tampa, Florida where we started the visit with the perfect date night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino,dining at The Rez Grill and enjoying a night cap at the new L-Bar: L-evating the Classics.

We kicked off our first full day in Tampa by driving in to Hyde Park Village, where we enjoyed a amazing breakfast at Goody Goody Bugers, a retro diner that served fried chicken and biscuits that were out of this world. They wouldn’t let us leave until we had a slice of their famous butterscotch pie… oh my heavens.

After breakfast we took a short drive over to Davis Island, and looked at the beautiful Mediterranean style homes from the 1920s. One of our favorite things to do when we visit new towns is to drive through neighborhoods and look at the houses and their architecture. We point out which homes we like and then of course day dream about one day owning a little house with a beach side view. Davis Island was perfect for day dreaming.

In the afternoon, Mike and I then ventured out to the Canoe Escape where we watched fishermen and canoes paddle across the ancient black waters of the Hillsborough river through the cypress swamps. We may have seen a gator or two along the way, yikes!

To take the edge off of our close encounters with the aligators, Mike and I decided stopped by a local brewery, the Coppertail Brewing Co. We soaked up the sun on their porch and enjoyed a flight of our choosing and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

And the grand finale of our stay in Tampa Bay was rounded out by attending the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning final game of the season. Mike played hockey when he was younger and this was such a great experience to have together, especially since I couldn’t tell you how to play a hockey game beyond the hockey puck.

From NOLA to Pensacola to Tampa… it was time to take the final leg of our trip and end our trip in the Florida Keys on New Year’s Eve in Key West. The drive through the Florida Keys was enough to make you pack your bags and never look back. We opened the sun roof on the Acura and I played classic tunes by the Beach Boys (which Mike enthusiastically enjoyed) as we drove to Key West. The water was like nothing I’ve ever seen, a beautiful aqua blue. We enjoyed lunch at a Herbie’s Bar and Chowder House in Marathon and then making a stop at Kermit’s Key (West) Lime Pie Shoppe after exploring the streets of Key West. We walked to the Southern most point of the Continental U.S. and soaked up our last bit of sunshine before hitting the road back to Texas.

Our drive home was long, but we had had so many different experiences over the twelve day Gulf Coast Road trip it was hard to pick just one thing that we enjoyed the most. We couldn’t even compare each city, they all stood alone in their uniqueness. But what they shared in common was true Southern hospitality, community and friendship. Mike and I will be forever grateful to the people we met on our road trip and a memory that he and I will cherish.

Want to get a guys point of view on our trip? Read Mike’s take on our trip by visiting for his full recap of our epic couples Gulf Coast road trip.

And saving the best for last…I want to thank everyone of my readers for following along during our trip across the Gulf Coast, everyone who asked “how was your trip”, to our friends and of course our family for your support. We love you all! xx- Jennifer

A very special thanks to our friends at Acura, NOLA Plantation Country, Oak Alley Plantation: Restaurant and Inn, The Houmas House, Visit Pensacola, Visit Tampa Bay, and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel for your hospitality and making our trip so memorable. Thank you Jackie and Jenny at Coterie Boutique for keeping me styled on my trip across the coast!

Why you should travel more

There is a stigma around using all of your vacation days or even sick leave in the corporate world. In the past, it has signaled that you were maybe not serious about your career – you weren’t a hard worker if you didn’t stay past five every day and work the weekends.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tsika Photography

I’m breaking all of these unspoken “rules” and I’m traveling more. Here’s what traveling ACTUALLY does for you and if you are the boss here is what it does for your employees.

  • It allows you to take a mental break from your day to day routine and experience new things outside of your comfort zone.
  • Traveling is healing. Ok, I know this one sounds a little “head in the clouds”, but if you have recently lost a loved one, maybe you are going through a breakup or just need a freaking break (can I get an amen) – traveling can help your mind switch gears to focus on the future.
  • Traveling creates new memories. A lot of people are foregoing their traditional gift giving this season and seeking a travel “experience” or “destination” gifts.
  • You’ll be happier. Yep, it’s true and it’s that simple. Since starting my blog and travel adventures almost a year ago, today, I’m happier, more confident and open minded.
  • You’ll have something to talk about at awkward work socials. (I’m joking – kinda.) Having new travel experiences around the state, nation and world gives you plenty of material when meeting new people and it will also help you connect to other people. We all want to find some common ground… what if your recent trip to the Florida Keys helps you make a new friend?
  • You will arrive back from you trip renewed… ok just kidding – you will be tired and you will have tons of laundry. BUT I’m guaranteeing you it will make you happier, healthier and you will have a better quality of life for taking the time to travel and experience new things.
Photo Credit: Shelby Tsika Photography

Join me this year in making a New Year’s Resolution to Travel More. Leave me a comment and tell me where you are traveling in the new year!

Happy Trails – xx Jennifer

Farm to Table Brunch

Mike and I spent a beautiful, sunny – Sunday morning experiencing a new restaurant  in Historic Downtown Bryan, Texas.  Housed inside the rustic and recently restored Ice House on Main, Ronin Restaurant brings new life to the 1912 building.

For many years, Chef Brian Light and his wife Amanda have connected our community through local food production and provided a venue where guests can enjoy the traditions of a simpler life at Ronin Farms. The outdoor event venue under the Texas sky will make you fall in love with the Farm to Table concept.  Ronin has now created a second space where our community can experience this same concept in their new location in Historic Downtown Bryan.


Guests at the Ronin Restaurant can choose from a variety of seating, including outdoor tables with a view of  Historic Downtown Bryan, a indoor community style table or simply a seat at the bar.

The menu selection was carefully crafted, providing us with the feeling that we were out on the farm and even included recommendations of drink pairings for each menu item.

Mike selected the Texas Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak and Farm Egg with Cream Gravy and Roasted Sweet Potato.  Although I helped Mike finish most of his delicious Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak, I went with a sweeter selection for my entree- the Cinnamon Pecan French Toast with Spiced Apple Compote and Spiced Caramel – and it was as delightful as the name.

Although the food and venue were amazing, please note that the pricing for us would be for special occasions only and not a weekly stop.  Based on your budget, I would recommend reviewing the menu pricing before dining.  I definitely see this venue as the perfect spot to host a bridal brunch, baby shower or even a birthday celebration with your closest girlfriends.

The Ronin Restaurant also has seasonal hours, so be sure to check their website for the most up to date hours.  If you are dining this Winter, the hours for Ronin Restaurant are:

Dinner 5pm-10pm
Thursday, Friday & Saturday

Brunch 11am-2pm
Every Sunday

Happy Brunching xx Jennifer

Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm

Getting into the holiday spirit when it’s ninety degrees outside can be a challenge here in Texas.  As a child I spent my Christmases in Kansas where snow was inevitable and roaring fireplaces were the norm.  Bundled up, the cold that cuts through you and the smell of fresh snow – that’s just what reminds me of the holiday season.

This year, despite that fact that we wont be seeing snow, I really wanted to create new holiday traditions with my boyfriend Mike and find joy in the holiday activities that Texas has to offer.  Not far from College Station, we spent a Saturday exploring the Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin, Texas.

As we turned down a narrow dirt road into the tree farm, cars were lined up with freshly cut Christmas trees that topped the roofs.  We parked and walked up to where all the action was taking place – in the background you could see children running around and playing, tree farm workers shaking trees and putting them into the netting to prepare for transport to be decorated.  Not long after arriving a cheerful young lady approached us and gave us the entire run down of the tree farm.  From selecting the perfect wreath to jumping on the tractor trailer to take a ride to the tree farm it was the whole holiday package.

This experience was much more organized than I had anticipated despite my only reference to cutting fresh Christmas trees, which is Clark Griswold’s famous Christmas tree scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Although we did not purchase a tree because we will be traveling to the tropical Florida coast line over the holidays, we enjoy just being out doors and smelling the beautiful pine trees.

2018 Evergreen Tree Farm (3)2018 Evergreen Tree Farm (7)2018 Evergreen Tree Farm (6)IMG_E2919

There is an age old debate of buying a Christmas tree – do you buy a live tree or a fake one?  My family has always had an artificial tree, while beautiful it’s missing that fresh pine smell that fills the home and signifies the beginning of the season.  What kind of tree did you have growing up?

Tis the season – xx Jennifer

Photo Credit: Mike Satterfield


Road Trip for the Holidays

Have you heard?  I’m going on a two-week road trip for Christmas with my boyfriend, Mike.  This is a far cry from the traditional Christmas, but it will be an adventure to say the least!  Traveling from central Texas to explore Louisiana along the Mississippi onto New Orleans and finally making our way to the tropical Florida coast line – this will be a holiday to remember.

I will admit the idea of spending the holidays on the road was something I had to get my head wrapped around at first.  Usually the holiday season is spent running from one Christmas party to the next, overeating a big Christmas day meal my mother had spent all day making and then of course eating leftovers for days.  But it in the spirit of keeping an open mind and trying new things, I was ready to shake things up a bit and go on this epic holiday couple’s road trip with Mike.

Although this will be an awesome way to spend the holidays together, the thought has crossed my mind – “how will we keep the holiday traditions alive on the road?”

My first thoughts were create a fun holiday play list, find a travel size Christmas tree, decorate the car with battery powered festive Christmas lights, but then I realized it’s not about the stuff.  It’s really about the person you are with and the experience of driving across country and making memories with the person or people you love.

Here are the top 5 ways Mike and I are keeping the Holiday tradition alive and creating our own traditions during our epic holiday couple’s road trip:

  1. Immerse ourselves in a culture outside of ourselves.  We will be completely open to driving down a road we have never traveled before, talking to locals about their city and making new friends along the way on our road trip.  Experiencing a holiday tradition different from our own, Bonfires on the Levee in Louisiana will kick off this goal of experiencing a new culture.
  2. Create new memories and a new tradition.  As I said this will be Mike and I’s longest road trip together and our first Christmas … that’s a lot of pressure, but going with the flow and starting our own tradition, as a new couple, will make our relationship stronger.
  3. Keep our friends and family engaged on the road.  I want to take everyone on this trip and show how traveling can open your mind and can heal your soul.  So in addition to the new norm of social media, Mike and I will be sending a post card to family members and friends at every city.  Sure we may arrive back home before anyone gets their post cards, but seriously who doesn’t like getting snail mail! (note to self…pack stamps)
  4. Tell stories.  Similar to our first road trip, reminiscing of our favorite childhood memories, Mike and I will share our favorite holiday stories.  And hey maybe one day we will be able to tell our children about the time we spent our first Christmas together.
  5. Ok ok…I’m still buying the little travel Christmas tree… but don’t tell Mike.

So, we’re hitting the road!  And we want you to follow along as Mike and I tell our Holiday travel story this December.  Some of the highlights you can look forward to are:

  • A tour and night spent at Oak Alley Plantation on the Mississippi
  • The lighting of the Bonfires on the Levee
  • A jazzy New Orleans Christmas Day
  • Ringing in the New Year on the tropical beaches of Key West

Have you ever spent the holidays on a road trip?  If so, how did you keep holiday traditions alive?  Leave me a comment, I want to hear from you!

Happy and Safe Travels, xx Jennifer

How to Go on a Road Trip Date

Leaving Texas on a plane at 5 am to go on a date in California was something that was out of my comfort zone,  my friends and family thought I was crazy – but I had decided that it was a risk I needed to take to see if this new relationship with Mike was going to work out.


I landed in Ontario, California and walked off the plane filled with excitement, hope and a stomach filled with nerves.  In my head it played out a lot like a romantic scene from every love story, as the girl runs and jumps into the arms of her lover and then they run off into the sunset happily ever after.  Let me tell you, if every relationship began that way the world would be a better place.  But it didn’t start like that – It started with both of us coming into a new relationship with some hesitation and proceeding with caution.  After all we were still getting to know each other and a California road trip was just the thing we both needed to get to know each other better.

This wasn’t just any date, it was a California road trip date, that Mike had mapped out for us.  We drove from Ontario to Santa Barbara, to the charming Danish city of Solvang and finally on to Ojai in less than 72 hours.  Knowing that we had a four hour car ride ahead of us until we made our first stop in Santa Barbara, I wanted to come up with a creative way for us to get to know each other better because I wasn’t about to let awkward silence ruin our couples road trip.

I turned to my friends as I often do for advice and direction on every aspect of my life, so naturally I got them involved on this road trip. I created a “Cali Party Line” group text… a modern day party line.  The group text was a fun way to share information, crazy gifs and the best part… what questions should I ask Mike to get to know him?  This opened the door for a so many questions that I never would have even thought to ask.

On the road trip as I started to ask Mike some of the questions my friends put together it helped keep the conversation flowing and often we found ourselves telling stories based on the answers to each question.  It definitely filled four plus hours of drive time and the best part, it allowed us to get to know each other better and inspired additional questions.

Planning a road trip date?  Hopefully I’ve inspired you to get outside of your comfort zone and on the road to building a new relationship.  Below I’ve recapped over 20 questions that my friends put together for Mike and I during our road trip around California.  Happy dating! xx Jennifer

  1. What was your favorite Halloween costume?
  2. If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
  3. Do you like dogs?
  4. What’s your best travel story?
  5. What’s your most irrational fear?
  6. What’s your go to Karaoke song?
  7. What are your pet peeves?
  8. Do you have an unusual talent?
  9. What are you legit bad at?
  10. What’s the worst fad you ever participated in?
  11. Do you have any family traditions?
  12. What was your favorite birthday party as a kid?
  13. Are you more of a Betty or Veronica kind of guy?
  14. If you could have dinner with 3 celebrities dead or alive, who would they be?
  15. Have you ever questions (… sky dived, snow skied, zip lined, etc.)
  16. Where do you see yourself in the next 1, 5, 10 years…?
  17. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  18. What is on your traveling bucket list?
  19. What’s your favorite type of food?
  20. Do you have a favorite restaurant?
  21. If you were married, what are your thoughts on your wife working, or staying home with the children?
  22. What are your financial goals? (note: only ask this question if you feel like the other person is open to having this discussion, asking too early could be off putting)
  23. Tell me more about your extended family.

Curious about how I met Mike?  I recapped our first date and how I knew he was the one, read our love story by clicking HERE.

The Crafty Pig Food Truck

The food truck craze continues to make it’s way to the Brazos Valley.  I found a Southern comfort dream at The Crafty Pig Food Truck this week at the Lake Walk Town Center in Bryan, Texas.  Local chefs, Brad Dees and Cody John recently opened The Crafty Pig Food Truck and they are busy tearing up the roads in the Brazos Valley bringing locals their delicious southern style food creations.

Brad Dees and Cody John (KBTX)

Photo Source: KBTX Media

Once I made my way to the window, it was tough to even choose because the menu was so awesome, everything just sounded delicious.  After changing my order at few times, I ended up trying the Southern Porkadilla filled with oak smoked pork, grilled onions, cheese and BBQ sauce.  I’m glad I had my friend Lauren with me because I would have consumed the whole thing!  The Southern Porkadilla just wasn’t complete until I added an order of shoe string sweet potato fries garnished with sea salt.  Honestly I didn’t even need the ketchup I grabbed at the window because the flavor of the fries stood alone.


If you want to find The Crafty Pig Food Truck’s next stop you can follow the truck on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all of their local stops.  They do a great job of releasing the menu ahead of time and giving you a look at the southern food they will be cooking up that week.

If you want to learn more about Chef Brad and Chef Cody, check out KBTX Media’s interview with the duo.

5 Reasons to Celebrate Your Birthday at Disney

This year I celebrated my birthday at Disneyland and it was so much fun!  Disney really knows how to make a girl feel special on your birthday.  Today’s blog is a recap of the top “5 Reasons to Celebrate Your Birthday at Disney.”

Let’s start planning your next celebration at a Disney park now!


1. Disney Button. When we arrived at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa the cast member checking us into our room made sure that I was given a really cool Disney button, with my name on it.  Plan to wear it for your whole trip at Disney, like I did, and celebrate your birthday for days!  You can also pick up your Birthday Button at guest relations or any merchandise store.


2.  When cast members see your snappy new button they will say Happy Birthday to you in the park or maybe even stop you and sing the happy birthday song!  When I walked through the Disney California Adventure gates, on our first day in the park, a cast member stopped me and serenaded me with a beautiful Disney inspired Happy Birthday tune.

3.  Birthday Cake. Did you know that you can surprise your birthday boy or girl with a Disney themed cake?  It’s Disney, of course you can!  Ordering a cake and creating a magical birthday surprise is easy when it comes to Disney.  The cake was so big that we ended up sharing it with the tables around us.

4. Birthday Photos. When you get your picture taken with any Disney photographer they will add balloons to your final photo on your Photopass of you holding balloons.  Another fun photo op is in the Hollywood back lots of the California Adventure Park.  Strike a pose with the balloons from the movie Up.


5. Fun Mickey Ears.  Disney has ears for every occasion including your birthday. I love my sequin ears with birthday cupcake.


Disney always knows how to celebrate every occasion and to make guests feel like they are number one!  Celebrating my birthday in the park was one of my greatest birthdays yet, can’t wait to celebrate again next year!



8 Reasons to stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

There is always a huge debate over staying on property when traveling to Disney.  I get it – it’s expensive, but I truly believe that you should budget the extra expense for the hotel.  We chose to stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for many reasons.  I think the hotel will completely change your experience at Disney and here are a few reasons why staying on property is the best idea…

1.  My number one reason for staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the direct access to both parks.  From the hotel you can walk directly into the Downtown Disney District, which gives you access to food and shopping on your way to the park.  More specifically you walk directly past a Starbucks on your way into the main entrance of Disneyland…this is a bonus for the coffee addict in me.

From the other side of the resort you have access to Disney California Adventure Park, which comes out right next to Grizzly River Run and Soarin’ Around the World.  Having access to the hotel from both parks is great, especially if you want to take a break during the day or even just run back to the room because you forgot something, which happened to me more than it should have.

2.  Competing for the number one spot of the available Disney character breakfasts is the Storyteller Cafe, located at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. In my opinion, based on the Characters you see, the menu options and engagement with your children, this breakfast is the best.  And psst…Parents if you want a mimosa or bloody marry, they have you covered.

The hotel also has a separate restaurant and bar located right off of the main seating area of the Hearthstone Lounge, Napa Rose.  I have not eaten at the restaurant, which is shocking since I’ve probably stayed at this property more times than I can count…  but I have popped in for a glass of wine to go… because it’s Disney and you can do that.

3.  Another major perk of the hotel is that they recently renovated all rooms. When we arrived in early October 2018 the exterior was still under construction, but the rooms, common areas and amenities were complete.  After we arrived, we never saw the main entrance to the hotel again except for when we called our Uber to take us to the airport on our last day.

4.  The Hotel has beautiful courtyards, perfect for an outdoor cocktail reception. A large conference and event center are attached off the main lobby.   I’ve only walked past them on my way to the park, but they look impressive and I’m secretly hoping that one day my employer will offer a conference there.

5.  When you think Disney, you don’t often think of a Spa retreat. The hotel also offers a full-service spa for maybe a morning dad takes the kids to the park and mom hangs back for a little “me time.”

6.  From the lobby main entrance and past the guest check-in you will walk into a draw dropping open air – three story, log cabin lounge inclusive of a cozy nook with rocking chairs lined up in front of a wood burning fireplace. This space is dedicated to continuing your relaxing stay at the Grand Californian Hotel.

7.  Another area that I did not spend nearly enough time enjoying was the three pools inclusive of a water slide, life vests for the littles and life guards at each pool. Large lounge chairs with shade umbrellas made for a great place to take shade from the sun and relax a little between parks.

8.  I mentioned the major perk of direct access to the Downtown Disney District earlier, here’s a little more detail about what to expect. Over the years Disney has brought in new retailers and restaurants to bring the downtown area to life and have continued to maintain this luxury by bringing including:

  • Starbucks
  • Salt & Straw (NEW) This is an exciting new ice cream spot that is a must on your trip.
  • Naples Ristorante e Bar is the best place to get a pizza.  This little Italian restaurant and pizzeria has expanded by adding a massive outdoor patio and bar. One thing to mention is that the outdoor seating area serves a limited menu versus sitting inside, where they offer a complete menu. If you plan to eat indoors you will need a reservation.  We had no problem walking up to Naples to obtain outdoor patio seating (but please note there were only two of us and we were staying in the park during a slow time)
  • The Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling alley is a new attraction for me in the Downtown Disney District.
  • Marceline’s Confectionery is always one of my favorite stops because they have a glass window where you can watch the candy apples being made.  Plus the chocolate is out of this world delicious.

  • Disney at Home was a nice surprise and a great place to find those last-minute gifts for family members at home. From coffee and tea to dog toys this store really had it all.  If you needed Mickey Mouse fine dining ware they had you covered.  The store reminded me of a home goods store but except everything is Disney.

  • The Disney fashion trends have definitely changed since the last time I visited Disneyland. I wandered into a a beautiful Disney Dress Shop, it’s what I would consider an upscale Disney dress boutique and was blown away by the beautiful dresses that Disney was offering teen and ladies.  The prices points averaged around $100 and up for dresses.


Pincho Factory

The Pincho Factory is on the top of the list if you are craving a burger.  Their unique twist on the bun grabbed my attention and I had to try it!  Two fried plantains hold together a juicy burger that you wont want to put down.  Now add sweet potato tatter tots and I was in heaven.


In addition to the wonderful food, the story of how the Pincho Factory began is just as good.  I love seeing families create legacies through hard work and a dream…. and that’s what cousins Nedal and Otto did.  The Pincho Factory created core values that can be felt when you walk through the door, they are “more than writing on the wall, these are words we live by.”


We could feel these core values when we visited the Westchester – Miami, Florida location.  We actually felt like we were celebrities when we walked in.  The staff was friendly and engaging, which is a huge step above most quick service restaurants today.  All the way from ordering our food to eating the last bite of our juicy hamburger, the staff checked on us and made sure that we were in deed having a wonderful experience.

I’ll be back in Miami in December and you bet I’ll be back at the Pincho Factory.  You should also make plans to stop in on your next trip to Miami too.  For the full Pincho Factory menu click here.