Art, city, day trip, family, florida, free, Miami, Uncategorized, USA

Wynwood, Miami, Florida

A fun Miami neighborhood with giant murals, beautiful Street Art and the center of Art and Culture

Wynwood is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Miami. It is the colorful, bright and vivid center of Art and Culture in South Florida and is an outdoor museum showcasing the work of the world’s best street artists.

North of Downtown and West of Miami Beach, this is a must-see neighborhood when visiting Miami. It is fun, colorful and always evolving. Wynnwood is one of the most “instagrammable” places in Miami.

The mural with Chris is on NW 20th Street and NW 1st Ct

Wynwood Walls

The entrance is located on NW 2nd Ave between NW 26th Street and NW 25th Street.

While there are murals throughout the neighborhood, the centerpiece/ heart of Wynwood is definitely the Wynwood Walls. It was established in 2009 as an outdoor museum of international street art. 

A collection of giant wall murals covering six buildings, Wynwood Walls has since become a blank canvas for famed artists from across the globe.

Wynwood Walls General Admission is $12 per adult, $10 per senior or military and $5 per student ticket. Kids under 12 years are free. Admission grants access to the Wynwood Walls Museum which includes over 35 hand-sprayed murals, two street-art galleries, and retail shops. 

Tickets need to be purchased in advance.

There are also several tours available. While we haven’t done any tours and had a great time discovering Wynwood Walls by ourselves, the tour offers a behind the scenes understanding of each mural in a group tour setting. 

The GGA Galley inside the Wynwood Walls exhibits an everchanging roster of the group and solo shows from past and present artists.

Encompassing more than 50 dazzling, cutting-edge murals created by respected street artists from Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States, the Wynwood Walls attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world each year.

And beyond…

NW 2nd Ave and NW 25th Street

There is a lot more to see and to discover than Wynwood Walls. And best of all, it is free. Wandering around and discovering murals, art galleries, eateries, art installations is what is all about for me. Did you know that Wynwood is home to the highest concentration of street art in the United States? Artists from around the world showcase their talent on walls with larger-than-life masterpieces.

NW 24th Street close to N Miami Ave
NW 27th Street and NW 3rd Ave

Outside Wynwood Walls, Wynwood is home to more than 70 art galleries, shops, restaurants and bars.

NE 24th Street and N Miami Ave
NW 26th Street and NW 3rd Ave

Covered in murals that constantly change, Wynwood has so many fun photo opportunities. The street art is the main attraction for sure, but it goes further than the murals only. There is art everywhere you turn. From the sidewalks to streetlights, everything is covered with beautiful and interesting installations.

The loveism mural is on NW 20th Street and NW 1st Place

 NW 2nd Ave is kind of the main street and a great place to start exploring the area, full of creativity and inspiring murals.

Wynwood is the perfect place to spend a full day or an afternoon/ evening with the family, exposing kids to art in the most fun way. 

all of the murals are in the heart of Wynwood close to the Wynwod Walls
NW 26th Street in between NW 2nd Ave and NW 3rd Ave
NW 27th Street and NW 3rd Ave

Walking along N Miami Ave a little further…

on NW 29th Street /between NW 1st Ave and N Miami Ave

There are more murals to discover, and it is worthwhile to walk a little further than the blocks around Wynwood Walls. There are lots of murals along N Miami Ave which is parallel to NW 2nd Ave. Wandering through little side streets is also recommended.

NW 27th Street and N Miami Ave
NW 24th Street and N Miami Ave

I tried to include the locations of all the locations under each picture.

NW 29th Street and NW 1st Ave

Even further away…

On the corner of NW 36th Street and 5th Avenue is another noteworthy building full of interesting murals. From Tiger King Joe Exotic, healthcare workers during the pandemic to colorful shapes, drawing and messages both on the building and the sidewalk, there is lots to see and many pictures to take. It might be a stretch to walk, but just a quick ride in the car.

NW 36th Street and NW 5th Ave
NW 36th Street and NW 5th Ave

Keep in mind that Wynwood is always changing and evolving. The murals are constantly getting redone and updated, and it is possible to find an entirely different mural than expected. There is always new art to discover, and we love to come back all the time. Let me know, if you still need the location of a specific mural and I am happy to send you the location.

day trip, family, florida, holidays

Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida

Holiday Magic at Universal Studios

The holidays are here and there is something magical in the air at Universal Studios Orlando. There are lots of places to go during the holidays, but if you want to laugh, cheer, and shout your jingle bells off, this is the place to be. It’s the most magical, extraordinary, greatest, colorful, awesomest holiday celebration of the season.

From dazzling decorations, light displays, holiday parades, Christmas trees and seasonal treats to holiday shows, thrilling rides and so much more, here are our favorite reasons why Universal Orlando is one of the best places to spend during the holiday season….

Macy’s Holiday Parade

My absolutely favorite thing was the spectacular holiday parade featuring the huge Macy’s floating balloons. Most of the characters from the traditional Holiday Parade – which included the casts of the MinionsShrek, and Madagascar film franchises – arrive on floats to sing and dance. There is Christmas music, amazing floats, characters on stilts, confetti rain, snow bubbles, dancers, lights, Christmas trees and a whole lot of magic. And of course Santa Clause is there too. You can catch the parade every night (times change daily)

Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt

This scavenger hunt was the favorite of Olivia. We had to travel around Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk and find 15 different themed decorated holiday trees. After finding the tree, we received a stamp inside our guide at each location. Once we got all the 15 stamps, we redeemed the guide for a special ornament.

The Holiday Tree Hunt brochure costs $10 and can be purchased in most stores at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk. There are two different ornaments to choose at the end.

The trees are very easy to locate. If you are running out of time, the ornaments can be redeemed at any time. It was so much fun and was perfect for the holidays.

The Grinchmas show and the Grinch

During the holiday season, Seuss Landing is decorated with the holiday charm and cheer of Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville. You can meet plenty Who residents walking around on stilts and singing spreading holiday cheer. There are other Dr Seuss Characters available for pictures, but the funniest and best one is of course the Grinch.

Even though the line can be quite long, a visit with the Grinch is worth the wait. The maven of mischief himself is available for a photo opportunity at “All The Books You Can Read Bookstore”. But this isn’t only a photo opp; it is a funny and extraordinary experience.

The Grinch asked Olivia if she had taken her onion bath that day. When she told him that she had not, he told her that he had a present for her. He asked if Olli wanted a yellow, purple or white present. After she chose white, he opened a box and got out an onion. The Grinch told her to lift the hands in the air and rubbed the onion under her arms and on her head. Afterwards he “cleaned” himself with the onion too. It was such a funny show that was geared only to our family and was one of our highlights.

Your heart might grow three sizes as you delight in the hilarious hijinks of this live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch, featuring music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller.

Holiday Decoration and Christmas Magic Galore

Twinkling lights in all colors, sparkling ornaments, huge Christmas trees, cute Nutcrackers, icy snow and glittery Snowmen, lots of beautiful garlands, festive bows, there is so much Christmas magic going on in every corner in both parks.

There is even an entire Christmas themed store. The Tribute Store is one of the best places to buy holiday-themed merchandise while exploring four festively themed rooms. There is Santa’s Workshop during the busy season, the Grinch Lair, a winter celebration, the Yule Ball and Earl the Squirrel.

Christmas treats

Tis the season to be hungry. There are special themed Christmas treats throughout the park. From specialty donuts and cupcakes to holiday cocktails, there is something for everybody.

Hogwarts castle light show

Most nights, Hogwarts castle lights up for the holidays. Unfortunately, there was no show on the nights we were there, but we saw the Halloween light show and it was amazing. There are also several other holiday performances in the Harry Potter world.

Holidays at Universal are from November 13th, 2021 to January 2nd, 2022 and are included in the theme park ticket.

Prices, times, dates, entertainment, event and/or experience details are subject to changes and/or cancellation without notice.

florida, forest, Uncategorized, USA

Miami, Florida

Mangrove Trees, Mangrove Tree Crabs and our Favorite Places to Kayak in South Florida

Last weekend was such an adventure. We ventured into the mangrove forest to make a video about Mangrove tree crabs for kidculture.org, a creative platform for kids to make meaningful and save videos. It was such a fun opportunity and the kids loved the entire process. They started with the research, planed and directed the video all by themselves and had a great time making the video. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/558536871

We learned many fascinating and interesting facts about Mangrove trees and Mangrove Tree Crabs.

Worldwide, there are more than 50 species of mangroves. There are three species found in Florida; red mangrove, black mangrove and white mangrove.

Red mangroves are probably the most well known species of mangrove trees in Florida. They are characterized by a tangled network of aerial prop roots extending into the soil. It appears as they are standing on the surface of the water. Red mangroves typically grow along the water’s edge and the bark is gray on the outside with a red interior. 

Mangroves are tropical trees that are the only trees that can thrive in salt water. Some species excrete the toxic levels of salt water through their waxy leaves, while others can block the salt absorption all together.

Florida has an estimated of 469,000 acres of mangrove forests and are an incredibly important ecosystem in the Southeast. They provide a protected nursery area for fish, crustaceans and shellfish while providing food for different marine species like snook, snapper and shrimp. Many birds find shelter in the roots and branches of mangroves. The branches are nesting areas, for coastal birds such as brown pelicans, osprey and roseate spoonbills.

Mangrove forests are very important. They stabilize the shoreline with their root system and protect the land from strong winds and floods. During intense storms, mangrove forests act as a buffer, reducing wave action, preventing erosion, and absorbing floodwaters.

The Mangrove Tree Crab

The video was also about the little mangrove tree crabs. It was half the fun to catch some of the little critters.

Mangrove tree crabs are tiny brownish gray crabs with yellow spots, wide-set eyes, hairy legs, and sharp tips on their pincers.

These crabs can be found on mangrove tree branches or tree tops at high tide and venture onto the ground at low tide.  They also like to burrow themselves into the sand and mud.

The crabs are very fast and it was difficult to catch them at first. They hide upside down in the leaves and branches of the mangroves. Luca caught one first , but learned that the crabs are quick to jump in the water when they are scared. The tiny creatures have lots of predators and are vulnerable in the water, so they try to get back to the safe mangrove trees as fast as possible.

 The crabs like to feed on the leaves of the trees they reside in. They will consume part of the leaf by scraping the surface of it and leaving behind brown spots. It was very interesting to study the leaves for any traces of the crabs. They also eat algae and small invertebrates if they can catch one.

We came prepared with tweezers, buckets, nets and magnifying classed that the kids had packed.

Olivia as fascinated on how much they looked like black spiders, but mangrove tree crabs are dark brown, gray and olive green depending on the light.

Even though it was difficult to part with them, we released all the mangrove tree crabs before leaving.

Anybody that visits Florida, should visit the mangrove forests and creeks at least once. The best way to explore is with a kayak or paddle board. There are lots of great places and here is a list of our favorite ones:

Our Top 5 favorite Kayaking Spots in South Florida

We have our own kayak which can easily still carry all three kids plus one adult or the kids plus a couple of friends. We have had many adventures with this kayak and once upon a time fit the entire family on the kayak. (Olivia was still a baby). We love to explore the narrow Mangrove creeks where the water gets really murky as well as the wide wavy bay exploring little islands.

Here is a list of our favorite spots in South Florida. All of the places have kayak, canoe or paddle board rentals available. They are very different from each other and I cannot decide which is my favorite, but I recommend to take enough water, sun protection and mosquito spray for all of them.

Whiskey Creek in Dania Beach

This one is my most visited place on the list and all the pictures on this blogpost where taken at this park. The Park is called Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park and is adjacent to Port Everglades. The parks 2.5 miles beach is the perfect spot for finding corals and building sand castles. It has lots of picnic tables and BBQs, a small restaurant as well as the famous Whiskey Creek. We love to paddle inside the shaded Mangrove tunnels and catch the little Mangrove Tree Crabs. The water levels fluctuate with the tides. At low tide, the water level is too low to paddle the entire creek, but a great time to exit the kayak and explore by foot.

Oleta River State Park in Miami

Only 30 min located from downtown Miami, Oleta River State Park is Florida’s largest urban park. It is a haven for mountain bikers, paddlers, anglers and swimmers. The park has several kayaking trails that lead through beautiful narrow Mangrove creeks as well as big Biscayne Bay. We love to paddle to the little islands, stop at the beach with shallow water or explore the shaded mangrove tunnels.

Kayak or Paddle Board?

Loxahatchee River in Jupiter

The Loxahatchee is a National Wild and Scenic River, one of only two in the state. It is one of Florida’s most unique treasures and flows through freshwater creeks, down into a brackish estuary, and finally empties through the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. You can kayak under a canopy of overhanging trees and Spanish moss. There is lots of wildlife and it is very easy to paddle

 Turner River Kayak Trail at Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge in Everglades City

This kayak trail is full of wildlife and looks magical. We saw small alligators and all sorts of birds on our last trip. There are water lilies and swamp lilies, open swamps as well as my favorite part, the very narrow mangrove tunnels. They can get so tight and narrow that ii is easier to pull through by hand. This feels truly magical because the mangroves are everywhere.

Indian Key Historic State Park close to Islamorada

We have only visited once, but it was spectacular.  Indian Key Historic State Park is only accessible via kayak launch and is one of those small green islands that can be seen off the Overseas Highway. Indian Key is located only a half-mile offshore but feels a world away. It’s an uninhabited and undeveloped island where you still walk the roads of the original village. This 11-acre island is accessible only by boat and sits just off Lower Matacumbe at MM 78.5. (Kayaks can be rented at Robbies) One of the best ways to reach the island is by paddling over the shallow seagrass flats. 

florida, Uncategorized, USA

La Belle, Florida

Blueberry U-Pick at Blueberry Bunch Farms

One of our favorite things is to explore our home state of Florida. We love outdoor adventures and are always looking for fun things to do with the family. We were thrilled to find the Blueberry Bunch Farm in La Belle, which is Florida’s most southern Blueberry farm. La Belle is a historic little town along Caloosahatchee River about 30 miles away from Ft. Myers.

One of our yearly traditions in the beginning of the year is strawberry picking with friends. My kids love to pick their own fruit and vegetables and it is always an exciting day. When I heard about U-Pick Blueberries, I knew we had to visit the farm and I am so glad we did…. it was amazing.

Blueberry Bunch Farm is a family owned farm and has approximately 50,000 blueberries bushes. One part of the farm is dedicated to U-Pick and has five kind of different varieties of the tastiest blueberries. The U-Pick season started in the beginning of March and ends in the end of May. It is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2pm.

There are rows and rows of blueberry bushes and even though there were other people, there was so much space and it felt like we had the farm for ourselves. It was the perfect day to pick blueberries with blue skies and a light breeze.

Blueberries are sweet, nutritious and are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. They are high in potassium and vitamin C. Not only are they super good, but they were also super fun to pick. The bushes have the perfect size for kids as well as for adults.

One bucket fits about 5 1/2 pounds of blueberries and is $25 per bucket. Blueberries are also available by pound.

One of my favorite things other than picking and tasting the blueberries, was the big blueberry mascot B.B.

The little store has all kinds of blueberry products from blueberry sparkling water, blueberry plants to blueberry jalapeno jam. The Blueberry Bunch Farm also sell locally grown delicious Macadamia nuts from their own Macadamia farm in Arcadia.

Blueberry Bunch Farm is located at 2754 Howard Rd, LaBelle, FL 33935 (239-298-3471) .

Blueberry Bunch Farm

What is your favorite Blueberry recipe?

cave, forest, free, hike, Uncategorized

Lecanto, Florida

 Dames Cave in the Withlacoochee State Forest

Most people visit Florida for its beaches, theme parks, Everglades and big cities like Miami or Orlando. But there is so much more to discover and explore like forests and caves.

The Withlacoochee State Forest is the third largest state forest in Florida with thousands of acres of trails, terrain, rivers and caves to explore. This forest is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. It is managed for timber, wildlife, ecological restoration and outdoor recreation.

We specifically came to the forest for the Dames Cave that I had found searching for kid friendly hikes and activities North of Tampa. The Dames Caves Trail is also called Trail 22 and is part of the Citrus Trail system of the Withlacoochee State Forest. It was very easy to find with our GPS and free parking was conveniently located right on the side of the road off of S. Lecanto Hwy (491). The caves are mostly known locally and even though there were some other hikers, it did not feel crowded.

Trail 22 is about 1.2 miles long and a sandy trail leads directly to the Dames Cave. It’s an easy flat hike on a soft path through beautiful pine flatwoods and is perfect for families.

Two of the most popular caves on this trail are called Dames Cave and Peace Cave. Dames Cave has also been called “Vandal Cave” due to the many graffiti drawings covering the walls. It may look like a giant hole in the ground at first, as the cave’s ceiling collapsed long time ago. We were able to look directly down about 15 feet into Dames Cave and it reminded me of a Mexican Cenote. On the side is a smaller cave entrance that can be climbed down.

The opening is mostly big rocks and roots of the tree and only a very short climb. Once inside the cave, there is a big open area with amazing rock formations, lots of graffiti and the opening that make it look like a cenote. Plants and roots grow on the edge of the walls.

There are several small openings that lead deeper into the rocks and connect to more caves. We explored another smaller cave that was completely dark. Even though the boys wanted to explore even further, we decided to skip any deeper and darker caves.

The Peace Cave is another bigger cave on the trail and is marked with a huge peace sign on a tree. It is more difficult to get inside and completely dark. There is lots of opportunity to hike further and several other trails connect to Trail 22 and to discover several more small caves.

This hike was the perfect combination of fun and adventure and was interesting for all of us.

Uncategorized

Arcadia, Florida

The Historic Downtown Antique District of Arcadia, Florida

Florida is most famous for sunshine, beaches, amusement parks, oranges and maybe the Everglades. But there is so much more to our beautiful sunshine state. Most tourists visit Miami and Orlando, however some of Florida’s best secrets are in more remote locations away from tourist areas. Arcadia is one of those places and worth a visit.

Located just about one hour east of Sarasota and about one hour north of Fort Myers, Arcadia is nestled between miles of orange trees and cattle fields. It is a charming old Florida town with a beautiful historic Main Street. The Downtown Historical District now encompasses 3,400 acres with 293 historic buildings and is part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Driving by beautiful historic houses and old trees covered in Spanish Moss, Arcadia feels like being transported to a different time. But the main reason, we like to visit, is the historic downtown antique district on main street. The charming antique stores are filled with little treasures, collectibles, rare finds, antiques, vintage deco and much more. It is a dream for antique lovers and was even named the state’s “Best Place for Antique Shopping” by Florida Monthly magazine.

The heart of the historical district is extends 18 blocks and consists of buildings constructed between 1900 and the late 1920. Three buildings that survived the devastating 1905 downtown fire as well as those that were rebuilt, are generally masonry vernacular in style. The most imposing structure is the 1912 classical Revival courthouse as well as the 1906 Opera House that is both museum and antique store. It houses an amazing collection of historical items and the theater is in near original condition.

My favorite store is the Vintage Garden right in the beginning of Main Street. It’s full of shabby chic furniture, accessories, treasures and more. I just looooove it so much and would love to buy everything. And it is pink too. The perfect store for me.

Another of my favorite buildings is the Rosin Building, which is commonly called The Pink Building and is one of the most iconic buildings on main street. Over the years, the ground floor of the Pink Building has housed different antique stores, restaurants, a bar, a barbershop, a post office, a hardware store, a beauty parlor and a drug store.

I like to include my kids in our adventures and antique shopping might not be on the top of favorite things to do for a child or a teenager. To get them interested, everybody gets $5 or $10 and can buy whatever treasure they can find. That usually works perfect for my older boys, because they are very careful to spend their money wisely and want to find the greatest and best treasure out there.

Another fun way of getting the kids interested, is to find something odd or funny. It can be anything. In our case, we were looking for creepy faces. There are lots of beautiful old dolls, stuffed animals and toys, but some of them do look a little creepy. My sister noticed the first doll and took a picture of the face. Once we started to look for them, we noticed more and more faces of dolls, clowns and little figurines that qualified. It became a game for everybody to find the most fascinating and creepy doll face. Of course, we could have looked for something else instead, but the dolls just found us. Sometimes a creepy face is all it takes to get kids interested. (by the way, that strategy has worked for us before…. One time we visited the Louvre in Paris and my youngest son was so excited about finding naked baby bottoms in the pictures) Here is a little selection of our favorite doll faces:

Most stores open around 10 am and close around 4pm. One of the largest antique fairs in the state, the Antique Association of Arcadia hosts over 100 quality dealers is held monthly on the 4th Saturday of the month. We haven’t been to this event, but it sounds very interesting.

Anyways, Arcadia was the perfect place to spend the day with the family on an overcast Sunday. We found several little treasures and spent a beautiful day all together.

One last thing: There is an Annual Watermelon Festival in May at the height of the harvesting season. A watermelon seed spit competition is the perfect reason for my boys to come back. Or maybe looking for shark teeth inside the Peace River…… We definitely will visit again.