I didn’t get this adorable “Up and Atom” mini brooch from Erstwilder until after our vacation this summer, but a little creative photography allowed me to display it at the Atomic Tonic at Cabana Bay, and I have to say, they look like they were meant to be together!
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Fourteen
Orlando, FL to Bowling Green, KY; 802.4 miles. FL, GA, AL, TN, KY
We said goodbye to our room and Cabana Bay before piling in the car for a very long drive back to Bowling Green.
Did you know that Wawa’s Hoagiefest also applies to breakfast? I tried a breakfast cheesesteak, which was surprisingly good!
We took a different route back than we did four years ago, partly to avoid Atlanta, partly to avoid the mountains, and partly just to see something new. Our route took us through Valdosta, GA, where we stopped at Ella’s Top Corral, home of South Georgia’s best burger. It really was delicious, but for me, the star item on the menu was the fried okra!
Later in the day, we stopped at a Milo’s somewhere in Alabama (Prattville?). We weren’t too hungry after our big lunch, but I did enjoy trying the Mexi-fries.
We finally made it to Bowling Green a little after 10. And by that point, we knew we were all sick, most likely with Covid, so we scrapped our remaining plans for a visit to the Louisville Zoo, got straight into bed, and planned to leave as early as possible in the morning so as to expose Ryan’s parents (who very kindly still hosted us despite the risk) as little as possible.
Up next: Home sweet home!
Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Thirteen
Cabana Day; 12,488 steps
Our last day in Orlando was a “Cabana Day.” We rented a poolside cabana at the resort, and spent the day hanging out, swimming, playing ping pong, and building sand castles.
Of course, since we were in Florida, there was an afternoon storm that closed the pool for a bit, so we headed inside to the arcade, where we played Skee Ball. Turkey was the champion…he even hit the very rare “100!”
We found another hotel guest to take one last family picture:
And then picked up some surprisingly delicious pizzas from the hotel diner for dinner:
The children had a fun time playing with their lightsabers, and I thought they looked really cool through the screen in the room:
One last look before bed:
Up next: A very long and exhausting day of driving.
Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Twelve
Kennedy Space Center; 10,984 steps
Our last big outing in Florida was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time…tour Kennedy Space Center (I’ll have more details on our day at KSC in the future)!
I was so excited to see the Rocket Garden!
We took a bus to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, and it conveniently went right past the Vehicle Assembly Building. It’s almost impossible to comprehend just how massive the structure is!
It’s also difficult to understand the scale of the Saturn V!
We got to see Artemis I on the launchpad for a test run…it was so exciting to get a glimpse of the future of space travel!
I thought the Moon Tree Garden was also really cool:
We took the bus back to the main complex, where we got to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis:
We also took some times to remember the lost at the Space Mirror Memorial:
I really enjoyed the Astronaut Hall of Fame:
It was a great place for all of us space nerds to visit!
And we even got to see (and hear!) a SpaceX launch!
When we got back to the hotel, we finally had time for an evening swim and walk…we’d been out so late every night up until this point, we just didn’t have an opportunity to explore the resort!
Up next: A relaxing day by the pool.
Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Ten
Disney Springs; 13,011 steps
The theme for the tenth day of our trip was shopping. Since we were staying at a Universal property, we decided to take the bus to the Universal CityWalk, where we picked up a few wands we regretted not buying at our day at the theme park a few years ago, and visited the iconic symbol of Universal Studios:
We didn’t spend too much time there, though, because our main destination for the day was Disney Springs, which is a huge outdoor mall that I think is supposed to make you think of Rodeo Drive:
I’m not sure what we were looking for exactly, but we did find an enormous Disney store and a huge Lego Store, both places that gave us the opportunity to buy a few more souvenirs.
There were lots of other cool shops, too, including Cherry Tree Lane, where I assumed I’d find a dress I’d want to buy (I didn’t), and where I didn’t expect to find Orange Bird!
There was also a pin trading store with some familiar faces:
We stopped to try the poutine at The Daily Poutine:
There were displays for Pride Month:
It was a fun place to visit!
We continued the theme of shopping at Publix to stock up on a few additional food supplies since we were running low…I really like that grocery store chain!
When we got back to the hotel, we headed to the Bayliner Diner to use our complimentary dinner tickets.
I had the Cabana Bay burger, which, if it hadn’t been so well done, would have been possibly the best burger I’ve ever had. Even being so well done, it was delicious, and that’s high praise coming from me, the person who likes her burger to arrive at the table still moo-ing!
Everyone else enjoyed their meals, too…Ladybug’s tuna looked especially amazing!
Up next: Our final day at Disney’s parks.
Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Six
Myrtle Beach, SC to Orlando, FL; 511 miles. SC, GA, FL
One of the reasons I wanted to stay in Myrtle Beach was so that I could see the sun rise over the ocean. The hotel room with the balcony was a surprise to me, and it made it so easy to watch as the sun came up:
I probably watched for close to an hour as the sky changed…it was just what I hoped it would be!
And then the delay. Remember I mentioned our brake troubles? Ryan took the car to a Midas, where they discovered that we did indeed need new rotors (too bad our dealer failed to notice it the several times we asked them to check before we left for our trip!), so he stayed with the car for a few hours (we are now two-for-two in getting our rotors replaced in South Carolina!), while the rest of took a walk on the beach, collected seashells, and took a look at the boardwalk in the daylight. Every cloud has its silver lining, and even though our beach morning cost us about $600, we really enjoyed the chance to slow down and spend some time by the ocean, which we wouldn’t have done if we had been able to leave right after the sunrise like we originally planned.
We even saw some pigeon tracks on the beach (and Bunny fed a flock, too!).
We did finally hit the road a few hours later than we originally planned, but not so late it felt impossible. We drove through Charleston, because Ladybug wanted to see The Battery again (but there were too many people out and about for us to park and take a walk), and then Savannah, GA, because I really wanted to see Forsyth Park for myself…the oak trees and Spanish moss were just what I had imagined!
As was the fountain, and there were other people there just to see it like we were!
Our original plan for dinner didn’t work out due to our late start, so we took advantage of Hoagiefest again:
And we finally made it to Cabana Bay (after driving over way too many scary bridges, including one in Jacksonville that I was pretty sure was going to be the end of me)!
Our room (Thunderbird 2127), was pretty much the same as the last time we stayed there, except there was a little snafu, and we ended up in one of the motel buildings with an exterior entrance instead of the hotel buildings with an interior entrance like we had requested. In the end it worked out well…it had more of an Astronaut Wives Club vibe which I liked, and they comped our parking and a dinner for us for our inconvenience, saving us a bunch of money, so it ended up being a win-win situation (well, except for the night a lizard followed us into our room, but that’s another story!).
Up next: Our first day at Disney World!!!
Vintage-Style Signs at Cabana Bay
Since I shared pictures of the neon display at Laumeier Sculpture Park yesterday, I thought today I’d take a look back at our vacation this summer, and share my favorite vintage-inspired signs from Cabana Bay Beach Resort. They might not be original to the era, but they definitely catch the spirit of mid-century signs!
Markel Family Summer Vacation–Wrap-Up
Sometimes, when I look back on our vacation, even though it was only just over a month ago, I can hardly believe it happened. For everything that went wrong on the first true summer vacation we took three years ago, something went right on this one. It was a dream come true…as close to a perfect vacation as I can imagine. Here’s one last look at all the fun we had:
- Day One–The first day of our trip was mostly spent in the car. We drove through part of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia (for what seemed like an eternity!), and Florida to reach our destination of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando. We did have time for a swim in one of the hotel’s amazing pools after we got checked into our amazing room!
- Day Two–On the second day of our trip, we made some dreams come true with a visit to Legoland! After a fun day at the park, we enjoyed more pool time when we got back to the hotel.
- Day Three–The third day of our vacation was busy, busy, busy! We were up super early to view SpaceX launch from the roof of the hotel parking garage. We then spent the day at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure. We especially enjoyed visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter…both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. From start to finish, it was the most amazing day ever!
- Day Four–After our busy day at Universal, we needed the fourth day of our trip to recover, so Ryan rented a cabana at the hotel, and we spent the day by the pool, playing games, building sandcastles, and swimming.
- Day Five–The final day of our vacation meant more time in the car, but we also got to stop and talk a walk on the beach and visit Castillo de San Marcos before another seemingly never-ending drive back through Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
I am so thankful we had this opportunity as a family. I know that we don’t have too many chances like this left before the children venture forth and begin their adult lives, and I hope that we will all remember this trip together as one of the most fun times we’ve ever had!
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
In case I somehow haven’t made it clear, we took the best vacation ever last month (and we really needed it!). Part of what made it so perfect was the resort at which we stayed. We weren’t supposed to stay in Orlando, much less at a Universal property, but sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you plan…and every once in a while, the unexpected is far superior to what you had planned! That was definitely the case here, because we ended up staying at what is my dream hotel…the Cabana Bay Beach Resort!
The whole resort is done in a 1950s/1960s theme…perfect for me, right? From the first moment I stepped through the doors into the lobby, I was in love. And I cried. Literally cried. It was just how I dreamed it, from the vintage luggage to the mosaic behind the front desk to the retro bar. I was completely overwhelmed by how gorgeous everything is! And while I was crying, I was also smiling so hard my face hurt, because it’s so amazing!
Just across the circle drive from the lobby is the Bayliner Diner, a huge room that has cozy round booths and giant TV screens playing old TV clips and retro commercials. Ryan and I split a sandwich our last night there, and it was delicious!
There are different types of buildings named after famous hotels of yesteryear, done in three different themes. We stayed in the Continental, which is modeled after the glamorous type of hotel that stars like Frank Sinatra popularized in movies (again, perfect!).
Our room was beyond amazing. We stayed in a family suite which was actually big enough for all of us, and came with a kitchenette. I loved all the retro touches, from the furniture to the artwork, and even to the toiletries in the bathroom! Speaking of bathrooms, Cabana Bay has an ingenious set-up, which places the toilet behind one door, the shower and a sink behind another, with a sink and full counter in between the two, and open to the bedroom. It was so nice being able to have different people doing different things without always having to wait in line!
Cabana Bay has two pools. The one closest to our building includes a lazy river. The other pool, which is surrounded on three sides by buildings representing mom-and-pop motels that were popular beachside, has a water slide plus cabanas you can rent for the day (we did!). Both have other amenities, as well, including poolside bars, pavilions for rent, sand play areas, outdoor games like ping-pong and ladder ball, and fire pits. On Saturday, there was even a poolside D.J.!
There are also great vintage-style signs everywhere…seriously, you can see why I say it’s just like I dreamed it!
And so many other great details throughout the resort, from the furniture and decor to the vintage cars parked out front!
Staying at Cabana Bay was a dream come true for me. If the architects and designers had looked directly into my brain when it was built, they couldn’t have created something I would like more. I had such a great time there that I almost didn’t want to come home, and I will always be thankful for the four blissful nights we spent there!
Markel Family Summer Vacation–Day Four
The fourth day of our summer vacation was a much-needed day of rest and relaxation at our amazing hotel. Ryan rented us a poolside cabana for the day, and we enjoyed hanging out in the pool, going down the water slide, building sand castles, and playing ping-pong. A storm sent us to our room for a bit, but we had fun watching cable TV, and the children even got their first room service experience when we ordered a pizza!
After it got dark, we enjoyed one last walk around the property:
And then Ryan and I went down to the diner to share a sandwich:
Up next…the long drive home, with a few stops along the way!