If you’re craving unbelievably soft sand and irresistible ocean views, there’s no better place to plan a beach-centric getaway than South Walton. The dear warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide the perfect playground for swimming, sunning, or stand-up paddle boarding. For a different—and truly unique—water adventure, explore one or two of the area’s 15 rare coastal dune lakes. Formed over 10,000 years ago, these special ecosystems are made up of shallow brackish water that’s perfect for exploring by kayak. Coastal forests in the region offer 200 miles of hiking and biking trails for those that crave a closer look at nature. Spot sea birds and search for sea turtles as you meander through this natural wonderland.
While the unspoiled coastline is certainly the star of South Walton, the surrounding beach towns also offer endless entertainment and enjoyment. If you’re in need of a shopping frenzy, head to the nation’s largest designer outlets, or peruse any number of the stylish boutiques, art galleries, art studios, and bookstores that dot the downtown areas. If it’s fresh-from-the-sea flavors you’re craving South Walton boasts numerous award-winning chefs who use locally sourced ingredients for standout Floridian fare.
Even the locally owned coffee shops and juice bars feature delectable options that leave you refreshed and replenished before your next dip in the ocean. Whether you’re in need of seaside sunsets or action-packed, days of fun in the sun, South Walton’s mix of natural beauty, culture, and crave-worthy cuisine makes this the ideal spot for your next getaway.
The Ancient Irish province of Ulster, made up of 9 counties, was partitioned in 1921 and six of the counties in it now make up Northern Ireland. These are Fermanagh, Antrim, Down, Derry/Londonderry, Armagh, and Tyrone. The other three counties are Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. County Fermanagh has over 300 square miles of water, 365 islands, breathtaking scenery, the mystical Marble Arch Caves Geo Park, world class fishing and more historic monuments than you could shake a stick at. In short, Fermanagh is a Lakeland Paradise.
County Donegal is in the northwest of the Republic of Ireland. The name “Donegal’ come; from the Irish, meaning “the fort of the foreigners”. The county consists chiefly of low mountains, with a deeply indented coastline forming natural loughs, of which Lough Swilly is the most notable. The famous mountains or ‘Hills of Donegal’ consist of two major ranges, the Derryveagh Mountain sin the north and the Bluestack Mountains in the south, with Mount Errigalat 751 metres the highest peak. The Slieve League cliffs are the second highest sea cliffs in Europe, while Donegal’s Malin Head is the most northerly point on the island of Ireland.
County Antrim with its beautiful coast read and famous glens is the most north easterly county on the island. On a worldwide scale Antrim’s most famous attraction is the Giants Causeway. However the renowned’ Glens of Antrim, the Bushmills Distillery and Carrickfergus Castle are well worth visiting as well. Belfast City too has many things to see including die grandeur of the City Hall, the new Titanic Quarter and the Odyssey Arena to name but a few. This vibrant city has a culture all of its own and its restaurants, theatres and nightlife are amazingly good value.
Kylemore Abbey – Few places on earth have the tranquillity and beauty of Kylemore Abbey and its majestic Victorian walled garden, which won the prestigious Europa Nostra Award in 2002.The garden comprises of roughly 6 acres and is divided in two by a natural mountain stream The eastern half comprises of the flower or pleasure garden, glass houses and gardeners’ houses. While the kitchen garden makes up the other half of the garden and is predominantly given over to the growing of food.
Arigna Mining Experience – Discover what coal mining life was like for coal miners in the Arigna Valley in Roscommon horn the 1700’s until its closure in 1990. Visit the exhibition area to discover the history of the mine and then take an underground tour of the mine, where the method s used to extract coal are demon strated, with lighting and sound effects added for authenticity.
Glencar Waterfall – Glen car Waterfall is situated near Glen car Lake, 11 kilometres west of Manorhamilton, County Leitrim. It is particularly impressive after rain and can be viewed from a lovely wooded walk. The most dramatic waterfall descends from a 50ft rocky headland into a deep pool below in a haze of white spray. A paved path to the viewing area provides a wonderful vantage point from which to view the waterfall which is particularly spectacular during wet conditions.
Lovely Leitrim Barge Holiday Boatel – Mary McInerney and Jorn Bjerknes invite you to join them on their luxury custom made barge for an unforgettable experience traversing the Shannon waterways. Whether you fancy going fishing, a leisurely cruise down the Shannon, going for a round of golf, or anything else you can think of, Mary and Jorn are happy to cater to what is required.
Mullaghmore – Mullaghmore is one of the surfing capitals of the Irish Atlantic coastline, and is recognised as one of the top surfing destination sin the world. Surfers and windsurfers from all over the world have ridden waves up to 15 metres (49 ft) high off Mullaghmore Head. The area is also safe for bathing, and has all the modern facilities that you could wish for to make your stay enjoyable.
There’s a reason that Orlando is the world’s favorite vacation destination. At every turn, there are experiences for families to take in and lifelong memories to be made. Walk among a colony of nearly 250 penguins in their 32-degree world at SeaWorld® Orlando; float in a lazy river past a grotto of colorful fish at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark®, or share a swim with an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at Discovery Cove®. These three amazing parks blend incredible animal encounters with world-class entertainment, coupled with nearby hotels, for a unique and unforgettable vacation.
Immerse yourself in wonder at SeaWorld® Orlando, where the aquatic world comes alive like no place else. Climb aboard and ride the mighty Manta®. Experience the power and grace of killer whales in the awe-inspiring Shamu® show One Ocean®. Share an epic voyage with sea turtles on the 3D, 360-degree TurtleTrek®. And there’s nothing cooler than to see the world through the eyes of a penguin in the thrilling, chilling adventure of Antarctica: Empire of the PenguinTM. Guests can also enjoy the all-new Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High, a show full of adventure, fun and big personalities, where laughter and education go hand in hand. Thrill-seekers can experience the all-new Mako, a 200-foot hypercoaster that soars to the top of the food chain as the tallest, fastest and longest rollercoaster in Orlando. Coming summer 2017, SeaWorld Orlando will debut its first digitally enhanced ride experience as the legendary Kraken roller coaster is transformed into a virtual reality (VP) roller coaster experience. Using new technology, this thrill ride will be the only VP coaster experience in Florida. Learn more at SeaWorldOrlando.com.
Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark
From high-speed water slides and exhilarating wave pools, to tranquil beaches and the remarkable animal habitats that are the hallmark of SeaWorld®, Aquatica, Sea World’s Waterpark®, delights all ages and interests. This one-of-a-kind water-park is home to some of the world’s most thrilling water rides, featuring 42 slides, rivers and lagoons and 84,000 square feet of sparkling white, sandy beaches. It’s where serene-to-extreme waters fill double wave pools, sun and shade cover the beach and fun is as endless as the sea. Get ready to brave a watery free-fall at Aquatica Orlando’s newest water thrill slide – Ihu’s Breakaway Falls. The drop slide is Orlando’s tallest, steepest, and only multi-drop tower slide of its kind. Learn more at Aqua ticaOrlando.com.
Discovery Cove in Orlando is an all-inclusive day resort where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, and encounter playful otters and curious marmosets. Relax and explore rocky lagoons surrounded by lush landscaping, tropical reefs. winding rivers, and white, sandy beaches. Freshly prepared meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day and swim gear are included, plus unlimited admission to sister parks SeaWorld and Aquatica. Experience the most exciting animal encounters the world has to offer in a breathtaking tropical atmosphere. Learn more at DiscoveryCove.com
Florida is analogous to entertainment, whether that’s in the form of sports, gambling or an energetic nightlife.
For an adventure the family will never forget, point your wagon toward Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo in Lake Wales. This authentic Florida cowboy-themed property hosts a championship rodeo with trick riding, bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing every Saturday night.
Golf fans flock to Bay Hill Club & Lodge in March to see their favorite duffers at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The month begins and ends with Major League Baseball’s spring training, a staple in Central Florida for more than a century. Locally, cheer on the Detroit Tigers (Lakeland) and Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista).
A happening scene can always be found at both Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk, the latter of which will keep you jumping between Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and the Hard Rock Café. Disney Springs is home to the House of Blues and Planet Hollywood.
On International Drive, try ICEBAR Orlando, the largest of its kind in the world. Enjoy a frosty beer or cocktail in a 22 F chill while sitting on ice blocks, then thaw out in the FIRE Lounge. Down the street, Kings Bowl Orlando boasts a chef-created menu and an innovative list of cocktails. The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show at WonderWorks presents comedy with your supper, while the Treasure Tavern Dinner Theatre features a cabaret dinner show suitable for adults only.
Orlando’s Camping World Stadium plays host to three year-end football bowl games: the Cure Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Citrus Bowl. In January 2017, the stadium, formerly known as the Citrus Bowl, will host the National Football League’s Pro Bowl.
If you prefer soccer to American football, the Orlando City Soccer Club plays in the Major League Soccer (MLS) organization from March through October. Orlando is also home to the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association.
Downtown Orlando offers a slew of clubs and bars where live music can be heard almost every night. Rock out at Backbooth, discover the blues at Tanqueray’s or skip the light fantastic at Independent Bar.
For a unique evening of dinner, drinks and dancing, board the Rivership Romance in Sanford, an authentic sternwheeler paddle-wheel ship, for a three-hour tour along Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River.
And while there is little casino action in Central Florida, Reddick hosts poker tournaments and live games, as well as simulcast wagering.
The province of Connaught lies in the West of Ireland with its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The counties of Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim Galway and Roscommon make up this geographically diverse region with the Atlantic Ocean to its westerly boundary and the midland s of Roscommon to the Hast, is the least populated with a population of just over 400,000. Historically, Connaught has retained its rich Gaelic heritage and today still has communities where the Irish language only is spoken amongst them. But English is the primary second language. These regions are collectively called the Gaeltacht. The remote and beautiful Aran Islands off the mainland of County Galway are also part of the Gaeltacht.
The primary business centre of Connaught, and the most densely populated area is the thriving city of Galway to the south of the province. Although Sligo City, Carrick on Shannon, and Boyle are all fine business and shopping centres in their own right. Connaught has some of the most scenic and unspoilt country side to be found in Ireland, including the spectacular mountainous landscape of Connemara, the lock gates and river banks of the Shannon Waterway, the famed Galway Bay and the historic glen s of County Leitrim.
Couple these with the beautiful Ashford Castle in Mayo near to Cong where the film The Quiet Man was filmed, and the natural serenity of Lough Key Forest Park in Roscommon, and a tour of this region is a must for all. For those interested in a religious experience Mayo is famed for Knock Shrine where on the 21st August, 1879, at about 8 o’clock. Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist are reputed to have appeared. The apparition was seen by fifteen people whose ages ranged from six years to seventy-five and included men, women and children. The shrine has become so popular in modern times that the Ireland West International Airport was built especially in 1985 to cater for the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors to Connaught.
The county also features die pilgrimage site known as Croagh Patrick, which overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo. This is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Croagh Patrick is renowned today for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick is said to have fasted for forty days in 441 A D, and the custom of trekking up the mountain has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation.
Croagh Patrick is 5 miles from the picturesque town of Westport, and its conical shape soars majestically above the surrounding countryside with magnificent views of Clew Bay beneath. So, whether it’s water activities on the Atlantic coastline, cruising on the Shannon Waterway, religious pilgrimages, chilling out amongst an unspoilt landscape or driving along roads where motoring is still a pleasure, Connaught has it all.
Whether nature-made or artificial, the Central Florida region is home to plenty of options for the family to cool off or explore. For water enthusiasts, Highlands County is home to 95 crystal-clear lakes. In Polk County, the Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park covers more than 8,000 acres of scrub, sandhill and flatwoods land.
Like fishing? In Osceola County, Lake Tohopekaliga, known as Lake Toho, covers 19,000 acres, spans 42 miles in diameter, and is a hotbed for bass.
Take the family waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing and kneeboarding at the Orlando Watersports Complex. A short drive west, Lake Louisa in Clermont is the largest in a chain of 13 lakes and designated an Outstanding Florida Water Way. Grab a pole or canoe and relish in the beauty of Lake County.
Excellent outdoor activities await north of Orlando, including Lake Apopka Loop Trail, offering 15 miles of family biking where the odds of seeing a gator are fantastic. Want to tube down a crystal-clear river fed by natural springs? Located in Apopka, local favorite Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park offers swimming, hiking trails, picnicking and concessions.
Visit Blue Spring State Park home to hundreds of manatees, where the clear 73 F water temperature welcomes swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers. Picnic on the beach or stay the night at the campground. In the Ocala National Forest, the southernmost forest in the United States, dozens of campgrounds and 600 lakes await.
The sparkling programme includes a multitude of free events as this year Winterval will shine brighter than ever with fun for families, couples and groups of friends looking to start their Christmas experience off in the best way possible. Visitors can enjoy a horse drawn sleigh ride through the Mall, the Viking Triangle and John Robert’s Square or take the Winterval Express Train for a tour of all the festival’s attractions including the Carousel and the Giant Postbox – where those all-important letters to Santa can be dropped off. Pay a visit to Reginald’s Tower for some enchanting storytelling, marvel at the beautiful Christmas market where you can savour top class food and find unique gifts for family and friends, and take a ride on the spectacular Vintage Ferris Wheel.
Winterval Illuminates in Cathedral Square is another unmissable stop on the Christmas adventure. The now famous light show projects onto the Deanery Building and will see the Square burst into life and light This year promises to be better than ever thanks to a whole host of new features and 3D animation which will transform the area into a magical place of light and colour. This spectacular show is absolutely free and is sure to be one of the highlights of the festival. Ireland’s oldest city also plays host to Waterford on Ice, the National Reptile Zoo and twice daily screenings of How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Movies at The Reg. Of course, the man himself will be in attendance throughout the festival.
Santa’s Grotto at the Medieval Museum is areal treat for all the family with the awestruck amazement in every child’s eye a thing of pure magic. En route to see Santa Claus, families will be able to explore the Enchanted Gardens and the elves’ living quarters before they visit the jolly man in red, who will have a chat, present a gift and pose for a photo that will live long in the memory. The free Toy Museum is always worth a visit at Winterval.
This years theme is “Gaming Through the Ages”, where visitors will be able to see and play some of the first video games ever invented. It’s a journey back to where gaming started and offers a chance to see up close how gaming has evolved over the years – fascinating for children and sure to be a fun trip down memory lane for their parents. There’s so much to see and do for everyone at Winterval and Waterford is once again the place to be this Christmas. We recommend booking tickets in advance so weekends can be spent exploring this interactive medieval city to the fullest. The Winterval Festival takes place from 25 – 27 November; 2 – 4 December; 8-11 December and 15-23 December
While Central Florida is widely known for its big three—Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, which debuts its 28-acre new water park Volcano Bay in 2017, and SeaWorld—there are many other attractions you want to experience on your next visit.
In Lakeland, drop by the 260-acre Safari Wilderness Ranch and experience 400 species of African, Asian and American animals. Nearby, you’ll find the Water Ski Hall of Fame in Polk City.
For an airboat ecotour, check out Wild Florida Airboat & Wildlife Park in Kenansville on Cypress Lake. Get an in-depth look at the ‘gators, birds and eagles. Later, Old Town in Kissimmee offers rides for the kids, go-karts, a haunted house, themed restaurants, an arcade and shopping.
The Showcase of Citrus in Clermont is a family-owned roadside citrus farm and cattle ranch at which families can pick grapefruits, lemons, tangerines and oranges. Don’t forget the handcrafted creamsicles. At Clermont’s Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, kids and adults can take turns stomping grapes.
The Crayola Experience in Orlando’s Florida Mall is a family attraction offering 25 hands-on experiences. Or take part in the Grande Lakes Orlando catch-and-release fish program and help track data for the Florida Wildlife Commission. Orlando’s International Drive is now home to the 25,000-square-foot Sea Life Aquarium, Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Orlando Eye, a 400-foot-tall observation wheel. At nearby iFly Indoor Orlando, test your bravery at this indoor skydiving experience. Don’t tell the kids, but at WonderWorks Indoor Amusement Park on International Drive, they can learn while having fun in this 35,000 square feet of edutainment.
Fun Spot America, a family-owned theme park in the area, features multi-level go-karts, thrill rides, family rides, and an arcade. (There is also a Kissimmee location.) Just north of downtown Orlando, the Orlando Science Center offers four stories of interactive, hands-on exhibits, an observatory, a café and the Dr. Phillips CineDome, a 300-seat theater for films and planetarium shows.
Venture over to Black Hammock Adventures in Oviedo for airboat rides on Lake Jesup, home to the largest alligator population in Florida, estimated at 9,000.
The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Sanford is home to more than 400 animals and the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo. Feed the giraffes then cool off in the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground.
Near Ocala, a must visit in this region is the venerable Silver Springs State Park, Florida’s first attraction, known for its famous glass-bottom boats.
The Strand Inn – Overlooking Hook Head, The Strand Inn is the perfect place to enjoy lingering breakfasts, relax over a long lunch or enjoy intimate, romantic suppers. Diners can look forward to the finest Irish beef, lobster and line caught seafood in a luxurious setting, characterised by beamed ceilings, original stone walls and planked floors.
The Munster Room Restaurant – The Munster Room Restaurant at Water ford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort was awarded 2AA Rosettes in 2001 and currently continues this elite standard further confirmed with multiple awards and its review in the 2015 Michelin Guide. With its warm ambiance wonderful oak paneled walls, ornate ceiling, and further complemented by an extensive wine cellar and exciting seasonal menus it’s easy to see why it’s such a winning choice. Using the finest local produce, gifted head chef Michael Thomas and his culinary team continually create dishes with intense flavors that will tantalize and satisfy every food lover’s palate and create a truly memorable fine dining experience.
Out of the Blue – They serve only the freshest, most succulent fish and shellfish here, which they have delivered every day, literally, from the sea outside their front door. And if there’s no fish on a particular day, then they won’t open the restaurant. A certain Mr. Paul Hewson, aka Bono is a fan. So took early to avoid disappointment.
La Boheme – La Boheme offers a unique experience for lovers of fine dining, with its location in the basement of one of Waterford’s foremost prestigious buildings. Head Chef Eric Theze uses fresh locally sourced produce, providing guests with exquisitely presented delectable dishes. Christine ensures that all are greeted with a warm welcome, with the belief in treating each guest as if they are being welcomed into their own home. A blend of fine dining and wine bar with bistro menu options, qualifies La Boheme as a hidden gem in the heart of Waterford City.
The Copper Hen – The Copper Hen Restaurant is situated above Mother McHugh’s Pub on the Copper Coast between Tramore and Dungarvan in County Waterford. The restaurant was opened in November 2010 by award-winning chef Eugene Long and his wife Sinead Frisby. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and the food is reasonably priced. Diners can choose from a range of locally sourced food, such as Kilmore crab claws, sauteed Tiger Prawns or Portobdlo mushroom bruschetta to start and Irish Hereford sirloin steak, grilled fillet of salmon or pan-roasted Dunmore Cod as main courses. The Copper Hen offers an unforgettable casual dining experience that ’visitors to Wterford can’t miss out on.
The Lobster – Whether you’re looking for lunch, a casual dinner or just a quiet pint, the friendly staff at The Lobster are sure to look after your every need. Situated in the seaside town of Waterville, it’s no surprise that The Lobster serve some of the bast seafood in Kerry and their beef and Guinness stew is also spoken of very highly by all who have sampled it.