New Social Hour Menu at Council Oak, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Thursday, December 5, 2019
If you haven't been to Seminole Hard Rock Tampa over the last 2 months, you will be in for quite a surprise on your next visit. I can't say enough about the amazing job they did on their $700 million expansion. It's not quite complete though, as more stores and restaurants will be opening soon (Sugar Factory, I'm looking at you!).
Although a lot has changed at Hard Rock, including the Social Hour menu at Council Oak Lounge.  Council Oak Lounge is one of our favorite places to grab dinner. While we love sitting down for a meal inside of Council Oak, it is more of an upscale experience where the lounge is a bit more relaxed. You can listen to live music and it's also the perfect location for people watching. Last year, Council Oak announced their first ever Social Hour, their take on Happy Hour, and made it available 7 days a week. It's almost unheard of to find a Happy Hour over the weekend in Tampa, especially of Council Oaks caliber.
Years ago, before there was a Social Hour, Council Oak had a lounge menu. It wasn't publicized like a happy hour and it was almost a hidden secret. Social Hour took place of the lounge menu and although it was exciting to see a 7 day a week discounted menu, it removed most of the classics to introduce new flavors. When the new Social Hour Menu was released, I think I jumped for joy, as the Council Oak Burger was brought back! There are some new stars such as Japanese Wagyu Carpaccio. You can also get a 8oz filet mignon with sides for $40, which is a great deal at Council Oak.

We had the opportunity to check out the new menu the other night. Council Oaks Social Hour menu is available 7 days a week from 3pm-6pm and you are able to use Seminole Wild Card Comp Dollars on the promotion.

Social Hour Bites
Wagyu Carpaccio
N.Y. Strip Sandwich and Truffle Fries
Council Oak Bacon $14 (Frisée & Green Apple Salad, Balsamic Reduction)
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail $21 (Horseradish Cocktail Sauce)
Japanese Wagyu Carpaccio $15 (Black Peppercorn-Champagne Vinaigrette, Grated Manchego, Maldon Salt)
Tuna Tartare $15 (Avocado, Lemon, Cucumber-Radish Salad, Grilled Ciabatta)
Caesar Salad $11 (Caesar Dressing, Shredded Parmesan, White Anchovies, Croutons)
Council Oak House Salad $11 (Salami, Prosciutto, Bacon, Tomatoes, Egg, Mozzarella, House Dressing)
Council Oak Prime Burger $22 (8 oz. Dry-Aged Prime Beef, Fried Egg, Truffle Parmesan Steak Fries)
N.Y. Strip Steak Sandwich $25 (Sautéed Mushrooms & Onions, Brioche Bun, Truffle Parmesan Steak Fries)
Beef Tenderloin $40 (8 oz, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus)

Social Hour Drinks
Improved Manhattan
Vanilla Paloma $10 (Camarena Tequila, Velvet Falernum, Vanilla, Lime Juice, Grapefruit Juice)
Improved Manhattan $10 (Bulleit Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Tawny Port, Walnut and Chocolate Bitters)
Council Oak Oak Rum Runner $10 (Monkey Spiced Rum, Monkey Coconut Rum, Banana Liqueur, Guava Nectar, Pineapple Juice, House-Made Sour)
Red Sangria $10 (Orange Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Guava and Peach Nectar, Pineapple and Lime Juice)
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc $10 (Marlborough, New Zealand 2018)
Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay $10 (Monterey, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, California 2017)
Meiomi Pinot Noir $12 (Monterey, Santa Barbara, Somoma, California 2017)
Vina Cobos Felino Malbec $12 (Mendoza, Argentina 2017)
J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon $12 (Paso Robles, California 2016)
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA $5
Stella Artois $5

Thank you Seminole Hard Rock Tampa for hosting Gabe and I to experience the updated Social Hour menu at Council Oak. As always, all opinions are my own.

The 46th Annual Daytona Turkey Run

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
The 46th running of the Daytona Turkey Run is returning to my hometown on Thanksgiving! I spent all of my teenage years working this event with my best friend Keri (we sold coffee and donuts to the vendors). The Turkey Run will always be big piece of my Thanksgiving childhood memories.

Here is what you can expect in 2019:
Meet Rick & Kelly Dale from “American Restoration” on the History Channel. Stop by to say hello and get an autograph on Friday, Nov 29th & Sat, Nov 30th from 10am-2pm.

Meet Butch Patrick, Eddie Munster from iconic show “The Munsters.” Check out the Munster Koach & Dragula Tribute Hot Rod Display on Thursday, Nov 28th - Sunday, Dec 1st, during normal show hours.

Enjoying the Hops & Hoods Craft Beer Festival. Keep the party going and sample more than 120 different craft beers from 48 different breweries. Saturday, Nov. 30th from 12pm-4pm. Samples are 4 for $5 or 10 for $10 and can be purchased in advance at or inside the show. Must be 21 years of age.
The Mecum Auctions Mobile Experience. Experience first-hand what it feels like to be in the middle of a fast-paced Mecum auction through simulations and hands on activities!

The Little Gobbler’s Play Zone. Kids will have a blast in bounce houses, an obstacle course, inflatable games and more. All Play Zone activities are free of charge.
The Daytona Turkey Run is the largest combined swap meet and car show in the US. It is open to the public and features more than 6,000 vintage, classic and custom, muscle cars, race cars and trucks on display and for sale, as well as a massive swap meet in which vendors sell and trade hard-to-find auto parts and accessories. There is also an Artisan Alley with fashion and art and a full midway of delicious food vendors. More than 150,000 people attended the 45th Daytona Turkey Run.

Hours and Ticket Prices:
Thursday 11/28 Admission $15 hours 8am-4pm Friday 11/29 Admission $15 hours 8am-4pm Saturday 11/30 Admission $10 hours 8am-4pm Sunday 11/31 Admission $10 hours 8am-2pm
Daytona Turkey Run offers FREE parking during the event and Children under 11 are free!

For more information, visit

How to visit Aruba Flamingo Beach while on a Cruise

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I crossed another item off my bucket list! While on our five year anniversary cruise aboard the Carnival Horizon, we visited Aruba! I've wanted to go to Aruba for a very long time, especially ever since I heard about Renaissance Aruba Flamingo Beach. This 40-acre tropical paradise is Aruba’s only private beach and is home to Flamingos, Iguanas and the most beautiful beach I have ever seen.
Flamingo Beach is a private island owned by Renaissance. You have to have a room key to get onto the water taxi which will take you to and from the island. Once off the water taxi, you are almost blinded by beauty. I don't know how to explain what we saw and even photos don't describe the post-card like setting. It's truly an oasis.
On the island, you will find two private beaches, Flamingo Beach and Iguana Beach. Flamingo Beach is adults-only and Iguana Beach is for families. If you have little ones who want to see the Flamingos, they can feed them at 10am. After taking quite a few pics of the Flamingos, we spent the majority of our time on Iguana Beach. The family side of the Island was a little less busy without everyone trying to get the perfect instagram shot with a Flamingo.
In between the two beaches is a store and rental booth, where you can get complimentary towels, floats, snorkel sets, paddleboards, kayaks and more. Plus each beach is supplied with tons of complimentary chaise lounges.
If you find yourself in Aruba while on a cruise, I would 100% suggest finding a way to visit Renaissance Aruba Flamingo Beach. It was the best part of our 8 night cruise and we are trying to figure out when to go back to Aruba for a longer stay.

Here are three ways you can get visit Aruba Flamingo Beach while on a cruise 

Getting to Aruba Flamingo Beach Option 1: Book a room at Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino
This is what Gabe and I did. I had enough Marriott points to cover a one night stay, which if I paid cash for, would have set us back roughly $250. Being a guest of the resort gave us all the perks including the complimentary water taxi to the Island. Obviously we didn't use the room, but it was nice to take a shower and freshen up off prior to getting back on the boat. With my Marriott Bonvoy status, I also received $25 free play in their Casino, 10% off all food and drinks at the Private Island, and a few other perks. Even if we didn't have the points, I would have still booked a room paying cash as it was the most affordable option while we were visiting.

Getting to Aruba Flamingo Beach Option 2: Book a Spa Cove Treatment at Renaissance Aruba Flamingo Beach
Booking a treatment at Spa Cove will give you guest access to Flamingo Beach. However, your whole party will need to book a treatment and each person will have $25 added to their treatment for the water taxi. When we inquired, a 50 minute couples massage would have set us back $290 (per couple), then the taxi fee and tax would have been $357.40. Sometimes Aruba Resort does have a 2 night minimum so if this were the case when we went, the Spa option would have been the better option.

Getting to Aruba Flamingo Beach Option 3: Buy a Renaissance Aruba Flamingo Beach Day Pass
This is not a guaranteed option and I would only suggest this if you were staying in Aruba vs. going on a cruise. Renaissance Aruba Flaming Beach Day passes are available for purchase only on days that the hotel is not above 80% occupancy. You can only call a day prior to visiting to secure your pass, so if you are on a cruise ship, this will be rather difficult. If we weren't using Bonvoy points, a day pass for two people is the most affordable option. We would have spent $250 which included a  meal and a drink. However, not having the guarantee of visiting crossed this off as an option.

Special thanks to Carnival for hosting me on this sailing. I was not required to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Carnival Horizon 8 night Southern Caribbean Review

Monday, September 30, 2019
My husband Gabe and I just returned from the Carnival Horizon 8 night Southern Caribbean Cruise where we celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. I have so many amazing things to say about our experience. I'll be posting each of our ports and some of the activities we did on our Fun Day's at Sea so stay tuned!.

I have sailed on the Horizon's sister ship, the Vista when in 2017. Although the two ships nearly mirror one another, my experience on the Horizon blew away all pre-conceived notions I had prior to getting onboard. Also, I was a little apprehensive about 8 nights at sea, as the longest cruise I had done until this was 7 nights and I felt that was a bit too long. Now that I am home, I wish we had more time. I cannot say enough about the staff on the Horizon and this was my favorite cruise to date.

A bit about the staff: Our Cruise Director, Cookie, was the assistant Cruise Director when I sailed the Vista in 2017. I knew already he would be a blast, but I wasn't expecting to leave feeling like I made a new friend, and that was exactly the impression Cookie left. He's good people. Our room steward I-Made was one of the best I've ever had on any ship. That side of the staff does not get the credit they deserve and I appreciate all the hard work they put in to make our vacation enjoyable. Then there were the bartenders on the ship. I yet again ran into a bartender I have met on another ship, Annamaria from Alchemy Bar. She has always been able to entertain a large group while making crazy amounts of delicious drinks. The entire group at Alchemy was a blast. We also really enjoyed hanging out at Farenheit 555 bar with Ivan, with thousands of guests, he always remembered our names and what we liked to drink. We never met a rude staff member and everyone went out of their way for all the guests.

Our Carnival Horizon 8 night Southern Caribbean Itinerary 

Our itinerary on the Carnival Horizon 8 night Southern Caribbean gave us a chance to experience 4 brand new ports to us, along with giving us 3 days to relax at sea and explore the beautiful ship. I can tell you that 3 days at sea was not enough time to conquer everything we wanted to do and I now fully understand why people do transatlantic cruises. Prior to sailing on the Horizon, days at sea were not something I looked forward to. This has since changed. Also, this was the first time I've sailed knowing I had aggressive reoccurring stage 1 melanoma, so this entire experience was different to me. I couldn't spend hours at time in the sun, which forced me to do other activities on board.

I will do a full review on each of our ports but wanted to share what a little on what did on each day.
Day 1: Sailing Day
I wasn't feeling 100% on the first day of the cruise and we had already booked a reservation at Fahrenheit 555, the ships steakhouse. I got to the point that I couldn't even drink the amazing bottle of Silver Oak we purchased for half off (huge perk of booking Steakhouse on night one). We called it an early night and watched a movie on demand in our room. Carnival offers a ton of movies for free (and some for a small charge) and there are huge flat screen TV's in the rooms. Lame, I know... but I knew we had a long few days ahead of us and I didn't want to overdo it.

IMAX at Sea
Day 2: Fun Day at Sea
On our first day at sea, Gabe and I spent the earlier part of the day at the pool, hit up a few shows, spent some time in the Casino and consumed one too many adult beverages. Due to that - he somehow convinced me to go see IT Chapter 2 at the ships IMAX theater. I've been on a few ships with full theaters before, but never wanted to spend my time at sea watching a movie. Tickets were cheap for an IMAX, $12.95 an adult. Each sailing offers 2 new releases along with a variety of other movies in their Thrill Theater for much less. The other new release movie playing during our sailing was ad astra. Truth be told, I would much rather see Brad Pitt in IMAX than Pennywise the Clown, but IT 2 was way better than I expected. I strongly suggest seeing an IMAX new release while at sea if you find yourself on a ship that offers this add-on. That night we ate at Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and I was pleasantly surprised how great Carnival worked with my Soy Allergy, and how many options I had to choose from.

Topher the Doodle of Jacks Shack
Day 3: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
We asked around for suggestions on the ports we stopped in and everyone I know said not to do an excursion while at Grand Turk - instead walk 5 minutes on the beach down to Jacks Shack, where we could get free beach chairs, drink some local beers and play with Topher the Doodle. This is exactly what we did. That night we at at Guys Pig and Anchor BBQ Smokehouse, where we would find ourselves on many other occasions.

Hilton La Romana
Day 4: La Romana, Dominican Republic
Not going to sugar coat this - I did NOT want to go back to the Dominican Republic. We went earlier in the year and didn't have a wonderful experience and this was prior to all the news coverage. Thank you Carnival for changing my mind about the D.R. We went to Hilton La Romana, which Hilton purchased 4 months ago from Dreams Resort. They are in the process of remodeling the property and you could tell they are going to make sure this resort will give you the experience you want. We would go back here if we find ourselves back in La Romana. That night for dinner - you guessed it, we went back to Guy's Smokehouse.

Day 5: Caracao
Our day in Caracao started later than most ports. We got off the ship around 1:30 and boy was it HOT. I live in FL but this was brutal. We strolled around their gorgeous downtown, embraced the history and learned about authentic Caracao, a blue liquor I thought I didn't like prior to this trip. I want to go back to Caracao and check out the beaches! For dinner that night, we went to Bonsai Teppanyaki, a Japanese steakhouse at sea! It was delicious and entertaining.

Flamingo Beach, Aruba
Day 6: Aruba
I cannot wait to write my blog post on Aruba, a place we will absolutely go back and do a proper vacation. When I heard about Flamingo Beach, a private island owned by Renaissance Aruba Resort, I knew that's what we were going to do. I quickly learned it wasn't a cheap option. Lucky for me, I am a loyal Marriott girl and rack my points up through the year. I had more than enough Bonvoy points to secure me a room for free which have us an opportunity to see this luxurious property. Stay tuned for that experience and other options to get to this island if you aren't booking a room!

Floating Mushroom at Chefs Table
Day 7: Fun Day at Sea
On our 6th day at sea was our 5 year wedding anniversary. We spent some time at Serenity, the adults only deck, and ate dinner at Chef's Table, the gastronomic experience at sea. We took it easy and although we had intentions of seeing a comedy show that night, we opted to make it an early night and watch one of the many movies on demand.

Horizon Tides Pool
Day 8: Fun Day at Sea
I should call this - the day I almost hit my 15 drink limit on the Cheers program but that's another story for another day. We spent our last day at Sea at the Tides Pool, which is located on the back of the ship. We both enjoyed this pool over any other on the Horizon. It also made us curious to book a Havana room on our next sailing, knowing they have a private pool during the day for those staying on the deck. We watched College football in the sports bar and played a round of putt putt golf at sea. It was the perfect day!

I would 100% suggest the Horizon to anyone looking to book a Carnival Cruise. The only thing I would warn you on - if you aren't OK with taking the stairs, you may want to inquire about their elevator situation before booking. They have smart elevators, which were a little too smart. Instead of pushing a button, you told it which floor you wanted to go to, and it told you what letter car to ride up or down. Sometimes it was slower than I prefer so we did a lot of walking. According to my health app, we climbed over 150 flights of stairs over our 8 nights (I am OK with this - allows for more food and drink!!). You can find future sailings on or by calling 1.800.764.7419. While you're on Carnival's website, be sure to check out the Carnival Mardi Gras, who will make her premier in 2020 out of Port Canaveral!

Special thanks to Carnival for hosting me on this sailing. I was not required to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Busch Gardens Howl o Scream 2019

Monday, September 16, 2019
My favorite time of year is here! Both my husband and I are obsessed with everything Halloween. This will be our 9th Halloween in Tampa and as always, we are excited for Busch Gardens Howl-o-Scream to kick off the season on Friday night! Be sure to follow along with my instagram stories as I will be sharing live videos and photos all night  Howl-o-Scream will take place on 22 select nights, from September 20-November 2. Ahead of our visit, I wanted to share what you can expect at the 2019 Busch Gardens Howl-o-Scream, ticket options and all the upgrades to enhance your experience.
But first - let's talk about Death Water Bayou. Five years ago we had a destination wedding in New Orleans. Gabe proposed to me in 2013, which happened to be the inaugural year for Death Water Bayou, a haunted house based in the swamps of New Orleans, haunted by the Voodoo Queen. All throughout the house were nods to the Big Easy. I did what any Halloween obsessed blogger who was about to get married in NOLA would would naturally do - pitched them for a Haunted House engagement shoot. You can check out the Halloween Engagement Shoot here. It was one of the coolest photo shoots I have done and will always be grateful that Busch Gardens gave us those memories. I am excited to say that Death Water Bayou is returning this year.
Just when you thought she was gone for good, the Queen of the Shadows has been lifted from the dead by Voodoo’s dark magic and is seeking revenge upon the living. Armed with her devilish devotees, all who dare to enter the swamp are subject to curses around every corner.

Enter the pristine home of the picture perfect suburban Clark Family, but beware of unseen horrors – once you’re invited in, you may never make your way out. Don’t let yourself become the next sacrifice in their sinister devotion.

Years of cruel treatments at this sleep institute have warped the minds of the tortured and imprisoned patients. Now rising against the demented doctors, the inmates have taken over the ward to seek sick revenge to torture their evil caretakers.

Hordes of oozing, wriggling insects have infested Motel Shellburn and the exterminator is determined to extinguish all signs of life, including the guests. Every room in this motel from hell brings new skin-crawling horrors as you try to escape his noxious attacks and check out alive.

Dare to enter the underbelly of Captain Saw-Tooth Silas’ pirate ship. Try not to fall victim to what this macabre labyrinth has in store for you, the trick lies within the dimly lit corners of this mysterious hideaway- holding the secret to escape… or demise.

Watch where you step in Simon’s house, as every twisted turn corrals you from one sickening scene to the next. Don’t get caged in or you might be the next one up on Simon’s butcher block.

One thing I will suggest, if you are going to Busch Gardens Howl-o-Scream, invest in one of the front of the line upgrades. This will allow you to get the most of your experience, able to enjoy all the houses and rides you want. You can select from a variety of different options - everything from one time haunted houses to unlimited front of the line for the entire season. Plus this year, Busch Gardens is offering an unlimited admission ticket giving you access for all 22 nights! This is huge if you are looking to go more than once this year. Details and pricing are below!

HOWL-O-SCREAM 2019 SINGLE-NIGHT TICKET starting at $39.99
Brave 1 visit to Howl-O-Scream 2019, select nights Sept. 20 - Nov. 2, 2019 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Buy your tickets now and lock in your price.

Valid for unlimited visits to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Howl-O-Scream 2019 for one consecutive weekend (Thursday – Sunday) Scream your way through all 22 nights of Howl-O-Scream, select dates Sept. 20 - Nov. 2, 2019 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Howl-O-Scream Wild and Wicked Weekend Tickets
Enjoy a weekend full of visits to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay during the day and Howl-O-Scream at night, weekends Sept. 20-Nov. 2, 2019.

FRONT OF LINE FEAR PASS starting at $35
Skip the Lines with Front Line Fear during Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Why wait! Get front-of-the-line access to 6 haunted houses of your choice.

Skip the Lines with Front Line Fear Extreme during Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Enjoy front-of-the-line access at 6 haunted houses and 7 major thrill rides of your choice.

Why wait! Get front-of-the-line access to all haunted houses and thrill rides of your choice for all 22 nights. Howl-O-Scream admission is required but not included.

There are 9 scare zones this year at Howl-O-Scream. Included in the scare zone is First Fear, all of the horrors of the last 20 years of Busch Gardens.

FIRST FEAR: The horrors of Howl-O-Scream’s haunted past are the first frights to greet you, rising from the dead and bringing 20 years of fear back to life.
LITTLE NIGHTMARES: Take a creepy walk down memory lane to the bygone era of papier-mâché masks and homemade costumes sure to stir up the nightmares of your childhood.
CARPE NOCTEM: The eerie quiet of this gothic Romanian cemetery is shattered by the triumphant screams of vampires and the sobbing moans of their victims. Climb into a coffin but your photo may be all that comes out.
CAMP DOA: Rising from the murky swamp waters, murderous mutants have taken over a seemingly peaceful campground. Campers are snatched from their idyllic dreams to become ghostly stars of living nightmares.
HELL ON WHEELS: In a post-apocalypse world, the surly survivors will stop at nothing for food and supplies, destroying all who stand in their way. Can you run the gauntlet of a murderous crazed biker gang to make it out alive?
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS: Honoring the souls and spirits of those who have gone before us, guests can dance the night away in this festive zone; featuring face painters, traditional tastes of Mexico, spectacle of performers, and a one-of-a-kind photo with an icon of La Catrina.
MANIAC MIDWAY: Go backstage at “scariest show on earth” with Sparky and his terrifying carnie-crew as they take over Pantopia and make the midway their own stage of torture creating a frenzy of fear.
DEADLY TOYS: You can run but you cannot hide as giant toys spring to life in a murderous rampage with you in their sights. Childhood memories will be destroyed when these toys turn a play date into a slay date.
MEAT MARKET: Howl-O-Scream’s most fear-inducing zone places you in the center of a nauseating assault by cannibal creatures gorging on their monster menu of human hors d'oeuvres.

As much as I love Halloween, I am a big baby. I am petrified of clowns and I cannot go to any haunting event without having liquid courage. There are tons of bars within Howl-o-Scream and below is where you can find cocktails, beers, wine, shot girls, and more. Be sure to visit Serengeti Overlook Pub between 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. for pre-event / Happy Hour drink specials!
Carnibar in Pantopia
Dragon Fire Grill Entrance
Serengeti Overlook Pub
Meat Market Bar
Nairobi Walkway
FRIGHT FEAST starting at $29.99
Devour monstrous main courses and desserts at this delicious dinner. Then, be the first to brave the dark with a half-hour of early access to the haunted houses and front-of-the-line privileges until 8:30 p.m.

Enjoy all the exclusive benefits of Fright Feast mentioned above, plus the choice of any three beverages throughout the night including beer, wine, cocktails, soda and water.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Bier Fest #thrillsontap

Monday, August 19, 2019
This weekend I checked out Busch Gardens Bier Fest in Tampa Bay. The annual beer festival will take place on weekends through September 8th and will give attendees the opportunity to explore over 40 craft beers from around the world! This includes 20+ Florida Craft Breweries and the beers will change throughout the festival.
Tampa has an incredible craft beer scene so this festival makes perfect sense! Along with 40+ beers, there are multiple food tents and  live entertainment. My in-laws were in town so we brought them along and had a great afternoon trying out multiple brews and bites.
I was excited to see my favorite beer, Abita Strawberry there! This beer used to be seasonal and was just made available year-round. If you go to the festival, give this beer a try. You'll thank me later.

3 Daughters Brewing, Barrel of Monks Brewing, Big Storm Brewing Co., Big Top Brewing Co., Brew Hub, Central 28 Beer Co., Cigar City Cider & Mead, Coppertail Brewing Co., Crooked Thumb Brewery, Dunedin House of Beer, Escape Brewing Co., Florida Avenue Brewing Co., Fort Myers Brewing Co., Green Bench Brewing Co., J Wakefield Brewing, MIA Beer Co., Orange Blossom Brewing Co., Pierced Ciderworks, Sailfish Brewing Co., Tampa Bay Brewing Co., Two Henrys Brewing Co., Veza Sur Brewing Co., Walking Tree Brewery
Grand Mimosa, CiderBoys
21st Amendment Brewery, Abita Brewing Co., Bell’s Brewery, Boston Beer Co., CiderBoys, Dogfish Head Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co., Lagunitas Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewery, Sea Dog Brewing Co., Short’s Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Stone Brewing, Terrapin Beer Co., The Bruery

Hofbrauhaus, Paulaner Brewery, Peroni, Samuel Smith Brewery, Stella, Wittekerke

We tried the Reuben Croquettes and the Deep Fried Cheese Curds. Both were exceptional and I would order them again. We paired them up with the Sweet & Hot Mustard and the Maple-Bacon Honey Mustard.
  • Bacon Mac & Cheese Bites
  • Reuben Croquettes
  • Deep Fried Cheese Curds
  • Dipping Sauces: Basil Parmesan Mayo, Sweet & Hot Mustard, Maple-Bacon Honey Mustard
Deep Fried Cheese Curds and Reuben Croquettes
The two sliders we tried were the Schnitzelwich Slider and the Bratwurst Slider. I preferred the  Bratwurst Slider with the Pretzel Roll, it was perfect with the braised red cabbage.
  • Bison Slider: Grilled Bison Slider on a Pretzel Roll with Provolone Cheese, Bacon & Onion Marmalade
  • Schnitzelwich Slider: Schnitzel on a Pretzel Roll with Swiss Cheese & Maple-Bacon Honey Mustard
  • Bratwurst Slider: Split Bratwurst on a Pretzel Roll with Braised Red Cabbage & Horseradish Mustard
  • Flourless Chocolate Torte: Served with Guinness-Infused Whipped Cream
Bratwurst Slider
The groups favorite bite of the day was the Impossible Burger Slider. We didn't tell my in-laws that it was a veggie burger and they raved about it being one of the best burgers they've had. I agree. If I am going to return to the festival this year, I would buy a full sized version of one of these sandwiches. I hope Busch Gardens puts it on their menu permanently. We also tried the Short Rib & Brie Melt. It was good, just wish there was a little more short rib on the sandwich we got!
  • Short Rib & Brie Melt: Short Rib, Brie & Caramelized Onions served on a Toasted Roll with Creamy Horseradish Sauce
  • ImpossibleTM Burger Melt: Impossible Burger on Texas Toast with Provolone & Red Onion Jam
  • Griddled Cheesecake Melt: Sweet Cream Cheese Filling on Pound Cake, Grilled & served with Guava Sauce

Impossible Burger Patty Melt
  • Fried Chicken Wings tossed in your choice of Spicy Mango Sauce, Blood Orange Sesame Glaze, or Korean BBQ sauce
  • Sweet Potato Fries served with Toasted Marshmallow Dipping Sauce
  • Deep Fried Pretzel Sticks with Beer Cheese Dipping Sauce
  • Shrimp Taco: Beer-Battered Shrimp, Flour Tortilla, Shredded Cabbage, Queso Fresco & Sweet Ginger Pickled Onions on a Flour Tortilla
  • Smoked Brisket Taco: Smoked Brisket, Corn Tortilla, Citrus Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese & Crispy Jalapeno Strips on a Corn Tortilla
  • Jerk Chicken Taco: Grilled Jerk Chicken, Flour Tortilla, Shredded Cabbage, Smoked Pineapple Salsa & Queso Fresco on a Flour Tortilla
  • Portobello Mushroom Taco: Portobello Mushrooms Sautéed with Peppers, Onions & Corn served on a Corn Tortilla with Shredded Cabbage & Pico De Gallo
  • Adult Root Beer Float with a shot of your choice
  • Hard Coffee Float: Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee served over Chocolate Soft Serve Ice Cream
  • Rosé Float: Astoria Sparkling Rosé Moscato served over Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream
  • Maduro Float: Cigar City Brewing Maduro Brown Ale served over Vanilla & Chocolate Swirled Soft Serve Ice Cream
One of the things I really appreciate about Busch Gardens festivals is that you can purchase a tasting lanyard. This is great if you're going with a group of people as you can evenly split the cost, and won't be sticker shocked at the end of the day. Our group of Four split two 10 packs and it was more than enough for us. There are multiple samplers in a variety of price points. The way it works, each food and drink sample equals one hole punch. If you want a full sized beer (or wine), you can use two hole punches. Pass Members save 15% off samplers and have the access to purchase an exclusive 12 item sampler.
5-ITEM SAMPLER: $29.99 ($25.49 w/ Pass Member discount)
10-ITEM SAMPLER: $49.99 ($42.99 w/ Pass Member discount)
12-ITEM PASS MEMBER EXCLUSIVE SAMPLER: $49.99 (must be an annual pass member to purchase this lanyard)

You can check out more details and hours of the festival on 

Thank you to Busch Gardens for providing us with two tickets and tasting samplers. I was not required to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Isla Mujeres Mexico

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Oh Isla Mujeres... you captured my heart. I will be doing a few posts on this amazing small island located just off Cancun. 😍
A few years ago, my best friend Keri and I started talking about where we would plan our 40th birthday trip. We met in 2nd grade and our birthdays are 11 days apart. At the time, we started throwing around having a girls trip in Napa.

As time went on, as wonderful as a girls trip in Napa sounded, I really couldn't imagine spending my 40th without my husband and this trip quickly turned into a couples trip with some of our closest friends. We did a lot of research and ended up selecting a tiny island in Mexico called Isla Mujeres.
Keri learned about Isla Mujeres from a show on HGTV. This 5 mile long island is known for calm turquoise waters and pure white powdery sand. We quickly realized this is exactly where we want to be. It's a quaint and safe beach town with tons of local shops and restaurants. Depending on where you stay on the island, you can walk to a lot of places, or rent a golf cart. After choosing where we would have our trip, Isla Mujeres was named one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world by Trip Advisor in 2019.
Getting to and around Isla Mujeres:
We flew into Cancun Airport direct from Fort Lauderdale. Once you get out of Customs (ours was a breeze in Terminal 4 - we had zero wait), you will need to take a taxi or car service to the Isla Mujeres Ferry. We pre-booked door to door transportation through Luxury Van Transportation Cancun. This included our ferry tickets and the taxis picked up the groups from the hotels on our different departure dates. While this was a little more expensive, it was a great peace of mind for everyone who traveled. They were extremely professional and I would suggest them in a heartbeat!

I strongly suggest renting your golf cart ahead of time. We booked ours 60+ days in advance and more than half of the companies we reached out to were already sold out. We booked 3 golf carts, all 4 seat carts. You cannot have more than 4 people on a golf cart (it's illegal and you will get ticketed). We booked through Isla Mujeres Golf Cart Rentals. Note - they will need to keep 1 drivers license on file for every cart rented. You won't need your license while on the island but it is worth noting.

Where to stay on Isla Mujeres
Although less than 5 miles long, there are many areas to stay on Isla Mujeres. We personally wanted to be able to walk out of our door onto a white sandy beach. We ended up in Playa Norte - or North Beach. Our group rented condo's at Ixchel Beach Hotel.  Keri and I shared a 2 bedroom penthouse and everyone else got individual single rooms. All rooms had a balcony overlooking beautiful clear waters. It had all of the amenities you would find in a major resort. I had multiple $30 massages overlooking the gorgeous waters. We were able to stroll down the market streets, where a ton of restaurants, bars and shops were located all within walking distance - some of which allowed us to put our tab to our room charge. This experience was exactly what we were looking for and more. I loved having a full kitchen, making our own drinks and enjoying life at island pace.

What to do on Isla Mujeres
With June birthdays, that put us on Isla Mujeres during Whale Shark Season and we were able to dive with these beautiful gentle creatures. I will do a full post on this experience that left us in awe, but if you find yourself there during season, do this! We also went snorkeling, zip-lining and had a lot of beach days. This was meant to be a chill trip, and for the most part, that is exactly what we got!

Powered by Blogger.