Happy New Year! My 2019 Bucket List

Lifestyle

Happy New Year! My 2019 Bucket List

Happy New Year!

2019 Bucket List, Bonnibelle Chukwuneta of Belle In The Burg

Hoping everyone’s had an amazing first seven days of 2019!

I never get tired of the fresh new feeling that comes with the new year. I’m a believer in any day being a good day to embark on a new path or do new things, but January always feels like a brand new slate. Usually, I make new year’s resolutions and do pretty well to keep to them. This year, though, I opted to do something slightly different: a 2019 bucket list.

2018 was a fun and adventurous year for me both personally and professionally. I had amazing highs and some terrible lows, but all of them provided life lessons that I needed to learn before moving onto the next phase. I’m a firm believer in one needing to get out of their comfort zone to grow, and I did just that last year.

With that in mind, the goal for 2019 is to continue doing things that are new or challenging to me and lead a life of discovery and cultural exploration.

Here’s my 2019 bucket list!

2019 Bucket List

Ride the Cross-Bay Ferry

The Cross-Bay Ferry is an initiative that provides service options for residents and businesses in the Tampa Bay region. It shuttles between the Vinoy Basin in downtown St. Petersburg and the Florida Aquarium Wharf in the Channel District of downtown Tampa. I look forward to experiencing it as it’s a unique way to score scenic views of the bay. The Channel District is an awesome part of Tampa to stay for a day-trip.

2019 Bucket List, Belle In The Burg
Tampa Bay Cross-Bay Ferry. Photo courtesy of The Cross-Bay Ferry.

Take up paddleboarding. Again.

Paddleboarding was actually the first sport I learned when I first moved to The Burg. It’s fun, challenging, and an excellent workout. One day, my instructor and I thought it would be a good idea for me to use his board. I’m 5’11 and he’s maybe 5’7, so you can imagine how goofy I looked on his shortboard. I fell unsurprisingly, lost my prescription sunglasses (RIP), drank half of Tampa Bay, and subsequently took up kayaking instead. I’m over it now and would love to give it another go.

2019 Bucket List, Belle In The Burg

Visit Museums in St. Pete

St. Pete is like the fine art and culture hub of the Tampa Bay region, so it’s embarrassing for me to say that I’ve never visited a museum after living here for three years. Visiting museums is definitely on the top of my to-do list this year and something I should be doing more often. The Burg is home to numerous museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Collection, and the Dali Museum, which houses the largest body of Salvador Dali’s art outside of Spain.

2019 Bucket List, Belle In The Burg
Chihuly Collection in downtown St. Petersburg.

Fish Off of a Charter Boat

My other half taught me how to fish and we do so regularly now. I’ve weirdly come to fall in love with the “scream” my reel makes when I have a fish on the other end. It gets my adrenaline going and is slightly addictive. There’s also something about catching your own food, preparing it, and eating it fresh that day.

Most of my fishing has been done inshore or in kayaks and I’m usually catching mangrove snapper, snook, or spotted trout, all of which are fun fighters and excellent to eat. I’d love to go on a fishing trip and travel miles into the gulf to catch different species like hogfish and grunts.

2019 Bucket List, Belle In The Burg
Hubbard’s Marina Charter Boat.

Run a 5K

Running a 5K has been on my to-do list for quite some time. I began using the C25K (Couch to 5K) app two years ago with every intention of running a race shortly after that. It’s made me a fairly consistent runner and I attribute most of my weight loss and other health improvements since then to running. However, I never really felt confident enough to race just yet. 2019 is the year I’m making this dream a reality. Now that I’ve led and maintained an active lifestyle for some time, I feel more prepared than ever.

Organize My Life

This is more of an ongoing goal than bucket list item. I’m the ultimate procrastinator and I’m so over it. Getting organized was one of my goals last year. While strides have been made in the right direction, I still have plenty of room for improvement.

I recently went on vacation and packed the night before; usually, I pack a couple hours before I leave. I did laundry early, made a checklist, and laid everything out before arranging everything in my suitcase. It was the smoothest beginning of a trip ever. Stress-free. Nothing forgotten. Organized people have been onto something.

I plan on using planners, making to-do lists, and sticking to schedules to make my life that much saner.

2019 Bucket List, Belle In The Burg

Discover the Caribbean.

I’m long overdue for a visit to the Caribbean, especially considering that flights are cheaper and shorter from this part of the country. Breathtaking beaches, exotic food, and lively festivals call travelers from all parts of the world. I’m always up for an adventure and look forward to diving and exploring reefs and the likes myself. However, gaining some insight and enlightenment is what I look forward to most, and the best way to gain insight is by traveling, spending time with the locals, and immersing myself in their culture. Haiti and Jamaica are on the top of my list, though there’s no island I wouldn’t visit.

2019 Bucket List, Belle In The Burg
Photo by The Jamaican Tourist Board.

I’m looking forward to the new year and all that it may bring. Even though we make grandiose plans come January, the truth is that it’s just another day like every other day and any day is a good day to make new plans and improvements. Here’s to an awesome 2019!

Looking to immerse yourself in some local culture? Here’s my guide to St. Pete’s Saturday Morning Market!

Have some fitness-related goals? Check out my post on how to stick to your fitness resolutions!

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Saturday Morning Market – A Local Tourist’s Guide

Out & About Recommended

Saturday Morning Market – A Local Tourist’s Guide

St. Pete’s Saturday Morning Market is an event you can’t miss as it’s one of the best experiences one can have in the area in my opinion. The market is a display of local culture at its finest and has a mission of being the heart of The Burg. It’s exactly that and more. You won’t find another weekly event where locals and visitors meet and create such a great sense of community.

Saturday Morning Market – Authentically St. Pete

The Saturday Morning Market first opened in November 2002 and has since become a staple of the community. Nearly 200 vendors set up in the Al Lang Parking Lot in downtown St. Pete near the waterfront. The market attracts a whopping 10,000 visitors every Saturday, open from 9am until 2pm and running October through May. The Saturday Morning Market moves to shady William Park and hosts a smaller market between June and August.

Taste of Ethiopia selling Ethiopian food at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.

Market-goers can find high-quality produce and purchase them directly from local growers. A number of artisans sell breads, pastries, cakes, and other baked goods, all made from scratch. Food vendors offer a variety of cuisines including Ethiopian, Indian, Cuban, French, Belgian, Italian, Mexican, and several more. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options can be found too. The market also boasts of an array of unique crafts handmade by local artists and designers including clothing, fabrics, handbags, paintings, handmade soaps and candles, and more.

How to Get There

As aforementioned, the Saturday Morning Market is in the heart of Downtown St. Pete, located in the parking lot of the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Al Lang Stadium.


If you’re in the downtown area, then getting there should be a breeze as it’s most likely walking distance or a quick drive. Keep in mind though that the market has a lot and you may be left hauling back several bags if you lose self-control as I do sometimes. Just something to consider.

Where to Park

My favorite place to park is in the South Core Garage on 1st Ave S between 1st Street and 2nd Steet. While there are street parking options, remember that 10,000 people flock the market every Saturday. Downtown is a popular spot especially on weekends, so parking will be hard to find as is. Plus, it’s best to leave parking on streets like Beach Drive and Central Avenue for the patrons going to the establishments in those areas.

I’ve had no problem parking in the garage and going straight to the top level, the 8th floor. It’s out of the way, which I like, and there’s always parking next to the elevator or stairs for easy access. The South Core Garage is $3 for all-day parking on Saturdays, though it may change if there’s another large event ongoing. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.

Saturday Morning Market near Al Lang Stadium in Downtown St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.
A view of the Saturday Morning Market from the top of the parking structure.

Other options include:

Sundial Parking Garage – A large parking structure located by the Sundial. It’s located on 2nd Street N between 1st and 2nd Avenue, which is just two blocks north of the market. Parking is $1 for the first four hours on weekends.

Al Lang Parking – 50 spaces are available in the eastern side of the Al Lang Parking Lot. Parking is $5 here.

Tips on What to Bring and Wear

Check the weather before you leave and dress accordingly.

The Saturday Morning Market runs through three seasons with distinct climates of their own, although it’s always wise to factor in unpredictability. In early fall and late spring, you can count on it being on the warm side, so lighter clothes, a good SPF 30 sunscreen, sunglasses, and even a sunhat are recommended. During the cooler months, wear pants or bring a light jacket to stay warm. This is Florida, so always have an umbrella on standby.

Wear comfortable shoes.

The market covers a large area and you’re bound to do some walking from where you parked or originated, so wearing comfortable shoes is pretty much mandatory if you love yourself. I normally pair my running shoes with whatever I’m wearing and call it a day. 

Bring or get a reusable bag.

St. Pete is all about sustainability and being eco-friendly. While vendors will give you plastic bags if you don’t have one, it’s not the preferred method. I recently forgot my bag in my car and of course that was the day I bought everything. I got glares and an old lady cautioned me before giving me her last one. Spare yourself and bring some bags of your own. The environment will love you for it. As well as the old lady.

Exploring at the Saturday Morning Market

Live Entertainment

The Saturday Morning Market has so much to see, do, and, most importantly, eat. Upon arriving, you’re immediately greeted with the friendly bustle and banter of visitors as well as the entertainment. There’s a different act performing every weekend on the Main Stage, ranging from jump and swing bands to Motown and soul groups. And then there’s the homie, insert name here, belting all kinds of hits by the organic vendors.

Smooth Bryan Bassett playing music at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.

Food Vendors & Produce

The market’s an excellent place to get fresh produce. We have access to local farms selling ripe fruits, vegetables, herbs, and more with two of them being organic. Not only do they have an abundance of fruits and veggies, but you’ll even find some rare produce that’s not commonly found in stores.

Little Pond Farm of Bushnell (just outside of Tallahassee) grows holy basil, which I love. I love making Thai recipes and always had to settle for more common basil variants. This is delicious. Less of an herb flavor and more of a peppery one, quite unlike sweet Thai basil we commonly see in Asian markets and restaurants. Definitely give this (and them) a try.

Organic meat at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.

This stand is a favorite and one of my first stops at the market. I bought organic chicken breast here and whoa! It had a different texture and fresher taste, and it was beyond juicy. He also sells steaks, as well as turkeys and lamb during the holidays.

Fresh produce at the Saturday Morning Market at St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.

Locally Made Goods & Crafts

St. Pete has a unique and colorful vibe, so you can only imagine that that’s conveyed through its local artists and designers as well.

IJM Industrial designs at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.
Awesome handmade crafts from IJM Industrial Design.
Local artwork at Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL.
Cool painting of Bodega.

St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market
102 1st St. S
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
October – May

Exploring St. Pete? Check out my posts on Sunken Gardens and Weedon Island!

Sunken Gardens – St. Pete’s Tropical Oasis

Out & About

Sunken Gardens – St. Pete’s Tropical Oasis

Sunken Gardens is considered a hidden gem by locals and visitors alike, but it’s hardly hidden at all. Situated off of busy 4th Street N with a huge, retro sign on the sidewalk, it’s one of those attractions that’s nearby and driven past all the time, at least by me. Curiosity finally got this fast-paced millennial to slow down, pull over, and explore. I recently had a self-care day and decided to spend it with nature at the historical landmark.

Sunken Gardens – St. Pete’s Oldest Living Museum

Sunken Gardens is a botanical garden located in the heart of St. Pete. George Turner Sr., a plumber and gardening enthusiast, purchased the four-acre property in 1903 and drained a 15-feet deep lake (formerly a sinkhole). He planted exotic fruits and plants from around the world into the rich soil and nurtured the garden, which grew and became visible from the road and attracted paying visitors. Turner’s Sunken Gardens, as it was then known, officially opened in 1935.

Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

The Gardens quickly grew in popularity, becoming one of Florida’s top ten commercial attractions between the 1950s and 1970s. In the 1950s, the botanical garden added exotic wildlife to the Gardens. Turner purchased a former Coca-Cola bottling plant and turned it into The World’s Largest Giftshop in 1967; it has since been restored as the entrance to Sunken Gardens. In 1998, the City of St. Petersburg designated Sunken Gardens as a local historic landmark, purchasing it the following year.

Over one hundred years of growth and restoration and Sunken Gardens is still a must-see in the city of St. Petersburg. Many of the original plants are still in the garden and provide an incredible sense of tranquility just yards away from bustling 4th Street. The exotic wildlife, koi ponds, birds, and waterfalls are magnificent and bring you close to nature, being some of the best features of the attraction.

Koi pond at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete).

Exploring at The Gardens

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day at Sunken Gardens and got a pleasant surprise. Within minutes of entering, the 4th Street noise was pretty much gone. I had to constantly remind myself that there’s a major roadway just feet away. If you blindfolded me and dropped me in Sunken Gardens, I may have guessed that I’m in a South American rainforest. That’s what it feels like.

Bonnibelle of Belle In The Burg at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

The exotic wildlife are an exciting part of Sunken Gardens. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it’s been years since I’ve visited a zoo or an aquarium. It was cool discovering that birds like the Australian kookaburra and cockatoo as well as majestic flamingos and chatty parrots are part of this unique experience. The cockatoo seemed to be a playful one.


One of my favorite features of the attraction is the growing stone. The growing stone is a limestone rock from the original sinkhole lake. Legend has it that anyone who sits upon the stone “shall be granted tranquility, inner harmony, and the talent to make things grow.” Best believe I sat on that rock for a good minute and did some meditating. I can use more tranquility. And talent.

Growing stone at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)
The growing stone
Bonnibelle of Belle In The Burg sitting on the growing stone at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete).
St. Pete sun keeping me bronze as I soak in some tranquility

Plan a Visit to Sunken Gardens

Spending a day at Sunken Gardens is relaxing fun and I recommend it for locals and tourists alike. As a local, it’s a good way to get away from the city, slow down, and do something new or different. As for tourists, it’s a unique way to take in some of the city’s history and culture without the crowds and noise that may come with other attractions. Whichever one you fall under, your Sunken Gardens experience will be a memorable one.

Chilean Flamingoes at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete).
Sunken Gardens’ famous Chilean Flamingoes

Sunken Gardens is open 10am4:30pm Monday through Saturday and Noon – 4:30pm Sunday throughout the year. Though you can visit any season, visiting when it’s not 95 degrees with maximum mugginess is ideal of course. Be sure to carry water and lather up with sunscreen and bug spray before entering just in case.

Adult admission to Sunken Gardens is $10 at the door, though you can get them on Groupon at 2 for $12.50. Senior admission is $8 and admission for children ages 2-11 is $4. Parking at Sunken Gardens is free.

Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

Sunken Gardens
1825 4th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33704

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Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL | Things to do in St. Pete | St. Pete Attractions | Tampa Bay Attractions | Things to do in Tampa Bay
Daytona Beach Shores: My Oceanfront Getaway

Travel

Daytona Beach Shores: My Oceanfront Getaway

Weekend Getaway: Daytona Beach Shores

Over the summer, bf and I headed east for some time away from workplace stress. Where to? Daytona Beach Shores. It served us up a healthy dose of some much-needed R & R and crashing ocean waves.

Daytona Beach Shores is a small, 5.5-mile long, beach town on a barrier island immediately south of Daytona Beach and roughly 8-minutes from the famous Daytona Beach Boardwalk. It has a touristy vibe yet feels more “local” or residential than its northern neighbor. It’s flanked by water on both sides with the Intracoastal Waterway being on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.

Cozy Oceanfront Getaway: My First AirBnb

We usually stay in hotels whenever we travel, but this time, we opted for an Airbnb that was quaint and provided a gorgeous view of the Atlantic. We stayed in what our host, Francis, describes as a “cozy oceanfront getaway” and it lived up to the name. First of all, it’s actually a hotel room that’s privately owned. A foreign concept to me but cool nonetheless. Our room was also perfectly located at the end of the building and provided easy parking, pool, and beach access.

Now, the room!

Upon entering, you’re immediately greeted with a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. The room was clean and at a cool temperature, and the two Coronas in the fridge were a nice touch. The Queen size bed was comfortable and I loved the fluffy blankets and pillows.

The best part, and where we ended up spending most of our time, was the private balcony. It allowed for some beautiful sunrises, but also made for some fantastic people watching. If only you knew how many cars got stuck in the sand on a daily basis. Absolute comedy.

Me staring out into the distance, pondering my life.

Francis was pretty spectacular and what I’d imagine you’d want from any Airbnb host. He was flexible, accommodating, courteous, and quick to communicate. He also gave us a restaurant recommendation in Crabby Joe’s, which had amazing food and a gorgeous view to match.

My only complaint was the door as it’s on the heavy side. It wasn’t a total pain for me but I can see it being so for some. Would it deter me from booking again? Absolutely not. This may have been my first Airbnb experience, but I hope others are like it. Good host, good room, good view.

Photos from Ponce Inlet

One of the four days we were on the east coast, we took a quick drive south to Ponce Inlet. It’s only 10 minutes from our Airbnb and is known for being an excellent fishing destination. Bf and I packed our fishing rods for this trip and there was a bait shop across the street from the Airbnb, so we were good to go.

I actually caught and released three juvenile mangrove snapper in the first hour with the biggest being just shy of the mandatory 10″ to take home. I know. Pics or it didn’t happen. I was wading in the inlet and way too excited to stop for a photo that day, so no fish pics. Enjoy the view though!

Headed to Daytona? Check out my post on where to eat in Daytona Beach!

New to AirBnb? Get $40 off your first stay!

A Tropical Holiday Season – Christmas in St. Pete

Lifestyle

A Tropical Holiday Season – Christmas in St. Pete

St. Petersburg is a great destination choice for a holiday in paradise and I can literally come up with another blog post of reasons as to why you should visit during this time of year. Some Burgians might say that we don’t exactly have Christmas Christmas down here but that’s not true. If anything, it’s different, but welcome to Florida. What isn’t different?

The Burg is all about keeping it local and having a great sense of community, so you can only imagine the kind of festivities one can find during the holiday season. Even if it’s palm trees and pineapples we’re decorating, there’s plenty of holiday spirit to go around. Here are some things to do during the holiday season in St. Pete.

Things to Do in St. Pete This Holiday Season

Take Christmas Pictures Downtown

Nothing shouts Christmas and holiday season more than Christmas trees and decorations, and Downtown St. Petersburg is the place to find some if you’re in the area. DTSP is decorated with plenty of red, green, and plenty of lights to get you into the holiday mood. There are several locations perfect for a photo op, including North Straub Park, the Sundial, Beach Drive, and more. Make sure to visit at night to experience the holiday decorations to the fullest extent and make the most of the season.

Take a Waterfront Stroll and See the Holiday Lights

Going for a walk or run along the St. Pete waterfront is a good idea any time of year, but especially in December. Al Lang Park, Albert Whitted Park, Pioneer Park, and North and South Straub Parks are lit up and decorated for the holiday season until January 1. You’ll find a display of giant greeting cards at Vinoy Park on Bayshore Drive, crafted by St. Pete teens from the local recreation centers.

Go to the Holiday Night Market

1111 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL

Royal Palm Market is a local market featuring food, live music, craft cocktails, local boutiques, and plenty more. It takes place every Thursday and Friday night from 6 to 10pm this holiday season and makes for a different experience compared to day markets. From organic produce to succulents to locally made treasures like soaps and candles, there’s no shortage of interesting items one can find. Definitely worth checking out with friends or a date.

Check Out the Gulfport Holiday Hoopla

3101 Beach Blvd. S., Gulfport, FL 33707

The Gulfport Holiday Hoopla is a holiday street fair featuring and celebrating over half a mile of food, arts, and crafts from local artisans, craftsmen, and artists. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Gulfport Holiday Hoopla, so count on it being special. There’s a variety of holiday music as well as characters and carolers. You’ll experience true local flare in a gorgeous waterfront atmosphere while shopping for unique gifts for friends and loved ones. Stay late to catch the Boca Ciega Yacht Club’s Annual Lighted Boat Parade.

Watch a Boat Parade

Speaking of boat parades, how awesome does a Christmas boat parade sound? We actually have a number to choose from in the St. Petersburg area, and you can’t go wrong whichever you decide. St. Pete’s boat parade was canceled this year due to ongoing construction of the new pier, but is expected to resume in 2019. Thankfully, there are boat parades on the gulf coast that are equally worth checking out. I recommend going to John’s Pass and catching the Treasure Island Boat Parade from the boardwalk. Drinks and delicious food on the pier while watching what’s often dubbed “Vegas on water”? Sounds good to me.

Holiday Boat Parade – Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Snag a Gift or Two at a Boutique

St. Pete’s all about keeping it local and so am I. Boutiques are an excellent place to get gifts because you often find handcrafted goods you can’t get anywhere else. St. Pete has a plethora of boutiques to choose from. This holiday season marks the opening of Holly’s Holiday Boutique, St. Pete’s first ever pop-up brick-and-mortar holiday boutique. Located on Central Avenue and across the street from Ashe Couture Boutique, expect to find crafts and items like locally made St. Pete apparel and traveler cocktail sets, perfect for the jet-setter in your family.

Holiday Movies at Vinoy Park

Holiday movies are a great way to get into the holiday mood. Watching movies in the park is nothing new, but there’s no better place to do it than at Vinoy Park. Holiday movies in a gorgeous waterfront location and occasional visits from dolphins. Admission is totally free and open to the public. Make sure to bring bug spray just in case.

2018 Holiday Movie Schedule

12/7 – A Christmas Story

12/14 – The Santa Clause

12/21 – Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws

Need a place to stay this holiday season? Here’s a list of places to stay in Downtown St. Pete!

Mermosa Winery & Boutique – Calling All Mermaids

Lifestyle

Mermosa Winery & Boutique – Calling All Mermaids

Friends and family frequently ask about my adoration for beach and coastal living and why I always dreamt of residing in the Bay Area. My answer? “I was a mermaid in my former life”. Thankfully, there’s Mermosa Winery & Boutique, a one-of-a-kind local shop where I can be a mermaid in my present life too.

Mermosa Winery & Boutique

Mermosa Winery & Boutique, formerly known as Cerulean Blu, is a women’s clothing boutique on downtown St. Pete’s iconic Beach Drive. They specialize in curated swimwear and resort-style clothing that are perfect for our weather. Mermosa also offers organic sparkling wines, which are made in Oregon wine country, as well as specialty mer-made creations you can try while you shop.

Mermosa Winery & Boutique Owner and Head Mermaid, Desiree Noisette.

The wine options are Mersecco, a sparkling white wine, as well as Mermosa, which is sparkling white wine with orange and pineapple flavors. Both Mersecco and Mermosa are available in 750 mL bottles as well as 250 mL cans that come in a 4-pack that are great for packing to the beach or enjoying by the pool. Siren Sangria is the newest addition to the winery. It’s a spiced sangria with warm, holiday flavors like apple and cinnamon and is perfect for this time of year.

Mermosa is delish and I love the subtle citrus flavors. It makes for a great, ready-made beverage. I’m loving the crispness of Mersecco though and use it as a base. I’ve added a splash of my favorite juice as well as paired it with strawberries and both variations were mer-mazing.

Shop Like a Mermaid

One of the things Mermosa advertises that I was super interested in was the in-store fitting. I’m 5’11 with long legs and I’ve lost quite a bit of weight recently (down 40 lbs!), so getting measured was more than necessary for me. After taking my measurements, Kaitlen picked out a number of bikinis, tops, pants, and dresses for me to try on. I played dress up for the day while enjoying wine… #Winning.

Mermosa Winery & Boutique promises the ultimate shop and sip (and suit up) experience in paradise and it was just that. Everything I tried on was light and comfortable. The pieces were flowy and as if I wasn’t wearing anything at all. Kaitlen and Desiree were super helpful with their suggestions, often bringing me other items to try on, as well as offering more wine (holla!).

What I liked about Mermosa Winery & Boutique:

1. The wine. This needs no explanation.

2. The music. Ain’t no party like a mermaid party folks. From Fleetwood Mac to Michael Jackson to NSYNC, there’s a tune for everyone to love on the Mermosa playlist and it makes the shopping experience that much more enjoyable.

3. The staff. All of the women were friendly, supportive, and knowledgeable, offering a shopping novice like myself plenty of helpful tips to have me looking and feeling my best.

Make sure to check them out soon! In the meantime, give them a follow on Instagram and Facebook and stay up to date on their weekly events and live music!

Mermosa Winery & Boutique
400 Beach Drive, Suite 161
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
(727) 498-8984

Thankful in St. Pete – My Gratitude List

Lifestyle

Thankful in St. Pete – My Gratitude List

It’s my favorite Monday! The Monday of Thanksgiving week marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in my opinion. I’m ready for turkey and plenty of stuffing, lots of pumpkin pie and Cool Whip, and new memories with family and friends!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it because I don’t go mad. There’s just cooking, baking, and light travel. No rushing to the store before this sale ends or battling deranged customers who were grateful for what they already had just days ago. If you can’t tell, I’m not big on Black Friday.

I turned 30 earlier this year, and one of the things I promised myself was to live more consciously and take time to admire my surroundings. Seldom do I take moments to be still and grateful for what I have. So, this Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to share a gratitude list in hopes of inspiring you to do the same or at least think about what it is you’re grateful for.

My List of Gratitude

I’m Thankful For:

1. My health and the roof over my head. Always.

2. Myself (gotta give me props). My plans for 2018 were ambitious, both personal and professional, but I met several of them. I like that I’m driven and making a conscious effort to keep my eyes on the prize and take each day as they come.

3. My brother Keane, sisters Adrienne and Mackenzie, and the homie Max. They’re super smart and supportive, even from far-away California. You guys rock, and that’s more than an understatement.

4. My mom for bestowing upon me kindness, and my dad for teaching me to be humbled and principled.

5. The bf. He puts up with my stubbornness and chronic disorganization and says he still loves me. I love you too.

6. The friends I have made at work. You’ve all made me a better person in one way or another and have taught me lessons that’ll follow me through life.

7. 2018. Despite what can feel like never-ending negativity in today’s climate, this is the best time to be alive, think big, and make those dreams come true.

8. My imagination. I’ve suppressed it for some time to fit the mold in which I thought I belonged. Learning that life doesn’t have to be that way has been one of the most eye-opening moments for me. I’ve been happier since I’ve let my mind run free and taken actionable steps to attain what I want.

9. My Apple products. I tried to not be vain and put a product or device, but I love my Macbook more every day and my iPhone still takes bomb photos.

10. St. Pete! How can I have a St. Pete Gratitude List without mentioning the Sunshine City itself? Moving here has completely changed my life for the better in more ways than one and for that, it’ll always have a piece of my heart.

World, meet Max!

 

Have a splendid Thanksgiving week!

10 Hotels to Stay in Downtown St. Petersburg

Recommended Travel

10 Hotels to Stay in Downtown St. Petersburg

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Downtown St. Petersburg is a great place to stay for a vacation or staycation. It’s less than 25 minutes from Tampa International Airport and less than 20 minutes from St. Pete – Clearwater International Airport. The downtown area boasts of fresh dining options like 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, local live acts and bands at Jannus Live, and incredible works of art at the Salvador Dali museum.

Finding a hotel to stay in downtown St. Petersburg isn’t a problem as there are a number of varieties. From charming bed and breakfasts and boutique inns to hotels and resorts with a dose of luxury, you’re bound to find a place that’s perfect for what you’re looking for. The good thing about these hotels? They’re all perfectly nestled so that you’re just a few short blocks away from basically everything.

If you’re planning a trip to the Burg, here are 10 downtown hotels you’re sure to love.

Where to Stay in DTSP

The Hollander Hotel

The Hollander Hotel is a boutique hotel that has quickly become a favorite for visitors and locals alike. They provide rooms carefully designed to create a relaxing atmosphere, with both Queen and King size beds available. On-site food and drink options include the Tap Room Bar & Grill Restaurant, the Common Grounds coffee shop, and HH2O, a full liquor bar by the pool offering yummy eats, craft beers, and tropical cocktails. Need to unwind? Then check out the spa! Operated by Harmony Eco Spa, enjoy treatments and services like hair coloring, massages, pedicures, and more to have you looking and feeling your best. Bonus: The Hollander Hotel offers shuttles to get you around DTSP!

The Hollander Hotel, 421 4th Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Avalon Hotel

Avalon Hotel is a sister hotel to the Hollander Hotel, which is just a few steps away. Guests at the Avalon get access to all amenities available at the Hollander and can expect the same quality of service. This hotel is known for its decor, an Art Deco style that exudes a retro feel and has plenty of neon lights. It looks like a hotel plucked out of the 1960s and would be great for a photo shoot. All rooms at the Avalon have a King size bed and guests receive complimentary wine and cheese. Need any more reasons to visit?

Avalon Hotel, 443 4th Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

Fancy title, but that’s because it’s a fancy hotel. Everyone should have the opportunity to stay here at least once as this is St. Petersburg luxury at some of its finest. The Vinoy Renaissance is a Marriott but is nothing like a chain establishment. It has an 18-hole on-site golf course, a tennis complex, and boasts of a private marina. It features the Vinoy Salon & Day Spa, which offers a number of soothing services for both men and women, including poolside cabana massages. Even if you don’t stay at the Vinoy, check out a Marchand’s Bar & Grill, a favorite among both locals and hotel patrons, serving up one-of-a-kind Floribbean fare.

The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, 501 5th Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

The Mansion House Inn

Mansion Inn is located where the downtown St. Petersburg and Historic Old Northeast borders meet, which makes it a unique, downtown gem. You’re just blocks away from the action, yet in the quaint and quiet part of town that has a relaxing and charming personality of its own. Mansion Inn overlooks a poolside courtyard, offering 13 unique rooms, nine of them having Queen size beds. It’s advertised as a bed and breakfast, though the breakfast part was discontinued earlier this year. Still, the location and quality of this inn is enough reason to stay a night or two. It’s two blocks from bustling Beach Drive and only five blocks from the Sundial, so food and entertainment options aren’t far away by any means.

Mansion Inn, 105 5th Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Ponce de Leon Hotel

Another sister hotel! Ponce de Leon Boutique Hotel is the sister hotel of The Mansion House Inn. It’s an older hotel with plenty of history, having been, according to their website, “the first high-rise to sit beautifully along the St. Petersburg waterfront”. Ponce de Leon has had plenty of celebrity guests in the past, including MLB players in town for spring training, Christopher Reeve, and President Richard Nixon. If you’re hungry, then you should definitely make time to check out Ceviche, a Spanish restaurant that’s connected to the hotel and serving up some flavor via tapas, sangria, and live music.

Ponce de Leon Hotel, 95 Central Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Hotel Indigo

Hotel Indigo is a downtown boutique hotel that kind of screams St. Pete but in the best of ways. The vibrant colors in the interior give it a warm, tropical feel. It’s a former home that was built in 1926 and still features some of the original wood and stained glass entry doors. The hotel is only a mile from the Salvador Dali Museum and boasts of amenities including a flat screen tv and free WiFi. Hotel Indigo is a good option for those on business travel as it has a gym, business center, and rooms for meetings and other events. Bonus? They offer complimentary bike rides! So you can get your bike on while hitting the scene!

Hotel Indigo, 234 3rd Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Hyatt Place

I know. Another chain hotel, but hear me out, I recently had family in town and they stayed at Hyatt Place for the weekend. I’ve stayed in Hyatt hotels in other cities, but I don’t think I’ve experienced one quite like this. It exudes luxury and it’s perfectly located as Jannus Live is across the street. All those trendy and unique Central Avenue restaurants, bars, and gastropubs? Literally walking distance. If you’re too relaxed to get out of bed, no problem. Hyatt offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with food available 24/7 and boasts of high-quality ingredients such as cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef. While you’re there, make sure to check out the amazing rooftop pool and view of Tampa Bay!

Hyatt Place, 25 2nd St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

The Cordova Inn

The Cordova Inn is a boutique hotel located in downtown St. Petersburg. Established in 1921, this hotel boasts of modern amenities while giving off that historic ambiance. All rooms have either one King size bed or two Queen size beds. Daily continental breakfast from 7am to 10am is included with all rooms, as is wine and cheese on Fridays and Saturdays and breakfast pastries on Saturdays and Sundays from nearby Locale Market. Delish! And as it’s only one block from the Sundial Shopping District, you’re steps from shops, restaurants, and everything else that makes downtown special.

The Cordova Inn, 253 2nd Ave N, St. Petersburg FL, 33701

The Inn on Third

The Inn on Third is a cozy bed and breakfast with plenty of old Florida charm. The rooms are a bit smaller, so the largest bed size offered is a Queen. They strive for comfort and cleanliness with the bathrooms having been remodeled within the last two years, making for a nice updated touch. They offer complimentary breakfast as well as beer and wine for their daily evening social events. Conveniently located on the other side of the block is a Downtown Looper Trolley stop, making exploring a breeze.

342 3rd Ave N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

Watergarden Inn at the Bay

Watergarden Inn at the Bay hails itself as St. Petersburg’s downtown bed and breakfast. With 14 rooms available, this is a quaint boutique inn with lush landscaping on the grounds. Complimentary wifi, coffee and cappuccinos, and a breakfast buffet every morning? Count me in. Relaxing by the pool with the calming palm trees in the nearby midst is highly recommended as this gem will have you bound to forget you’re even in the heart of downtown St. Pete. Even with its location, Watergarden Inn reminds me of a place I stayed at when I celebrated my birthday in Key West earlier this year. It’s a tropical haven with no fuss.

Watergarden Inn at the Bay, 126 4th Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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St. Pete is an excellent place to stay for your Tampa Bay vacation. Here are 10 hotels in Downtown St. Petersburg! | Where to stay in St. Petersburg FL | Hotels in St. Pete | Downtown St. Pete
Where to Eat in Daytona Beach

Food & Drink Travel

Where to Eat in Daytona Beach

I recently had the chance to visit the Daytona Beach area and had every intention of making a full trip out of it. Boutiques, the Speedway, Slingshot, you name it. I wanted to do it all. In typical fashion, I succeeded at eating and drinking and not much else. I’m not ashamed though. Each of the seven pounds I gained was worth it as none of the restaurants picked were disappointments. The food was all around outstanding with impeccable service to match. And because it’s Daytona, you know stunning ocean views and sunsets were pretty much a given.

Here are 5 restaurants to try while you’re visiting Daytona Beach.

Where to Eat in Daytona Beach

DJ’s DecK

Under the Dunlawton Bridge and just down the street from our Airbnb, but considered Port Orange. DJ’s Deck is a laid-back seafood restaurant with great views of the Intracoastal Waterway. They have a variety of seafood options and offer a full bar. I had the fried fish, shrimp, and oyster platter and loved every single bite. It came with hush puppies too, and they were phenomenal.

79 Dunlawton Avenue, Port Orange, FL 32129

The Cracked Egg Diner

The Cracked Egg Diner is a diner owned by brothers Chris and Kevin Purucker. It’s on the A1A and a Daytona Beach Shores staple. They boast of making you feel at home with hearty food and friendly, yet exemplary, service, and we had just that. I ordered what ended up being some of the best banana pancakes I’ve ever had. I didn’t expect the bananas to be sliced but I loved them and still dream of them

3280 S. Atlantic Ave Suite D, Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118

Ocean Deck

Ocean Deck is an awesome three-story waterfront establishment that offers amazing seafood, burgers, and live music. The Cajun mahi-mahi fish tacos were absolutely flavorful with a good bit of spice. The sweetness from the mango salsa added a nice contrast and balance to the heat. We watched a performance as we ate with the Atlantic in the background and it made for a spectacular time.

127 S. Ocean Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118

Caribbean Jack’s

Near the Loggerhead Marina, Caribbean Jack’s offers amazing Florida sunsets, waterfront views, and Caribbean-inspired cuisine. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you order their gator bites. Yes, it’s important. I’m afraid to have gator bites anywhere else because I’ll forever be comparing them to the ones I had here. Crunchy exterior, tender Florida gator tail meat, served alongside a spicy Creole aioli sauce for dipping… BOMB.COM! The calamari was equally amazing. They have awesome Daily Specials, including Margaritas and $5 Kick Ass Margaritas on Tuesdays!

721 Ballough Road, Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Crabby Joe’s

Recommended by our Airbnb host, Crabby Joe’s is a chill restaurant on a pier directly above the Atlantic Ocean. I loved that the calamari also came with fried peppers and broccoli. The red peppers were sweet, the broccoli still had some crunch, and it was just a light fry so the veggies were still flavorful. The sauteed mussels in marinara sauce were devoured with record speed. I ordered the red royal shrimp special, which also came lightly fried. They were like succulent baby lobster. Yum.

3701 S. Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118

Headed to the beach soon? Check out this post on essentials to pack for a day at the beach!

What to Pack for a Day at the Beach

Recommended Travel

What to Pack for a Day at the Beach

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There’s hardly a day where the sun isn’t out in St. Pete, hence it being dubbed the Sunshine City. With the exception of like three days, the St. Pete sun tends to be on the warm side. That means nearly every day is pretty much a beach day. I spent most of my life in the NorCal valley, so taking advantage of the pristine sand and gorgeous beaches is a must.

Here are some tips I use when packing for a beach day in St. Pete!

Sun Protection

Sunscreen is an absolute must when going to the beach, or anywhere in St. Pete really. My go-to sunscreen for the beach is this body mist sunscreen from Neutrogena. I like that I can reapply with a mist rather than getting my hands greasy. I also make sure to carry a pair of sunglasses for my eyes and lip balm to keep my lips moisturized and protected as well.

Towels

I’m absolutely in love with these Turkish beach towels and think they’re some of the greatest things since sliced bread. I was a bit hesitant because they’re a newer product and figured they’d fail to deliver on their promises, but boy was I wrong. They don’t trap sand, dry fairly quickly, and they’re lightweight so I can carry them in a bag or tote. Love ’em.

Beach Blankets

I’m 5’11 and often like to lay on the beach, so I always opt for beach blankets that are on the large side. Bersuse’s cotton throw blankets, like the towels I just recommended, are 100% cotton and perfect for the beach.

Beach tote

Carrying a large beach tote with plenty of space is a must for me. I put pretty much everything in my tote from towels, my wallet, keys, glasses case and cleaner, snorkel and mask, books, portable speaker, you name it.


Umbrella

Many would recommend beach umbrellas, but the weather down here is unpredictable and can get wild at a moment’s notice. They’ll work if you’re here for a weekend or plan on spending just a few hours in the sun. If you’re local or a frequent beach-goer, a sturdy 9-foot patio umbrella with PVC pipe works wonders. It provides plenty of shade, holds up in the wind, and we can take refuge and stay dry underneath during the brief rains and thunderstorms that creep up on us.

Beach Chairs

It’s imperative to have a solid and comfortable beach chair. Tommy Bahama beach chairs are a popular choice and for good reason. The brand makes amazing beach chairs that fully recline, are durable, and nice to sit on even for long periods of time. It’s considered a higher end chair and comes with plenty of features, including a backpack carry option and spacious cooler pouches for drinks.

Packed Cooler

Going to the beach is usually an all-day session, so I like packing a large cooler with plenty of food and ice cold drinks. I opt for larger coolers like RTIC with space and solid insulation because they’re great at the beach as well as parties, fishing trips, etc. For a simple lightweight option, try this convenient cooler tote that’s comfortable with an insulated side for food and drinks and a mesh compartment to keep personal belongings safe.

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What to pack for a day at the beach | beach day packing tips | beach packing guide | Florida beach tips

What to pack for a day at the beach | beach day packing tips | beach packing guide | Florida beach tips

What to pack for a day at the beach | beach day packing tips | beach packing guide | Florida beach tips