No Comments

Fall is Festival Time in Florida

Solivita Fall Festival

Don’t miss the Fall Festival in downtown Solivita. The Festival is always a great day, entertainment, food, great crafts, plus talented artisans exhibit and market their goods, while music and fun fill the air, plus it is the perfect time to start shopping for the holidays. Last year we purchased beautiful framed photos by Solivita Resident Photographer, Linda Moffat. We also purchased Solivita handmade jewelry, and handknit sweaters for the grandchildren. Seems to me that there is something at the Festival for everyone. Even if you choose not to buy anything, our clubs are out selling food and it is a good day to visit with friends, bring the children out for some fun and enjoy the cooler weather we have all be waiting for. If you would like to visit Linda on the web, you can see her photos at www.lindamoffatphoto.com.

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival; August 29 – Nov. 23, 2019

The festival runs from the end of August through mid-November. The event is marked by wine tastings, Disney and guest chefs cooking up culinary delights, and the popular Eat to the Beat Concerts. Entrance to the Festival, plus select wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, culinary exhibits, concerts and all attractions are included with regular Epcot admission. Specialty events require reservations and separate event admission.

Fantasy Fest in Key West; October 18 – October 27, 2019

Put on your greasepaint and let the good times roll for ten days of celebrating that can only be described as zany, bizarre, and hilarious. Fantasy Fest participants take to the streets of Key West in a somewhat raucous style with circuses and sideshows like you've never seen before. Nonstop activities include parades, masquerades, street parties, and more. From what we have heard, If you're prone to flamboyance, this event is better than Mardi Gras. There is a scintillating 2019 Fantasy Fest Schedule online so if you have time and love to party this could be the fest for you. The theme for 2019 Key West Fantasy Fest is “In Tune but Off Key: Celebrating 40 Years of Fantasy” having never been to Key West during Fantasy Fest, we hear it is very busy during this time of the year, so don’t go without being assured you have a place to stay, but if you go, buckle up and be ready for a wild time. https://www.fantasyfest.com

It may be too late this year to book Fantasy Fest but now you know when it is, put it on your calendar for next year and book 2020 at least 9 months in advance. Fantasy Fest is always about the same time every year so start looking on the website for the exact dates and plan your escape to Fantasy Fest 2020.

Apalachicola 56th Annual Florida Seafood Festival; November 1 & 2, 2019

The Florida Seafood Festival is a two-day event annually drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola in scenic Franklin County. The Festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shady oaks of Apalachicola’s Battery Park in downtown Apalachicola. There are events for just about everyone. The Festival features delicious seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, seafood related events, and Musical Entertainment. Some of the notable events include; Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking Contest, Blue Crab Races, Photo Contest, a parade, 5K Redfish Run, the Blessing of the Fleet, History of the Festival Exhibit plus lots of fun and people watching in a beautiful place on the river.

This is always a fun festival held in a beautiful old town in Florida. Dress casual and comfortable, put on your flip flops and have a blast enjoying the freshest seafood around.
No Comments

Florida Travel

Good Solivita friends of ours rented a house in Matlacha (MAT-la-shay) for a week, right on the water, with a pool and a dock for fishing and crabbing. Sounds like a peaceful, quiet spot on the Florida Coast. Where is this spot you ask? Matlacha is a tiny town west of Fort Myers and it is tethered to the mainland by the “fishingest bridge in the U.S.A.” over Matlacha Pass - according to the tourist info. Now I am very interested, this sounds like an ideal habitat for fish and anglers, but also for kayakers, hikers, and seekers of peace and quiet. A Perfect Spot for a few days.

After all, there are only so many days I can stay away from the action. Lee could probably stay a few days longer, as long, as he had his golf clubs, but me, I love the action of selling Solivita and helping folks find their perfect place in the sun. They report they relaxed, enjoyed each other’s company, ate fresh caught crabs and fish, plus nightly witnessed Spectacular Sunsets. If you are a birder, this is a great place for you too, as daily our friends enjoyed osprey, egrets and the dolphins play in the water. Now where to stay, well I can’t tell you their secret hide out, as they wouldn’t tell me, but I have tiptoed through the literature on the area. From my research, I know Lee and I would love the Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island, about 8 miles from Matlacha. It looks like a great place to visit for a few days. The Lodge is on the water, has a full-service restaurant, and a very nice menu. You see, I am not into fishing but, I am into relaxing in a pretty place with a lounge chair and a good fish restaurant on site. The Lodge does have some history, rumor has it that Jimmy Buffet wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise while hanging out at the Tarpon Lodge. We have not stayed here yet, but we surely will next time we have a few days away. Another destination to add to my Florida Bucket List.
No Comments

Florida Vacations

Since Solivita is a Resort Style Community, surrounded by beautiful ponds, lush conservation, wildlife, golf courses, gyms, pools, restaurants, and a plethora of activities, living in Solivita is life on vacation; but it is still fun to plan and experience a new place, even if only for a few days. Florida offers lots of spots to make a quick escape to. Do you enjoy hiking, the natural environment, beaches, or are you a lover of cites? However, and wherever you like to vacation, Florida offers something for everyone.

If it is a cityscape you are looking for, a trip to Miami may be your ticket. Miami is a great place to spend a few days and now you can hop a train to Miami. Grab a cab to the Poinciana Train Station and in Kissimmee change from the Sun Rail to the Amtrak Train and ride to Miami. A direct train from Kissimmee will land you in Miami after 6 hours of train travel. No driving, no traffic, just an enjoyable day of riding the rails. When you arrive in Miami, a quick cab to your hotel will have you enjoying dinner and a cocktail before sunset. Miami is fun, lots of nightlife, restaurants, and people watching. After a few days in the city you can hop back on the train and return to the beauty and peace of Solivita. If a city escape is not your thing, how about a camping trip to a Florida dark sky park to view the stars.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is surrounded by 54,000 acres of prairie and is located about 25 miles north of Okeechobee, FL. This park is internationally recognized for its lack of light pollution, the night sky above the prairie is inky black and campers can spot the milky way without using telescopes or binoculars. If you wish to star gaze, you will need to make camping reservations. Camping in the Park is not glamorous, and sorry to say but, GLAMPING accommodations are not available here. Camping at the Prairie Preserve State Park is basic, but a beautiful night gazing at stars, planets, and other celestial bodies in incomprehensible numbers, will make for an amazing experience. Jupiter and Saturn are both clearly visible in the night sky, or you may witness the International Space Station making its orbit around the earth. In my book, a beautiful evening dominated by a dark starry sky is an unforgettable experience and worth one night of sleeping in a tent. Of course, if camping is not your idea of a night away, visit the park in the daylight and enjoy the largest remaining tract of Florida dry prairie that exists. Many rare, threatened, and endangered species call this park home and you will have ample opportunity to catch sight of a grasshopper sparrow, crested caracara or a burrowing owl. During the fall and winter, the park offers ranger led prairie buggy tours to the remote areas. You will see spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife on the 2 – 3 hour adventure. Tours are offered from the first weekend in November to the end of March on Weekends. To avoid disappointment, please call ahead to reserve this tour.

After an evening in the woods, it is time to hit a hotel, enjoy a nice hot shower, and lay my bones on a beach. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is not too far from the east or the west coast beaches of Florida, so you have lots of options. There is just so much to do in Florida, I hope I do not run out of retirement and my adventurous spirit before I have ticked off every box on my Florida Bucket List.
No Comments

Downtown Lakeland Farmer’s Market

We are early risers, so most Saturdays we find ourselves up at dawn. One Saturday a month we head to the Lakeland Farmer’s Market. Saturday mornings for us are a pleasure as our workday starts a bit later and after a busy week, we look forward to sharing the morning together and reconnecting. Lakeland Farmer’s Market attracts local farmers, bakeries, restaurants, artisans, crafters, cheese makers, Florida honey and jams, beautiful flowers, plants, and entertainment. The farmer’s market takes the month of August off so if you plan to go, please plan your market day in September. The market is open every Saturday (except August) from 8 am to about 2 pm (1 pm in the summer months). We stretch our legs, enjoy the fresh air, do our marketing, and enjoy the sights and sounds around us. A few of our favorite stops are Harmonious Greens, Aqua Organics, Eco Farm, Jay’s Market, Pierogi Hut, Ethos Roasters for Coffee, and Red Roof Farms for honey. We are generally back on the road by 9:00 am to start our typical Saturday workday, but we return to Solivita and to our clients refreshed and ready to work after enjoying an early morning together. If you have a dog, the Lakeland Market is doggy-approved, plus you may even find Fido a few treats. To get to the market, use your GPS with the address of 200 N. Kentucky Ave. We find the best parking for the market is in the Munn Park parking lot. Hope to see you at the fruit stand . . .
No Comments

Summer is Vacation Time to Share with the Family

Yes, the entire family wants to visit Disney, Universal, Sea World and Legoland, but do you really need to go broke buying tickets when the family is in town? We say, pick the one park you want to visit, spend a day and share the rest of what Florida has to offer with friends and family outside of the theme parks. It is wonderful to visit the parks and fun to spend a day or two, but it is also fun to spend quality time together; enjoy a swim in the pool, visit Gatorland in Orlando, take a Swamp Boat Tour, or a trip to one of the local farms to pick produce, or hit the coast and take a dip in the ocean. We took our grandchildren to Explorations V Children’s Museum in Lakeland and they loved it. Last year we got lucky while viewing the schedule at Painting with a Twist and found an art class for one of our 8-year-old guests. We all went together and had a blast; plus came home with the artwork to prove it! Pack a picnic and visit Bok Tower’s Children’s Garden; or take the family for a horseback ride at Lazy H Ranch in Kissimmee. Our grandchildren are city dwellers and are still quite young, so any outdoor activity we share with them is fun. Last year, the big hit of their visit was blowing bubbles, swimming in a blow-up pool and riding the tricycle we had purchased in advance of their visit. All fun, healthy activities and good diversions from the theme parks.
No Comments

Time for a Show: Newsies is Playing at the Osceola Playhouse

Lee and I were lucky enough to see Newsies on Broadway during one of our trips back home to visit friends and family in NJ, but I must say, we are still looking forward to this summer’s production of Newsies at the Osceola Playhouse. Although the Osceola Playhouse is not Broadway, we have seen lots of wonderful shows at this local family friendly theatre. It is a treat to have a Community Theatre with so many offerings that’s so close to Solivita. Osceola Playhouse focuses on the creative arts and promotes, cultivates and fosters interest in the arts by providing good entertainment at an affordable ticket price; thereby making the arts accessible to most. Today Osceola Arts produces over 150 performing and visual arts events each year and we are proud to sponsor our local playhouse and participate in their offerings. We encourage you to see a show, visit their gallery to view the artwork, volunteer, share your talents, purchase one of their offerings, and enjoy the benefits this wonderful playhouse offers. If you wish to visit the Osceola Playhouse on the web their address is http://osceolaarts.org. One of the benefits of life in Central Florida is that your expenses are greatly reduced. In fact, you can buy a season of tickets at Osceola Playhouse for less than the price of a single ticket to one show on Broadway.
No Comments

Walk In The Woods At Highlands Hammock State Park

Friends of ours asked us to take a hike with them in Highlands Hammock State Park last week. Not a choice I would normally make, but we had heard that the park was wonderful, and to be honest, Lee wanted to go. So, in a moment of weakness, I agreed. Highlands Hammock State Park is lovely, natural, the way I imagine Florida must have looked before development: lush, green, wet, and tranquil. We hiked on a Sunday afternoon and we both enjoyed the experience. It was an unusual experience, but Lee was really into it. As we entered the old growth canopy of Highlands Hammock State Park the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees and we enjoyed the peace and quiet of walking under oak trees that are a thousand years old. We plan to return in the fall to hike the catwalk of the cypress swamp as we have heard it is awesome. You can bird watch, take a ranger guided tour of the park, a tram tour, or bicycle the scenic three-mile loop, but whatever you do be prepared to be amazed. The walk took me out of my comfort zone but was worth the experience. I must admit I was a bit afraid as we were warned of snakes, gators, spiders and some nasty bugs, but we emerged refreshed and safe from our walk in the woods and eager to choose another path to enjoy on another day. Highlands Hammock State Park is in Sebring and surrounded by some good restaurants so since we hiked for Lee, I choose a good restaurant in downtown Sebring and together we enjoyed a lovely lunch. It was another perfect day in Central Florida. Come on down and share some perfect Central Florida days with us. You will be glad you did.
No Comments

Day Trip Time – Memorial Day Monday

As the days become longer and the temperatures rise; I find myself longing for a day at the beach. A perfect summer day with the wind gently blowing, the surf calm, and the water warm. We are going to take a day off and drive over to Cocoa Beach for the day. An easy drive from Solivita. I am Looking forward to spending the morning on the beach and the afternoon enjoying a fresh fish sandwich. A perfect day in the Florida sun. Blue sky, no dishes, no clean up, no fuss, a day of pure enjoyment. Lee and I are taking off on our own and running away for the day. We are going to bring an empty cooler with us and hope to return with some delicious Florida fresh fish. We wish you all a Memorial Day filled with joy and beauty.
No Comments

Bok Tower Sunrise Service

Sunrise Services at Bok Tower Gardens are an annual Central Florida tradition since 1926. Everyone is invited to enjoy the majesty of the sun rise from atop Iron Mountain at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. Parking is accessible, a choir will perform, an inspirational Easter message will be delivered by local clergy and the day will be off to a wonderful start. Admission to Bok Tower is complimentary for the sunrise service and after the service you are welcome to enjoy the gardens. See you in the gardens.
No Comments

Cher Concert at the Amway Center in Orlando

Growing up in Madison Square Garden territory, I must admit to seeing a lot of concerts, but I had never had the opportunity to see Cher live in concert. Her tour is billed as a farewell concert. Cher is the first to admit this is not her first farewell tour, but Lee and I wanted to catch her live before it really is her last farewell tour. And I have to say wow! Cher looks great and can still strut her stuff with the best of them, even in those crazy high heels and her body-hugging costumes. Her voice is strong, and her stage show was spectacular. Cher was personable and did an opening act with footage of her early career, when she was Sonny and Cher or Cher and Sonny, as I fondly recall from a routine performed on the 1970’s Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. The opening act was poignant and left me with a real sense of how the loss of Sonny has affected her. Cher spoke briefly of her children when they were young and how they celebrated her 40th birthday. She ended her monologue with an announcement to her fans that she is 72 years young and asked all of us what our “grannies are doing tonight.” I don’t know about your granny, but I know mine stopped strutting her stuff a long time ago. The Amway in Orlando is a nice venue, the acoustics are good, and Church Street rocks when a concert is in town. The only other thing that could have made the night better is a public transportation option. Fingers crossed, as we hope the train continues to gain in popularity and the operating hours are extended affording us the option of traveling to and from Orlando without the I-4 drive.

We celebrated our evening out with a pre-show dinner in downtown Orlando at Kres Chophouse on Church St. A perfect start to the evening as the restaurant is warm and inviting and not your typical noisy steakhouse, but rather subdued with a casual, quiet elegance. Nice white linen on the tables, inviting space and great service. Kres is within walking distance to the Amway and turned out to be a great pick. Our table was comfortable, the wine selection was good, and each glass was served at the right temperature in nice stemware. We were a group of four and together we each shared our entrees. Every dish on our table was plated beautifully and delicious, the soup was spicy and served hot, the salads cool and crisp, the steak was cooked to the perfect temperature, but the pork chop was the undisputed winner at the chop house. It was perfectly tender, slightly pink in the middle, juicy and flavorful. A dish we all agreed we would order again on our next evening at Kres. You can visit Kres on the web at: www.kresrestaurant.com.