The Typical Tourist – Page 2 of 3 – Follow Your Heart, Plan The Trip, Travel On!

Enjoying our MacMurray vineyards wine at Wine Country Trattoria!

On our last night in Anaheim, we opted for Wine Country Trattoria inside California Adventure Park. Italian food (read comfort food), good California wine, and an inviting atmosphere seemed like a solid plan – and it was all that and more!

We started with the Caprese Salad and Italian Insalata, standards of an Italian restaurant, but well executed. For our entrees, my younger gal and my husband both chose the Spaghetti Bolonese with Meatballs – and agreed that the sauce and the meatballs were the BEST they’ve had in recent memory! (I’m still trying to not take this too hard as I haven’t made homemade sauce in a hot minute. *puts it on the summer to do list*) My older daughter chose the Vegetable Lasagna Rustica – not vegetarian as it had Bolonese sauce, but she could have chosen that option. Just looking at the delicious melted cheese on top should let you know that it was warm, gooey, and everything a good veggie lasagna should be. Finally, when I saw the Aglio Olio, I knew I had to try it. Aglio Olio is a staple rustic dish, embracing all that is good about olive oil, garlic, and semolina pasta. While I never make it with broccoli, it was soul food for me, none the less. Ottimo!

Check out the full menu here:

Ciao California! Ti vogliamo bene!

#Disneyland #DisneyCaliforniaAdventurePark #WineCountryTrattoria #MacMurray

Let’s chat for a moment about travel and baggage. (The actual suitcases; this isn’t a psychological post!) Airlines these days are getting VERY specific about what constitutes a personal item and a carry on. In the US, prior to 9/11, you could easily use a full 22” carry on, maybe even 24” if it was soft sided. This is definitely no longer the case. Airlines took a hard economic hit after 9/11 – personally, we canceled a flight in 2001 and didn’t fly again for five years – so airlines altered their planes by compacting the space between rows (hello 10”) to fit more rows of seating, but no more space for luggage. More people on the same plan equals greater efficiency. This situation remains. In addition, for major airlines like United to compete with “value” airlines like Spirit and Frontier, they have created a fare called “Basic Economy” which includes only a personal item; bringing a carry-on or checking luggage incurs additional fees. *cha-ching!* So, where does that leave a traveler?

For our family, this scenario puts us squarely in “carry on only” travel. Yes, we just did 10 days in California then Hawaii with ONLY carry-ons! (We did have a washer/dryer half way through the trip and this has become a key component to our carry-on travel success.) After much research and cost comparison, our family purchased and used this carry-on: [ ]. It is a 20” with four wheels that spin all directions and a telescoping handle. I chose the Navy one pictured below; my gals actually have aqua/teal. (Amazon Prime Days are 7/15&16 – does this need to be on your list?? Set a reminder to use the link above!)

My Verdi 20″ hard side carry-on packed and ready to go!

Usually, I love to have little slots, pockets, and hidden spots in a travel bag. This has NONE of those, but that’s the key to this little beauty. In retrospect, I packed WAY too many clothes for this trip. Seriously, Way too many. But, they ALL fit in this case! So, I call it a win for this trip and a lesson for the next trip!

*This post contains affiliate links which may result in The Typical Tourist getting something in return. 

So, how did I fit 11 shirts, 8 pairs of shorts, 3 bathing suits, 2 dresses, pajamas, undies, and a pair of sandals into this beauty? In order to show you, my readers, my magical packing skills, I made my *first* Typical Tourist video! Click the link below, check it out, and leave a *kind* if constructive comment!

Packing 101 with The Typical Tourist :

#Carryon #AmazonAffiliate #TypicalTourist #TravelOn

Happy family due to the stunning lack of wet-blanket, Florida heat. A snack trio that proves Disney knows our dessert-loving hearts, and Dole whip before lunch. Because Dole whip. Enjoy!

A note: See that handsome guy *smiling* in front of that mountain?? The “mountain” is the Matterhorn, an original Disneyland ride, and riding it with his own dad is one of my husband’s favorite, most grounding childhood memories. That’s saying a lot for a Navy brat. So, we go to Disneyland.

Also, Galaxy’s Edge is open. I like and appreciate Star Wars and George Lucas. I have no idea what this land/market/building is supposed to be. But I know some of you are oohing and ahhing. And I adore you. You’re welcome. First taste: Louisiana Crawfish Cake!

Every time we travel, we learn something about ourselves. Deep down, that might be my favorite part. During our whirlwind long weekend in Asheville in January, we learned that Mom and Dad making the big plans and leaving room for the daughter to suggest the smaller, daily plans is a successful combination. Therefore, on our second night in Anaheim, we embraced that plan and followed our younger gal to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. (Wait, jazz, shrimp and Creole food? I was so in!)

With temperatures in the mid 70s and low humidity, we embraced dining al fresco as often as possible on this trip and this restaurant has the sweetest open air courtyard with padded ironwork chairs and inviting round tables centered around a funky, intriguing planter – the perfect relaxing atmosphere after a day at Disneyland! (A note: we got seated inside first, but open tables in that courtyard beckoned, so I nicely went back to the hostess and asked to be seated outside, out of the sun. Of course, nicely is ALWAYS the key!)

” Aside from the martini, the mint julep may be the most iconic cocktail in America.” – Jonathan Miles

We started with a sangria for me and a hearty mint julep for my older-than-her-age 22 year old. Yes, there’s Woodford Reserve in that there julep and not just a drop! My hubby and chose the Louisiana Crawfish Cake and the girls chose the Popcorn Calamari. Both were absolutely delicious, though next time, we’ll order the calamari with mostly or all “rings”! Some legs are okay, but I’m not always that…brave!!

For dinner, the girls ordered Blackened Chicken Mac-n-Cheese and Pasta Jambalaya. The penne mac-n-cheese was rich and creamy and the jambalaya had just enough spice, cut heartily by the spinach fettuccine. As for my husband and I, we had to order the Shrimp and Grits. I mean, it’s a NOLA themed restaurant. Though the shrimp were a bit overdone, the flavors did not disappoint! We would order it again. 

After all that delicious, savory food, as usual we did not leave room for dessert. However, on a previous visits we got the beignets from the Jazz Kitchen Express window for breakfast. If you’re staying on property or close to Downtown Disney, do it! They’re a hot, sweet, delicious way to start the morning and perfect with a steaming hot OR iced cold cup o’ joe! 

As a Downtown Disney restaurant, the Dinner Menu is a bit limited and the Kids Menu has standard, but also a bit limited fare, so be sure to check it out before you go:

That said, do it! Make a reservation, ask for a table in the courtyard or outside to enjoy the people watching and drink in that Nawlins vibe!

#downtowndisney #rbjazzkitchen #NOLA #Anaheim #mintjulep #shrimpandgrits

P.S. We had a GREAT day at Disneyland and I’ll probably post some snack food and family pics, but there are a gazillion options out there that review Disneyland, so I think I’ll leave it to them.

Want some good deets from me? Click Contact and shoot me an email – as a DVC Member and WDW Annual Passholder, I DO love to talk about the Mouse!

*Coming soon…. our last, very California, dinner in Anaheim!

Last week we headed out on a family trip to California and Hawaii – Amazing! Therefore, coming your way in the next few days are trip highlights – where we stayed, what we ate, and which activities we chose to do. It was absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to share with you!

Dinner Day #1: Tacos and Temptations at Tortilla Jo’s

Don’t miss the table side Guacamole!

In case you’ve missed it along the way, we love Mexican food. (Yes, Tex-Mex, Americanized Mexican is probably more accurate, but whatever it is, we love it!) So, upon arrival at Downtown Disney, Anaheim, CA we headed straight for Tortilla Jo’s! Definitely start with the table-side guacamole – you can customize the ingredients and the guacamole artist is always so fun! We couldn’t decide which margarita to try, so my older daughter and I went for the casa noble margarita flight – jalapeño-mango, blood orange, and pineapple cilantro. I’m a mango gal myself, but all three were delicious! After lots of chips, salsa, and guacamole, I opted for a light entree, while the family chose some perennial favorites.

I chose the Sinaloa shrimp ceviche which was fresh and delicious and definitely had more than a hint of habanero! Whew! My younger gal had her fav -quesadilla tradicional with shredded chicken- full of chicken and drizzled with queso fresco, her sister a fajita burrito with grilled chicken, and my hubby chose a combo. Honestly, the entrees are large in size, but average in taste. It might be worthwhile to plan on a light dinner, stick to table side guacamole, some “Antojitos” and ceviches. Then you can easily head out to the Downtown Disney area for some very delicious dessert options!

Check out the menu here:

#downtowndisney #tortillajos #guacamole #margaritas #anaheim

Dessert Day #1: Sweet Sensations at Salt and Straw

One of our family’s mantras is, “There’s always room for ice cream!” While in Anaheim, we employed this mantra the very first night at Salt and Straw! This ice cream store is a small chain along the west coast – according to their website, there are locations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Diego. We’re hoping one opens on our side of the country – maybe in Disney Springs? – because it was delicious!

While there are some classics, if you have littles, be sure to check the menu before going in. It is “craft ice cream” (is that a thing? I just made it up) and their flavors can be very unusual.

See the menu here:

And yes, I actually tried the Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese. It was outstandingly different and amazingly delicious – though a small amount was enough for me.

#saltandstraw #blackolivebrittle #DowntownDisney #icecreamfordays #alwaysroomforicecream

The Welcoming sign says it all!

Final THROWBACK post for Easter Weekend 2019! In planning this trip, I knew we would need a kitchen and a living space so that Mom could cook Easter breakfast and the Easter bunny could easily hop on by, so I headed to my favorite source – – and found this great little spot! Shell Cove is a small, two story building right on the beach, a bit north of the center of things. Our place (and I think most or all of the units) is a two bedroom, one bath unit with a full kitchen and stacked washer/dryer. 

Positives: The common spaces of this unit were just about perfect for us! #10 includes an adorable high top table for four, super comfy sectional sofa, and a cute little kitchen with a full size refrigerator, stove, and a cabinets stocked with pots, pans, and many other items. The bedrooms are a good size, one with a king that basically takes up the whole room and one with a set of bunk beds, a family of four would be easily accommodated. The unit is clean, well-taken care of, and has a wonderful, beachy vibe. And look at the view from the window!

Negatives: There is no dishwasher, but is that really a big deal? No- it’s the beach! The one bathroom has everything needed, but is very tight and the stacked washer/dryer are in the “linen closet” inside the bathroom. Again, not a big deal, but requires navigating. The only questionable part is that the beds are in need of new mattresses. The king is okay; our teen found the bunk beds very thin and uncomfortable.

Outside Space Note: Shell Cove probably began life as a motel and the units all open to an open air walkway. Unit #10- like most units on the second floor – have a little set of patio furniture right outside the door. From hot coffee and a good book to a cold beer, a snack and a deck of cards, this little detail can cap off your stay. Plus, you might even meet some sweet neighbors like we did!

Transportation Note: This unit comes with one parking space, which is awesome. In terms of getting to the Bridge Street area, it is not really walkable, but there is a Trolley stop just steps from Shell Cove that will take you wherever you’d like to go!

Just remembering this view makes me breathe a little slower and deeper – and plan our return! Some of the most delicious shrimp tacos on the island!

Easter Weekend 2019 Throwback #2: When the locals throw a party in the bar area, you know the food is going to be good! We are Mexican food lovers – okay, Tex-Mex, Americanized Mexican food lovers; we accept our label – so when we travel, we look for the most frequented place to try. In Bradenton Beach, that’s Wicked Cantina! I judge a place by its shrimp tacos and Wicked Cantina passes with flying colors. The shrimp is crispy on the sauteed edges and has just enough bite to warrant the cool slaw. My husband judges by its salsa and enchiladas. Salsa – fresh, bright, and just a bit of slow heat. Enchiladas – soft, cheesy, and well-seasoned. Win-win!

Wicked Cantina is a busy, family-friendly place which also doesn’t take reservations. While you’re waiting on your table, pop across the parking lot and check out all the wonderfully beachy (read touristy and cheesy and so perfect!) little shop, The Green Turtle! Fun for everyone in there! Speaking of parking lot, save yourself the hassle of parking and walk or take the FREE Trolley shuttle which has both a southbound and northbound stop right near Wicked Cantina.

Finally, do it. Buy the souvenir T-shirt. Choose from “Can we TACO about it?” “Can we GUAC about it?” and our favorite, “QUESO, we good?”

Check out the full menu here: and then GO!

Is lunch too early for Tito’s and Pink Lemonade? AMOB says, “How can you drink all day if you don’t start in the morning?”

This is a THROWBACK Post to Easter Weekend 2019. We had a four day weekend, so we headed to the coast. However, our weekend weather was a bit colder than we anticipated- 68 degrees and 25mph winds – so we took a break from our Saturday morning sunbathing (sandblasting) and headed out to Anna Maria Oyster Bar for lunch. Feeling feisty, I ordered a Tito’s and pink lemonade; when it came with a lime wedge, I knew we were in the right place! We started with incredibly fresh raw oysters and Kaboom shrimp (AMOB’s take on bang bang shrimp). Delicious! Our entrees included the Fiesta Salad for me, blackened Mahi-mahi sandwich for K, and Shrimp and Grits from the Brunch menu for my hubs. The salad put greens in my gut with a slightly Tex-mex edge and a delicious lime vinaigrette. The shrimp and grits had a smoky bacon flavor with light peppery zing and the Mahi-mahi flavor was balanced and spicy, but not hot. Beautiful views from all seats, great drinks, and fresh, well prepared food: AMOB is a must-do!
Check out the complete menu here:

Also check the T-shirt options! One of my fav sayings from above: “You can drink all day if you don’t start in the morning!” Ha!

  • The freshest oysters!
  • Kaboom! Shrimp
  • Perfect bite: Cocktail sauce & Horseradish
  • Shrimp and Grits
  • Blackened Mahi – yum!

Things to know: AMOB doesn’t take reservations and gets busy fast. If you go at common lunch or dinner time, expect to wait. AMOB is very family friendly and has kids books available in the small entry. 

While you’re waiting, stroll out onto the pier and watch the pelicans fish, the drawbridges go up in the distance, and swing on the swings. You may even get to watch some fishermen bringing in their haul! (Slight warning here: there are several fish cleaning stations, so weak stomach and small eyes will want to be aware.)

To celebrate the beginning of Spring Break ‘19 (and because our daughter has a more active social life then we do and she needed a ride to Windemere!) my sweet husband made us a reservation at Big Fin Seafood Kitchen on Orlando’s Restaurant Row. Arriving to the light aroma of sautéing garlic in butter and caramelizing edges of a cedar plank, we knew right away we had chosen well. The bright central area of the restaurant is a high vaulted, arched ceiling area – fun, festive, and a little noisy – so we were glad to be seated in the wood paneled front room – a little more intimate, a little quieter and perfect! 

  • Chorizo Stuffed Dates
  • Shrimp and Parmesan Grits with Jalapeno Chips

We started with a bottle of wine and when I told our server Tim what I was looking for, he told the bar manager and then came back with an EXCELLENT choice! A 91 pt 2017 Malbec with a hearty character and a smooth finish- my favorite! (Note to self: Big Fin has a buy one, get one 50% off on bottles deal on Fridays and Saturdays which would be wonderful for a double date night or larger parties!) The first course of our meal included shrimp and a jalapeño parmesan grits cake for my husband and chorizo stuffed, bacon-wrapped medjool dates for me. I know right?! Chorizo stuffed and bacon wrapped? Pork for days…that with the tomato piquillo pepper sauce ended up culminating in a barbecue type flavor. I’m not sure I would order them again unless I was really feeling that barbecue longing, but they were fun and very good! That said, the shrimp and grits was where it’s at! It had a surprisingly light flavor with a zing of the jalapeño – delicious and easily large enough to be shareable for at least two people.

  • Seafood Cioppino
  • Shrimp and Scallop Orleans

As entrees, we went for the Seafood Orleans combo – scallops and shrimp over crawfish parmesan grits – and the Seafood “Cioppino” – crab, white fish, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, and chorizo with potatoes and corn in a rustic tomato broth. Yes, my husband out-ordered me again! Actually the shrimp and scallops were delicious and the crawfish Parmesan grits were crazy smooth and delicious! But that rustic tomato broth and those tiny, delectable mussels, and the crunchy, sweet pop of corn kernels – wow! With the unusual addition of chorizo to this dish, it becomes an outstanding combination of light seafood flavor with a hearty tomato and herb foundation and an ever-so-slightly sweet finish. Don’t miss this dish, folks! Really wanting lobster? Fine. Order this dish as an appetizer for four. Make it work. I promise, you’ll thank me!Finally, we decided that we needed the full experience, so we had Tim pack up some to-go boxes and asked for the dessert menu! The Big Fin Signature dessert has chocolate, peanut butter mousse, and vanilla ice cream – oh yes, please! I also ordered an Americano because I knew I was going to need something to cut all that sugar. The result – a delight for the peanut butter cup lover!

When you plan your visit, while I wouldn’t characterize this restaurant as Special Occasion Only – although it would be a good choice for a special occasion – it definitely qualifies as “upscale.” Patrons are dressed nicely – no T-shirts or super casual wear – and if you get out under $100 for two, I will be impressed by your ordering skills! It was a treat, so if you’ve been looking for really good seafood and a variety of choices, head over to Big Fin Seafood Kitchen!

Check out the menu here:

*Note about parking: Thankfully, all parking at Dellagio Town Center is complimentary valet as it’s a tight squeeze back there, so remember to bring small bills for your tip!

#RestaurantRow #BigFin #OrlandoSeafood #orlando #datenight #doubledatenight

Papa’s Diner – 626 E. Hwy 50 Clermont, FL 34711 (in the Winn-Dixie plaza)

As I was typing the caption above, I thought, “Yep. You know it’s a hometown place when you give the address by the landmarks around it!” Papa’s Diner has long been a favorite breakfast spot of ours – a perfect landing after an early Saturday morning of garage sale-ing, I mean treasure hunting! I love a CRISPY corned beef hash and my husband will return again and again for homemade sausage gravy. Add some Frank’s Red Hot and Folger’s coffee made on the classic BUNN-Omatic and breakfast is served! When the girls come with us, there are always Frisbee-sized, fluffy pancakes on the order and often buttery grits with a generous helping of cheese. Papa’s Diner is first come, first served by three lovely servers. (I told them this morning as we were sitting at the counter that they provided breakfast AND a comedy show, of which I heartily approve – they laughed and agreed!) So, get there early for a table or take a seat at the counter. Breakfast will be up fast and fresh and you’ll often see someone you know!

For our beloved hometown diner, checking out the menu requires you to be there, so go! They are open from 7:00 am – 2:00 pm and have breakfast and lunch specials every day. Also if you’re wondering why I don’t have the usual food pics posted here, there’s an outstanding reason for that: when my food came steaming out, I forgot all about taking any photos and I ate it! Next time, I promise!

Papa’s Diner – 626 E. Hwy 50, Clermont, FL 34711 * 352-394-4474

#clermontfl #papasdiner #breakfastinclermont #cornedbeefhash