NC --- THE KEYS

SPRANG BREAK, Y’ALL

For my final hoorah as a college student, my family and I spent my spring break in the Florida Keys: the happiest of all happy places. Although, the adventure did not just start and stop there. We road-tripped from little old Garner, NC all the way to Tavernier, FL. Not even the strongest of butts can handle sitting in the car for this long, though, so we split it up and made some beautiful stops along the way.

 

DAY 1: SAVANNAH, GA

We drove down on a Friday and were up and at ’em Saturday morning in beautiful Savannah and went straight to Forsyth Park. On Saturdays there is an open air market in the park where local farmers and vendors come and sell their (delicious) produce, cheeses and any other yummy freshness you can check out. So, we grabbed some bangin’ lattes from across the street and went for a stroll. We shopped, watched a fascinating game of hamster ball soccer (adding to bucket list), a wedding, and some extremely talented musicians.

 

After milling around Forsyth for a while, we walked over to Broughton Street for shopping and lunch. My favorite spots that we hit up were the Savannah Bee Company and The Paris Market. My sister and I did a Meade Tasting at the Bee Company and were not disappointed, it was well worth the $7. The Paris Market far exceeds my budget but the products are so beautiful and there is an adorable little coffee shop inside that serves macarons.

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Lunch was at The Ordinary Pub which is literally in a basement. You’ll miss it if you’re not looking for it but make sure you have a reservation on the weekend — we ended up waiting for an hour and a half for a table. BUT the deliciousness of the Avocado Smash I got (10/10 recommend) made it worth the wait. For a post-lunch iced coffee or local beer, scoot up to The Coffee Fox and you will not be disappointed.

 

After lunch we continued our browsing with a stroll through the open air City Market where we got to see a ton of really cool local art, sampled some of the famous Byrd’s cookies and then wrapped it all up with a trolley tour of Downtown.

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Now, if you’re looking for the BEST view of the sunset in Savannah, head over to The Bohemian Hotel on the riverfront. Just walk in and head up to the rooftop bar. They won’t force you to buy anything but the view is nothing short of picturesque. It’s also a great place for pre-dinner cocktail.

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DAY 2/3: ST. AUGUSTINE

A quick 3 hours down the road is the history-rich St. Augustine. We got to St. Aug at a kind of weird time of day so we decided to hang out at our hotel for a bit and then we went for a tour of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. This is a really cute little spot where you get a tour of the lighthouse grounds and get to walk all the way up to the top (RIP my quads) for a bomb photo op.

 

That night for dinner we took the advice of his holiness, Guy Fieri, and went to A1A Aleworks. It had a pretty cool atmosphere and the food was nothing to sneeze at. My dad and I shared the Seafood Paella that ended up being a smorgasbord that neither of us could finish. Delicious, regardless.

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After dinner we walked around the tourist-y downtown area and window shopped/contemplated buying outrageously expensive ice cream a few times.

The next morning, we packed up to leave but before we left we swung over to the Castillo de San Marcos to get some more learnin’. My only regret was that the weather had been a little more savory but overall it was a really interesting tour and made for some more great photos.

Day 4: Tavernier, FL

Okay so first of all, we stayed at — hands down — the nicest condominium I have ever seen. It was recently renovated, located in the most prime location, and the owner went above and beyond in the respect of hospitality. I mean, wine and chocolate was waiting for us when we got there, and if that doesn’t say it all I don’t know what does. Their VRBO code is #823297, we highly recommend!

Our first day in Tavernier also happened to be my mom’s birthday so, per her request, we spent the day lounging by the pool and playing a few games of tennis. Although, when dinner rolled around, we were not playing any games. We went to the best seafood restaurant in the keys: Lazy Days. Not only can you bring your catch of the day with you in a cooler for them to cook up for you (ask for lazy days style) but they also have the BEST key lime pie ever. In my humble opinion.

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My beautiful Mom with her birthday pie.

 

Day 5: Clear Kayaking in Key Largo

I met the coolest dude in the whole world on day 5 and he is the owner of Tropic Water Sports in Key Largo. His name is Sonny and not only is he the most jovial man I’ve ever seen he is also the most hospitable. He gave us full instruction on where to go in the kayaks and even supplied us with a cooler of water bottles, snorkeling gear for just in case we wanted to, and took our picture as we were headed out. It was a really fun thing to do for the day and it was probably some of the best customer service we’ve ever gotten. P.S.  I love the mangroves.

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Day 6: Glass Bottom Boat Tour at John Pennekamp State Park

Last time we came to the Keys, my dad, my best friend and myself went snorkeling at Pennekamp and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Although, some of our family on this trip was not too keen on the idea of trying to breathe through a tube face down in the water so we did a dry version: a glass bottom boat tour. The entire tour is a good 2 hours and you get to see a lot. The ride out and back in is very scenic but the reef you get observe is beautiful also. We saw turtles, parrot fish, stingrays, and even a little shark. The tour guides are knowledgeable and had a lot to share about the reef we saw.

If there is anything adventurously aquatic you’d like to do (snorkeling, boat tours, kayaking, etc.) definitely go to Pennekamp. They offer a lot of different things to do and we have always had great experiences at any activity we’ve done there.

On day 6 we also rented a couple of bikes and spent a few hours exploring the area we were staying at. The Keys are the perfect area for leisure rides, it’s totally flat and there’s lots of bridges to ride over. Right down the street from Ocean Pointe, the condominiums we stayed at, was an absolutely adorable coffee shop called Cafe Moka. We stopped in for a latte and sat in their super quaint outdoor patio where fellow patrons were hanging out with their puppies.

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Day 7: Headed Home

Our last couple of days were spent making the depressing journey back home to a 34 degree snow day. As a family unit, we concluded that the trip was the perfect vacation for some folks who just needed a break but also like having a good time. Family, friends, or both; this itinerary comes highly recommended for a great time of R&R. Happy trip planning!

The Fabulous Ferocity of Female Friendships

Take a minute and think about all of the lady friends you have in your life and what a typical hangout or conversation with them is like.

When I do this, I think of my best friends. It’s almost a disservice to limit them to the title of friend. For women, our friends are our cheerleaders, accountability partners, life coaches, personal stand up comedians, stylists, author of texts to boy interests, and occasionally fill-in mom. They give me unsolicited advice, more laughter than I know what to do with, and encouragement that can turn a day that totally sucks to one that I face with all the confidence of Tina Fey and Beyonce rolled in one. (She’s my alter ego, I like to call her Tinyoncfey)

Now, imagine a day or even week where you did not have any conversations or spend quality time with your female comrades. That is a very sad day or week. We spend years building these relationships with women we identify and relate to, and we need them. Call me sappy if you wish, but sometimes being our own best friend just doesn’t cut it. Having a foundation of fellow females who are there for you always, is a necessity-not an optional life addition.

Men are great. And I mean that. They make so many awesome contributions to society and they do a lot of great things for women (at least a lot of men do). I hope every lady out there has at least a few significant male relationships in her life because there importance is undeniable. But tell me this: how many of you can say that you get the same thing out of your conversations or time spent with a man that you do with your tried and true female best friends? If you do, shame on me. But please don’t tell anyone because that really takes away from the poignancy of this post.

Okay, so bringing it in for a landing. Female friendship is a beautiful, crucial, awesome blessing. I hope one day I am straight chilling in a nursing home with my best friends, not some dude (sorry future hubs if you’re reading this). Hopefully they are lifelong and leave on impact on your soul that you will forever be thankful for. Call your best friends, tell them how awesome they are, and don’t forget to reciprocate the wonderful friendship nuggets they are giving you.

Long live lady friends.