Bike Sebring takes place every February at the famous Sebring International Raceway – the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day. Hosted by The Rotary Club of Highlands County & the Highlands Pedalers Bicycle Club it is officially know as the Bike Sebring 12 Hour & Ultra cycling RAAM Qualifier.
All monies go to great causes as the Rotary Club of Highlands County uses proceeds from this event to support local charities.
We love to visit Florida in February – the weather is much more conducive to cycling than in the UK at that time of year although it can be cool and if you are taking part in either the 12 or 24 hour races you will need some warm weather gear for the early start/finish (6am) .
2017 registration is now available. Click here for more information Bike Sebring
Situated at 900 S.Palm Avenue, Sarasota, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are a little oasis very close to downtown.
William and Marie Selby moved to Sarasota in the early 1920s. Marie loved nature and wanted to keep Sarasota beautiful and green. When she died in 1971 she bequeathed her home and property to the community with the aim of forming a botanical garden and just 2 years later Selby Gardens were founded and opened to the public in July 1975.
We entered through the Welcome Centre, purchasing our admission. From here we went into the Tropical Conservatory which was awash with many varied and beautiful orchids. We went on to the Bonsai Exhibit – all labelled with when they were born! and then onto the Cycad Display. Following the path we saw the Fern Garden and stopped to admire the Koi – with the buddhas and the Japanese bell. We passed the Bamboo Garden and then onto Banyan Grove which was one of my favourites – the roots of the Banyan tree are absolutely huge, beautiful and fascinating. We both hugged the hugging tree and explored the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden which had lots of colourful animal sculptures, bridges and steps, waterfall – great fun for all with an adult swing seat to sit in while watching the children play.
From here we continued along the short circular pathway, admiring the Desert garden, on to the Gazebo and then along to the Baywalk which hosted another large buddha and had lovely views across the Bay to Sarasota and Armand. In the Mangroves we saw several birds including Pelican, Osprey and a Belted Kingfisher. We rejoined the pathway and passed the palm and then on to the Payne Mansion where there was an exhibit of old botanical books and paintings plus living plants in jars which are used for research purposes.
We saw the display gardens – although it wasn’t really the right time of year to fully appreciate the Butterfly Garden.
A couple of hours soon passed by in a leisurely relaxed way. There is a little shop selling garden themed items and plants. There is also a little cafe for coffee and cake.
At just $20 entry for an adult we would highly recommend it. For more info go to Marie Selby
This gallery contains 19 photos.
On our last full vacation day, we headed to Disney Springs to check out the changes.
We parked in the multi-storey Orange car park – undercover so keeping the car cooler for our return, lots of spaces and good location into Disney Springs by the bowling at Splitsville and the new Coca Cola World.
Starting our visit on the terrace of Coca Cola World (3 storeys of Coke branded products) we took in the view and got our bearings.
We made our way through the new undercover shopping arcade – to the outside stores. What an absolutely fabulous setting, fountains, palm trees with pristine shop fronts. We had a quick browse in Kate Spade before making our way to The Boathouse for our lunch reservation.
Lunch at the Boathouse was everything we had hoped for – great service, good quality food, nice selection and the crafted cocktails were the best!
After lunch we made our way to the Disney and Lego stores before going back to the new stores including Under Armour, Sephora, Zara and Ugg.
Taking a mid afternoon break, we went to Sprinkles for a cupcake desert. I had been looking forward to trying the cupcake ATM out, however, it was out of order. We went in and order a cupcake sundae – a cupcake cut in half with a scoop of ice-cream in the middle. For us, the product didn’t live up to the hype – I’m not sure we would return – particularly as there is Ghirardelli which serves amazing ice creams.
All shopped out and appetites well and truly satisfied we headed home, just ahead of a very nasty storm!
The following day we headed out on the US 27 for Bok Tower Gardens as we were interested to see the newly opened Hammock Hollow.
Located to the right of the restaurant area as you go in, it is nice ly tucked away so the tranquility around the Tower is not spoiled.
Hammock Hollow is amazing – including a snake shaped sandpit, water fountains to play in, a word garden, fairy gardent with dress up accessories and stage, hammocks, pine garden. With lots of shade, seating and picnic areas I think it will be very popular.
We also took.a turn along the main walk, through the wild garden and bog garden stopping briefly at the window on the pond.
We then headed to the Blue Palmetto Cafe for a lovely wrap and some beer battered fries.
After lunch we had a leisurely stroll up to the Tower, feeding the fish on the way.
Another excellent visit – highly recommended
So after the disappointment of Sarasota and the Red Tide preventing us from visiting the beaches we were back on the road at 8.30am.
We decided to drive straight through to Celebration for a stroll around the lakes followed by lunch at Columbia.
There was a small tortoise on the walkway. We also looked at the shops which are a bit disappointing and very touristy – OK to browse.
Lunch was amazing as usual – I tried something new a sauted beef stew called Steak Saltedo – fantastic. My friend chose a mojito (comes with sugar cane) gazpacho and Steak with onions, plantain and rice.
Leaving room for a scoop of Kilwin’s – I tried the Georgia Peach which was apparently flavor of the day meaning I got 2 scoops for the price of 1!