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The Florida Everglades for Kids!

The Florida Everglades for Kids

As a family with three young children, we are always looking to create meaningful experiences for our children. That’s why in May of 2017 we decided to purchase an annual pass to the Florida Everglades National Parks. We have been having such a great time exploring the Everglades with our kids.

Today I am going to share two perfect trails to take your family on while you are out exploring the Florida Everglades if you want to explore more than two trails here are some additional recommendations that are perfect for families of all ages. 

The Ernest F. Coe visitor center is located all the way down in Florida City and can be accessed by taking the Florida Turnpike south until it merges with US 1. Once it merges with US 1 turn right onto Palm Drive (344th street) and follow the signs to the park.

Address:
40001 State Road 9336, Homestead FL, 33034 
Contact Number: 305-242-7700 

Park Website. 

Pinelands Trail 

Located roughly 7-miles from the visitor center, this trail was our first stop during our most recent visit to the Everglades. The trail is a little less than one mile long and will loop you through a path of pine trees, palmetto trees, and lovely wildflowers.

In 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, it left a large impact on the Pinelands. Many trees were bent and snapped, but many remained, this is because of their ability to bend.

Our girls enjoyed exploring this trail, and I appreciated the fact that it was short enough that our girls could easily navigate through it. I think if you really wanted too, you could take a stroller through this trail, but we opted to use the baby carrier

Mahogany Hammock Trail 

At roughly 20 miles into the park from the visitor center, this trail is quite the trek but certainly one you won’t want to miss.

This trail was so beautiful and the location of the largest living Mahogany tree in the United States, so be on the lookout.  At about a half of a mile, this trail is ideal for all ages and since it has a nice boardwalk, it is very stroller-friendly. We opted to take the baby carriers for this trail, but it is possible to use a stroller.

We also noticed several beautiful birds and plenty of photographers capturing stunning images.
It is important to note that there were no restrooms available at these two trails, so be sure to use the restroom either at the Gumbo Limbo trail or the visitor center.
We also like to pack plenty of water and snacks as food isn’t available for purchase in the park and hiking and exploring can build an appetite, especially in the littlest of explorers. – Looking for ideas on what to pack? Check out my lunch box essentials 
The Florida Everglades covers 1.5 million acres of land across three counties and there is so much to explore, I highly recommend a trip to the Florida Everglades with your family, you won’t regret it!

 

 

Looking for more things to do in Homestead, Florida?

 Here are three recommendations! 

  1. BEST MILKSHAKES EVER, at Robert is Here! 
  2. Visit an Animal Rescue Facility
  3. Just North of Homestead, you can visit the Everglades Exhibit inside Zoo Miami! 

Now go have an Adventure! 

 

*this post contains affiliate links*

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Matheson Hammock Park, Coral Gables Florida

This post contains affiliate links. 

 

I have lived in Florida all of my life, and even though I enjoy a day at the beach I hardly ever go – especially now that I have three beautiful toddlers in my life. For the past two years one of the awesome Mom’s in my tribe has been telling us to take the kids to Matheson Hammock Park to play in the ocean, and since my sister was going to be in town I finally said YES, and we had the BEST time!

Matheson Hammock Park
 is absolutely perfect for young families!  

About Matheson Hammock Park: 

“In 1930, William J. Matheson and his son Hugh donated approximately 85 acres of tropical hardwood hammock forest off Old Cutler Road to Dade County, to be used and maintained as a botanical garden. Referred as “Matheson Botanical Hammock”, it was the original extent of Matheson Hammock Park, which was also the first public park to be established in Dade County. 

In 1934-35, Dade County purchased an additional 420 acres of lands adjacent to Matheson Hammock Park, increasing its size to over 500 acres. Matheson Hammock opened in 1930 by the county’s first director of public parks, A. D. Barnes, and designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillip; today it is owned and managed by Miami-Dade County.” – directly from this website  

 

Address 
9610 Old Cutler Road
Coral Gables, FL 33156

What to Expect:

Located in beautiful Coral Gables Florida, Matheson Hammocks Park has a fully functional marina, kite-boarding, and sailing assessability and what makes it so perfect for young families or new swimmers is the man-made atoll pool. This style of pool is filled naturally by Biscayne Bay and is very shallow, warm and the best part – no waves to knock little ones down.

There was a lifeguard on duty while we were there, which made this momma of three feel a little extra safe while swimming. At one time there was a nice restaurant but after some hurricane damage the restaurant is currently closed, that being said you will need to bring plenty of food and water.  

With stunning views of the Miami Beach skyline, you and your family will love having a picnic under the palm trees. Get ideas on what to pack in your lunchbox here.  

Be sure to bring $5.00 cash with you if you are coming on a weekday of $7.00 if visiting on a holiday or during the weekend, and have an AMAZING day soaking up some vitamin D.

Tips for a perfect day at the beach! 

  • Bring a Wagon to carry all your belongings, we have this collapsible one that is perfect for the beach and will fit into most vehicles with no problem!
  • Bring a water bottle that squirts water to wash off your hands before eating.
  • Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen, we LOVE Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen.

 

 

If the Ocean is calling you, but the large crowds of south beach are not, 

 

 you will definitely want to check out Matheson Hammock Park. 
 
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Le Cellier Steakhouse, Epcot

About Le Cellier Steakhouse

Tucked away in the Canadian Pavilion is a beautiful garden, with a waterfall and the most delicious steakhouse you’ll find on Disney Property.  Le Cellier Steakhouse has been high on my husband’s bucket list of Disney Restaurants to try, so for our 8th Wedding Anniversary, we thought we’d give it a try, and the food and the experience did not disappoint!

The theming was so perfect, you felt as though you were entering into a wine cellar with the dim lights and beautiful architecture. When you are seated, you will be seated in one of the provinces of Canada, so look for some specific details in the section you are seated.

Menu Options

The attention to detail at Walt Disney World is remarkable when we were seated and handed our menu’s I literally almost cried when I saw that our menus were personalized with “Happy Anniversary” at the top and an image of Cinderella and Prince Charming Dancing – this was so special to me because Cinderella is my FAVORITE Princess.

There were so many delicious options, and not everything on the menu was steak.  We tried the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup as an appetizer and it was delicious! – Highly recommend this! 

 

How much does it cost? 

 
If you are on the Disney dining plan, your meal will cost 2 table-service credits.
If you not on the dining plan, adult meals are between $35-$55*
Reservations can be made 180 days in advance by calling 
(407) WDW-DINE or  (407) 939-3463
*DVC and Passholder Discounts are available.


Is it worth 2-Table Service Credits? 

Personally, I wouldn’t use two table service credits for this meal. There are other dining experiences that I’d love to try and so I think I’d pass on this restaurant. The food, atmosphere, and service were impeccable, I just think I wouldn’t use two credits on it.

If you LOVE steak and wine or are celebrating something special – absolutely! It was such a romantic experience and our server gave us an adorable chocolate to share and one to take home for later, so if you are on your honeymoon, or celebrating something special you might want to consider this dining experience.

Bottom line, it depends on the type of experience you wish to have.

Is Le Cellier Kid Friendly? 

We took our three-month-old with us, and it was okay for a young baby but I wouldn’t recommend bringing toddlers to this restaurant.  With the romantic lighting and atmosphere, my kids would struggle to sit still (or at all). Given the price tag, I’d recommend leaving the kids with family or a babysitter for your dining.
Overall, I’d recommend this restaurant for a celebration or a date but would not for just a meal in the parks – there are so many other quick options that are delicious and less expensive.
 
 
Happy Disney Planning! 
 
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Visiting the Everglades Outpost Rescue Center in Homestead Florida

This post contains affiliate links. 
 
For Christmas this year we asked that people limit the number of toys given to our children, and try to find ways to create memories with them, we even opted not to give our children a Christmas gift, but to allow them to buy a gift for each other.  It was such a fun Christmas, and we are still going through some of the experiences we were gifted.

One of them was a Groupon for The Everglades Outpost in Homestead Florida.

About The Everglades Outpost
 
In 1991 Bob Freer and his wife Barbara opened their home as a rescue for wild animals. This non-profit rescue center is available for Florida-native and non-native animals.  The outpost believes in the dignity of every animal, and that is why they work hard to support and care for the animals.

If possible, the animals are released back into the wild, but if not they are loved and cared for at The Outpost. – Read more Here.

Address
35601 SW 192 Ave
Homestead, FL 33034
305-247-8000

The Outpost is open from 10AM – 6 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Appointments can be scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday. 


Membership Pricing
One-Day: $15.00 for adults; $10;00 for children and 5 years and younger are FREE

Check Groupon for tickets, at one time there were some available for 38% off

 

What to Expect at the Everglades Outpost
You can expect to meet friendly volunteers eager to share their love for the animals with all the visitors. You can expect to see a whole bunch of Alligators, some wolves, tigers and a cute little zebra.

This attraction is not a zoo, as the animals have mostly been rescued or have been found injured. Around 12:00 p.m. on weekends, there is an informational session and show with the Alligators.

There are also a few picnic tables around the facilities and guests are allowed to bring snacks – just remember, please do not to feed the animals.  

After our visit to the Everglades Outpost, we went across the street to Robert is Here for a Milkshake!

If you are looking for more things to do in the area, I suggest you check out Robert is Here for the most delicious milkshake you’ve ever tasted and perhaps some hiking on the trails in the Everglades National Park – here are some of our favorite trails to explore!  

Now go live an Adventurous Story! 

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast, Trattoria al Forno

Disney Bounding as Rapunzel and Prince Eric
 
Ever since Disney Parks Blog announced the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast I have been wanting to go and take my girls. My oldest is a HUGE Rapunzel fan, and her younger sisters have just fallen in love with Ariel so this restaurant was the perfect fit for our family. 
 
About the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast
This character breakfast in the newest one available in the Disney parks, and just opened in April of 2017.  Located just outside of the Epcot Resorts on the Boardwalk, this breakfast is the perfect option for guests who want to experience Disney magic without the cost of a park ticket. 
 
Breakfast reservations begin at 7:30 a.m., and end at 11:00 a.m.
 
Pricing: 
  • 1 table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan 
  • $15-20 per child
  • $15-34 per adult 

 

Since this is a fairly new character dining reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.
 
Dining reservations can be made by calling: (407) 939-5277 
 

The Food: 

 

The food was quite good and very filling, we each got something different off the menu and shared with each other. 
 
Do I recommend this restaurant? 
 
Yes, absolutely. 

 

Unlike the Akershus restaurant in Epcot, this dining experience has both Prince and Princesses, making it an ideal restaurant for families with both young boys and girls. 
I did love the Akershus restaurant but didn’t feel it was a good fit for everyone. 
 

What to Expect

 

Each of the characters will come to your table to sign autographs, take photos and converse with you. My daughters were especially excited to be interacting with Flynn Rider and Prince Eric.  This was a new experience for them, and they still giggle about meeting the prince’s when going through their book of signatures. 
 
After you eat breakfast, make sure you leave a little extra time in your schedule to explore the Boardwalk. There are so many fun things to do on the Boardwalk with your family or you can enter into Epcot in the International Gateway.  
 
Frugal Tip
Although there is a small gift shop just outside the restaurant, you can purchase your outfits ahead of time and save a significant amount of money. 
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Secrets for planning a Successful Disney Vacation

Are you subscribed to my Youtube Channel

I recently posted my first ever PLAN WITH ME video featuring my Erin Condren Life Planner and shared 3 of my best tips for planning an epic Disney vacation! 
Our most recent Disney vacation was absolutely perfect, zero complaints and millions of memories! If you want to see some of the footage from our trip and see how I use my Erin Condren Life Planner for memory keeping, please check out my Youtube Video. 
Tip 1: Plan in Advance! 

Planning a Disney Vacation can be pretty overwhelming, that’s why I feel it is important to plan well enough in advance that you can do some research and decide what you want to accomplish during your trip. 
Some important dates to keep in mind, 
Another thing to consider is the Disney Dining Plan and if it is a right fit for you and your group. We decided to go with the Disney Dining Plan for our last trip, but there are a few things to consider before committing too it.  You can read more about the Dining plan on this post if you are interested. 

Tip 2: Consider a Travel Agent 
Did you know that it is absolutely FREE to use a Travel Agent? It’s a common misconception that you have to pay a fee for using a travel agent and for that reason many people plan on their own. It is possible to plan an epic Disney vacation on your own, but a travel agent who is in-the-know can really help you. 
Our travel agent helped us with:
  • Countless questions about the Dining Plan 
  • Fast Pass+ reservations
  • Countless questions about hotels
  • Discount Monitoring 
  • General Advice 
  • Surprise gift in the mail a week before we left 

I am not a travel agent, but the one we used was fabulous! Find her here. 

Tip 3: Don’t over commit and over plan 
It is so easy to rush around the parks trying to go on the most rides, see the most shows and eat the most snacks – and those things are all fun! But, have you ever just taken a leisurely stroll down Main Street, USA? Walked around the World Showcase and had conversations with the cast members? There are so many beautiful details, and magical experiences to be had! 
Just a few we had: 
  • Ride the Trolly down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom
  • Walking with Mary Poppins, chatting about tea 
  • Ride the Nemo Ride 3x in a row 
  • Cotton Candy gift from a cast member 
When you have a little wiggle room in your schedule you open yourselves up to so much opportunity. 
Happy Planning! 



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Is Robert is Here really the Disney World of Fruit Stands?

After your visit to the Everglades National Park in Homestead, you are not going to want to miss Robert is Here.  Located not too far from the entrance to the park you will find a pretty hoppin’ fruit stand.

Yes, you read that right. A “hoppin’ fruit stand”. The Palm Beach Post refers to this fruit stand as “The Disney World of fruit stands” and after spending a few hours there with my family, I have to say I completely agree!

A Brief History of Robert is Here
Robert is Here is a family-owned fruit stand that has been around for over 50 years. In the early days, it was a young man with a desire to sell a few fruits and vegetables that has grown into a premier destination in South Florida.

A destination perfect for families, couples, or friends. You can read more about the history of Robert and his family in his biography, it is certainly going on my list of books to read!

Location and Operating Hours 

8:00a – 7:00p
Closed: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Easter Sunday 1p-7p

19200 SW 344 Street
Homestead, FL 33034

So what makes this place so MAGICAL and why should I take a trip to Homestead to check it out?


I visited Robert is here with my family on a Saturday evening, about 5 o’clock, and here are some things I experienced, and memories made… 
There were cars parked everywhere.
Live Music blasting. 
Families laughing.
Children playing. 
Robert serving guests, answering questions. 
An entire fruit stand of strangers singing happy birthday, because Robert asked us too. 
There were smiles and giggles, and memories being made all around me. 
Photos lined the walls of the fruit stand. 
The best and most unique milkshakes I’d ever tasted being served. 
Fresh Fruit.
Fresh Vegetables. 
A Splash Pad.
Play area.
Picnic Tables. 
Petting Zoo. 
There were people collecting Memories, 
not things and it was beautiful. 
The Palm Beach post got it right when they compared this place to the Happiest Place on Earth. The next time you visit South Florida, take a trip down to Homestead and have a milkshake with Robert and his family, you won’t be sorry. 
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5 Reasons to be a member of the Zoo!

When is the last time you went to the Zoo?

As a mom young children, I am always looking for educational and fun experiences for my family. While I was studying for my bachelors in Early Childhood Education, I specifically remember the remarkable rate in which the brain develops in the first three years of life.

85% of the brain development 

happens in the first 3 years! 

5 Reasons to purchase a pass to the zoo
 
As a mom of three children ages three and under, I feel it is crucial to their academic success to fill their days with meaningful experiences. Which is why I asked for an annual pass to the Zoo last Christmas, and it has been the most fun year with the girls yet!
Here are my five Reasons why I think you should consider an annual pass to the local zoo! 

1.  Meaningful Experiences

There are so many opportunities to learn at the zoo. Some of our favorites include; animal shows, talking with a zoo-keeper and feeding the animals. 
StorybookErin - 5 reasons to buy a Zoo Pass
StorybookErin - 5 reasons to buy a Zoo pass

2. Encourage Physical Activity

The Zoo is often quite large and filled with playgrounds and splash pads. These are great places to let your kid out of the stroller and burn some energy.   The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day for children. It’s easy to encourage an extended time of play at the zoo, and as an added bonus your kids will sleep better at night.
Storybookerin - 5 reasons to buy a zoo pass

3. Splash Pads!

Our local Zoo has five splash pad’s throughout the zoo and they are all free for visitors to the zoo! This is especially great during the summer months! Not all zoo’s offer free splash pads, for example, when we visited the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans there was an extra charge for the water area.  My experience in Florida is that there will be a free water area for kids!

4. Special Events! 

Are you are looking for an Easter Egg hunt or a place to take your family trick-or-treating? Check out your local Zoo! Each year we have taken our girls to these special events for FREE. Thanks to our membership!
StorybookErin - 5 reasons to purchase an annual pass to the zoo
StorybookErin - 5 reasons to purchase an annual pass to the zoo

5.  Increase Conversation and Communication 

When we go to the zoo just as a family, we will often pick a nice shady park bench and have a snack. We like to sit near a large animal such as an Elephant or Giraffe this. During snack time, our girls seem to really open up and ask questions about the animals. Our most recent trip resulted in a 20-minute conversation about Elephants, and how they use their trunks to eat.  Toddlers have growing minds and lots of questions, let’s give them opportunities to ask questions and explore their world!
StorybookErin - 5 reasons to purchase an annual pass to the zoo
 

See you at the Zoo! 

Here are a few other zoo’s our family has explored!

Santa Fe Teaching Zoo, Gainesville FL

Jacksonville, Florida

StorybookErin - 5 reasons to purchase an annual pass to the zoo
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Evelyn Greer Park, Pinecrest FL

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the childhood obesity rate as more than doubled since the 1970’s and that 1 in 6 children from the ages of 6-19 is considered to be obese?

The CDC recommends at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for school-aged children, living in a small condo this isn’t always the easiest for us to accomplish that at home, so we love to explore all the beautiful parks in our area. We typically spend about 45 minutes to an hour at the park, and that includes our picnic time.

One of the parks we recently visited a park located in Pinecrest, Florida and fell in love with all that it had to offer.

Evelyn Greer Park is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! As we approached the park, I couldn’t help but notice the beautifully manicured park, and the fence around the playground. As a mom with multiple children, the fence is a huge perk!

This park has several soccer fields, a batting cage as well as a fitness and walking trail that is a little longer than a quarter mile – great for the mom or dad who wants to get a little walk in before playing on the playgrounds with your family.

Prior to Hurricane Irma this park had a large canopy over the playground, hopefully, this will be back up soon because there wasn’t much shade on the playground itself – but the walking trail was quite shady.

Another thing I loved about this park was the large clean restrooms. When you have a potty trained and potty training toddler, clean restrooms are a must and this park provided!

I can’t say enough positive things about this park, we had such a lovely time. If you’d like to see more of what this park has to offer, please take a moment to watch our Youtube Video and give us a subscribe. 😉