Monthly Archives: February 2017

Central Florida – Arts and Culture

Known as the “Town of Murals,” Lake Placid features more than 40 colorful murals within its historic outdoor art gallery. This small, Old Florida town is also known for its American Clown Museum and School. Soak in the culture in nearby Avon Park at the Museum of Florida Art and Culture and the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts, both on the Avon campus of South Florida State College.


Standing tall on Iron Mountain, Bok Tower in Lake Wales has been a fan favorite since 1929. Its 205-foot neo-Gothic and art deco “singing tower” houses one of the world’s finest carillons, with Go bells ringing every half hour. Tour Pinewood Estate, a 20-room Mediterranean-style home built in the 1930s, nestled among a spectacular collection of ferns, palms, camellias and magnolias. Follow the River of Stone—a mosaic pathway composed of more than 100,000 hand-selected pebbles—to the 2.7-acre hands-on  Children’s Garden, an outdoor kitchen and a farm-to-table edible garden.

Who would guess the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright designs in the world is in Lakeland, Florida? The legendary architect oversaw and designed the construction of 12 structures, including his only planetarium, on the campus of Florida Southern College.


Florida Southern College

From September through June, the college hosts the Festival of Fine Arts, featuring a calendar of musical, theatrical and dance performances as well as art exhibits.

The City of Orlando is now home to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts hosting Broadway shows, concerts and community events in the heart of downtown.

North of downtown, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Repertory Theatre and Mennello Museum of American Art are all conveniently located in the same culture complex, the 45-acre Loch Haven Park. Nearby, Harry P. Leu Gardens and Leu House Museum are part of a 50-acre botanical park created as gardens in 1936. Stroll pathways past 5o varieties of azaleas, 50 species of bamboo, 2,000 camellia plants and 50 kinds of citrus trees. The house, built in 1858, is open for daily tours.


Harry P. Leu Gardens

In artsy Winter Park, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is the world showcase for everything Tiffany with the most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. For the oldest and most distinguished collections in Florida, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College is a must-see.

A visit to historic Winter Garden is a step back in time. Once the bustling center of Central Florida and the largest citrus shipping point in the world, artifacts found around Lake Apopka indicate Indians inhabited the land for thousands of years, up until the colonization of Florida by Spanish explorers. The Garden Theatre, built in 1935, was restored to its true Mediterranean Revival style in 2008.


The Garden Theater, Winter Park, FL.
The Garden Theatre is a refurbished, historic theatre located at 160 West Plant Street in Winter Garden, Florida. The Garden Theatre, which hosts over 200 events a season, serves as the primary performing arts center for the Winter Garden area.
The theatre first opened in December 1935 where several renovations changed the face of the theatre until it closed in 1963, as movie attendance declined in the new age of television.
In 2002 the City of Winter Garden purchased the site and the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization, began restoration of the theatre. In 2008, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation completed the restoration of the Garden Theatre. Restoration brought the Garden Theatre back to its original architectural simplicity, in keeping with the character and revitalization of historic downtown Winter Garden, making the building an authentic period piece. The theatre has become the heartbeat of the city as a performing arts center, movie theatre and multi-purpose venue.

For a fun way to enjoy culture, join the pedal-powered party through historic Sanford on a 15-passenger Limo Cycle. Sit a spell in a rocker on the porch overlooking beautiful Lake Dora at The Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora, circa 1883. Enjoy the quiet while sipping iced tea, just as past visitors Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and US Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Calvin Coolidge have done.

Best Pubs To Have Some Irish Fun In Munster

An Brog – An Brog has been attending to fans of alternative and indie music for over 20 years now, and they’ve a constantly evolving roster of Djs and live bands catering to all and every musical taste. And best of all, they are open til 2 in the morning, seven days a week.

Buckley’s Bar – The oak panelled walls and turf fire are the perfect accompaniment to the many musicians who drop in here for the impromptu sessions that seem to be forever going on here. Both bar and hotel have been welcoming visitors since it opened in 1926. And many people either begin their trip around the kingdom there, or base themselves there for its duration.

Buckley’s Bar

Buckley’s Bar

O’Neill’s Bar – O’Neill’s Bar/Mol’s Restaurant is located at the top of the town of Tramore. It’s one of the original family owned and run, bar & restaurants in Tramore. With its long standing tradition in sport it’s no wonder this bar is the main sports bar in the town. Since its renovation in 2015 the bar has gone from strength to strength with now one of the most comfortable and accommodating smoking rooms in the country. Live music every Thursday to Sunday ensures that your visit will be one you won’t forget. They also have atop class restaurant adjacent to the bar which serves excellent cuisine hosting a range of dishes sourced locally with the best Waterford has to offer

Dick Mack’s – Named after the leather craftsman, this small and gloriously “busy” pub still sells hand made leather ware inside at the shop to one side. Its walls are drowned in archaic photographs, and outside there’s at star studded pavement where the likes of Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery and Julia. Roberts have left their mark. For many, many people, this is what they imagine when they conjure up the image of an Irish pub.

Dick Mack’s

Dick Mack’s

Jack Meades (under the bridge) – Set on 5 acres of impeccably kept lawns, this sprawling complex boasts a number of bars. The old world bar it has dates back to 1705, whilst its lime kiln and ice house were built around 1860. But there is also a modem bar, and an extensive beer garden looking down over the gardens and streams. And good quality food is served here throughout the day.

The Bierhaus – There are over 220 different beers to choose from here, including 6 rotating guest draught taps and a cask. So whether you are looking for a bottle or draught, an international or an Irish beer, there’s a reasonably good chance you’ll find it here. And they spend as much time on getting the atmosphere right as they do on choosing their beers.

Dolan’s Pub and Restaurant

Dolan’s Pub and Restaurant

Dolan’s Pub and Restaurant – Dolan’s is made up of three venues, two outdoor areas, a traditional Irish pub and a restaurant. So there’s music here every day of the week, and they’ll serve you your breakfast, lunch and dinner as you re quire. Some of the many guests who’ve enjoyed their hospitality include Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand, Sharon Shannon and Imelda May.

Central Florida – All in A Day

Central Florida is a wonder. Its world-class attractions, hotels, restaurants and year-round warm sunshine continue to beckon millions of visitors. With so much to see and do, this area fascinates both children and adults alike. From the rural, Old Florida feel of Highlands County to the Ocala National Forest and all the magic in between, the Central Florida region summons your exploration.



Getting up before dawn is well worth it when you take in the sights of the theme parks and landscape from a hot-air balloon as the sun rises. Then continue your morning exploring the natural beauty of “Old Florida” as you paddle through the head-waters of the Florida Everglades at The Paddling Center. Historic Downtown Kissimmee is the perfect place for lunch as quaint Kissimmee Main Street offers great dining options, antique shopping and even ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.



Winter Park – Orlando, Florida

Begin with a beverage from Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen on Park Avenue in picturesque Winter Park. Take a Winter Park Scenic Boat tour through lush canals and peaceful lakes. Visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art to view the world’s largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Lunch at East End Market in trendy Audubon Park. Stop to smell the roses at Harry P. Leu Gardens. Enjoy a cocktail at The Woods in downtown Orlando. End with dinner at the French brasserie Dovecote and a performance at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.



Ridge Island Groves

Stop and smell the orange blossoms as you begin a day of citrus delight. Polk County offers delicious options, October through May, as one of the top citrus-producing counties in Florida. Watch citrus candy being made at Davidson of Dundee and pick up some citrus souvenirs in the gift shop. Have lunch at Lang’s Taste of Florida Café—don’t miss the award-winning grapefruit pie. Complete your day with an authentic Florida experience, picking fresh oranges from the tree at Ridge Island Groves.



Citrus Golf Trail

Start with a sunrise walk along Sebring’s boardwalk or cycle through Highlands Hammock State Park. Golf the Citrus Golf Trail featuring Florida’s most affordable courses. Stroll in charming Lake Placid with nearly 50 outdoor murals and small-town shops. Lunch at McLane’s Garden Café in historic downtown Sebring, then browse through “City on a Circle” boutiques and artist galleries. Tour Avon Park’s Maxwell’s Grove House and sample the dairy-free orange ice cream. Finish with dinner at trendy n East Main and a performance at the Alan Jay Wildstein Performing Arts Center.



LEGO LAND Beach, Winter Haven



Discovery Cove, Orlando



Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista



Orlando Premium Outlets



Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park.

Celebrate Okeechobee County

Discover the natural side of Florida in Okeechobee County, home of the second largest freshwater lake in the contiguous United States. A wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts and an area with a diverse event calendar, Okeechobee County is an ideal family getaway.


Come and be part of history as Okeechobee County celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2017. There will be events throughout the year, beginning with the Centennial Kick-Off event on January 21 at the Historic County Courthouse. At least five bus tours during select months are on the agenda as well.


Historic County Courthouse

Okeechobee means “big water” and in these parts of the Sunshine State, it’s the main attraction. Lake Okeechobee’s 730 square miles offer an array of boating and fishing opportunities. Discover the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, a 109-mile multiuse path around the lake. Looking for an exciting ride on the lake? Just call and schedule an airboat tour to experience the lake like never before. And don’t miss the Bassmaster’s Elite Series fishing tournament at the end of February.

While in Okeechobee, make time to shop the quaint boutiques along Park Street and Parrott Avenue to find that special gift for yourself or someone back home.



Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

The Smithsonian is bringing its traveling Waterways exhibit to town December 17 to January 28, 2017, focusing on the relationship between people and water. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is a great place to hike, observe wildlife and even camp for the evening.



Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival

For a tasty treat, try any of the local family-owned and operated restaurants throughout the county. Get your groove on at the Second Annual Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, beginning March 2 at Sunshine Grove. Experience five days of music, yoga, art, swimming and noshing in an idyllic outdoor setting.

Blarney Castle: History, Mistery And Irish Air

Blarney Castle was built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy, and has been attracting visitors to Munster ever since. People come from all over the world to kiss the Blarney Stone, only to leave with miraculous powers of eloquence. The castle that you visit to day is actually the third to have been built there on the site. The first building was erected in Blarney-Castlethe tenth century and was made of wood. Then around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone structure which had the entrance some twenty feet above the ground on the north face.

This building was subsequently demolished, leaving only the foundations. But in 1446, the castle was rebuilt by Dermot Mac Carthy, King of Munster. And it is this, the third castle to be built here, that you can visit today. Over the next 600 hundred years all sorts of illustrious visitors made their way to the famous castle. In the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England sent the Earl of Leicester over to take possession of the castle. But whenever he tried to negotiate with the Munster King, MacCarthy always suggested they discuss it over a sumptuous banquet. What was the Earl to do? It would have been rude not to.

So that when the queen asked him for progress reports, he sent her a senes of long missives in which he carefully avoided answering the key question, and at the end of which, the castle remained in Irish hands. The queen became so irritated that eventually she remarked that the earl’s reports were all ’Blarney’. So it is thanks to Elizabeth that Blarney became synonymous with eloquence, and that so many people flock there today to kiss its stone. The English did eventually succeed in taking the castle, when Cromwell’s General, Lord Broghill blasted his way through the tower walls. But when he got inside, everyone within had somehow disappeared, making their way through the three secret passageways hidden in the caves below the battlements, known as the Badgers Caves. One leads to Cork, one to the lake, and the third, according to legend, goes all the way to Kerry.

At the beginning of the 18th century Sir James St. John Jefferyes built a Georgian gothic house up against the keep of the castle, which was then the custom all over Ireland. At the same time the Jefferyes family bid out a landscape garden known as the Rock Close with a remarkable collection of massive boulders and rocks arranged around what seems to have been druid remains from prehistoric times. Certainly, marry of the yew trees and evergreen oaks there are extremely ancient.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

In 1820 the house was accidentally destroyed by fire, and the wings that remained now form a picturesque adjunct to the keep. These were subsequently rearranged in the 1980s so as to give a better view of the castle’s keep. Blarney Castle is a must for any visitor to Munster. And as you are hanging upside down, kissing its famous stone, think of Elizabeth. Like so many English before and after, she intended taking something away, but ended up enriching the local culture. Albeit unintentionally Opening hours 9am-5.30pm/Sundown,9am-Sundown on Sundays.

Central East Florida Spas

Looking for a new hairstyle? If so, visit the Deidra Marcus Salon and Spa in Stuart, where an impressive list of hair services includes straightening and extensions, Japanese “thermal reconstruction,” and Brazilian keratin treatments. Another spa choice in Stuart is the Spa Essence Retreat. Enjoy all this establishment has to offer with a relaxing go-minute Swedish massage, foot treatment, pore-perfecting facial and scalp massage.


The Relaxation Room at Spa Essence Retreat

A local’s favorite in Vero Beach is White Orchid on Ocean Drive, which features traditional services plus medi-spa procedures, including acupuncture for pain management and sleep-disorder treatments. At Vero Beach’s Royal Day Spa, opt for the nail and skin services, as well as more complex treatments like microdermabrasion and glycolic peels.


White Orchid Spa -Vero Beach, Florida

Embrace your Zen at the glitzy ocean front Costa d’Este in Vero Beach. A winner of the World Luxury Spa Award in 2016, The Spa at Costa d’Este offers gentlemen’s services, body treatments and facials. Beachgoers love the Sun Rescue Body Wrap.


Costa d’Este Spa in Vero Beach, FL

The Spa at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort not only gives patrons a reason to visit this ocean side family favorite hotel, but also rejuvenates them after a busy vacation or stressful workweek. Let go of your cares and woes with a Vichy Shower Treatment followed by a Tropical Shower Scrub. Be sure to inquire about the Tween Package, designed exclusively for teenagers.

The Daytona Beach Wellness Center specializes in skin care and a smorgasbord of massages, including bamboo, hot stone, reflexology, deep tissue, prenatal and neuromuscular. Daytona’s Ocean Water Spa at the Plaza Resort & Spa is another pampering option where the staff invites you into their oasis to revitalize and renew yourself.


Daytona’s Ocean Water Spa

From the enticing smells of the spa products to relaxing in the Utopia Room, leave your cares at the door and enjoy a break from everyday life. Full make-up application, airbrush foundation and hair styling are also offered. Daytona Beach brides should definitely check out this spa. Do not miss their eucalyptus steam room and hydrotherapy tubs.

In Ormond Beach, de-stress at the Amazing You Day Spa, where treatments range from acne to anti-aging facials and eyelash extensions. Like them on Facebook and save US$5.


Central East Florida Shopping

The adorable town of Stuart is ideal for browsing boutiques and dining. From beach-themed to upscale kitchen shops, it is a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike. You’re sure to find clothing, shoes, jewelry and handmade arts and crafts.

When it comes to shopping in Central East Florida, Vero Beach is the creme de la creme. Ritzy boutiques on Ocean Drive are filled with items to make you ooh and aah. Nearby Miracle Mile features shopping venues such as Bark Avenue (goodies for your pet), Chico’s and Cottonways, The Vero Beach Book Store is one of the best independent bookstores in the state, due to its jam-packed calendar full of best-selling author signings and presentations.


At Bark Avenue you can find anything for your pet

Florida is renowned for outlet shopping and one of the best is in Vero Beach. Conveniently located at exit 147 off 1-95, the Vero Beach Outlets showcases 6o designer and brand-name shops, including Williams Sonoma, Coach, Banana Republic and an expanded Restoration Hardware.

Avenue Viera, on the outskirts of Melbourne, is a pleasant outdoor shopping mall flanked with specialty restaurants, shops and a huge Carmike Cinemas movie theater on palm tree-lined sidewalks. Visit all the chain store biggies such as Kohl’s, Cost Plus World Market and Books A Million, Historic downtown Melbourne’s main street, East New Haven, is three blocks of fun packed with international eye-catching delights, boutiques, consignment shops and antique stores. Better yet, most are dog-friendly.


The Avenue Viera- Market Center

Looking for a unique shopping experience? Cocoa Beach’s historic tree-lined Cocoa Village is home to one-of-a-kind shops, souvenirs and other points of interest. In this surfers’ paradise, be sure to check out the Ron Jon Surf Shop, a Cocoa Beach land mark and the largest surfing shop in the world.

New Smyrna Beach offers exceptional shopping and art galleries along both Flagler Avenue and Canal Street. The route stretches from the river to the ocean and is a wonderful reminder of old-school Florida. Note the Flagler Walk of Fame, made up of 9 engraved bricks along the sidewalk.

Daytona Beach’s famous Boardwalk is lined with funky shops while the historic downtown offers a bounty of distinctive g boutiques and restaurants. And, bargain ; hunters will be thrilled with the new Tanger Outlets, which just opened in November 2016.


Tanger Outlets – Florida

Welcome To Munster

Munster is the roost southerly of the four provinces of Ireland and stretches from Tipperary in the South Midlands to Waterford in the South East, and from Clare, Limerick and Kerry down to Cork in the South The entire area is famed for Irish traditional music, song and dance. There are many ancient castles and monasteries in the province, and coupled with the vast green countryside and its three cities (Limerick, Cork and Waterford) Munster is a must see destination for tourists.


Limerick, Ireland

Bunratty Castle in bounty Clan is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425 it was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour and now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furni shings, tapestries, and works of art which capture the mood of those times. Travelling down the coast, Limerick is the next port of call which this year has been designated as Ireland’s first City of Culture. From theatres to outdoor music events, museums to festivals, Limerick has an eclectic mix of sights and sounds to suit all tastes. County Limerick also incorporates the Foynes Estuary with its world famous Foynes Flying Boat Museum. The museum tells the story of the Pan Am Clipper aircraft which brought commercial flights from America to our shores, landing in the estuary itself. It includes the only full- scale model of a Boeing B-314 Flying Boat anywhere in the world.

The Rose of Tralee is the most famous Festival in Kerry and this internationally acclaimed festival comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a truly hi sh experience. The festival celebrates its 55th year this year and commences with the International Rose Ball on the 15th of August before culminating with the selection of the 2014 Rose of Tralee in the magnificent dome four days later. There is a packed pregramme of events during the week for all to enjoy. One of Munster’s most famous landmarks the Rock of Cashel, in County Tipperary is the historical seat of the Kings of Munster. The outcrop on which the Castle and grounds stand is one of the most photogenic spots in all of Munster. The spectacular group of medieval buildings are set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale and include the 12th century round tower, the High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, the 13th century Gothic cathedral, the 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

County Cork is well worth the drive as it has sandy benches, the wonderful Blarney Castle, Foto Wildlife Park and golfcourse, wonderful coastlines and a city nightlife to rival any of that in Europe. Travel from east to west or north to south in this sprawling county and there is a view, an historical point of interest or an adventure to explore. Finally at the extreme South East of the island of Ireland is Waterford is the capital of the “Sunny South East of Ireland’ and Ireland’s oldest city.

The city and county is famous throughout the world as the home of Waterford Crystal. A visit to die House of Crystal visitor centre includes an opportunity to choose from the world’s largest selection of Waterford Crystal. The factory tour offers first hand access to all areas of traditional crystal production. County Waterford offers a dazzling 147 kilometres coastline, with 49 beaches, beautiful river valleys, lakes and two dramatic ranges of very accessible mountains.

Central East Florida Road Trips

Located in Volusia County’s Port Orange, Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens combines a history, nature and garden visit all rolled into one. The historic remains of the sugar cane refinery, leftover from the ‘Boos, is adorned with kitschy dinosaur statues throughout the park, ensuring fun for the entire family. The gardens are visually appealing, which is why many choose this site for marriage ceremonies. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Donations are accepted.

dunlawton-sugar mill-gardens

Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens

Take a trip to the Stetson Mansion in DeLand. This gorgeous Victorian mansion was the winter home of the famous milliner John B. Stetson and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tour this spectacular home and note the intricate parquet floors and more than 10,000 sparkling lead-glass windowpanes.


Stetson Mansion

Visit Titusville and explore the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, which displays a collection of aircraft carriers and artifacts of all types from around the world, from pre-World War I to the present.

A road trip for conservationists must definitely include the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, a 20-mile stretch between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso. Best known for sea turtle conservation, this area is a natural habitat for 25 to 35 percent of all loggerhead and green sea turtle nests in the United States. It’s also a nesting area for leather back turtles, a very rare kind of sea turtle.


Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge

Explore The Beauty Of Leinster

The Old Jameson Distillery – The Old Jameson Distillery has temporarily closed its doors until March 2017 for A new makeover and It promises to he nothing short of spectacular upon reopening so watch this space. Its business as usual at the Jameson Experience in Cork.

Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin – If you really want to get to know a city, then walking around with an informed, entertaining, professional guide is often the best way to discover its history, charms and hidden treasures. Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin have been offering their famous tours for over a decade and they cover many aspects of the city both with scheduled and private tour programmes. The scheduled walks are provided all year round with two or three times daily departures from March on wards.


Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin

Special event tours include St Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Festival, James Joyces Bloomsday and the Bram Stoker Festival among others. Private tours geared to the topic of your own choice can be arranged for any time. Subject to availability, tours can be provided in the main European languages. In this centenary year of the Easter Pising of 1916 there are exciting tours dedicated to this momentous event, a pivotal episode in Irish history which eventually led to Irish Independence in 1922 after 750 years of British rule.

The War Memorial Gardens – When you are visiting IMMA in Kilmainham, you should walk on over to Island bridge about half a kilometer further on. The gardens there are dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldier s who di ed in the 1st World War. The names of all the soldiers are contained in the beautifully illustrated Harry Clarke manuscripts in the granite bookrooms in the gardens. Not merely a place of remembrance, they are also of great architectural interest and beauty. They are one of only four gardens in this country designed by the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944). The others being Heywood Gardens, Lambay Island and those in Howth Castle. The sunken rose gardens, herbaceous borders and extensive tree planting on view here make it well worth that extra bit of a walk.

Howth Castle

Howth Castle

Get the ‘Royal’ treatment this Christmas at Walsh Whiskey Distillery – Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak produces premium, triple-distilled, craft, Irish whiskeys – The Irishman and Writers’ Tears-available in 40 countries worldwide. The distillery is open for tours. Located in County Carlow, just 20 minutes from Kilkenny City and 1 hour from Dublin, it is unique in bring able to produce all three styles of Irish whiskey – pot still, malt and grain – in one still house Visitors can savour a taste of The Irishman Founder’s Reserve whiskey in our relaxing lounge while enjoying panoramic views of the estate including Holloden House (1755). Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak… where hope and history rhyme this Christmas.