nav-left cat-right
Diese Seite auf Deutsch:
Like
cat-right

More than a Bunch of Flowers: The Naples Botanical Garden

Naples is famous for million dollar homes, a vast number of cultural programs and the high-end shops along Fifth Avenue. And yet, only a few minutes away from the pulsating life of the city, a quiet oasis awaits, the Naples Botanical Garden. Unspoiled nature and landscaped gardens with different themes are combined into a beautiful attraction that is well worth visiting.

After years of planning, the Naples Botanical Garden opened in November 2009 and was expanded a few years later. The spacious garden offers seven themed areas: Florida, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Asia showcase native trees and wildflowers. The water garden is a serene landscape dotted with water lilies, while ”The Preserve,” a conservation area, presents a piece of old Florida in its original state. Particularly well-done is the Children’s Garden, which includes a tree house, water playground and butterfly house.

 

You don’t have to be a passionate botanist to be captivated by this beautifully designed garden and its floral splendor. Winding walkways invite the visitor to stroll around for hours. One of the paths leads around a lake – you might spot a small alligator or two – and continues along the nature preserve, where an observation tower (easily accessible by ramp) allows wide views of the untouched landscape. Here, time does stand quite still.

The garden is not just a feast for the eyes, but also offers a number of educational programs for children and adults, from garden design, preservation, and photography to bird-watching and more. If you are ready to take a break from outlet mall shopping and boating tours, you’ll find the necessary peace and serenity right here.

Please note: Due to the construction of the new visitor center, the Garden will be closed from June to October 2014. The grand opening is scheduled for 10/23/14.

 

 

Address:

Naples Botanical Garden

4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples FL 34112

PH: 239-643-7275

 

 

Opening Hours: Daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

 

Website: www.naplesgarden.org

 (May 2014)

 


Lions and Tigers and Dinos, Oh My: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom is more than just a zoo! The fourth Disney theme park in Florida opened in 1998 and is the only park where not all the animals are made from plastic. You can meet real elephants and tigers, as well as real-looking dinosaurs and even a yeti. The park is huge and rarely crowded. If you’ve had enough of princesses at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll find a delightfully different world here.

The Animal Kingdom consists of six different areas: Discovery Island is the center of the park, with the widely visible “tree of life” in the middle. This is where you can enjoy the 3-D Show It’s Tough to be a Bug, which manages to be funny and educational and traumatizing for young children at the same time. I must admit that I, too, close my eyes when the huge spi… but go see for yourself.

In Africa, definitely go on the Kilimanjaro Safaris. On a 20 minute truck ride through the savannah, you’ll see a huge number of antelope, birds, hippos, elephants, water buffaloes, lions, giraffes and many other animals. Each safari is different because the animals roam free (not the lions, presumably). This ride is a wonderful experience each and every time. You also don’t want to miss the Pangani Exploration Forest Trail that winds through aviaries and areas where you’ll meet gorillas and other animals.

The Wildlife Express train starts from Africa the towards Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This slow-moving train takes you into a separate area that is pretty much a petting zoo and an animal exhibit with a strong preservation message. It’s a relaxing intermission.

Two of the best attractions of the park can be found in Asia: Kali River Rapids, a white water ride on large rafts where you will get rather wet, and Expedition Everest, a roller coaster that takes you, amongst other things, backwards at high speed through a dark cave, twirling through a helix, with the yeti lurking. Having a good stomach is an advantage. The queue is ingeniously designed as a yeti museum and expedition store and worth going through even if the ride does not appeal to you. Nearby, the beautiful Maharajah Jungle Trail leads past among old ruins and tigers,

Dinoland USA is as an often misunderstood area. It consists of the modern Dino Institute where you can take a trip back to the Cretaceous period on Dinosaur – careful, it’s pretty wild ride – and county fair type attractions presented by “Chester & Hester”.  The underlying concept is that after the institute was founded, the local gas station owners (Chester & Hester) decided to milk the arriving tourists by building cheesy attractions right next door. Many park visitors think that they’re exactly that – cheesy – but once you know the background story, it all makes sense and the area is actually really well themed.

Camp Mickey-Minnie is currently undergoing huge changes. Originally planned as the “Beastly Kingdom” with dragons and unicorns, the concept fell victim to budget cuts – truly a shame. Only the park logo still shows a dragon. Instead, the area was turned into a meet-and-greet mecca where you could see Mickey and other characters. The highly entertaining Festival of the Lion King was also located in this area. However, both the show and Mickey moved (the show hasn’t reopened yet as the new theater is still being built) and the entire area will be converted into the new “Avatarland”, based on the blockbuster movie with the blue creatures (no, not the Smurfs!). The project was announced in 2011 but nothing much has happened since then. Disney is currently investing horrendous sums into their new MyMagic+ system and building new attractions has sadly not been a priority for a long time.

UPDATE April 2014: FastPass+. This new system was introduced in 2013 and allows visitors to reserve a time window for three attractions online, up to 60 days in advance with a valid park ticket and a Disney hotel reservation (30 days in advance if you have a ticket but won’t be staying at a Disney hotel.) Those who purchase their tickets on the day of their visit can make the reservations at a FP+ kiosk inside the park. FP+ shortens the wait time at the attractions, since you don’t have to wait in the regular Standby line. This frequently criticized system originally limited the number of FP+ to three per day –  in one park, without the option to book the same ride more than once, which caused an uproar amongst loyal Disney visitors. Luckily, this rule was changed at the end of April 2014. After the use of the third FP+, it is now possible to reserve a fourth FP+ at one of the kiosks in the park, then a fifth and so on. Obviously this all depends on availability. Please note: There is no charge for the FastPass+!

Last but not least a few general hints how to make the visit to Disney World a success:

1.     Pick the best day: www.touringplans.com or www.easywdw.com

2.     Arrive early: The first two hours after park opening are usually the least crowded

3.     Use FastPass+: Reserve rides in advance

 

4.     Reserve a table: Restaurant reservations are possible 180 days in advance

5.     Take a midday break: A good idea especially in the summer

6.     Relax and have fun!

 (December 2013)


Busch Gardens: Fun for the Whole Family

Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida is a popular theme park with numerous exotic animals, mostly from Africa, and innovative roller coasters, mostly for daredevils. The park opened in 1959 and is older than Disney World (the Magic Kingdom lowered its drawbridge in 1971, figuratively speaking). It started out as a small hospitality facility for the Busch Brewery, well-known for its Budweiser beer. At first just a few birds fluttered around the Bird Gardens, and visitors enjoyed their beer in relaxed surroundings, but over time the whole thing developed into a huge park and a real mecca for roller coaster enthusiasts.

.

The Bird Gardens are still there, the beer tasting has unfortunately vanished, but now the park offers groundbreaking rides such as “Montu”, back then (1996) the largest and fastest inverted roller coaster. According to expert opinion (i.e. my two teenagers) it’s still one of the best coasters around. Since 2011, “Cheetah Hunt” races through the Serengeti with three launches and speeds of up to 60 mph. “Kumba” is a classic with seven inversions. If you ride “Sheikra”, be prepared to dive straight at the ground. Not for the faint of heart obviously. But again the experts agree that this is great fun.

If you prefer a more sedentary type of fun, or perhaps you’re too small to ride the big coasters, the beautifully designed animal exhibits will provide their own form of entertainment. From gorillas to giraffes, elephants and tigers, everything is there. Pathways wind through the exhibits, or take the train for a leisurely trip through the park. Young visitors can enjoy a separate, Sesame Street themed area with a huge climbing playground and several rides. On hot days, the three water rides are particularly welcome. As far as the landscaping goes, the park is a feats for the eyes.

If there is anything negative to report, it’s probably the food, which seems to exclusively consist of typical fast food – but then again, which theme park offers gourmet meals? The other thing is that you have to put bags, hats, backpacks etc. in a locker before boarding a roller coaster, which in itself is fine and also required at Universal Studios, for example. The difference is that over there, the first half hour is free while you pay 50 cents every time here. That gets old really fast, especially since you shelled out quite a bit for the ticket. Today, in November 2013, a day ticket runs a whopping $89. (There are sometimes better deals online or combo tickets with Sea World.)

Busch Gardens manages the almost impossible feat of appealing to the whole family, from adults to kids of all ages and especially teenagers. It’s a bit over two hours from Cape Coral to get there, perfect for a day trip. We can definitely recommend it.

Opening hours and ticket prices are listed on the website http://seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-tampa.

(November 2013)

 


Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Wild Rides Ahead

The third Disney park in Florida opened its gates in 1989 after a tight race with Universal Studios, which opened a year later. Originally called Disney-MGM Studios, the park started out as an active film and TV studio with several rides for visitors. It eventually changed into an outright theme park and was renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2007.

The park offers some of the best attractions in all of Disney World. Experience an elevator in free fall in the Tower of Terror, going up and down multiple times. The setting is an old Hollywood hotel and it’s themed so beautifully that even those who turn pale at the thought of riding this thing may want to go through the queue. Right before entering the elevator, you can use the “chicken exit” and avoid the ride.

The Rock’n’Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith is, as the name suggests, a rollercoaster running to the rock songs of that band, taking you to their next concert, at least that’s the background story. The ride takes place in the dark with neon effects so you don’t really see the loops until they’re there – which is a good thing if you’re not all that crazy about roller coasters. Before you realize you’re upside down, you’re back to normal again. The ride is very smooth and the rocket start is very cool.

The most popular ride is Toy Story Midway Mania where you shoot virtual balls at virtual targets and collect points. The line is always very long and you should either ride first thing in the morning or collect a FastPass.

In addition, the park offers an Indiana Jones Stunt Show, a trip through old Hollywood film in the Great Movie Ride, a Beauty and the Beast theater performance “only interesting for girls” (or so my son informed me), a funny Muppet Show in 3-D (definitely suitable for boys, too), and many others. A real insider tip is the Animation Station where you’ll learn to draw one of many Disney characters. The nighttime entertainment show Fantasmic is an impressive combination of theater, fireworks and special effects, but it’s not shown every night so make sure you check the schedule.

The Star Tours ride is another fun ride. You fly through space on a transporter piloted by C3PO (ok it’s just a simulator, but it’s really well done). There are several variations and if you “fly” several times, you may see different planets and meet different characters from the Star Wars movies – sometimes even Darth Vader.

Speaking of Star Wars: Each year, four weekends in May and June are dedicated to the Star Wars theme in Hollywood Studios. For Star Wars fans a ton of fun! Others may want to avoid the park on these days, as it will be very crowded.

Like all the Disney parks, Hollywood Studios are beautifully decorated at Christmastime. What makes the park extra special is an entire street draped in colorful Christmas lights, which is truly spectacular. Christmas music will put you in the perfect mood for the holidays.

 

UPDATE April 2014: FastPass+. This new system was introduced in 2013 and allows visitors to reserve a time window for three attractions online, up to 60 days in advance with a valid park ticket and a Disney hotel reservation (30 days in advance if you have a ticket but won’t be staying at a Disney hotel.) Those who purchase their tickets on the day of their visit can make the reservations at a FP+ kiosk inside the park. FP+ shortens the wait time at the attractions, since you don’t have to wait in the regular Standby line. This frequently criticized system originally limited the number of FP+ to three per day –  in one park, without the option to book the same ride more than once, which caused an uproar amongst loyal Disney visitors. Luckily, this rule was changed at the end of April 2014. After the use of the third FP+, it is now possible to reserve a fourth FP+ at one of the kiosks in the park, then a fifth and so on. Obviously this all depends on availability. Please note: There is no charge for the FastPass+!

Last but not least a few general hints how to make the visit to Disney World a success:

1.     Pick the best day: www.touringplans.com or www.easywdw.com

2.     Arrive early: The first two hours after park opening are usually the least crowded

3.     Use FastPass+: Reserve rides in advance

4.     Reserve a table: Restaurant reservations are possible 180 days in advance

5.     Take a midday break: A good idea especially in the summer

6.     Relax and have fun!

(October 2013)


Starstruck: The Kennedy Space Center

The world famous Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island on Florida’s East Coast, about four hours of drive time away from Cape Coral. That makes it a bit too far for a daytrip, but if you are planning to spend a few days on the other coast anyway, perhaps to see Miami Beach or explore St. Augustine (the oldest continuously occupied town in the U.S.), you may want to consider visiting the Space Center as well.

The Space Center is truly well worth a visit. From a large exhibition about the history of early space exploration to a real Saturn rocket (it’s huge!), from a tour of the old control room (with an entertaining countdown) to a bus tour near the launch pads, nowhere else will you be able to see and experience these things. You can even meet real astronauts and watch a movie about the Hubble space telescope in the IMAX theater.

Children of all ages are bound to have a really good time, too. Young visitors can entertain themselves with games and a labyrinth in the “Angry Birds” building. Older kids will have a blast in the launch simulator. And no doubt all of them will find the items on display quite fascinating, such as the copy of the lunar module, space suits and numerous rocket parts. And then there’s Atlantis

Since June 2013, one of the actual and now retired Space Shuttles is on display at the Kennedy Space Center. Needless to say, the old girl wasn’t just parked somewhere on the property, no, a huge building was constructed around it. Before you get to see Atlantis, you’ll learn about the development of the shuttle program in a short film. Then you’ll enter the next room, where the shuttle seems to glide weightlessly towards you. It’ll take your breath away. What a difference between watching the shuttle on TV and in real life. Truly impressive, both the presentation and Atlantis itself.

The ticket price is a painful $50, and parking is another $10. Sometimes there are special offers, which you’ll find on the official website www.kennedyspacecenter.com, together with information about opening hours, directions etc. It’s not a cheap experience. But it is without a doubt one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have.

(September 2013)

 

 


Disney Park EPCOT is worth a visit

Most people who hear „Disney World“, automatically think of the Magic Kingdom with its iconic castle. But Disney World actually consists of four different theme parks (plus water parks, mini golf courses, hotels etc.), and if you have enough time (and money), go ahead and explore the other parks as well.

In 1982, EPCOT opened as the second Disney park in Florida. The acronym stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and the original plans actually were for a utopian community based on latest technology and innovative ideas. After Walt Disney’s death in 1966 this idea was abandoned and eventually, a new theme park was created with two separate areas:  Future World offers attractions that are more or less connected to innovation and technology, while the World Showcase presents eleven countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco, France, Great Britain and Canada.

The result is a colorful mixture of popular attractions such as Test Track and Soarin‘, technical experiments for kids in the two “Innovations” buildings, a large aquarium, a ride in the “golfball” (the park’s landmark) which takes you through the history of communication, country-specific stores, many excellent restaurants, and entertaining shows such as the Chinese acrobats or the Canadian rock band. The nightly fireworks and laser show “Illuminations” is well worth watching.

On the other hand, EPCOT is also home to attractions that could use some dusting off, such as Captain EO with Michael Jackson or Ellens Energy Adventure. There are no roller coasters at all. If you are looking for thrill rides, you won’t find them at EPCOT. Well, Mission Space might get the blood pressure up a little, but there is also a tamer version of this motion ride available.

The countries that are situated picturesquely around a large lake make the park truly unique. Whether a Mexican pyramid, the famous Eiffel tower or a Japanese temple, each country was designed down to the smallest details, offering two or three restaurants as well as shops with items that are typical for each country.

EPCOT is where you can enjoy German beer and Schnitzel at the „Biergarten“ restaurant, Canadian steaks at “Le Cellier” or fish’n’chips at the Rose & Crown pub. Stores offer English football shirts, Chinese fans, French perfume, Italian pasta and kitschy German Christmas decorations. Basically you’ll find whatever Americans consider “typical” for the respective country. Which, by the way, also includes decorative glass pickles that can supposedly found on every Christmas tree in Germany. The pickle is hidden in the tree and the finder receives a prize. This tradition was news to us (and we are from Germany), yet we thought it was quite funny and bought one. Thanks to Disney, all our German relatives now have a pickle ornament hanging in their Christmas tree.

Each year, EPCOT hosts two events that attract additional visitors but don’t cost anything extra. The „International Flower and Garden Festival” is celebrated in the spring. Topiaries can be found throughout the park, you can take gardening classes, and of course buy all kinds of special items related to flowers and gardens. The park presents itself particularly beautiful with plants in bloom everywhere.

The “Food & Wine Festival” is held in the fall. Special booths offer food and a variety of different wines, inviting guests to literally drink around the world. Culinary delights are available not only from the 11 countries featured in EPCOT but also from other places such as Hawaii or Greece or Australia. Go ahead, try something different!

UPDATE April 2014: FastPass+. This new system was introduced in 2013 and allows visitors to reserve a time window for three attractions online, up to 60 days in advance with a valid park ticket and a Disney hotel reservation (30 days in advance if you have a ticket but won’t be staying at a Disney hotel.) Those who purchase their tickets on the day of their visit can make the reservations at a FP+ kiosk inside the park. FP+ shortens the wait time at the attractions, since you don’t have to wait in the regular Standby line. This frequently criticized system originally limited the number of FP+ to three per day –  in one park, without the option to book the same ride more than once, which caused an uproar amongst loyal Disney visitors. Luckily, this rule was changed at the end of April 2014. After the use of the third FP+, it is now possible to reserve a fourth FP+ at one of the kiosks in the park, then a fifth and so on. Obviously this all depends on availability. Please note: There is no charge for the FastPass+!

Last but not least, a few tips how to make the visit to a busy Disney park a great experience:

 1.     Pick the best day: www.touringplans.com or www.easywdw.com

2.     Arrive early: The first two hours after park opening are usually the least crowded

3.     Use FastPass+: Reserve rides in advance

4.     Reserve a table: Restaurant reservations are possible 180 days in advance

5.     Take a midday break: A good idea especially in the summer

6.     Relax and have fun!

(August 2013)


The SunSplash Water Park is perfect for summer

One of the best attractions for children and teenagers in Cape Coral is the SunSplash Waterpark on Santa Barbara Blvd. The park is open from March to September on weekends and also Monday through Friday during summer break. It’s a great destination for families who vacation in Southwest Florida in the spring or summer. (The park is closed in the fall and wintertime.)

SunSplash offers several large water slides with cheerful names like Cape Fear and Terror Tube, where you slide down with or without the help of large inflated tubes. The minimum height requirement is 48” but there are also slides for smaller children and a water playground. Particularly inviting, especially for parents, is the Lazy River where you float around the entire park on your tube. Lounge chairs are set up in several areas, and naturally a cafeteria and ice cream stand are available, because all that fun in the sun will probably make you hungry.

A few tips: Make sure you use good sunscreen. Again: Use sunscreen! Otherwise, you’re likely to get burned to a crisp at the park, more so than on the beach, as water is literally everywhere reflecting the sun. Also, make sure you wear bathing shoes. The walkways get extremely hot and your feet will thank you. If you want to use a lounge chair, arrive early, spread out your towel, slap on the sunscreen and grab a tube. Now you’re ready for some fun!

Opening hours and ticket prices are listed on the website

www.sunsplashwaterpark.com.

(July 2013)

 


Mickey Mouse and More: How to Make a Visit to the Magic Kingdom a Great Experience

It’s a bit far for a day trip – about three hours by car from Cape Coral – but Disney World with its four theme parks is no doubt the tourist attraction in Florida. To make sure that the visit does not turn into a disaster – Long lines! Tropical heat! Hordes of people! – below are some suggestions how to make the trip to the Magic Kingdom, the most visited theme park in the world, a success. We admittedly don’t have any control over the weather or the number of visitors. But it is possible to avoid long lines, and with some planning you’ll be able to have a fantastic time, even when temperatures and visitor numbers are soaring.

The Magic Kingdom opened its doors in 1971. Cinderella’s castle, the famous landmark, overlooks the surrounding areas with their specific themes. There’s Frontierland with its Wild West motif, the futuristic Tomorrowland, and the just expanded Fantasyland (where the new roller coaster will finally open in 2014), with many rides aimed at younger children, often based on Disney movies such as the Little Mermaid, Winnie-the-Pool and Dumbo, to name just a few. But it would be wrong to assume that the Magic Kingdom (or the other parks, for that matter) is just for kids. Disney World is a unique experience for adults, too. You literally enter a different world and can step away from your regular life for a while.

The large number of attractions in the Magic Kingdom includes something for everyone, from roller coasters (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) and boat rides (Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise and of course Splash Mountain with the little waterfall at the end of the ride) to shows like the entertaining Mickey’s Philharmagic with its 3D effects. The  Haunted Mansion is a great haunted house ride, or you can fly high over London with Peter Pan. Characters from Disney movies are happy to sign autograph books, or you can have your picture taken with Mickey Mouse. There are two parades, one in the afternoon and the other at night, with beautiful light effects. The impressive fireworks show “Wishes” takes place every night and is best seen from the front of the castle.

Needless to say, the park is usually full of people and that can get annoying, especially if you end up standing in line forever, preferably in the middle of summer when it’s 90 degrees out. No doubt that will put a damper on the “magic” of the experience. So, to maximize the fun, you need to know a few things up front:

Best days. The websites www.touringplans.com (small fee) and www.easywdw.com (which also distinguishes itself by wonderfully ironic comments) are both very useful to determine the days when fewer visitors are expected than on others. This is especially useful if you plan to spend several days at Disney World and visit EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom as well. Make sure you pick a recommended day for that specific park.

UPDATE April 2014: FastPass+. This new system was introduced in 2013 and allows visitors to reserve a time window for three attractions online, up to 60 days in advance with a valid park ticket and a Disney hotel reservation (30 days in advance if you have a ticket but won’t be staying at a Disney hotel.) Those who purchase their tickets on the day of their visit can make the reservations at a FP+ kiosk inside the park. FP+ shortens the wait time at the attractions, since you don’t have to wait in the regular Standby line. This frequently criticized system originally limited the number of FP+ to three per day –  in one park, without the option to book the same ride more than once, which caused an uproar amongst loyal Disney visitors. Luckily, this rule was changed at the end of April 2014. After the use of the third FP+, it is now possible to reserve a fourth FP+ at one of the kiosks in the park, then a fifth and so on. Obviously this all depends on availability. Please note: There is no charge for the FastPass+!

Midday break. Between 1 and 5 pm, summer can be murder in the Magic Kingdom as far as temperatures and numbers of people are concerned. Go back to your hotel, hop in the pool, and if you have young children, a nap is a good idea so that the kiddies are ready for a return to the park later. This may also be good advice for the parents.

Get up early. Perhaps the most important piece of advice: Get to the park early, right when it opens. The first two hours are the best, as most vacationers are either still in bed or enjoying a leisurely breakfast. The park is somewhat empty and it’s possible to ride some of the main attractions like Space Mountain several times in a row without much wait time. Later in the day, that is no longer possible – FastPass is your friend then.

Restaurants. If you would like to eat at a restaurant with table service, make a reservation up front. This is possible 180 days in advance through the official website www.disneyworld.com under “Things To Do / Dining”. If you’re not that much of a planner, you may be still able to make a reservation while you’re there but be flexible and don’t expect to dine with Cinderella in the castle. Those spots were reserved months ago. Needless to say, there are also a large number of counter service restaurants all over the place. It’s a good idea to avoid the busy times and stop by before or after typical meal times. If you have lunch at 11:30 am, you’ll wait significantly less for your meal than an hour later when everybody else just realized they were hungry.

Thanks to these tips, you will now avoid being one of those innocents who arrive shortly before noon (and wonder why the heck there are so many people), look for Harry Potter Land on the park map (it’s in Universal and well worth a visit, by the way) and are disappointed that they have to spend hours in standby lanes because the FastPass costs money (it does not).

While a certain level of planning is important, don’t overdo it. A military-style marching route through the Magic Kingdom will rather spoil the fun as it leaves no room for spontaneity. And it’s usually the unplanned moments that stay with you. So find a happy medium, pick the recommended days to visit, check out the restaurant menus online and choose some favorites, and have a general idea of the order in which you want to visit the attractions, as this will save time and avoids unnecessary trips back and forth through the park. Your feet will thank you.

Unfortunately, all this fun is on the expensive side. The cost for a one-day ticket for the Magic Kingdom was increased to $95 + tax in June 2013; the other parks are $90 each. If you stay a little longer, you can “save” and, for example, pay only about $60 per day if you purchase a 5 day ticket. Is it worth it? Well, it depends. Not everybody loves the Mouse and considers anything Disney kitschy and horribly commercialized. Not everybody feels comfortable among hordes of  people. Not everybody is a roller coaster enthusiast, preferring more quiet entertainment. But – and that’s a big but – Disney World is more than Mickey Mouse, mass tourism and Big Thunder Mountain. It is a separate world, unique, designed in every tiny detail and – dare we say it? – indeed a little bit magical.

Official website: www.disneyworld.com

Large internet forum: www.disboards.com

Menus: www.allears.net

Special offers: www.mousesavers.com

Planning: www.touringplans.com

Planning with humor: www.easywdw.com   

 (June 2013)


A Haven of Tranquility: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Florida – the name creates the image of an oasis in bloom, a land of tropical flowers, where winters are green and many plants that only survive as pampered indoor plants elsewhere grow in the wild here. If you have done the theme parks, and shopped at the outlet malls, and collected more shells along the beach than you’ll be able to take home, if you are looking for some peace and quiet and enjoy nature, then you’ll find a haven of tranquility in the botanical garden in Sarasota.

Located about 90 min north of Cape Coral by car, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are a great destination for a day trip. Once the private garden of businessman William Selby and his wife Marie, both nature enthusiasts, it opened its doors as a botanical garden in 1975. The beautiful mature trees, the greenhouses with their huge collection of orchids, the picturesque location along the bay, all of this makes the Gardens a part of Florida worth seeing.

Particularly inviting is the garden café, which even includes a reading nook. The books on the shelves are all botanical publications, naturally. Sip your cup of coffee under the majestic trees with the Spanish moss gently swaying in the wind, and allow time to stand still for a little while.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

811 South Palm Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34236

941-366-5731

www.selby.org

Open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (except Christmas Day)

(May 2013)


Feel the Spirit of Invention: The Winter Home of Thomas Alva Edison in Fort Myers

Regardless of how long you plan on staying in Southwest Florida, a visit to the winter home of Thomas Alva Edison should be part of it. The ingenious inventor, who registered over 1,000 patents during his life, visited Fort Myers for the first time in 1885. He liked what he saw and bought a riverfront lot on McGregor Blvd., where his winter residence “Seminole Lodge” was built shortly afterwards. In 1916, his friend Henry Ford purchased the home next door and named it “The Mangoes.” Today, both residences are combined into one remarkable museum, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

It is fascinating to walk in the footsteps of these two famous men. Visitors can stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens and take a look at the two residences, the swimming pool, the garage with several Model T’s and the laboratory – restored to its original condition from 1928! One cannot help but feel the spirit of invention in these surroundings. The museum also offers a large exhibit of Edison’s work, two cafes and of course a gift shop. A huge Banyan tree in front of the shop reaches its branches far and wide. The tree alone is almost worth the visit.

If you happen to be in Florida around Christmastime, a tour of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is particularly enjoyable. Both residences and the gardens are open after dark on the so-called “Holiday Nights” (separate ticket required). Everything is festively decorated, with numerous Christmas trees, sparkling lights and holiday décor everywhere. Truly a magical experience that is certain to get you in the holiday spirit.

2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers

Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm

www.edisonfordwinterestates.org

(Dec 2012)


FAQ | General terms and conditions | Contact | Site notice