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!

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

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!



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.


Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Recently I visited the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale and it felt like I had be transported back to the another era… and possibly even another planet.  Lush tropical landscape fully encapsulated the estate while native Floridian lizards sunned themselves in the light peaking through the palms.  Brilliant bright yellow paint glistened off of the Bonnet House -trimmed with beautiful royal blue drew my eyes near.

Construction beginning in 1920 spanned over 20 years by Frederic Clay Bartlett, an American artist from Chicago, and his wife Helen Birch Bartlett.  Fredric created his interpretation of a Caribbean-style plantation house and the Bonnet House was named after the bonnet lily that grows on the property.  The property was initially a wedding gift given by Hugh Taylor Burch, Helen’s father.  The newlywed couple traveled the world and were avid art collectors which is reflected in the home and makes the tour of the Bonnet House that more intriguing.  A interesting fact about the construction of this estate is that the art studio in the home was the first building to be completed, naturally, given the couples love of art.

Six years after Helen Birch Bartlett’s death in 1925, Frederic remarried to Evelyn Fortune Lilly.  There were many interesting things about Evelyn, but the one that stands out the most was her pet monkeys.  Evelyn acquired pet monkeys after a local club, LeClub, who had 30 to 40 monkeys at the establishment closed. The monkeys were released and sought refuge at the Bonnet House.  It is rumored that today there are still a monkey or two roaming the property.

The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens spans 35.4 acres, including 100 feet of beach, located on the coastal barrier island protected by the mainland from tides.  The Bonnet House estate and the Taylor Birch State Park are a final reminder of the natural environment that made up the barrier islands in 1920.   In 2015, the estate acquired a total of 700 feet of beach front to host special private events and weddings without having to get special permission from the city.

Today the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens provides a rich piece of history unique to Fort Lauderdale and is also a venue for weddings and special events.  If you are planning to visit Fort Lauderdale stop by the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens for a whimsical tour and then take a long walk up the beach imagining what it might have been like in 1920 and living at the Bonnet Estate.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Continuing my love and passion for agriculture around Texas and beyond, I was pleasantly surprised to find rich agriculture history during a recent trip to Florida when I visited the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

In 1940 a young graduate of New York University formed a farming colony called Yamato, an ancient name for Japan.  The name comes from the students homeland of Miyazu in Japan.


Although the colony was not a success in the end the young graduate probably never dreamed that today the farming colony has been transformed into a museum and garden.  It is a place for local Floridians and tourists alike can experience to be Japanese arts and culture.  With over 7,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, the Morikami Museum and Garden was a beautiful and enriching cultural experience.


Beyond it’s sheer beauty, my enjoyment of the museum and gardens partially comes from my desire to visit Japan.  It is on my list of overseas travel because it unknowingly has a special place in my heart.  My parents were stationed in Japan during Vietnam and as a child I grew up hearing about my parents cultural experiences abroad.  Beautiful photos of past times in Japan made me long for a similar experience of adventure and the need to experience another culture.



I recommend visiting the museum and gardens on a Sunday, shortly after your brunch at the Sundy House.  If you missed my recap of our bottomless mimosas and tropical stroll through their gardens click here and read all about the brunch that will change your life.

Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
4000 Morikami Park Road
Delray Beach, FL 33446

Tuesday-Sunday: 10am-5pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays

Adults – $15
Seniors – $13
Children – $9


Henry’s Sandwich Station

Henry’s Sandwich Station is what I envision every deli and bakery to be like in small town middle America.  Walking up to the counter to order, you will be stopped in your tracks by a bakery display case filled with pies and all things sinfully sweet.  I would have pressed my face to the glass, but I’m an adult – I think?

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Henry’s Sandwich Station is a great atmosphere for a quick lunch with friends or business partners.  From dine-in to takeout – they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the restaurant is kid friendly.

Facebook Photo

Photo Credit:  Henry’s Sandwich Station Facebook Page featured the outside of the building and really captured the atmosphere of the sandwich shop. 


Once you’ve made the hurdle past the pie shop, you are greeted by a decadent array of choices on their sandwich menu.  Choosing which sandwich to devour was a challenge because every sandwich sounded truly amazing.  From sandwich spreads, such as cranberry goat cheese jam and truffle mayo, all on homemade hoagie rolls, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

I found myself asking the question, “how do I choose?”  My go to sandwich at a deli has always been turkey and if there is bacon I’m sold.  So that’s what I did, I went with good old turkey on a hoagie… one of the best decisions of the day I might add.

My list is long, but Henry’s stays on it for my next trip out to Fort Lauderdale.  Stop by and give it a try!



Milk Money Bar | Kitchen

Tucked away in a trendy Fort Lauderdale neighborhood, Milk Money Bar & Kitchen’s catchy name (that I wish I would have thought of first) has a hip vibe with a coffee bar, cozy dine-in experience and hand-crafted cocktails.  All bases are covered from espresso to cauliflower buffalo wings to a treasure chests full of boozy treasure.

Interior photos sourced from Milk Money Bar | Kitchen website 

If you like buffalo wings, but you’re watching your waist line, trick your taste buds with the Cauliflower Buffalo Wings I could have eaten them for days.  A tad spicy, but nothing I couldn’t handle, I’d like a bucket to go please!  I also tried their Farmhouse Burger that apparently was so delicious I didn’t have the time to take a photo, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Let’s pause and talk about the craft cocktail masterpieces at Milk Money… The SAILOR TO PIRATE  comes in an actual treasure chest and when opened it pours out smoke creating a unique experience to the bar.  The Sailor to Pirate is created with Oak and Cane Rum, Simple Syrup, Aromatic Bitters, Pina Colada Ice Block and Cinnamon.

If rum isn’t your style, I sipped on (ok I did not sip, possibly gulped) AL CAPONE’S SOUTHSIDE FIZZ.  I’m not sure if it was the promise of Prosecco or the thrill of the name, but the drink was filled with Bulldog Gin, Prosecco, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Sliced Cucumber and a Mint garnish.

If you’re in the mood for a little espresso with your meal or a chaser to your cocktail, they have you covered.  Warsaw Coffee Company is conveniently located within the walls of Milk Money Bar | Kitchen.  Although I didn’t get to enjoy their espresso or weekend brunch during my trip to Fort Lauderdale, the menu looked amazing.   See their full breakfast, lunch dinner and cocktail menus here Milk Money Bar | Kitchen.

 xx- Jennifer