cheap or free fun, family life, Travel, Uncategorized

Miami Beach and Shark Valley

Our poolside cabana at our hotel.

Since the 4th of July afforded us a long weekend, we took advantage of it and headed to Jupiter and Miami Beach. It’s fun to have a change of scenery and check out the east coast of Florida. The kids had never been to Miami and it’s been 30+ years since hubby moved away from his childhood home in North Miami Beach, so we were excited to check out all the places he remembered from growing up.

We drove past his old house and it was crazy to see how the neighborhood compared to his memories of it as a kid. Of course, it’s changed a great deal and not completely for the better, but it was fun to see it and reminisce. We then headed over to his favorite park, Greynolds Park. It’s a beautiful piece of Miami Beach history that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930’s. It has a beautiful walkway by the Oleta River, a golf-course, a boathouse and picnic pavilions, as well as a couple of newly updated playgrounds. The land is covered with plenty of live oaks and provides a great place for picnics even on hot summer days. We visited on the 5th of July and were quite comfortable despite walking around at midday.

We grabbed a great lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant and devoured the fantastic meals. We were pleasantly surprised by the meal and were so full that we didn’t even feel the need to have a full dinner that evening. We headed to our hotel and relaxed at two of the different pools the hotel offered. My favorite was the roof-top pool. It was uncrowded and quiet and had a great view looking out towards the city or the water. The next morning we got up and drove the length of Miami Beach all the way through South Beach. I had never been to South Beach before and I LOVED all the Art Deco architecture. I spotted a little French bakery and made hubby stop so we could grab some pastries. When we got inside, I felt like I’d been transported to back to Europe, and we decided to have breakfast there instead. We noticed that the bakery also offered a selection of Belgian chocolates and beers, along with the large stock of French wine. We laughed and said that maybe the owners were from Wallonia, the French part of Belgium, where we had lived. Later, we struck up a conversation with the waiter and found out that YES, we were right! The owners were Belgian. No wonder it felt so familiar!

Again, we devoured our delicious meals, and we bought some macarons to enjoy on the way home. It was a perfect start to the day!

For the drive home, we decided to stay off the main interstate home and take the Tamiami Trail (US 41) through the Everglades and Big Cypress National Parks. We stopped at the Visitor Center at Shark Valley, which is the northernmost part of Everglades National park and walked part of the trails. It was looking like storms were coming, so we didn’t stay very long, but we got to see a ton of wildlife in just the short time we were there. From huge grasshoppers to baby alligators, to gar and peacock bass, there were all kinds of animals to see! We are definitely going to make a return trip and do an airboat tour and bring our bikes to ride the trails more. We also want to check out the Seminole communities that are along the way. Several of them offer tours, airboat rides and Native American arts and crafts. A trip back in the fall/winter is a must for us!

We already have a list of activities to do and places we want to come back and explore more, so we can keep making memories!




It’s summertime!

Memorial Day weekend at Longboat Key
Family boating day at Egmont Key

Summer break just officially started, but we’ve been enjoying the sun and beach for close to two months now!

We’ve got a couple of fun trips planned for the summer, plenty of pool and beach time, and a few decorating projects. Hubby just started his new job and it’s a remote position working from home. This meant some rearranging of spaces to give him a dedicated office and so far, we are loving the “commute”. It’s amazing to think that now I will have the commute, which is only about 15 minutes from our house to the school where I teach. After so many years of deployments and hours that are set in stone and often longer than expected, it feels surreal that he just has to go in his office and close the door to start working.

We are so excited for this new chapter and I can’t wait to share it!