Sunday, September 7, 2014

Florida Family Vacation

This year's family vacation took us to beautiful South Florida - West Palm Beach to be exact!  Yes, we're bold enough to go to FL in August and no, we did not stop at any of the Orlando theme parks.  That may seem cruel to some, but walking around masses of sweaty, stressed out parents and their sensory overloaded spawn is not my idea of fun.  However,  after hearing about how beautiful the South Florida beaches are with their crystal clear waters and intense sunshine (seriously, bring LOTS of sunscreen lotion) I couldn't wait to check it out!

Now I'm not going to lie, the drive is not for the faint of heart.  It took us 17 hours (with frequent stops) to get to our destination, but having been numerous times as a kid, I kind of already knew what I was getting in to.  As for the Twinks - they did really well!  Granted they had received plenty of warnings from Yours Truly to not dare ask "how much longer?" or "are we there yet?" in the weeks leading up to the trip, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with it! (wink, wink)

Our first night in town was basically spent stretching out from the car ride (ha!) and taking in the fact that we were FINALLY on vacation and could finally unplug from work.  The next morning we headed out to what would become our favorite spot, Boynton Beach.

This place was awesome!  We spent hours playing in the water, watching the fish swimming around our legs (I mentioned the crystal clear water, right?!) and collecting sea shells.  It was so nice to see the twins enjoying the water for a change - this is something that NEVER happens when we go to Ocean City, MD.  There we can't get the kids near the water, here we couldn't get them out of the water; their endless laughter was music to my ears!  One of my favorite things about this spot was the fact that there were bathrooms, a showering off area and lots of parking.  You do have to pay to get in here, but trust me, it's $5 well spent.

Our next destination was Delray Beach.  This beach was equally beautiful and the area had lots of boutique style shops and restaurants.  One word of caution for parents with younger children - this beach does NOT have direct access to bathrooms; public bathrooms are located across the street, so unlike this Rock Star mama, be sure you bring a cover-up!  Of course, you can just "let it go" in the ocean...but, yeaaah, let's just not talk about that.

Our third beach excursion took us north of Palm Beach County to Fort Pierce.  Here the water temperature was a little cooler, but still pleasant and the Dynamic Duo once again played to their hearts' content in the warm, crystal blue waters.  A huge plus for this area was the ample FREE parking!!!  But, really isn't this view worth any price?!?

OK, ok - so maybe you've had enough beach...time for some food!  One of the BEST places we went to was a great taco & tequila bar called Rocco's Tacos.  It's in a very hip area known as Clematis, they offer outdoor dining and have some very interesting and unique monitors in the bathroom stalls showing the movie "Napolean Dynamite" (my kids were SO confused by both the presence of the monitors and the point of the movie.)

Travel Channel fans may also recognize another Clematis hot spot, Grease.  This place is known for it's over-the-top burgers and was recently featured on Travel Channel's "Food Paradise".  Unfortunately, my carnivore hubby didn't get to sample any of their specialties, but there's always next time...

And, what trip to South Florida would be complete without a trip to Miami!  Miami in a word was HOT!  Yes, I know - it was August, what did we expect?  Well, we did expect the heat, but it was just a different kind of heat than what we had experienced up until that point...I believe my exact words to describe it were, "STUPID hot!"  I must say, though, it was beautiful.  The buildings were colorful, the beach was a bit more crowded but, oh soooo nice, the water was stunningly blue/green and I saw wild parrots!!!

So, as you can see my beach-loving bunch had a terrific time vacationing in Florida, despite not setting foot in to a single theme park, and I can't wait to go back!  If you're thinking of taking your next trip here, let me share a few tips with you.

1.  I know it sounds crazy but, consider going in August.  Yes, it's hot but since it's the off season, you can save BIG on your hotel stay and the beaches won't be as crowded!

2.  Take LOTS of sunscreen, apply it heavily and often.  Seriously, the sun is intense and you WILL burn if you don't re-apply, re-apply and re-apply.

3.  Thunderstorms happen at least once a day - the lightning is not...I repeat, do NOT try and ride out a storm on the beach or you might just get the shock of your life - LITERALLY!

4.  If you like planning ahead, visit the Palm Beach County tourism site Discover The Palm Beaches they have lots of great information on where to stay, events and attractions.  I also requested them to send me information in the mail and received a very useful map that we used to help plan our travel routes.

Take care, be well and have some fun every once in a while :-)

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