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Trip Report Our first venture as "snowbirds" in Florida - Daytona Beach area

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I don't usually write trip reports but I was impressed by another poster who did a report on her stay in the Panama City area. So here goes:

Background: I'm mostly retired and my husband is nearing retirement but still has 2-5 years left to work. He does however work from home so upon approval from his boss we were able to spend a month in FL this winter.

We left home the end of January and stayed one night near Champaigne, IL and then on to just north of Nashville. We stayed there for a week and my husband went in to their plant/office every day (this is one of their many locations). We enjoyed our stay as we have been going to Nashville for many years now.

On Friday morning we left Nashville and ended up just south of Atlanta in Macon. Stayed at a brand new Holiday Inn that I got on Priceline.

Saturday we arrived at our condo for the month in Ponce Inlet - which is just south of Daytona Beach. I found this particular condo online through greatoceancondos.com Our condo was a second floor/corner 3B 2B with washer/dryer inside the unit. We really enjoyed this area as it was a pretty quiet area. The only time it got busy was during race week. Here is the link to the condo

http://tinyurl.com/knn3dtd

We had wonderful weather for pretty much the whole month. We had mid 80's and we had a few days in the 50's but it's true that when you're there for a month those few cool days don't really matter. One thing we loved about the area was the beach! You could walk for miles!!!!! Nice hard packed sand and the beach went on and on forever!

We had A LOT of company which was nice for me as my husband worked while we were there. Most everyone tried to come when it was the weekend so he could enjoy visiting as well. We figured we had a total of 7 days by ourselves:) The week that our kids/grandkids came was the best week weather-wise of the whole month so I was very happy about that.

We cooked quite a few of our own meals and with the Farmers/Flea market close by (15 minutes away-by the racetrack) we enjoyed many fresh fruits and vegetables. Wish I had some of those delicious oranges right now!

When we had company (except our kids/grandkids) we ate out mostly. Some of the places that we enjoyed:

Crabby Joes - this restaurant is on the pier. When it's a beautiful day, this is a great place to hang out. LOVE the fish sandwiches there!

Racings North Turn - this was our go-to place because we could walk there! If we’d go in the evening we walk down on the beach side and after dark walk back on the road side. Most nights they had music. The first couple of weeks we were there they had happy hour everyday from 11-7 but by race week the happy hours ended. I did enjoy their prime rib sandwich but my favorite was the clam chowder. We tried the clam chowder at several restaurants but hands down Racings was the best. On another visit we had burgers and fries and those were great too.

Caribbean Jack’s – we found this restaurant one rainy night and we ended up going back 2 more times. This one is on the marina side, good fish baskets and usually has music.

Cracked Egg – We had breakfast at this place about 5 times I think. GREAT service and the food was excellent. Make sure you get an order of their fried apple fritters. Yum!

Jerry’s Pizzeria & Tiki Bar – this place is in a little strip mall, but such a neat tiki area and the pizza was great! We went a couple of times and the second time we had to sit inside the building – didn’t enjoy that near as much!

We ate at several other places too – Hidden Treasure Rum Bar & Grill – my husband had their lobster. Very good prices and he enjoyed it. I had the grilled fish sandwich but it was way to messy for me (should have ordered it with out the mayo on it)
Down The Hatch – we had appetizers here one night with drinks and then another day some friends and I went for lunch. I had the house salad which is served with apples and cranberries – yum!
Inlet Harbor – had dinner on the patio. Shared a fish sandwich and each had a cup of clam chowder. Both were just ok.

We left sunny Florida on the 1st of March and headed along the panhandle area ending up in Gulf Shores, AL for Saturday night. Got the Microtel on Priceline – clean and convenient. Sunday we headed for Memphis and just beat the rain/sleet/ice storm that arrived that night. We stayed at the Doubletree right down town – free with points except for the valet parking fee. Enjoyed some blues music and dinner at the Blue City Café but we didn’t venture any further because it was pouring rain. Woke up Sunday to ice everywhere. We hung around the hotel until later morning and then decided we’d just brave the roads and go slow. The freeway was terrible and it took us about 5 hours to go less than 100 miles. We have a four wheel drive vehicle so we could get through the snow/sleet stuff but there were many people that were stuck! By the time we got into Illinois, they had been plowing/salting the roads so it did get better. Ended up in Mt Vernon IL for the evening at the Days Inn which I got on Priceline too. The next day we were able to drive all the way home – long day but nice to sleep in our own bed!

All in all we really enjoyed our first venture into the “snowbird” life and it was THE best year ever to get out of Wisconsin for a month. We had over 2 feet of snow on the roof of our house when we got home! We enjoyed it so much that we’re now planning on doing 2 months next winter – hubby just got the okay:)

One thing we discovered that I’m sure many of you “techy” people may know – I have an I phone so I downloaded the map quest app and the priceline app. We’d just put in our destination in the map quest app and it would show the route and the voice feature would tell us our turns etc (We just put my phone in the garmin mount on the windshield). We also have a cable that we plug into my phone and the “aux” on our radio. That way we can listen to iheart radio too and the map quest instructions would break in when needed. Plus for us that are a little hearing challenged – you can hear it better over the radio:)

The Priceline app worked great! When we’d get close to the area we thought we’d stay I’d just log on to priceline, select “hotels” and put in the location and search. I’d generally look through and see what hotels have which “star” rating and then either just pick a hotel or do the “express deal” and find the correct “star” rating. Worked great and we figured we averaged about $75/night for hotels going down and coming back.

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