Wednesday, March 25, 2015

At-Home Vacation in South Florida (tips from a local, here!)

A visitor to my blog thought it would be interesting to know my perspective on the place I call home.  (That's the West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida area).  She made a point that super touristy can be fun, but they're often expensive, overcrowded and don't always paint a true picture of what a place is like.

I wondered for a moment if she was a mind reader. My husband and I take either Saturday or Sunday each weekend as a vacation day. We pretend we're tourists in our own neck of the woods. It's also one day we set aside all our cares... that is just for us. So, what have we done for our at-home vacation days?

Everglades Air Boat ride!  See various species of birds and alligators!  It's a short side trip rather than a day's adventure. So this activity can be fit in with other vacation day fun.  There are many air boat operators to choose from.

Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi!  This is an inexpensive, entertaining, eye-popping way to visit the Fort Lauderdale sites.  You can hop on and hop off as you please. During our first water taxi experience, we stayed mostly on the water taxi.  The stories were just too good. A water taxi employee narrates as you go about various sites along the intracoastal waterway, which yacht is whose (Steven Spielberg's was docked one time we went) and the history of some of the homes (and lists a who's who of its inhabitants).  This is also a fun way to see some pretty holiday lights on the mansions and yachts.

Not Steven Spielberg's. Just so pretty.

Fort Lauderdale's White House

Nature walks!  We love Green Cay in Boynton Beach, FL and Wakodahatchee in Delray Beach, FL  These are free and offer an incredible variety of plants, marine life, birds, mammals and insects. Another we enjoy is Okeeheelee in West Palm Beach.  Remember a hat, sunblock, sunglasses, water, camera and binoculars.

Japanese Gardens! One of our favorite spots for tranquility and beauty and some wildlife is Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Eat sushi there, too. The gardens flow from one theme to another. Don't miss out on feeding the enormous fish and turtles. (I always root for the turtles). You can buy food for a minimal fee at the hutch near the Bonsai Collection.  Water is provided (free) at strategic points throughout the gardens and restrooms are available at the entry and then half way through the gardens.  It has never been crowded when we visited. But you may want to check if there is a special event planned on the day you wish to. We attended the Lantern Festival a few years ago. It was beautiful. But it has become very popular. So, if you plan to attend purchase tickets real early.

Lantern Festival on a stormy night

Sushi! Our favorite place for sushi (perhaps in all our travels) is Yakitori Sake House. It is a little pricier than some sushi places in the area. But, we think it's worth it. And, we signed up for emails and receive coupons often. They offer unique and delicious sushi rolls (my favorite is Tokyo Sun) and their shrimp and lobster wonton soup, Four Seasons Roll and Mongolian Beef are other items we order over and over again.   The restaurant has indoor and outdoor (covered) seating. We have yet to sit inside. The service is impeccable.  After our meal, we enjoy walking around the Royal Palm Plaza. Quite a few shops, bars and galleries.

Other at-home vacation activities that we've enjoyed: Mini Golf in Delray Beach, FL (, Pottery Painting in Boca Raton, FL (, Vizcaya in Miami (, kayaking on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, FL and McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary in West Palm Beach, FL (by appointment only) (

McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary

Kennedy Space Center is a good option for a day when we want to venture out from home a bit longer. For weekend trips, we choose St. Augustine, Florida (the oldest European continuously-occupied settlement in the U.S.) and Key Largo (instead of the farther and busier Key West). 

What do you enjoy for your at-home vacations? Share with others who may visit your town.

And on that note, there was an app introduced to me the other day called Uber (  Seems like it could be handy when in someone else's neck of the woods. According to the website, by seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through their apps, they make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.  Here's a promo code for $25 off your first ride in the US in case you want to give it a try  Might've come in handy when visiting South America recently (but those adventures are for a future post!)

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