I’ve only lived in Florida for less than three years so I’m still exploring Florida as I’m typing this. I grew up in a very small state so exploring a state the size of Florida could take me quite some time. I love checking out new places and taking adventures with my husband; sometimes weekend trips or even stay-cations. I’m very grateful to live in a state like Florida because it is a vacation destination. There are so many things to do. I’m an outdoorsy person so there are so many activities to do that involves nature. The main attraction here are the beaches! Parking is super cheap compared to other places and is plentiful if you get there early enough. Here are my top 10 favorite places in Florida 2017:
1269 N University Dr
10. Shinju Japanese Buffet
Coral Springs, FL 3307
Phone number(954) 752-3406
If you love sushi and have a big appetite, then this place is for you. They also offer a section of regular buffet items as well as a hibachi station. We went in on a Friday at 6 pm and it was pretty busy. However, we only waited about 5 minutes. When we left was when it was super busy with a line out the door, so I suggest going in before 7 pm.
Once we sat down, the waitress took our drink orders and we were ready to go. The sushi is as fresh as it can get. They have sushi chefs constantly rolling and putting out new sushi rolls. There are all different types of sushi such as sashimi and fried rolls. My favorites are the eel roll and spider roll. I am a glutton so I pretty much try a piece of every roll and stuff myself silly. On the hot foods section, I usually pick up some crab rangoons, dumplings, general tsao chicken, fried rice, and tempura shrimp. I also load up on the eel sauce and spicy mayo. Yum. I see so many people devouring the king crab legs but that’s too much work for me. My mouth is watering thinking about this place.
I suggest to go hungry to get your money’s worth. It’s about 20 dollars per person and one plate of sushi may be worth that alone. I usually eat two plates full and tap out. It is definitely worth the twenty something dollars and I will be back often!
9. Flamingo Gardens
3750 S Flamingo Rd
Davie, FL 33330
I love nature, animals, wildlife, parks, and the great outdoors so this Flamingo Garden was right up my alley.
This 60 acre land has a wildlife sanctuary, aviary, and a botanical garden. Once we parked, we walked into a gift store and bought our tickets; it was $19.95 per adult. This was also a great place to bring children since it’s like a mini zoo. For 25 cents, you could dispense bird food and feed the birds! In the aviary, it’s a caged in large area where the birds roam free; you could get up close and personal with ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and various other birds.
There are guided tours, tram tours, and you have the option of casually strolling through the park. They had peacocks walking around freely throughout the whole park. When we went, there was a summer camp festival going on.
The most notable attractions were the bear, panthers, owls, otters, alligators, flamingos, bob cats, and pelicans/birds in the aviary.
The trees in there were majestic! They also had a koi fish pond, tortoises, eagles, and falcons. I noticed most of these birds/animals were injured and rehabilitating. They also had a mini amphitheater where they were hosting an educational show.
8. Gator Park in the Everglades
24050 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33194
It’s great to get away from the hustle and bustle of South Florida. The air boat ride was exhilarating because it hydroplanes across the water. There were plenty of alligators lounging around if you look hard enough. What I love about this part of the Everglades was, the sawgrass were super tall and there were more mangroves and various of other plants and trees. When I came here, I saw baby gators, they were so cute; I didn’t see the mother gator but I knew she was lurking nearby.
There’s a gift shop that sells food. There were tons of alligator heads to buy if you’re into that stuff; and some various of other nic-nacs. They also serve gator meat; the popular dish was the gator bites which looked like mini chicken nuggets. Always look online, I always find coupons for a discounted price on admission tickets. The staff were very thorough and organized with loading us onto the airboats. They also provided ear plugs because those airboat engines were large and loud. They also offer wildlife shows while you wait for your airboat. The guide would show us a bunch of wild animals, reptiles, and insects.
This is by far my favorite airboat tour that I’ve been on. It’s a trek for me but every time we have out of town guests, we like to bring them here so they could experience the true Everglades!
7. Arun’s Indian Kitchen
10278 W Sample Rd
Coral Springs, FL 33065
It’s a small restaurant with about four tables inside and three outside. We went there around 9 pm on Saturday and it was still packed. We got up to the counter and was greeted by some friendly faces. We took a quick look at the menu and ordered; my favorite Indian dish in general is the goat vindaloo. I ordered that and went to grab a table outside. The food came out so quick and my dish came with basmati rice. I love spicy so they asked me from a 1 to 10, 10 being the spiciest, which would I be comfortable with; I ordered a 7 and it was spicy but I could’ve handled spicier. The vindaloo was so fresh and saucy. The goat meat was very tender; there were pieces of potato in there as well and it absorbed the delicious flavor. The portion was big; I ate all of mine and I was full.
6. Wynwood Yard
56 NW 29th St
Miami, FL 33127
It’s a big yard with food trucks surrounding the perimeter. In the middle, there’s a bar and there’s also a mini stage. Some of the food trucks actually looked like mini restaurants, anchored to the ground. There were a ton of food truck options to choose from; vegan, sushi, BBQ, Brazilian, shaved ice, green tea, charcuterie, etc.
We went during happy hour so sangria was $6 and well drinks were $5. There’s actually mosquito sprayers throughout which was pretty neat since it’s an outdoor venue. Out back, they had a restroom trailer which was pretty cool since there were stall toilets in this trailer. The place was meticulously clean throughout; there were trash cans everywhere.
There were quite a few tables to hang out and eat/drink. There was a garden donated by Whole Foods. The garden was so cool with tons of edible herbs. Everyday there’s a different event; when we were there on a Wednesday, they were doing yoga. I’m looking forward to the next time I go there! Just find metered street parking nearby and you’re golden. I recommend going in the evening because it could be really hot during the day with limited shade. This is a definitely hip spot to get some drinks and food.
5. NY Grilled Cheese
2207 Wilton Dr
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Holy moly! I’ve heard good things about this place and had it bookmarked for a while. We went in one weekend and I was afraid it was going to be busy due to the ravings and reviews. I was pleasantly surprised when there were a few tables available. They serve beer here as well. The waiter was quick and attentive.
I ordered the Wall Street grilled cheese sandwich and the tomato soup came with it. Definitely the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. I could sip a gallon of that in one sitting. It was perfect and the flavors were very balanced. The Wall Street grilled cheese was out of this world. It was breakfast style with bacon, eggs, cheese, onions and a waffle style bread. My current favorite is the sweet cheese grilled cheese; it has Brie and a couple of other sweet cheeses and bacon. There’s a perfect balance of sweet and salty. I always order the next size up of the tomato soup because what they offer as a side is kind of small. My friends who were with me were raving about this place too. Whenever I’m craving a grilled cheese, I make the trek to visit here to satisfy my cheesey craving. There is parking on street and across the street there is a pay to park lot. After you’re done eating, you pay up front. Overall, the service was good and the food was amazing
4. Tavolino Della Notte
10181 W Sample Rd
Coral Springs, FL 33065
I had the lobster ravioli ($24). The ravioli was striped with dark squid ink, there were quite a few lobster pieces in the ravioli. The sauce was a pink sauce which I think is a vodka sauce with green peas; amazing flavor and very fulfilling. I couldn’t really taste squid ink but it was my first time consuming it. Let it be known, I finished the whole dish, I was full but I didn’t want to waste any food. The service was great, it was definitely five stars quality.
The pear pasta was a crowd favorite. It was on the appetizer list for $15 but I really wanted it for my meal; I asked the waiter and he said that they could double the portion and it would be $30. I opted to just have it as an appetizer. Wow, it was amazing as everyone was saying. The white creamy sauce, the pears, and the pasta filled with cheese. The balance of salt and sweet intermingled with each other. It was right up my alley since I love sweet and savory.
3. Schnebley’s Redland Winery
30205 SW 217th Ave
Homestead, FL 33030
When we got there, there was a big building with a restaurant inside. We first checked in at the front desk then proceeded to the bar. We were greeted by the bartender and she explained how the process works. She gave us each a wine glass and a peice of paper listing the different types of wines you could try. You’re allowed to choose 5 or 6 tastings. My favorites were the hurricane, avocado infused, and lychee infused. After wine tasting, we went outside to the outdoor patio. It was huge and it had waterfalls and a koi pond. The yard was wonderfully landscaped.
2. Fury Water Adventures
241 Front St
Key West, FL 33040
It was a three hour tour so bring snacks, towels, sunscreen, and sunglasses. I also suggest taking Dramamine because I got sea sick which never happens to me and wished I had some at the time.
Once they sailed out to a safe area, they anchored and started to unload us into the water. They provided a protective spray for your goggles so it doesn’t fog up. They also provided water noodles and life jackets that makes you float but it wasn’t like a normal life jacket because you still sink a little.
Since I’m not a strong swimmer and this was my first time snorkeling, I was petrified so I took two water noodles for reassurance. For the beginners, I suggest doing the same! Better to be safe than sorry; the deck hands were watching us like a hawk, they were great swimmers if one of us were in distress.
Once I got into the water, it was the most amazing experience ever! The water was warm and so clear. I saw coral reefs and so many beautiful fishes. They even swam up to me and was so curious and intuitive; I reached my hand out and they swam to it. I heard other snorkelers saw a shark (don’t worry, they said it was the harmless kind lol.) I had a waterproof camera and started to snap pictures underwater.
200 Epcot Center Dr
Orlando, FL 32821
I’m not big on rollercoasters so this type of park is for people like me! There’s three rides, Frozen, Soarin, and Test Track. Unfortunately, we did not have time to ride those! However, we stopped by at every country to have a drink, except for Norway. I’m going to have to plan another trip so I could check out the rides and Norway!
We got there about an hour after it opened and it was packed. They did a great job with organizing the lines and making the lines move fast. First they checked our bags; while I was waiting in line for that, my husband went to wait in line for the tickets.
Get a gift card and load it up so there aren’t tons of transactions on your bank card. What a genius idea!
We started off in Canada and watched the circle view movie. I got a little dizzy from that but it was pretty cool! I got myself a maple syrup, cranberry, and apple juice drink from there, that was delicious. Then we stopped at England and got myself a PIM’s drink at the pub. We also got the orange Grand Marnier slushy drink at the stand outside. We stopped at Italy for sangria and a slice of pizza. I got the most delicious hefeweizen beer and bratwurst in Germany. I stopped to get some wine and macaroons in France. We had hibachi in Japan, it was delicious but overpriced. We watch acrobatics in China. Our last stop was Mexico, had to get a spicy margarita there. Unfortunately, we were too full to eat there. There weren’t too many lines and if there were a line, it moved fast.
In the end, we snagged an awesome spot to watch the fireworks; best fireworks show we’ve ever seen! We took the shuttle back to our hotel and I was so happy to be able to experience Epcot for the first time. It was expensive but worth it since we got to travel around the world!
These were my favorite places to go to in 2017. I’m sure they’ll remain a favorite for many years to come. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me and hopefully in another year, I’ll have an updated list to write about! Thank you for reading.
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Kim C. Vig.