Orlando’s only circus themed dinner show that’s fun for all ages!

The Cirque Magique is another new fun show for all ages. This magical show made its debut on 7th July 2015 in Treasure Tavern Theater and since then, it has been the reason of joy and laughter for all the people who come here. This magical and unique circus-themed show may look like all the other traditional circuses but trust us, it is so much more and there is no comparison between the both. You will find an array of acts in this circus such as clowns, jugglers, magicians and even poodles in tutus.

This show is one of the most interactive shows in Orlando, Florida. During the entire show, guests are invited on stage to participate in different kinds of acts. Clowns are present throughout the show to make people laugh. The best part of this circus is ‘rag doll’ contortionist who will leave you scratching your head wondering what just happen here. There are so many other incredible acts too which will also leave you speechless.

Cirque Magique is basically a kids show so if you are an adult, chances are you will feel little bit bore but not much as all the performers on the show are super talented and outstanding. But it’s just that the show tends more towards kids. The magic tricks in the circus are not that much tricky and also the clowns are not scary. Yes the jokes are little predictable but still kids will surely enjoy it. Cirque Magique is super hit for families and it’s a guarantee that your kids will not be disappointed.

When you go inside, you will see that the staff serving the foods and drinks look exactly like the performers on the stage. It is because they are doing both these jobs. Your meal is served before the program begins, which will give you a chance to focus completely on the show and enjoy it without any distraction. Though the menu does not have so much variety but the portions of food are pretty large and trust us, they are very delicious and yummy. You will have a choice of having either chicken burger or cheeseburger which is served with onion rings and French fries. Children can have hot dog or chicken nuggets with mac & cheese which also comes with onion rings and French Fries.

The organizers of the show do their best to keep everyone happy at Cirque Magique which is why they have vegetarian lasagna with mixed veggies and marinara sauce on the menu. This is for those who don’t eat meat. Soft drinks are also included in the meal with unlimited refills. Do save some space in your tummy because you are going to get delicious ice-cream with sprinkles in dessert towards the end of the show.

The show takes place from Tuesday to Thursday at 6.00 pm. On Sundays, it starts at 3.30pm. The tickets start from $32.45 for kids (3-12) and $45.95 for adults. You do not have to buy tickets for kids under the age of 3. So, hurry up and book your tickets today at www.thecirquemagique.com. Happy Magical Day!!

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Things to do in Orlando, Florida

Orlando is home to more than a dozen theme parks and is one of the premier destinations for tourism in the world. With a population of 2.3 million, Orlando is the 4th largest city in Florida and is known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World.”

Orlando is comprised of various theme parks (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Discovery Cove, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Sea World Orlando, Epcot, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Fun Spot America, and Aquatica Orlando).  Multiple options ensure that you have entertainment for everyone in your party ensuring that you have one of the most unforgettable vacations ever.

Orlando Attractions

Orlando offers splashing thrill rides in the multiple water parks, as well as wildlife adventures at Gatorland and Sea Life Aquarium. For adrenaline lovers, there is indoor skydiving at iFly.  Indoor skydiving is the simulation of true free fall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel.  Or, bring your childhood to life by visiting Legoland, the perfect vacation foundation.

The American Art Museum

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art houses the largest collection of Tiffany glass and is conveniently located in Winter Park. Through the years the Morse Museum has cumulated some of the most outstanding leaded-glass windows, lamps, jewelry, art glass, and pottery by Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as some priceless art and architectural objects.

Weddings and Honeymoons

Orlando is among one of the world’s most popular cities for weddings and/or honeymoons. Orlando is a dream-wedding destination because of a number of venues it offers from gorgeous ballrooms to themed events, everyone’s wish can come true. It’s a perfect place for couples to create long lasting memories.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is known for their life-sized and realistic wax figures. Visitors can take pictures with famous personalities from around the world, including; Jimmy Fallon, Michael Jackson, Kung Fu Panda, Princess Diana, the royal family, Shrek, and many more.

Orlando Restaurants and Bars

Orlando has an abundance of delicious cuisine options to satisfy every food lover’s taste buds. You can experience any cuisine from around the world in a variety of settings. From theme park dining to dinner shows to romantic ambiance, there’s a cuisine and atmosphere for any occasion.

Along with all the restaurant options, there is a plethora of bar options in the Orlando area. No matter what you are looking for, there’s a bar for that.

You may search for online links to check the discounts and online bookings for tours to Orlando, Florida with your family and friends to experience the beauty of nature.

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Tampa Bay CityPASS Makes Your Vacation Rental Home Stay Even More Fun

Make the most of your family time in the Tampa Bay area. Choosing a vacation rental home for your family vacation to Tampa saves you the hassle of a hotel and offers all the comforts of home. Travel smart by getting the CityPASS to maximize fun. The pass allows you to explore the best of Tampa Bay’s attractions and save over 50% on admission.

What’s a CityPASS and How do I Get One?

CityPASS is a ticket booklet that saves over 50% on entrance fees to Tampa’s top five area attractions. It has an impressive 95% customer recommendation. Your CityPASS also allows you to skip most main entrance ticket lines. To save money and time while experiencing Tampa Bay’s five most popular attractions, simply purchase your pass online and visit the attractions in any order.

See the Best of Tampa Bay with Your CityPASS

This easy-to-use booklet is valid for nine consecutive days, starting with the first day of use. This means you don’t have to choose between the beach and what to see, you have time to do it all. Admission includes Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium plus your choice of either the Museum of Science & Industry or the Chihuly Collection.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is the ultimate theme park family adventure. Discover world-class roller coasters, a zoo with over 12,000 animals, live shows, restaurants, shops, games and more. Your CityPASS is good for a single-day admission, including all shows, exhibits and rides. The park is open 365 days a year from 10am to 6pm. Enrich your experience by downloading the Discover Guide App.

The Florida Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the country and is home to over 20,000 sea creatures. Your pass includes general admission to this family-friendly aquarium with splash pad and outdoor water play area for kids. It’s open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00pm.

Lowry Park Zoo is five-time winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The zoo spans 56 acres and is home to over 1,200 animals, including koalas, elephants, tigers, manatees and more. Your CityPASS is for one admission, including all rides, shows and keeper talks. The zoo is open daily from 9:30am to 5:00pm.

See Winter, the dolphin who inspired the Dolphin Tale movies, at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. More than just an aquarium, it’s a marine life rescue facility and working animal hospital. See rescued dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and otters. Your CityPASS includes same-day admission plus season admission to Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, trolley and/or boat shuttle between locations. General hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm, daily.

Get wowed by the Museum of Science & Industry. It’s the largest science center in the Southeastern U.S. and features Florida’s only IMAX DOME theater. This museum offers over 400 interactive experiences. Your CityPASS includes admission to the MOSI permanent exhibits, one standard IMAX DOME film, one Saunders Planetarium show and Kids in Charge! MOSI is open daily 10:00am to 5:00pm with extended weekend hours until 6:00pm.


Be awed by the rich color and gigantic scale of Dale Chihuly’s glass artistry by exploring the Chihuly Collection. World-renowned artist Dale Chihuly specializes in large scale glass installations that never disappoint. More than just one exhibit, your CityPASS includes admission to the Chihuly Collection plus Morean Glass Studio and Hot Shop, live glass blowing demonstrations and non-ticketed exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center and Morean Center for Clay. It’s open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sundays 12:00pm to 5:00pm.

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Must-See Museums in Downtown St. Petersburg Florida

While your vacation rental home is cozy, you came to Florida to see the sights. More than pristine beaches, impeccable dining and world-class nightlife, St. Petersburg also offers a variety of museums so you can soak up some culture while you take a little break from the sun and sand.

The Dali Museum – This museum celebrates the life and work of surrealist, Salvador Dali. This glass-paneled building near the waterfront features over 2,000 works spanning his entire career. It also has exhibits from other surrealist artists. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5:30pm with extended hours on Thursday until 8pm. Tickets are $24 for adults, though there are several discount options and kids 5 and younger are free.

Museum of Fine Arts – The MFA has been repeatedly named the best art museum in the Tampa Bay area. They offer antiquities and modern art pieces encompassing nearly 5,000 years. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm with extended hours on Thursday until 8pm. Tickets are $17 for adults, there are several discount options and kids 6 and younger are free.

Start in the morning and stay for lunch as the MFA has a café open Tuesdays through Sundays 11am to 3pm.

St. Petersburg Museum of History – This museum of history is located on the pier. It was founded in 1921 and offers exhibits that delve into the city’s history and take you from pioneer days into modern times. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Tickets are $15 for adults, there are several discount options and kids 6 and younger are free.

Florida Holocaust Museum – This educational museum’s core exhibition: History, Heritage and Hope can be found on the first floor. It features original artifacts, video and photos before, during and after the Holocaust. They also offer temporary exhibits. The FHM is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets are $16 for adults, there are discount options plus free admission to active U.S. military, USF students with ID plus children 6 and younger.

Morean Arts Center – This is a community-based visual arts organization operating since 1917. It includes a glass studio with hot shop and a center for clay. This contemporary gallery and arts center is free, open to the public and one of the oldest in Florida. It features local artists and those across the globe. Art classes are available.

Within the Morean Arts Center is a permanent collection of world-renown glass artist, Dale Chihuly. His contemporary glass pieces are impressively-scaled and emboldened by color. Tickets are $19.95 for adults and there are discount options plus children 5 and younger are free.

 Second Saturdays ArtWalk

If you happen to be staying at your vacation rental home on a second Saturday, the museums and galleries of St. Petersburg’s Waterfront Arts District, Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Center District and the Warehouse Arts District invite you to discover their Art Walk. It’s the second Saturday of each month from 5:00pm to 8:30pm. Walk or ride the trolley to check out this vibrant art scene. This interactive map makes it easy to find your way.

Parking Options

Some museums have paid on-site parking. There are also a variety of downtown surface lots, street, parking or city parking garages plus the St. Petersburg Downtown Looper Trolley. Passengers ride free in the Free Fare Zone and it’s only $0.50 outside of the zone.

Download the City of St. Petersburg’s parking app, Parkmobile. It’s good at any metered space within St. Petersburg and allows you to control how you pay and extend your parking sessions easily.

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Little Havana Food Tours in Miami

Take a culinary trip to Cuba without leaving the United States

You’ve come to Miami for the nightlife and those stunning beaches, but you’re also here for the food. Step outside your vacation rental home and walk, bike, or take an electric golf cart tour through Little Havana and sample until you’re sated.

Here are just a sampling of guided food tours that will get you started on your road to finding Cuban delicacies like medianoche sandwiches and croquetas in Miami, Florida.

Miami Culinary Tours

This company was featured in Bon Appetit magazine’s travel specialists. It has been rated as the number 1 food tour in Miami for seven consecutive years. The Little Havana food tour is one of several they offer. It includes 5 restaurant stops and a guided cultural tour. The tour is guided by a local and includes a blending of historical, architectural, and cultural experiences with a behind-the-scenes culinary introduction into the best cuisine the area has to offer. It takes you through 8 short city blocks and lasts approximately 2.5 hours. The tour is $59 per adult and $49 for children 8 to 13 years. Tastings equal a full meal. Tours depart daily at 12:30 p.m. from 1652 SW 8th Street in Miami.

Gray Line Miami Food Tours

A local guide takes you to 6 food stops with tastings at each location. The tour can be customized for vegetarians, just let them know upon booking. Bookings must be 24 hours in advance. This is a kid-friendly tour, but if you’re children won’t be eating, let them know upon booking. The tour is $59 per person and operates Saturdays at 12:30. Tours meet in front of the Agustina Gainza Arts Gallery on 1652 SW 8th Street in Miami.

Miami Food Tours

There are 2 tour options from this company, which received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016. A SoBe Tour des Forks walking tour or a Swooped with Forks tour on an electric golf cart. Each of these guided tasting tours take you on a culinary adventure through Miami’s famous neighborhoods. You’ll get delicious food, drinks tastings, plus historical and architectural sights.

The walking tour takes 3 hours and runs every day from 11am to 4:30pm. It costs $58 per person. The electric golf cart tour takes 3.5 hours and runs Mondays through Fridays at 10:30am. It costs $129 per person.

Little Havana Bike and Food Tour

Dynamic Cuban cuisine is paired with a fascinating history in this guided biking food tour. It’s an easy 8-mile bike ride tour that takes approximately 3.5 hours and begins and ends on Miami Beach. Your guide will take you past several family-owned and operated Cuban restaurants to sample local cuisine and learn about the history and Cuban heritage of Miami. Tours cost $69 per person.

Taste of Little Havana Bike Tour

Sample homemade dishes from appetizers to desserts in this biking food tour. The food is prepared by family-run Cuban restaurants and the guide is local. This biking food tour lasts about 4 hours. It takes you on an easy 11-mile bike ride through Little Havana. Tours start at 10:30am and leave from 401 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. Though an easy ride, this tour isn’t recommended for children.

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South Beach by Day


South Beach (or SoBe) is located within Miami Beach and has been called the Art Deco playground and the American Riviera. Here you’ll find world-class shopping, culinary delights, and clear blue water with white sand beaches.

SoBe offers both casual and upscale experiences, but is generally for the well-dressed set. So, even if you’re hitting the beach, be sure to don a stylish hat and sunglasses before you walk out the door of your vacation rental home.

White Powder Sand and Turquoise Waters of South Beach

South Beach is a free public beach. There’s plenty of parking and the municipal parking garages offer the best deals. Locals suggest getting there early as garages and open beach space fill up fast. Rental shops offer chairs and umbrellas. For less than $40 you can have both. Lifeguards are on duty during the day. There’s no shortage of food and drink options available along the beach.

Lincoln Road

This miles-long outdoor mall has an open plan and is designed for pedestrians only. The promenade has top-notch fashion, art, architecture, and people-watching. Walk from Washington Avenue to Alton Road to discover a pop-up market where handcrafted jewelry, origami, and a variety of other handmade wares displayed casually on card tables or rugs laid on the ground. Lincoln Road also offers a boon of name brand stores and local shops and galleries.

Lunch with a Beach View

You can find an amazing lunch restaurant anywhere, but these offer spectacular views to remind you that you’re in dazzling South Beach. These beach views are coveted so make reservations ahead of time. Juvia is an upscale chic fusion restaurant blending Asian and Peruvian cuisines with a classic French flair. Celebrity-owned Larios on the Beach is made famous by its owners Gloria and Emilio Estefan and its spectacular views of South Beach and Ocean Drive. Their upscale Cuban food and mojitos make it perfect. Monty’s Sunset is located poolside and waterfront on the docks of Miami Beach Marina. Here casual dining means local fresh-caught seafood, a raw bar, and entertainment.

Art Deco District

Miami’s South Beach is home to the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s architecture in the world. It’s known as the Art Deco District. It’s recognized by the National Register of Historic Places and boasts 800 historical structures. The district draws visitors from around the globe.

Official Historic Tours of the Art Deco District

The Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) offers the only official tours. Their Official Art Deco Walking Tour is a 90-minute tour that literally walks you through an introduction to the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern (also known as MiMo) styles. Tours depart from the Art Deco Welcome Center at 10:30am Mondays through Sundays with an additional 6:30pm tour on Thursdays. Tours are $25 or $20 for seniors, veterans, and students. You can make advanced reservations, but they’re not required.

Happy Hour

Whether it’s from 5pm to 7pm during the week or 10pm to Midnight, there are always fun places you can drink and nosh on a dime. Streaming with light and perfectly chic, Byblos offers happy hour starting at 6pm with $8 cocktails and small bites for $12 and under. The comfortable Social Club is in the heart of Miami Beach and offers a late night happy hour with a flair for breakfast. It also offers $5 draft and 50% off wines by the glass. South Pointe Tavern’s happy hour offers 50% off beer, house wine, and cocktails.

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Top 10 Reasons to Enjoy Florida’s Gulf of Mexico this Winter

If you’re thinking of heading to Florida in the winter, you’ll want to explore Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coastline. From the “Emerald Coast” in the Upper Peninsula to the southern Florida Keys, you’ll hear the crash of waves, find friendly bars on the beach, and smell the warm, aromatic sea-salt air. Sounds like the perfect winter vacation, doesn’t it?

Here are the top 10 tourist activities along Florida’s sunny Gulf of Mexico side.

#1 Shell and Shark Teeth Hunting on Sanibel Island

While Sanibel Island is known for its superior shelling, you’ll also be able to find beautiful shells along any shoreline due to the Gulf of Mexico’s calm tides. Hunting for shark’s teeth is a nice change of pace if you’re looking for a challenge while combing the beach.

#2 Picturesque Beaches

All the Gulf Coast beaches are beautiful, but Bean Point Beach’s secluded, crystal blue water and white sand is just begging you to stop and lounge.

#3 Adventures Under the Gulf

Gulf Island National Seashore, St. Andrews State Park, and Destin-Fort Walton are all known as “designated snorkeling areas”, so go for a swim and explore what’s under the water.

#4 Arts and Culture

Florida’s Gulf side has a fantastic arts and theater scene. For example, Sarasota has several local live theatres and St. Petersburg’s Morean Arts Center has a spectacular permanent collection by sculptural glass artist Dale Chihuly.

#5 Self-Guided Kayak Expeditions on the Gulf

If you’re into kayaking, this is the spot for you. Offering calmer tides and warmer waters than the Atlantic side means a safer and more fun on the water. Plus, no waiting in line on a boat dock. Just find a safe spot to get in the water and you’re on your adventure.

#6 Farmer’s Markets 

For the foodie vacationing along Florida’s Gulf Coast, you can’t beat the areas Farmers Markets. Seasonal fare is practically year long and extremely abundant. This a great way to fully experience the local foods and take advantage of your vacation rental home’s kitchen.

#7 Catch Your Own Fish

Mahi Mahi, grouper, shrimp, and more. The seafood available from Florida’s Gulf is undeniably fresh. Feeling especially lucky? Try to make the catch of the day yourself with a chartered fishing excursion.

#8 Local Breweries

If sampling delicious brewskis is your idea of a good time, be sure to check out the area brewers like Jdub’s, Point Ybel, or Rip Tide. Please, always enjoy responsibly.

#9 Theme Parks and Amusements

Just a short jaunt from the Gulf side finds a variety of world-famous theme parks choices. Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, and LEGOLAND are all are designed to entertain the young and the young at heart.

#10 The amazing weather

High temps generally range from the mid 60′s to the 80′s between November and March, depending on the area. Sounds better than below freezing, right?

Florida’s Gulf of Mexico shoreline is special because of these 10 things and more. The area’s variety of activities and attractions make it your best bet to beat the winter blues. Whether you’re touring the traditional shops on a boardwalk or observing the natural beauty of the beaches, you can be sure you made the right choice in vacation destination.

Instead of shoveling snow this winter, how about shoveling sand to make castles under that warm Florida sun.

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Get Adventurous by Gobbling Gator in Orlando

Get Adventurous by Gobbling Gator in Orlando

Sprinkled amidst the urban jungle of Orlando are numerous restaurants to please those seeking to dine outside the box. If you are amongst this adventurous underground dining crowd, consider visiting one or more of the restaurants offering alligator as a star menu item.

Alligator has a flavor similar to, you guessed it, chicken and the consistency of pork. This exotic protein can be interpreted in various ways to please and delight even the pickiest of eaters. Take a stroll from your vacation villa and explore the flavors of the south with some authentic and unique cuisine.

Rides with a Side of Gator at Gatorland Theme Park

Inside Gatorland theme park the smell of fried food beckons guests through the doors of Pearl’s Smokehouse. This vintage treasure has been around since 1991 and has established itself as a staple for American foods. After working up an appetite on the zip line and other attractions, Pearl’s is the place for classic comfort food like burgers, hotdogs, pulled pork, enormous turkey legs, and most notably, delicious gator. Named after the founder’s wife, Pearl Godwin, hungry eaters travel for miles to grab a taste of their signature gator nuggets, which are served hot and crispy to hungry visitors.

Flavors from the Gods

Just minutes away from the Orlando metro, Café Tu Tu Tango offers a variety of gluten-free and vegetarian options along with their classic menu. For the adventurous eater, two offerings of alligator are on the menu to tantalize your taste buds. Their Florida Gator Dip appetizer includes gator that has been braised with house pimiento and fresh key lime, or their Spiced Alligator Bites entrée comes with local Florida gator and a zesty key lime mustard for dipping. If gator isn’t your game on this trip, feel free to sample from their cornucopia of fusion dishes that are sure to please even the pickiest eater.

When in Doubt, Barbecue!

Including virtually every type of meat on its barbecue-themed menu, Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ on Kirkman Road requires a large appetite and a zest for the unique. Start with Mac and Cheese Bites, Fried Okra, and their Gator Bites for an authentic southern meal that is both filling and delicious. Be sure to save room for a sweet treat, because their delicious homemade brownies and assorted cupcakes are worth every delicious calorie.

Classic Cuisine

If a more sophisticated ambiance is what you seek, A Land Remembered Restaurant features a classic menu using prime cuts from both land and sea. With photo-worthy presentation and a penchant for fine ingredients, this elegant eatery adds flair to classic dishes such as oysters, scallops, and lobster bisque. If gator is your mission, look no further than their delicious and hearty Gator Creek Stew with white beans and greens. With diced bits to utilize the gator’s texture to the fullest, this chowder-like stew is a popular favorite.

Whether you are traveling with family or your most fashionable friends, venture into the unknown by dining on the unusual and exotic protein that is alligator. Even those who just want a sample can split a side of one of many delectable dishes that is sure to please. For the freshest ingredients and unique interpretations, Orlando is sure to please by just taking a few steps outside of your vacation villa.

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Florida’s Award-Winning Restaurants

Florida Best Restaurants

James Beard Foundation 2017 Restaurant and Chef Semi-Finalists

It’s been called the Oscars of the North American food world. In February, the prestigious James Beard Foundation released their list of semi-finalists for the 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards.

Get to Know the James Beard Foundation

The explosion of food knowledge over the past decade means that James Beard is a household name. The late James Beard was a cookbook author and teacher with an expansive knowledge of food. Today, his not-for-profit foundation offers diverse programs including educational initiatives and training as well as the yearly food industry awards.

How Are Semifinialists Chosen

Each October the James Beard Foundation has an open, online call where anyone can submit up to two entries per category. The foundation’s restaurant and chef awards committee includes critics, writers, and editors who produce the list of semifinalists. The list is voted on by former Beard Award winners, Restaurant and Chef Award Committee members, and other regional panelists. Judges cast their votes and the five semifinalists with the highest number of votes in each category advance to become the nominees.

The James Beard finalists will be announced on March 15 and the winners will be honored at the James Beard Awards Gala on May 1.

Ten 2017 semi-finalists call Florida home, which means no matter where your vacation rental home is located, you’re never far from a memorable dining experience. Here’s the official list of Florida’s 2017 James Beard Award semi-finalists by city.


Getting a nod for Best Chef in the South category is Deme Lomas from NIU Kitchen. He is the executive Chef and Managing Partner of this eclectic Catalan style kitchen that plays with regional ingredients to make them extraordinary.

Brad Kilgore with Alter got his second nomination for Rising Star of the Year. Alter’s cuisine is focused on locally-sourced, seasonal Florida ingredients. Chef Brad Kilgore offers a tasting menu that changes daily.

KYU was nominated for Best New Restaurant. Chef Michael Lewis and General Manager Steven Haigh offer a diverse wood-fired and Asian-inspired menu.

Zak Stern of Zak the Baker  was nominated for Outstanding Baker. His traditional artisan baked goods can also be found in various Whole Foods and farmer’s markets around Florida.


Ferrel Alvarez of the Rooster & the Till was nominated for Outstanding Baker. Not just a baker, Chef Ferrell is the creative force behind the restaurant’s locally-focused modern American cuisine.

Richard Gonzmart of Columbia Restaurant Group was nominated for Best Restaurateur. His restaurants include Spanish-style The Columbia, Floridian Native American-inspired Ulele, and the revamped vintage burger joint Goody Goody.


Best Chef, South nominated Christopher Ponte  is the classically-trained French chef behind Café Ponte’s modern American café.


Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon was nominated for Best Chef, South. At the Rusty Spoon Chef Kathleen creates locally-sourced American food with European roots.

Palm Beach

Clay Conley was nominated for Best Chef, South. His Florida hot spots include Buccan, which offers small plates that include locally-sourced ingredients with big flavors and Imoto that shares the small plate focus only with an Asian flair.

Winter Park

Best Chef, South Brandon McGlamery of Luma on Park offers an upscale, casual American menu inspired by local ingredients.

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Birding in Florida

You see the deep and intense color of the Painted Bunting long after you close your eyes for the night, while the beautiful song of the Wood Thrush lingers in your ear. Birding, for you, is a total engagement of the senses, from the sights to the songs to the documentation through photography or pen to paper. It’s both a visual and an auditory experience. It’s scientific yet joyful, technical but relaxing. There’s something so freeing about watching these stunning creatures fly through blue skies. And now it’s wintertime, so they’re calling you to Florida.

Florida is For the Birds

Cloaked between the Gulf of Mexico and the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Florida boasts of famed destinations, lush gardens, gorgeous waters, and almost a backyard view of the exotic Bahamas. Yet, these are often the only stories we hear. The truth, though, is that Florida holds the key to unlocking a vibrant new world out in the wild. While it might seem as though birdwatching is Florida’s best-kept secret, Florida is becoming quite well known among birders – those who delight in and appreciate the art of birding. The best part is that the Florida climate is warm and inviting, even in the middle of winter. Ready to go?

How to Choose Your Next Florida Birding Adventure

The entire state of Florida offers birding adventures galore, and your destination simply depends on your goals. Which birds do you love and cherish most? What kind of habitat do you prefer? Consider whether you’d like to enjoy some beach time, or if the glades of the swamp are more your style. Do you yearn to be one with nature, or do you love to share in the joy with other birding enthusiasts? Perhaps you even dare to embark on a journey to see as many sites as possible – Florida offers hundreds – with an intent to eventually visit them all. It’s doable with a little preparation.

According to Visit Florida, the top birding sites in the state include Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. These locales, like the hundreds of other birding sites, span the state, so you’ll have no trouble finding several near your vacation rental home.

Birding Adventure of a Lifetime

The state of Florida, spanning more than 65,000 square miles, is a wonder of nature. On the first day, you might feel like you’re in the jungle. On the next, you’re admiring the ocean. If you like a dose of action on your adventure, you and your binoculars can rent a kayak and enjoy the birds from the river or lake. Florida offers a dozen habitats for its bird species, including swamp lands, prairies, dunes, and tropical brush, and you can experience all of them.

There are plenty of resources available, but one of the best is The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail organization. Create a plan for your adventure with the trip planner, a cool tool for casual research or final arrangements. Florida Birding Trail also hosts events throughout the year, so you can get together with fellow watchers to share stories and tips.

For the junior birder or experienced enthusiast, the search for the next great winter escapade is over. Destination: Florida. Welcome to the Sunshine State.

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