Travel Diary: Independence Eve in Apalachicola

This year we started a new family tradition: celebrating 4th of July early during Apalachicola’s Independence Eve Celebration.

Over the last few years we have mostly missed all the spectacular fireworks displays on the 4th because we have a young child who is usually asleep by the time the fireworks begin.

We also haven’t had the holiday land during the weekend where you have the next day to recover. With that in mind, we spontaneously decided to head down to Florida’s Forgotten Coast to a quaint little Oyster Town that celebrates America’s Birthday a day early.

The Town

Apalachicola is an adorable small town about an hour and a half from our home town of Tallahassee. The drive is scenic and fast, which makes it ideal for our family. As you cross the bridge into the town, there’s usually oyster boats on either side. The area is known for its world class oysters.

It’s a small area, but it’s packed with historic buildings, a brewery, raw bars, great restaurants, old time fountain soda shop, galleries, coffee shops and adorable boutiques. There’s a lot to do even outside of the Independence Eve celebration.

The Accommodations

We decided to do this pretty last minute (the week of), so I wasn’t sure what options would be available. Luckily my hubby’s co-worker recommended The Coombs House — a historic Bed & Breakfast.

The B&B ended up being absolutely perfect. Quaint and comfortable with incredible bedding and a delicious homemade breakfast served in the Main House dining room.

After arriving I discovered (proudly displayed on a door plaque), it’s been named one of America’s 33 Luxury Inns by Travel + Leisure. It definitely delivered.

The Celebration

The Apalachicola Independence Eve Celebration is jam packed with family fun. After checking into our historic B&B, we walked a couple of blocks down to Water Street where the majority of the activities were taking place. We brought our lawn chairs and blanket and found a grassy spot near the dock with a perfect eye-line to the fireworks display that would take place over the water. Everyone is super respectful of your claimed spot and we left our chairs for hours with no one moving them. It was such a relief to know our viewing spot was secure and we could enjoy the festivities!

First up, we grabbed some Oyster City (local brewery) beers and headed to the Bounce House, so Westley could jump, while we enjoyed live music. The. It was time for the Parade, which includes locals who decorate golf carts with Americana decor and hand out everything from beads to juice and candy.

Post parade, it’s time for the free ice cream social where you can choose from vanilla or chocolate ice cream and toppings. So we definitely broke the rule and had dessert before dinner 🙂

While there was a food truck court with options from seafood and gourmet tacos to a British food truck serving up fish n chips, we opted to walk around and find a local restaurant to sit down, cool down and grab a bite. We ended up at The Seafood Grill and enjoyed the fried Captain’s Basket with huge Gulf shrimp, bay scallops, fish, crab cake and hush puppies served with an array of sauces. It did not disappoint.

After dinner, we walked back to our spot on the lawn and got ready for the main event!

Fireworks

I’ve seen a lot of fireworks in my life and this display definitely takes first place. Hands down the best fireworks show ever. The choreography, variety of fireworks and length made it a spectacular display! The fireworks over the water felt like a 3D display and we were all in awe!

Once the 30-minute show wrapped, we grabbed our chairs and walked back to our B&B – no traffic or hassles…just a nice walk, hot shower and a super comfy bed.

If you’re looking for a different way to celebrate 4th of July, Apalachicola is a great choice and will be our new go to for one of my favorite holidays! St. George Island is super close, so you can also extend the trip and spend some time at one of the area’s beautiful beaches!

Happy Independence,

Ivette

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The Marvelous Medieval Times

Spending Mother’s Day at Medieval Times ended up being such a magical night. Growing up in Florida, I was always aware of the Castle, but never visited. My husband also had never been, but always wanted to go thanks to Jim Carrey’s The Cable Guy.

The experience was awesome for us and for our three-year old who was thrilled with all the excitement and elements of the performance.

The Pre-Show Experience

Arriving at Medieval Times you walk through a village setting and enter the grand castle to pick up tickets. The area is adorned with knight statues and paintings. With tickets in hand you are greeted by staff in costumes who give you a colored crown that dictates what are you will sit. We proceeded to meet the Queen and take a photo and then walked into the Hall.

The Hall has bars, a sitting area and retail space with swords, cups, shirts and other branded items. We grabbed some drinks, bought Westley a light up sword and took some photos.

The Show

We were part of the Yellow Knight’s team and sat toward the front. The seating is family style with long tables in a stadium setting.

The show features different components from games and competitions between the knights to falconry, jousting and sword fights. It is very engaging and fun because you’re cheering for your knight at every turn.

The Queen rules the land, which is a new element to the show. For the last 34 years it’s been a King. This timely and relevant leadership change also adds to the plot of the show.

Finally, the horses are gorgeous and show off their skills in the ring. Each horse does special tricks, something Westley really enjoyed.

The show is about an hour and a half give or take, but because there are so many different parts and is paced well, Westley paid attention and enjoyed the show without fussing!

The Dinner

Coming into the experience I was expecting dinner to not be a highlight since it is secondary to the show. However, while it’s simple and food you can eat with your hands — Medieval Style — it was surprisingly delicious. We started off the meal with a tomato bisque (you drink from the soup bowl), followed by a half chicken that was moist and perfectly cooked, paired with potatoes and corn on the cob. The dinner is topped off with a pound cake for dessert.

It was adult and child approved!

Overall Experience

The production quality, characters, show elements and overall experience was wonderful! We were never bored and always looking forward to the next part.

For me, the horsemanship and the falcon flying around the arena were definitely highlights. I also thought the Queen did a phenomenal job in her role.

For the boys, it was all about the action. Both big and small — they were all about the jousting and sword fighting.

We definitely will visit again and as there are several castles across the country — it would be fun to check out some of the other shows!

If you’re looking for a dinner show that will have something for the whole family, I would recommend Medieval Times! You won’t be disappointed.

Happy Jousting,

Ivette

Mom Hacks: Dinner Edition

I’m launching a new series for #Tip Tuesday that will be all about Mom Hacks — basically the things I’ve discovered, actively use and love to make life as a working mom easier. The inaugural edition focuses on one of my favorite things…food 🙂

Like every other “millennial mom” I love a good app…especially one that makes my life more convenient. While I am not a huge fan of feeding my son “fast food,” I consider Chick-fil-A to be in a category all its own. Sure it’s more expensive, but the service, quality of the food and healthy options for kids and adults lands CFA at the top of my drive thru choices.

Just when I thought they couldn’t get any better, Chick-fil-A launched an app that I swear was designed for working mamas like me. There are a ton of features, including freebies and treats you earn, but the piece de resistance is ordering, paying and curbside pick up all from the app. It’s such a seamless experience and you can avoid the drive thru or having to get out of your vehicle. I have my favorite orders saved on the app from Westley’s 6-piece grilled chicken nugget meal to our family go to. It’s so easy, I can order on the app as I’m leaving daycare and select “curbside” — by the time I pull up to the light near the CFA, I select “I’m here” and my order is made fresh, I park in the curbside dedicated spot and a team member walks my order out to me. No line, no taking an active tiddler out of the car seat, in and out in 5 minutes.  All delivered with a friendly smile and a “my pleasure.”

Would love to hear from you on any mom hacks you know and love or other #TipTuesday topics I can cover 🙂

Happy Hacking!

Ivette