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BellaNaijarian Hadiza writes About Four Glorious Days of the Sun, DisneyWorld, Sand & All the Beautiful Things Florida Has to Offer

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image_13Destination Florida was my signature hashtag on my four-day trip to Florida. What started out as a trip to Tampa, ended up as a tour around Florida.

There is so much more to Florida than the popular city Miami, and I am here to share why Miami is now becoming one of my least favorite cities in Florida and why there is so much more to Florida than Miami. I travelled to Tampa from Atlanta to visit my cousins.

I purposely planned to get to Tampa early Wednesday morning, so that I could have the whole day to get things done. I arrived in Tampa as early as 8am Wednesday morning. Went home to drop my luggage and get refreshed. We set out at about 2ish and decided to get some henna done. Our agenda for the day was to go to the beach. We got henna done and headed straight to Clearwater Beach, Florida. Clearwater was about an hour and a half away from Tampa, but because we left home during rush hour, we got stuck in traffic and a journey that should have taken about an hour and a half took us double the time and a little bit more.
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Clearwater was gorgeous and it was everything that South beach Miami is not. The ambiance and atmosphere reminded me of that one time I went to Cancun, Mexico. I have been dreaming about Cancun since I visited and I want to go back, so imagine how I felt at Clearwater – I felt like I was reliving my Cancun experience. {Click here to read the Cancun story}
Indeed life is always better at the beach. It was a huge party of people, as everyone seemed to be having fun and engaged in one activity or the other. There was so much more to Clearwater than the beach. There’s an aquarium for people who love to see marine animals.
I have been to so many aquariums, so this was not on my agenda. There are also boat rides at different hours of the day and other water activities such as Parasailing and jet skiing. If you are not a water person or in the mood for some beach fun, Clearwater is a little city on its own, so there are loads of restaurants and things to get involved in away from the beach.
image_3We got to Clearwater beach at sunset, so we had just enough time to take daytime pictures and walk the long strip of hotels and restaurants. People there were so friendly and strangers walked up to me to take pictures. After playing in the sand and taking pictures, we tried to find a spot to eat but all the restaurants were super booked and the wait time was ridiculous.

Note: When hunger strikes, do not play it off. We should have reserved a spot at the restaurant before heading to take pictures.
image_4We ended up driving back to Brandon where my cousins live and dined at one of the coolest restaurants I have ever seen – Fords garage. I am a sucker for art and I love when I see creativity.
My cousin and my sister had a burger and fries and I had 10 pieces of wings. The food at Fords garage was really good too, so the ambiance was just not there to fool us. Day one was amazing, but we had to get ready for day two.

So on day two, we set out at about 11 am because we were driving down to Orlando. It is about an hour and a half or two hours max from Tampa. This was my second time going to Orlando, and our first stop in Orlando was the International premium outlet. The premium outlet was pretty cool, but it was huge and tiring. They had a lot of high-end stores, which I didn’t expect because you never really find stores like Prada, Gucci and Torry Burch at outlet malls. At first I was excited, but I got into a few of these name brands and the prices of their things were pretty much the same or close to the retail stores you find in malls. I was disappointed, because outlet stores are generally meant to have lower priced items.image_8

Anyway, I ended up with a pair of white jeans from the Levis store. I have been looking for good quality white jeans that fit me well and these did. After the outlet mall, we met up with my other cousin who goes to school in Orlando. We had happy hour at a Greek restaurant (Taverna Opa) on International Blvd in Orlando. Although, I did not have an entrée, the wings were really good and of course I loved my two for one cocktail. Happy hour was really just to reboot our energy levels for Wonderworks. Wonderworks is one of the coolest places in Orlando. It’s an upside down house with three levels of fun and games.

The cost of an individual ticket to wonderworks is $25 + tax and trust me, it is worth every dollar of your money. Ended up spending over 3 hours playing around and we had to force our selves out at about 9 is because we had one last stop that closed at 11pm.

Our final stop for the day was the sugar factory and this topped every single thing off. I was not a huge fan of the food and drinks at sugar factory, but the experience is really what sells. Everyone was super hyped and that just made the atmosphere a 100 times way better. My sister and cousins had a burger and fries at the sugar factory, while my sweet tooth and I opted for waffles. The huge drinks at sugar factory cost $30 and they are huge, so they are enough for two people to share, especially if it’s not a virgin drink.

I also had a small bubble gum cocktail, which cost me $15. There were so many birthdays at Sugar factory that night, so they kept on clapping and music kept playing in the background for the celebrants.image_6 image_5
Day two in Florida was amazing, and by the end of it, we had done so much already.

For day three, we went to Disney World. Walt Disney World Orlando is the biggest of all the parks around the world. It has seven separate parks and hotels/resorts where guests can stay overnight. This was my second time at Disney World.image_14 image_15

My first visit was on a family trip when I was about 8 years old (quite a while back). We went to three of the seven parks then. This time, it was a day trip, so we only visited one park (Magic Kingdom). Disney was super fun, as I relived my childhood memories. However, I went on a bad day. I went on a day when it rained, so my fun was cut short in between. Also, Disney world is not something you want to get done in a day because it gets so tiring. You really just want to take your time and enjoy every aspect of it as you go along. Disney world is definitely a vacation on its own. The lines are also very long; some rides have a wait time as long as 2 hours 20 minutes.

image_12 image_11Like really, who wants to wait that long just to go on a 5-minute ride or less? Apart from rides being long, it was an amazing experience from the main street party, to the dance party, to seeing some or all of your favorite Disney characters. There was so much to do from boat rides, to park rides, to getting yourself drawn etc There is also a lot to eat and drink, but I recommend that you eat before you go or pack your own lunch.

Park tickets are already pretty pricey, so you don’t want to be spending a ridiculous amount on food too. Also, be sure to check the weather forecast before you go and don’t be like me who insisted on going in the rain. We left Walt Disney at 7pm and headed back to Tampa. By then, I was drained and just went straight into the shower and to sleep when I got home. Orlando was super fun and it’s amazing how many things I could do with a plane ticket to Tampa. Other places I would have loved to visit in Orlando are Madame Tussauds (Celebrity wax museum), Universal Studios, Sea World and the Ice Bar.

imageThe good thing is everything in Orlando is pretty much on the same road (International blvd), so you do not have to go far and if you plan your time well, you can always hop from one place to another. One thing I did well on this trip is planning my time.

image_8I created an itinerary even before I left Atlanta. I hate travelling and spending my time in the shops or not having anything to do, so I always make sure I plan ahead and find out things to do as well as how much hey cost. This is something everyone should do when planning a trip, so that you make the most of it, especially if it is a short trip. You do not want to travel back thinking I should have done this or I could have done this. Make the most of your trip while you can. Also, take loads of trips so you can relive memories, but don’t get carried away and forget to live in those moments.image_9

To see more of my trip from Florida, follow me on Instagram @wovenblends
Thank you for stopping by to read, and I hope this helps when planning your next trip to Florida.

Hadiza Lawal is an International Affairs graduate from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. With food and style being two of my utmost passions, I desire to inspire people on my journey to achieving greatness through visual artistry (pictures), articles and so much more. To keep up with my creative journey to success follow me @wovenblends on instagram and my blog www.wovenblends.com

7 Comments

  1. Dandelion

    April 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    That desert looks extra yummy. Now I am going to dream about sticky toffee pudding. ‘Drools as she types’

  2. Dandelion

    April 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    That dessert looks extra yummy. Now I am going to dream about sticky toffee pudding. ‘Drools as she types’

  3. Sweet.

    April 13, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Lovely pictures, fine girl you are Hadiza, and you obviously had fun.

  4. NaijaPikin

    April 13, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I missed the part where you explained why Miami is now becoming one of your least favorite cities.

    Let’s face it, the only thing Clearwater/Tampa has on south beach/Miami is the fact that it’s not as packed. If you are looking for variety of food, fun activities, social life, Miami is still the #1 spot in Florida.

  5. Dee-USA

    April 13, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    We Miamians know this review to be satirical as no one would ever compare Tampa and Orlando put together to Miami. South Beach is ubiquitous and overworked. Drive 10 minutes down Ocean Drive and you’ll end up at the more private, pretty much secluded Sunny Isles Beach. If you need a livelier option then head south on 95/U.S. 1 to Key Biscayne and I guarantee you won’t remember Clearwater. You can actually run into some turtles on the beach.

    Most people think Miami is only about South Beach, but there are tons more. Even nudists can go to Haulover beach in North Miami Beach. We may not have the theme parks, but thank God because in Orlando you can hardly tell the locals from the tourists. Everyone seems to be a visitor to the dozens of theme parks. And as far as outlet malls, every city has at least 2. So far, nothing mentioned seemed unique enough to send anyone scouring for tickets.

    • Wale

      April 14, 2016 at 12:27 am

      True,the beaches on the west coast of Florida are cleaner,pristine and crisp. I doubt the many beaches on Key Biscayne are livelier. More family oriented yes, but not a place I would consider for partying; well, if you have access to a Yacht, I know a spot or two in that general area ideal for nude, crazy partying…many coves and islets; but there are so many many beaches in Miami( it is on one stretch of the florida coast line). I read the article and I laughed, obviously the writer doesn’t live here or know the many hidden aspects of our city . Tourist, ah! Miami is the Life! Next time she should ask someone local to show her the essence of our city.

    • NaijaPikin

      April 14, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      I think I know who you are Wale…….A sis with twins? and 2 sisters whose names start with “S” ?

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