Florida More than Just a Spring Break Destination

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Florida is one of the most-visited states in the USA, and it’s easy enough to see why. The state offers a wealth of delightful experiences, from huge theme parks to sandy beaches so beautiful you’ll never want to leave. We particularly loved our visit to Destin when our daughter was about six months old and our trek to Key West years before.

However, Florida is also a state that you have to negotiate carefully when booking a trip. If you get it right, your vacation memories will last a lifetime. But if you get wrong, you could be in for one of the worst kinds of memorable trips, one with horror stories. 

“Summer” is not necessarily the best time to visit
When most of us are planning a vacation, we plan for the summertime. Students are out of school and the annual summer vacation is something the vast majority of families plan the year around. However, summer is not a particularly great time to visit Florida.

The reason for this is simple: hurricanes. July through to September is generally considered to be the hurricane season, so it’s best to avoid the state during these times. While the chances of getting caught in a massive category 5 storm like Hurricane Irma are low, you could still find yourself vacationing during lower-category hurricanes and tropical storms. These might not be life-threatening but will prevent you from enjoying your vacation to the best of your ability. 

So when should you visit? May or October are considered the best times to visit Florida, so keep this in mind when booking your trip.

There’s more to Florida than Miami and Orlando
Miami and Orlando are the choice destinations for most family visits to the Sunshine State. To an extent, that makes sense— Miami is a vibrant, wonderful city that is hard to overlook, and Orlando is the home of Disney World. However, there’s more to Florida than these two cities.

If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, then it’s worth considering a change of destination. Spend a couple of nights at a hotel in Tallahassee, taking the time to explore the local museums or visit the beautiful St. Mark’s Lighthouse during the day. Alternatively, head further north for a stay at the Jacksonville Marriott, giving you the opportunity to visit the wonderful Museum of Science and History. Florida is filled with alternative cities whether you prefer a beach vacation, a museum-centric vacation or a little bit of both!

Be prepared for the humidity
The Sunshine State promises plenty of sunshine, but you also need to be prepared for the humidity. Due to its near-tropical climate, Florida is easily the most humid state in the USA. The humidity can make the air feel much warmer than the actual temperature, and many visitors struggle during the hottest points of the day.

There’s relatively little you can do about the humidity itself, but you can follow these tips for dealing with high humidity to ensure you stay as comfortable as possible.

If you’re looking to book a vacation to Florida soon, keeping the above in mind can help improve your holiday, and ensure you and your family have an experience you’ll remember for all the right reasons!

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Make the most of your vacation

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Vacations are few and far between, so you don’t want to waste one when you get the chance. There is nothing like taking time away from the office and seeing the world. Not only does it broaden your horizons, but it also de-stresses you and can force you to relax. Below are a few tips to help make sure you set your vacation up for success. 

Pack Everything You NeedLots of people use the “we’ll get it when you get there” policy and it backfires. Yes, it is a good way to save space and time, but only if you get to your destination early. No one wants to find themselves in a position where they have to wait hours before they can start to enjoy their vacation. With that in mind, pack everything from battery chargers to your favorite water bottle. Consider looking into glass bottle supplies. Glass also doesn’t affect the taste. Whatever you need for your vacation, take it with you to make the transition easier.

Pick A Different Place Each YearIt goes without saying that Hawaii, New York and New Orleans are two unbelievable holiday destinations. However, if you go there every year, at least try to go at different times of the year. But also don’t be afraid to try a new location. Changing up where you go is also a great way to discover some of the best vacation destinations on the planet. A vacation should be about experiencing new environments and cultures, and you can’t do that in the same location.

 

Go More Than Once: Most Americans bank their vacation days and spend them all at once. You might find taking smaller mini vacations can save you time and money versus taking a longer vacation. A mini vacation doesn’t have to be an exotic, expensive retreat. It can be as simple as vacationing in the same country state or even your neighboring town.

Open Your MindUndoubtedly everything will seem different when you travel. It is part and parcel of leaving your comfort zone. The trick is not to see it as a problem, but to see it as an opportunity. Sure, the food might not be the same and the customs different, but that is a good thing. Dive in head first and enjoy everything that comes your way. 

New Orleans Musts

I’ve loved New Orleans since I first visited and ate a mile high ice cream pie (I was 10!) at the now-closed Ponchartrain Hotel’s Caribbean Room and saw the lavish Mardi Gras costumes at the museum. Every time I’ve visited since then, I’ve fallen more and more in love with the city. My list of must see and must do will always have additions with each trip, but here’s the start.

Best place to stay
The iconic and oft-photographed Royal Sonesta is right on Bourbon Street even being right on the street, the hotel is surprisingly quiet though a pair of ear plugs wouldn’t hurt.

Royal Sonesta

Provides an excellent view of any second lines.
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Some of my most favorite places to eat are:

  • Acme Oyster House, known for fresh, hand-shucked Louisiana oysters. We love the gumbo, raw oysters and the waitress-recommended chargrilled oysters.
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  • Langlois Culinary Crossroads a next-generation New Orleans dining experience, offering hands-on Cajun and Creole cooking classes.
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  • The popular historic Cafe DuMonde, while you’re there be sure to check out the French Market.
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  • Cafe Beignet actually has the BEST beignets in the entire city if you ask me. img_0092
  • Jazz Brunch Buffet at the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant
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  • Commander’s Palace, known as much for their white glove service of all patrons as for their food. The restaurant has their own cookbook and shares many of their signature dishes on their website. You must try the turtle soup.
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  • GW Fins, on Bienville Street a lavish, delightful, perfect dinner. The lobster dumplings are one of the top appetizers in New Orleans, so much that Chef Matt at Langlois highly recommended them. They are some of the best dumplings, but the crab pot stickers were even better. The French 75 was one of the best drinks we had the entire trip.
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  • Also good are the crab cakes and alligator sausage at Oceana Grill.
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  • The menu at Bayona is fantastic and the daily specials worth trying.

Places to see/visit/do:

New York City Musts

I loved NYC before Sex & the City and well before Gossip Girl. My love for the city started in middle school. I was exceptionally lucky to visit my father’s dear friend and surrogate uncle there once or twice a year. I did all of my school clothes shopping in the city and even spent the 1999 New Years Eve in Times Square with my family and best friend. New York is a city like no other. If you visit, I highly recommend the following:

Some of my most favorite places to eat are:

  • Russ and Daughters (179 E Houston St  New York, NY 10002) THE place to get bagels and lox.
    Russ & Daughters NYC Russ & Daughters
  • Gray’s Papaya for a hot dog (2090 Broadway New York) There are TONS of locations and all of them are good.
    Gray's Papaya
  • Another NYC institution is the famous Katz’s Delicatessen on East Houston Street.

    Katz's Delicatessen pastrami

  • One of my most favorite places to eat in the entire city is Union Square Cafe. It where I first had tuna tartare and beef carpaccio. Amazing!
  • The Jordan Lobster Farms (1 Pettit Pl, Island Park, NY 11558) in Island Park is really good
    Jordan Lobster Farm
    Jordan Lobster Farm Menu

There are often other places I love like Prosperity Dumplings (now closed) and Izakaya Ten (also now closed), but like lots of great things in NYC change happens. I always like finding new places every time we visit.

Places to see/visit

  • The High Line (West 29th Street near 10th Ave)  This is getting more and more built up and it’s amazing. I had some of the best street popsicles I’ve ever had there.
    NYC The High Line
  • Museum of Natural History (81st Street and Central Park West)
  • The NYC Public Library. I’m a sucker for Old Winnie the Pooh and the originals are there!
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  • No trip to NYC is complete without a walk through Times Square (it’s super overwhelming regardless of time or day)
  • The Post Office by Penn Station is a great place to sit and people watch for a bit.
  • The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a lot of fun and worth the price of admission. (J and I trade museums. I like art and history and he likes military and history so it works out = )
  • Of course the Shopping in SOHO is amazing.
If you’re looking for a day trip, I cannot recommend Fire Island enough. It was pretty heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but they’ve done a lot of rebuilding. It’s one of my favorite places in the continental United States. While there the fish tacos at Castaway are really good. There’s a pasta place Dinner at Michael’s Ristorante & Pizzeria which has delicious Spaghetti Militare.
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Have fun!

Top 5 reasons to consider traveling to Finland

Finland - Pixabay
Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,
what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article
written specifically for our readers.

When choosing somewhere to travel to in Europe, Finland isn’t usually at the top of most people’s travel bucket lists. But there is so much to see and do that it is actually a fantastic holiday destination. Here are our top 5 reasons to consider traveling to Finland any time of year!

  1. It’s a great place to see the Northern Lights
    One of the most surprising reasons why Finland is a fantastic holiday destination is it’s a great place to see the Northern Lights. A lot of people head to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, but Finland has some of the best in the world. You can see them 200 nights a year, so you will get a good chance of seeing them if you do go to Finland. You can often go on boat trips which will enable you to see a fantastic view of the Northern Lights. It’s unforgettable if you do see them, and you will have some amazing photos you can keep.
  2. It’s fantastic all-year-round
    Another surprising reason why Finland is a great holiday destination is that its ideal year  round. A lot of people head for winter holidays in Finland as there is so much to do during these months including winter sports. But you can also have an enjoyable time if you visit the country in summer. They have great festivals in the summer months, and the coastal towns come alive. They have parties on the beach, and the sun stays up till late in Finland so you can really party all night!
  3. It’s home to Lapland
    Another surprising reason why people love to visit Finland is that it’s home to Lapland. Whether you have kids or not, Lapland is a magical experience that you will never forget. As well as being able to see Santa and the reindeers, you can go on a snowmobile safari, and even go for a great sauna experience. There is also a great snow village where you can stay for a unique experience. Here are more attractions you can visit while in Lapland.
  4. It’s full of history
    You should also consider visiting Finland as a holiday destination as there is so much history to look at. A lot of people head to Suomenlinna, which is an inhabited sea fortress in Helsinki. It’s a great day out as there are several museums and tourists visit for a picnic in the fortress ruins. Others also go to Seurasaari which is an open-air museum, and also take the time to visit Uspenski Cathedral!
  5. It’s great for skiing
    Another surprising reason why Finland is a fantastic holiday destination is it’s ideal for skiing. There are several ski resorts which tend to be busy from October to March. As this feature reveals, Ylläs is home to the largest ski resort in Finland with 63 slopes and 330km of tracks!

Check out some other about some other European destinations you should consider for a holiday!