After 5 straight weekends in different states and countries, I finally got to spend one back in Florida for a change. Of course, it wasn’t anywhere near home as I headed up Friday night to Orlando to hang out with two of my good friends visiting from Virginia.

Oct. 3

Lettuce Lake ParkSince they were going to be in the Orlando area for the next week and didn’t have a car, we decided to go for a little road trip over to Florida’s west coast beaches. On the way there, I showed them one of my favorite spots in Tampa, Lettuce Lake Park. A beautiful boardwalk highlights this amazing park and the wildlife were out a plenty as we saw several alligators, turtles and birds. We then continued west to Clearwater Beach where parking was next to impossible. Knowing that this could be a problem, we went over to the south side of Clearwater and hung out at Sand Key Park. The girls were real excited to be at the beach but their joy was short-lived as it started pouring down rain on us. Luckily it didn’t last long and we were back to tanning in the sand. As the two of them sat back and enjoyed the beach, I went out for a walk around the park, where I got some really nice pictures, particularly of the wading birds. Hunger started to come over us so we headed further south for a late lunch/early dinner at 18 on the Rocks in Indian Rocks Beach. We were also treated to a beautiful sunset on the beach there, despite it getting a bit chilly.


Oct. 4

I got to play tour guide again on Sunday as I took them due north to two of my favorite cities in central Florida – Mount Dora and Winter Garden. We had a splendid breakfast at the One Flight Up Cafe in Mount Dora, as I could tell the girls were really enjoying this adorable city. We then walked around the quaint downtown section and over to the lake lighthouse. The short but cute red and white light is the only inland light in Florida. We also got an unexpected treat as the Orange Blossom Cannonball was getting ready to roll on out. The historic steam train is available for tours to Tavares. I’ll have to make sure I do this next time I’m up this way.

The clouds started to roll in was we next went to Winter Garden, another quaint historic town. The rain finally caught up to us as we hung out a bit here before heading back to Orlando. We watched a nice sunset together and then I made my way back home.

It was so great see my friends again since our trip to Europe together, and I will be seeing them again in Virginia next month.

Kissimmee-Mount Dora-Winter Garden

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