48 Hours to Unlock the Twist of Tampa Bay

Explosive energy, liquid libations and infectious personalities await you in Tampa Bay, Florida
Explosive energy, liquid libations and infectious personalities await you in Tampa Bay, Florida
Explosive energy, liquid libations and infectious personalities await you in Tampa Bay, Florida

Explosive energy, liquid libations  and infectious personalities await you in Tampa Bay, Florida. Compromised by my 48-hour assignment to uncover the sparkle of this southern city placed me in a dubious position. Let’s just say I will be returning! Often overshadowed by the mammoth appeal of Miami nightlife and Orlando’s thriving amusement parks, Tampa Bay can be overlooked by travelers. Make no mistake, consider this an affectionate reminder that Tampa holds a unique history and a wealth of  welcoming human interaction that will insure your return. Simply intoxicating, the golden sunshine and whispering breezes will relax you while cruising the Pirate water taxi along the Hillsboro River. Literally, you can grab a beer, digest the city history, and inhale the splendid views.

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Tampa Bay with a twist? Well, the discerning traveler will soon come to understand this Floridian gem has baycrafted cocktails rooted in a culture of celebration and a dance craze foot print established by the “The Twist”. Having seen the excitement of Tampeños teenagers Hank Ballard and The Midnighters created the chart-topping song to accompany the twisting teen dancers. How’s that for a bit of travel trivia and historical nostalgia? There is an undeniable festive spirit  that will spark your fascination to unlock more of Tampa Bay. Make Perry Harvey Sr. Park your destination for the perfect selfie marking your presence in the heart of Tampa Bay’s epicenter of African-American culture know as “The Scrub”. Feel the spirit of Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles all whom served as entertainment catalyst of change enhancing the  cities richness in culture, style,  and food.

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A port city and railroad hub in years past, made Tampa Bay a hot bed for commerce. The brilliance and intellect of Spanish entrepreneur Vincente Martinez Ybor created explosive growth of this waterfront city. Ybor capitalized, monetized and thrived ultimately creating opportunities for his employees to live the American Dream. Descendants of Cuban, Spanish, German and Italian immigrants contributed to  the former glory of this Cigar Capital, producing of over 700 million cigars a year at its height of production. Today, the city is experiencing a lightning fast resurrection due to the forward thinking of new entrepreneurs like Jeffry N. Vinik owner of the cities NHL hockey team the Tampa Bay Lightning. Conscious growth of the city based in sustaining the heritage and culture is paramount to the locals. Here is a quick guide to EAT, STAY & PLAY while absorbing the zeal that is Tampa.

EAT

There is  absolutely no way to eat all of the delicious foods of this melting pot of diversity. However, I did my best to devour as much as I could without causing discomfort. I will admit, at times it was a challenge. I made three memorable stops this trip. My first stop for bites and conversation landed me at Chef Felicia Lacalle’s Hemingways. Felicia pours soulful Cuban influence into every bite. The Hemingway Cuban is the best self-gift treat for lunch. My second stop being the ever-evolving menu at Edison Food + Drink Lab will have guessing what to expect, While the  Sesame tempura cauliflower with black garlic ponzu was an appetizer I found it to be my main course and you will too as it is absolutely divine. Don’t try to dictate the experience at the lab. Allow the skillfully talented wait staff to take you on a memorable gastrological journey. My third and final food destination was Columbia Restaurant. This 5th generation family owned business grabs you with the predinner bread made fresh daily. Coupled with the fact, this establishment is the  largest private collection of Spanish wines in the world you won’t want to leave. Beyond that the 1905 salad and 1905 martini are mainstays. The excitement is will continue with live flamenco dancing as proof why this is not just fine dining it community staple not to be missed.

STAY

If the Tampa Museum of Art would take a reservation for an overnight stay considered it booked. Artistic expression enlightens and tell the journey of a community in silence. Quietly, spending a half-day observing the work of Purvis Young and countless other artisans made for a phenomenal experience. However, crashing at the Le Méridien Tampa was officially chic and legally sound. Following a multi-million-dollar renovation this former Beaux Arts style federal courthouse is perfectly situated for you to wonder about Tampa with ease.

PLAY

Experience the social club legacy and beautiful architecture first hand with phenomenal insight by tour guide Lonnie Hermann. Ybor City is a designated historical landmark that continual preserves the richness. Prepare to spend a minimum of 5 hours in La France vintage boutique. This store is shopper’s paradise, with immaculate undisturbed frocks that will have you clamoring to figure how you can ship garments home. Preserve your energy from walking all day in direct sunlight as Ybor city transforms into a daily Mardi Gras styled celebration of life with pedestrian traffic, unending liquid libations, and nonstop dancing. Come ready to play hard Tampa will greet you with open arms.

The Ultimate Guy’s Getaway is Green Bay Wisconsin

The Ultimate Guy's Getaway is Green Bay, Wisconsin Photo Courtesy Patrick T Cooper
The Ultimate Guy’s Getaway is Green Bay, Wisconsin Photo Courtesy Patrick T Cooper

Of course, the cheese? Yes, Wisconsin is synonymous with cheese. Hence the cheese head uniform isn’t an uncommon theme. Beyond the cliché of cheese and the Green Bay packers which are phenomenal draws there breathes a quaint Wisconsin gem. Green Bay is the oldest city in Wisconsin and the smallest city to host an NFL team.

Perhaps you haven’t been the best friend. Perhaps you haven’t had an opportunity since the  bachelor party to get away with the fellas. More than likely you have neglected the thought of a guy’s trip because everyone has been pursing career goals? Lastly, the role of father can be oh so overwhelming and you find yourself last in pecking order?  Well, those thoughts are done. Since you are busy, we formulated a travel plan and destination that will make jumping on a jet a breeze and  easily persuading to your crew. It’s almost football season! Let’s Go Packing.

Chaads

If you bleed  green and gold you are destined for  sheer excitement. However, if you are not a fan of the Green Bay Packers, you will be. The reasons you will fall in love are cheeses, rich history, filling foods and unparalleled hospitality. Admittedly, I wasn’t that knowledgeable about Green Bay, Wisconsin to include the Green Bay Packers prior to my journey to craft this article. Super Bowl champion Reggie White’s prowess on the field and jersey recognition made me somewhat familiar in years past.  However, the fanatical spirit of Green Bay is immediate, evident  and undeniable upon arrival. Intoxicating paraphernalia greets travelers upon touchdown at Austin Straubel International Airport. Consider yourself  welcomed into the winner’s circle.  

Here is your quick guide to organizing the ultimate guys getaway that will result  in an annual travel ritual to Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Green Bay Training Camp

Get up close and personal with world class athletes. The Packers organization is very unique in comparison to other football franchises in the NFL. The Packers are owned by the fans. You too can be a shareholder of this legacy. Now, this is truly FAN TASTIC! If ownership isn’t enough wow factor, fans and the public are invited to training camps. The Vince Lombardi legacy allowing kids to offer players bike rides to Ray Nitschke field continues today. The pictures of Dream Drive are inspiring, heartfelt  and humbling.  Highlight your journey with the Lambeau Field Tour and stand on the field of champions

Lodge Kohler

Perhaps, you need rejuvenation and relaxation. Lodge Kohler is  literally football field away from the action of the Packers home. This 4-star hotel will have you covered, comfortable and in close proximity to downtown Green Bay. More importantly, the Kohler Waters Spa was designed to treat the mind body and soul. Therefore, if by chance you arise with a hangover from the big game or guys retreat you can restore in peace before departing Wisconsin.

Titletown Brewing Company

Perhaps you will become a fan of Tap Room’s famous cheese curds or drunk mac & cheese pizza. Somehow, I figure you will be making a mad dash for the wide selection of Titletown ales, golds and lagers. Either way the Titletown Brewing Company will not disappoint you and friends. Located at the renovated Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot you will find entertainment, the perfect night cap and the best view of downtown Green Bay.

1951 West

Perhaps, you don’t know a fine eatery in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Well now you do. From the signature 1951 west burger to the wild berry chicken salad there is something on the menu to dance across your tongue and delight your tummy. 1951 West serves truly refined cocktails and delicious American cuisine with a staff determined to make you smile.

Ski’s Meat Market

Perhaps you are looking for the best meat to throw on the grill while you are traveling. Well, Ski’s Meat Market has fine cuts of meat and a multitude of brats. Take a tour of this premiere facility and learn all you would ever need to know about meat. Meet the meat people they’ve got the answers for the carnivore in you.

Chaads

New Zoo & Adventure Park

Perhaps you prefer to keep physically fit or you want to challenge the guys while traveling.  The New Zoo & Adventure park offers dual “racing” zip lining, the aerial adventure course and the climbing tower. Not only will you get to meet over 200 individual animals you can get your adrenaline flowing with some healthy competition.

Green Bay Botanical Gardens

Perhaps you are in dire straits for a moment of peace and tranquility. Roam the 47 acres of horticulture in the spirit of adventure The Green Bay Botanical Gardens is more than a gorgeous backdrop of blossoms. Spend the afternoon learning and absorbing the knowledge to become a better green thumb. Your refreshed perspective will surely encourage you to beautify your personal garden and landscape surrounding your man cave.

The Automobile Gallery

Perhaps you will be lucky enough to encounter  “Red”, the owner of The Automobile Gallery. From humble beginnings, of 1 car wash to owning multiple facilities, William “ Red” Lewis is down to earth and harmed with an infectious personality that will entertain you  for an entire day while touring his showroom of cars. Truly a grown man’s Hot Wheels collection and unlike most museums that are stuffy with rope barriers you will be welcome to get behind the wheel of exotic cars to snap pictures until your heart is content.

Chaads

7 Reasons to Set Sail on The Carnival Magic Ship

7 Reasons to Set Sail on The Carnival Magic Ship Photo Courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines
7 Reasons to Set Sail on The Carnival Magic Ship Photo Courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines
7 Reasons to Set Sail on The Carnival Magic Ship Photo Courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

Who wants the MAGIC? Of course, you do. Here are 7 Reasons To Sail on Carnival Magic ship. Carnival Cruise Lines has the perfect formula for relaxation and rejuvenation. Post pandemic we can all use some fun. The fun starts in Orlando. Port Canaveral is an easy embarkation and a quick shuttle from Orlando International Airport. Port Canaveral is a perfect alternative to the busier cruise ports in South Florida. The Carnival Magic is a 3,960 passenger dream class ship. Therefore this ship is perfect for solo travelers or family groups. Young or old Carnival Cruise Lines is the perfect for fun times. The Magic is considered casual sailing and is less rigid itineraries at sea. It is your time, to marvel in magic and make memorable moments to last a lifetime!

THE EMBARKATION

Life you be easy, breezy and comfortable. So, the Carnival Cruise hospitality team starts your vacation with a seamless embarkation. The staff did not disappoint, making us feel like VIPs prior to boarding the ship.

THE FOOD

Chicken Skewers 7 Reasons to Set Sail on The Carnival Magic Ship Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Chicken Skewers 7 Reasons to Set Sail on The Carnival Magic Ship Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

The Carnival Magic is known for “Good Grub” and lives up to that reputation. Don’t expect fancy – but expect hardy food and plenty of it! By far, one of our favorite dining experiences is Guy’s Burger Joint. By far the best burger we’ve had at sea (not to mention the hand-cut fries).

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There are countless food options at no additional charge, including 24/7 Pizza and room service! However, you can splurge on more upscale dining option(s) for an additional fee. 14 food destinations on board to eat, certainly kept us busy and full! You want a great steak or some surf & turf on the high-seas? Definitely make a reservation at Prime Steak House. Italiano anyone? Cucina del Capitano was worth the extra splurge for the intimate regional Italian cuisine.

THE STAY

Don’t expect huge cabins. You should get ready to enjoy the sun. Besides, how much are you in the cabin? There are many options to choose from. Perhaps, splurge on a suite for even more magical memories.

THE DESTINATION

Carnival Cruise Lines Private Beach

Patrick T Cooper at Carnivals Mohaghany Bay Roatán, Honduras Photo Courtesy of Terry Sprunger
Patrick T Cooper at Carnivals Mohaghany Bay Roatán, Honduras Photo Courtesy of Terry Sprunger

With over 100 excursions to choose from, you will get to do some “one in a lifetime” options.

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We opted for the ATV trip through the jungles, rivers, mud and backroads of Mexico! This excursion was adventurous and thrilling. Perhaps, you can simply enjoy the view, sunshine, and relaxation!

THE FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT

Carnival Cruise Lines Nightly Entertainment Video Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

THE STAFF

Meet the Crew that is a eager to please with gracious hospitality. The stage show FLICK, created by Paul Roberts, is creative, artful and combined great talent and technology. Songs weaved from various Hollywood film productions will entertain you.

The Carnival Magic Comedy has something to keep you entertained. From casino, lip-sync battles, and adult only retreats you will certainly never know boredom. Finally, may you would be best served by the unlimited drink package.

THE RELAXATION

Relax in the Thalassortherapy Pool. The spa pool is a special mix of sea H20 of all-natural absorbing minerals and vitamins to comfort. This experience is one of 5 special rooms within the Cloud 9 Spa. The spa is relaxing after shore excursions and tons of sun exposure.

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A Travel Guide to Wine & Wildflowers in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

A Spectacular Travel Guide to Wine & Wildflowers in Gatlinburg Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
A  Spectacular Travel Guide to Wine &  Wildflowers in Gatlinburg Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
A Spectacular Travel Guide to Wine & Wildflowers in Gatlinburg Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

Here is your spectacular travel guide to wine and wildflowers in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Go beyond the fanfare and huge presence of legend Dolly Parton to discover the offerings of this southern city. Fortunately, there is The Mountain Winefest, The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage and an undeniable southern hospitality. Literally, there are gallons of wine and wildflowers in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Moreover, there are tons of activities in Gatlinburg to provoke annual returns visit by travelers.

EAT

Log Cabin Pancake House

Walk to dine at the Log Cabin House. The food and service are filling and heart felt. Seriously, there are tons of dining experiences in walking distance from the hotel. The service at Log Cabin was phenomenal prompting three visits over my weekend stay. From the first dining experience, it felt like meeting old friends with the entire serving team.

Gatlinburg's Log Cabin Pancake House  Gatlinburg,  Tennessee Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Gatlinburg’s Log Cabin Pancake House Gatlinburg, Tennessee Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

Log Cabin House has the best hash browns known to man. Sprinkle your belly with delight you will not be disappointed.

STAY

Courtyard by Marriott Gatlinburg

Downtown Gatlinburg is vantage point to exploring the Smoky Mountain region. While the swiss-themed mountain cottages are tempting, it is best to opt for the Courtyard Marriott. The Courtyard Marriott hotel is steps away from the city center. The convenient hotel location means, you can stumble back after drinks, dining and enjoying local attractions. The property boosts interior and exterior fireplaces contributing to a cozy environment for fireside chats.

PLAY

Smoky Mountain Winefest Weekend!

The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is the host and is in the walkable area of downtown Gatlinburg. Local vendors make it easy to indulge in spirits and paired local fare. Furthermore, be sure to taste Tennessee Homemade Wines Proper Peach it is a winner. Georgia natives love anything peach .

Click here for more festival details.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Gatlinburg, Tennessee Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Gatlinburg, Tennessee Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

Wear comfortable shoes or footwear suitable for hiking. Porters Creek Trail is phenomenal. While the hike is not arduous the rocks and slippery paths require support to keep your feet firmly planted. The multitude and medley of exotic colors are heavenly.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Gatlinburg, Tennessee Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Gatlinburg, Tennessee Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

The tour guides are passionate about wildflower education, keeping you engaged the entire experience. Charge your cameras as the flowers make brilliant photography.

Wine Access

How To Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco’s Union Square

How To Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco's Union Square Photo Courtesy Patrick T Cooper
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

San Francisco always feels so good from the moment you spot the Golden Gate Bridge. Here is your, how quick guide on, “How To Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco’s Union Square.” Literally, the weather is always a slight breeze. Therefore, producing the perfect opportunity to illustrate seasonal jacket style. Moreover, food, fashion and culture make San Francisco the perfect travel trap for avid global citizens. San Francisco is a Californian gem that never disappoints. To experience the splendor of San Francisco you will have to make this city a return visit essential of your travel repertoire. Beyond the clothing racks there is gracious hospitality and unique dining that are a must should you find yourself in sweet San Francisco.

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Eating In Golden Style

The Dorian

The ambience at Dorian is intoxicating and is a short stride to Union Square. A fun environment with chilled cocktails will have enjoying an enhanced natural high.

Happy Hour

The Dorian left no stone unturned with its carefully curated library bar and horn sconce lighting to set the mood for a unique dining experience. You will hooked prior to tasting 1 morsel of food.

Tap 415

Shopping is a necessary evil in San Francisco. Every retail door you can imagine greets you in Union Square. Is there treatment for individuals with shopping habits like a Betty Ford?

How To Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco's Union Square Tap 415 Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
How To Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco’s Union Square Tap 415 Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

San Francisco’s Union Square will feed your undeniable need to indulge in the latest fashion essentials. After a day of tearing up the mall or in my current case a whole bunch of window shopping we grabbed a seat at Tap 415.

Palm House

The jerk chicken tacos and the slurpy and you are done. I was one happy camper I sat on the patio for over 3 hours nothing better than daytime cocktails.

A Golden Sleep

Hilton Union Square

Crashing at the Hilton Union Square is perfect. Therefore, you be centrally located in the nucleus of Union Square. A city block presence can make the hotel seem overwhelming. But, the staff and intimacy hospitality make for a boutique feel. However, a nonstop buzzing lobby is perfect for people watching and meeting new friends should you be traveling solo.

Nightfall City View at Cityscape Lounge  at Hilton Union Square San Francisco, California
Nightfall City View at Cityscape Lounge at Hilton Union Square San Francisco, California

A unique element of this massive property is the newly renovated Cityscape Lounge. Board the brisk elevators to the top floor and prepare to experience the WOW of San Francisco. Currently the highest 360 view if the city, the Cityscape bar serves phenomenal libations and quick nibble. So, as a guest of the hotel making an acquaintance is easy.

Shop Refillable Lipsticks at Bond No 9

Your Travel Guide To Treasures in Orlando, Florida

Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

We have your travel guide to treasures in Orlando, Florida. Beyond Mickey Mouse did you know you can eat, shop, stay and play in Orlando while making memories. Here is a simple plan to make central Florida your next travel stop.

EAT

Filet Mignon at Todd English's Blue Zoo Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Filet Mignon at Todd English’s Blue Zoo Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

While staying at the Swan and Dolphin, you can choose from 17 restaurants and lounges. The Todd English Blue Zoo is a favorite hence we are sharing the details with you. Designed by renowned Jeffrey Beers the restaurant is elegantly appointed with precision lighting to accompany the architecture and hand blown glass creations. This dining experience is unique and delicious.

Coltorti Boutique EU
Dinner at Todd English's Blue Zoo Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper
Dinner at Todd English’s Blue Zoo Photo Courtesy of Patrick T Cooper

SHOP

Orlando shopping is pure luxury. Giorgio Armani, Boss, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Saks and Neiman Marcus are just a few of the name brands. With 2 premium outlets shopping will be a treasure with discounts up to 75% of retails and over 160 designers. Open daily until 11pm, the outlets allow plenty of time for travelers to eat, shop and play while discovering the treasures of Orlando.

STAY

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is an awesome location. Centrally located to stroll or boat to the Walt Disney World EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Boardwalk Entertainment will be easy and accessible. More affordable than many Disney resorts, you will get the perks of extra magic hours . Relax or play, it’s your stay! The Swan and Dolphin is a Marriott-operated resort with 2,267 spacious rooms and sparkles after the completion of a $140 Million overhauling the entire property. Purposefully, designed this hotel is built in a wave pattern with soft blues, grays and with crisp white bedding equaling a sleep sound.

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PLAY

Orlando has a multitude of entertainment options. One destination that is ofter overlooked is Sea World. SeaWorld is a blast! Prepare for the thrill of the Mako rollercoaster and scream with excitement.