Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

20/01/2020

5 Reasons to visit Florida

Palm trees

*This post contains affiliate links 

One of my favourite family memories, when I was growing up, was a trip to Florida and the first time I headed to the States and I love looking back on photos from that trip. Florida is a popular destination and for good reason with its warm weather, crystal clear beaches and easy way of life, it is, of course, the sunshine state.

There is a variety of reasons why you should put this destination on your bucket list as when it comes to tourism, Central Florida takes the cake and not just because of its favourite family amusement park, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, but there are plenty of other activities to enjoy so if considering a trip to the States this year, here is all the more reasons to come to Florida.

Fun for All Ages

One of Floridas biggest draws is, of course, the fact it's home to one of the most famous amusement parks Disney World, which I have fond memories of visiting when I was a child, along with Orlando include Universal Studios. Of course there is also the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which wasn't around when I was 9 but has not surprisingly proved to be a very popular addition. The one thing I can promise is that children will love it so much they will want you to move over to Central Florida and will have you searching for Orlando houses for sale in no time.


Disney World Florida



The Food Scene

Florida has a vibrant food scene with a diverse mix of cultures and inspirations thrown in and of course plenty of fresh seafood. You will find an array of Cajun and Creole dishes and there is a cuisine often referred to as Floribbean which has a strong Caribbean influence coming in from neighbouring Cuba and Bahamas. 

Wildlife Spotting

If your a budding wildlife photographer or just love getting outdoors and being one with nature than Florida has it all. A ride through the famous Everglades National Park is one for the bucket list and you're sure to come across an alligator or two as well as the possibility of some pythons, pelicans, bobcats and the majestic manatees. 


Florida wildlife


Sporting pursuits

If you like to try something new or stay active when on holiday than Florida has a variety of options from scuba diving to stand-up paddleboarding and world-famous golf courses, there will be something to get your heart pumping. If you rather just be a spectator than NASCAR fans know there is no better place than to visit Daytona Beach, home to the Daytona International Speedway. Each February, the city of Daytona Beach hosts the Daytona 500 NASCAR Race, a huge event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people annually. Full of energy and excitement it would be one event you wouldn't forget quickly.

A relaxing break away

Central Florida is also a great place to lie back, relax and take some time to unwind. There are plenty of fantastic beaches such as Daytona Beach and Tampa Beach where you can take a towel,  a good book, perhaps a cocktail and enjoy just soaking in the laid back atmosphere. If you're looking to explore more of the local area and smaller beach towns with fewer crowds than places like Clearwater, St. Augustine, and New Smyrna Beach make great options for a more lowkey trip.

Everyone I've talked to that has visited Florida has only ever had positive things to say as there is good reason so many families decided to make there way there, but you don't have to get swept with the crowd as there is so much to do in and around Florida you will be able to find your own slice of holiday paradise. 


Central Florida

16/01/2020

Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibition


Tutankhamun Saatchi Gallery

* Disclosure - I was invited to attend the family press day and was therefore provided with exhibition tickets in exchange for an honest unpaid review. All other costs were covered by myself.


The kids and I love history, in fact, most weekends are spent exploring one of the many amazing castle ruins we have in Wales or on rainy days we head to museums, so when we were invited to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery which on until the 3rd May 2020 and we were really excited to see it.

Having done a little research pre-trip I decided to leave my youngest (who is 4), at home, while I know he would of loved it, the exhibition takes around an hour to get through and there is quite a lot of literature alongside all the priceless artefacts and I knew that both my eldest (who is 9) and I would want to take the time to read about everything and not rush through and it also meant some much-needed one on one time with my eldest.

As we had to be their pretty early, we were up at 4:30am to catch the early train so I was apprehensive about how that would go but it was fine, we headed to bed really early so felt ready for the adventure ahead. Despite visiting London a couple of times a year this was our first visit to the Saatchi Gallery, which is located in the pretty borough of Chelsea, which is a lovely part to explore in itself.

I'd like to point out that your ticket works on a timed entry system and you need to arrive within those times and it can take up to 30mins to pass through security, although we found it less than that, but do keep things simple and don't bring to much along with you. Once we passed through security you have the option to take an audio guide which we did along with a family trail which proved to be a fun and engaging way to explore the exhibition.

Tutankhamun Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery


For those who don't know much about what the exhibition entails, it's more than 150 original objects from the tomb which 60 pieces travelling out of Egypt for the first and last time, making this exhibition really special. The artefact highlights include the life-sized guardian statue of the king, funeral bed, gold inlaid hands holding the crook and flail and the famous gold coffinette.

The exhibition takes you through the timeline of how Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in The Valley of Kings and getting to know the life of Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon and it was really fascinating and digestible for all ages.

We spent a good hour taking in everything before heading to the cafe for some coffee and pastries and a moment to sit down and recoup. We wanted to make the most of our time in London as possible and I had seen that the National Army Museum was only a 10-minute walk from the Saatchi Gallery and while the military is not something I am overly interested in, my son is and again it's apart of our history.

Army museum London

Army museum tank


On the way to the museum, we stumble upon the house of where the author of Mary Poppins use to live, that's what I love about London is you never know what you're going to find. The National Army Museum is a free museum with some great facilities for kids and has lots of interactive displays including being taking over a tank, army style training from a virtual commander, crawling under a scout car and trying on a variety of outfits and army costumes.

There is also a small shop, cafe and a play base soft play area, you need to book into this and there is a nominal charge and is suitable for children up to 8yrs old.


Cool kids London


Overall we had an amazing time at the Saatchi Gallery and with many of these artefacts never going on tour again once they return to Egypt I would highly recommend you visit it now, it's well worth the money. The National army museum is also a great place to explore with kids if you wanting to explore more of the area.





12/01/2020

The Garth Mountain - Family Friendly Hikes in Wales


The Garth


Have you ever heard of the book (later turned into a film) The Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain? Well the author Christopher Monger was a Taff's Well native and many have said that the The Garth which rises above Taffs Well was the inspiration for the book. Most geologists classify a mountain as a landform that rises at least 1000 feet and The Garth does just that, coming in at 1,007 ft thanks to the tumuli (Bronze Age burial sites) at the summit which pushes The Garth just over the 1000ft criteria, which makes The Garth one of, it not, the smallest mountain in Wales and perfect for a family hike.

I've taken my boys up a few times now and I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of the family-friendly hikes we get up to in and around South Wales and a walk-up The Garth offers some amazing views across Cardiff, The Valleys and all the way to the Severn Bridge.

There are a few different ways to walk up The Garth, although our favourite is to start in the village of Gwaelod-y-Garth, which has a lovely pub you can visit on the way back down. Talking of the pub, the Gwaelod Y Garth Inn, you can use that are you start point as you head up the small winding road right next to the pub, walking straight up and veering to the left. You follow this path over a cattle grid and past some farmers fields, which usually have a few ponies and horses grazing.


The Garth


It will take you around 20-minute slow walk from the pub up the base of the mountain trail, which is along the path, past the fields and you will see a small car park and a path heading up the mountain. Do wear sensible shoes as the path can be narrow in parts as well as a few rocks you need to scramble up and there are some steep sides so as always supervise young children. My 4yr old has been up at least 3 times so it's perfect for younger kids although there are of course some of the normal dangers that come with a walk like this so just keep to common sense.

The first path up as I said can be steep in parts although my boys love the ruggedness of it, you also come to a small stream which is fresh running water right off the mountain (we have tried it a few times), last time we got stuck behind some sheep at this point. Shortly after the stream, you come to a flat platform although this is not the summit and you will need to scramble up a rather steep hill, which my kids find rather entertaining. Once at the top you then have another more gradual gradient up towards the plateau and once you reach that you will see the summit and trig point in the distance.


family friendly hike


If you are into Geocaching there are a few geo's on the Garth and in the immediate area which can be an extra incentive for kids. What's nice about The Garth is that there are always people walking so it doesn't feel isolated or quiet and on warm sunny days you will always find people picnicking near the Trig point along with people exploring the area on their bikes and horseback.

I would like to point out that it is often 2-3 degrees colder, as well as windy on the top so do take extra layers with you and the weather can also change pretty quickly. The last time we went up it was a beautiful sunny day but just before the trig point a huge rain cloud descended and we got soaked so packing a waterproof jacket, fleece and umbrella is never a bad idea, along with plenty of water of course.

family hikes Wales

Trig point


The Garth is only around a 15min drive from the Cardiff, the Capital of Wales so this is great if your visiting the area over a weekend and are looking for a fun and enjoyable walk with the kids. I would say set around 2-3hrs to do this hike as if you have small children you need to allow for a slower pace.

Make sure you take plenty of snacks, water and a few extra layers and get outdoors and treat yourself to a pint in the village on the way back, the perfect way to spend a Sunday if you ask me.


family hike

The Garth mountain

If your thinking about doing this trail then do also check out my vlog from our last visit up The Garth


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...