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Everything’s Bigger in Texas! Visiting the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX

Everything’s Bigger in Texas! Visiting the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX

The Gaylord Texan was kind enough to treat me to a complimentary night’s stay in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

 

I visited Dallas back in July for a friend’s wedding and as usual, I had to seek out the most interesting places to stay in the area! If you’ve been reading for a while you know I tend towards small, quirky hotels, but in this case I went BIG. That photo above? That’s taken INSIDE the hotel. Most of the rooms are situated around a giant atrium that not only towers above you but also stretches on and on and… you get the idea. You can stroll through more than four acres of landscaped gardens without worrying about the Texas summer heat, pop into stores to pick up unique souvenirs, or dine at one of the nine restaurants and bars without ever stepping outside of the hotel.

 

Image via Marriott because my exterior shots look mediocre in comparison.

 

You could seriously spend an entire afternoon just wandering around the atrium, checking out the cool artwork and architecture.

 

 

I believe the exhibits rotate, but during my visit there was Texas-themed art on display all over the resort, most by Texas artists. It’s a perfect space for art since you can fit oversized pieces that would be out of place elsewhere:

 

 

 

If being surrounded by so much cool art inspires you to create some of your own, you can sign up for a group painting class and make your own masterpiece:

 

 

Despite the absolutely massive size of the atrium, it’s pretty easy to navigate, especially with helpful signs to point you in the right direction.

Gaylord TX Atrium

 

The layout of my room was pretty traditional – two queen-size beds, a work desk, and entertainment center. (The TV has Hulu and Netflix, but you need to have your own account to use them.) There were a few notably cool design touches – I absolutely loved the detail on the side of this custom-designed desk:

detailed leather desk at gaylord texan resort

gaylord texan room work desk

 

Now that I almost always work while I’m traveling (ah, the joys of freelance writing!), I’ve come to really appreciate a good work desk, especially one like this with a bunch of built-in outlets.

 

 

The double vanity area is separate from the bathroom and includes four outlets, a really cool lighted mirror, and a convenient stool to sit on.

Gilchrist & Soames bath products at Gaylord Texan

I’m always happy when hotels have Gilchrist & Soames products! These smell so good and were crafted in partnership with the on-site Relache spa.

The balcony was the coolest part of the room:

 

It’s a little hard to hear me over the atrium fountain. You can only see about 1/3 of the entire length of the atrium here!

 

The hotel also has a large fitness center with a nice variety of equipment:

 

In addition to the full-service restaurants, they have some fantastic grab and go options!

 

AND two on-site Starbucks locations. Clearly they understand my needs.

 

 

There’s an indoor pool and an outdoor pool…

 

But there’s also an entire water park that’s only open to guests of the resort! Since I only stayed one night and most of that was taken up by the wedding, I ran out of time to go check it out. The ten-acre Paradise Springs Water Park features a lazy river, water slides, a huge lagoon-style pool, a toddler pool, a zip line, and more. Knowing how expensive regular water parks can be, booking a room at the Gaylord Texan could be a really budget-friendly choice if you’re traveling with kids who want an afternoon to splash around and enjoy the sun!

 

Parking is one of the few areas where I feel like the resort could really improve. Valet parking is available for $31 per night, and self parking is $22 plus tax for an overnight stay. (Just parking for an hour or two starts at $19.) Hotel guests do have in and out privileges from the parking garage, which is nice since I had a moment of despair when I realized that I needed to leave the resort to go to my friend’s wedding about four hours after checking in, which would have otherwise meant spending upwards of $40 for parking. Having a covered garage that keeps the Texas heat off your car is definitely a nice perk, but it seems out of character for such a nice resort to tack on a pretty hefty charge when it’s not located in a downtown area where space to park is at a premium and guests are likely already spending quite a bit of extra money at the on-site restaurants and shops. (Most hotels in downtown Dallas seem to have similar parking charges, but the Gaylord Texan is almost half an hour out of town and on its own fairly expansive plot of land.) The garage is about a two or three minute walk from the lobby which isn’t bad at all, but not exactly the most fun you can have while carrying 3 bags on a 93 degree day. Just be sure to mentally add an extra $20+ per night to the room rate when making your vacation plans if you’re driving or renting a car and need to stick to a vacation budget!

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Gaylord Texan and wished I’d had an extra day to enjoy all that the resort has to offer. The Grapevine area is fun and historic and offers tons of things to do, and this is the perfect place to stay if you’re planning a day of wandering the cute boutique shops and historic sites nearby. Traffic in the Dallas area is absolutely nuts, so having so many dining and recreation options right at the hotel is a huge plus. I’d especially recommend this hotel if you’re just passing through the area and want to soak up a lot of Texas feeling/atmosphere in just one night.

 

You can find the Gaylord Texan on Instagram and Facebook, and learn more on their website!

Thanks again to the hotel for making my stay so great, and allowing me the opportunity to share my experience with my readers!

 

Relaxing at Bar M Lake Resort Near Branson

Relaxing at Bar M Lake Resort Near Branson


Have you ever had one of those weeks when life gets so busy and overwhelming that nothing sounds better than escaping for a few nights in a quiet cabin in the woods? I’ve had so much going on lately that a day off relaxing near the lake sounded beyond amazing, so when Bar M Resort & Campground offered to host me for a night, I was super excited! With a variety of cabin sizes and gorgeous natural setting, this lake resort near Branson is the perfect escape!

A-frame cabins on Table Rock Lake near Branson

Table Rock Lake Cabins

I stayed in one of the resort’s A-Frame cabins, which has two bedrooms and two fold-out sofas, sleeping up to 9 people total. With rates starting at $125 in low season, it’s a crazy good bargain, especially since it also has a kitchen with full-sized appliances, dishes, silverware, etc. I know how hard it can be just to find a hotel room for a family of 5, so this is basically the jackpot if you’re traveling with multiple kids or doing a friends getaway where you don’t want to splurge on multiple hotel rooms!

Want the tour? Let’s go!

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The Quirky & Cool Hotel Highland in Birmingham, AL

The Quirky & Cool Hotel Highland in Birmingham, AL

Back in June, I drove from MO to FL in two days. (I was helping teach Horse Camp at my barn in Missouri one day, and had a reservation at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort like 2 days later. Eep!) I decided to look for a fun hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, since it was about halfway along my route. As you probably know, I always try to find a hotel with some personality, so the Hotel Highland in Birmingham was a perfect fit!

Hotel Highland Birmingham Alabama

 

The hotel has a funky Art Deco vibe, a great location for sightseeing, and plenty of amenities. If you’re looking for a hotel near the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Hotel Highland is just a 2 minute walk from the campus!

I arrived pretty late at night since it was a 550 mile drive to get there. There’s valet parking available, a parking garage right around back, or as I learned from the staff, free street parking until 8 am! Since I was planning to leave super early for the long drive to Florida, that worked out perfectly and I scored a spot right across the street from the entrance. (And the valet was kind enough not to laugh out loud at the 100 attempts it took me to parallel park.)

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The lobby sets the mood for the rest of the hotel, filled with color, patterns, shapes, and art.

Hotel Highland pet friendly hotel in Birmingham

Hotel Highland is pet friendly (must keep this in mind for when I move back to FL, since I’ll have a car full of cats!), and there was even a jar of doggie treats on the check-in desk! I love little things like that! Hotel Highland has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the past 3 years, and I have no doubt it’s little touches like this that help that happen. (You can read their TripAdvisor reviews here!)

As I often do when traveling, I traded the hotel a blog post about my experience there (hey look! You’re reading it now!) for my room for the night, so I had no idea what kind of accommodations to expect. Since I’m usually traveling solo, you could technically stick me in the tiniest room available and I’d be just fine, but sometimes I get surprised with awesome suites like this one! (Almost half of the hotel’s 63 rooms are suites!)

Hotel Highland suite living room

Living room area of suite at Hotel Highland in Birmingham

There’s just something so homey about having a living room in your hotel room.

It’s impossible not to notice that nothing at this hotel is boring beige or generic looking. The mix of patterns and textures almost feels like it shouldn’t work, and yet it totally does. The room has warmth created by the golds and yellows, but they’re muted enough that it’s still a really calm, relaxing space.

Birmingham Hotel Highland suite bedroom

More fun with pattern mixing in the bedroom!

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I was in love with the awesome drawer pulls on the dresser. Another one of those small details that makes a big impact!

Birmingham Hotel Highland suite bedroom

Do I need to tell you how awesome this bed looked after like 11 hours in the car?

bed full of hotel pillows

Yes, please.

outlets and usb charger
I always appreciate when a hotel understands that I need to charge ALL THE THINGS while I sleep. This power thing next to the bed had 6 outlets plus 2 usb ports, which made all of my electronic devices quite happy.

 

Birmingham Hotel Highland work area desk
Even when traveling, I need some computer time to keep up with work, so I always love having a desk, especially with a big comfy office chair! It helps to put me in a business mindset so  can focus and knock out the tasks that need to get done quickly, so I can get back to relaxing asap! (And thankfully the hotel has free WiFi!)

 

There’s something about having a hallway in your hotel room that makes it feel even bigger:

Hotel Highland in Birmingham Alabama suite hallway
It’s like the hotel knew that I’d just driven across a billion states (including Arkansas, land of two lane highways) and needed to chill, because there was a big tray of stress relief aromatherapy products waiting in the bathroom. Smart choice!

Stress Relief hotel soaps and toiletries
Little touches like the bath mat being an actual fluffy bath mat, not just a square-ish towel always stand out to me when I’m staying in a hotel. You can tell every element in the room was chosen with thought about the guest’s experience, not just what was cheapest or easiest for the hotel.

I decided to see how many different patterns and textures I could capture within the room. This isn’t even all of them, but there’s quite the assortment! But like I said, it somehow works!

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My photo of it didn’t come out well, but the room also had a little kitchenette area with a fridge, microwave, and keurig. Being a coffee nerd, I loved that they provided both disposable to-go cups and actual mugs to choose from.

Birmingham Hotel Highland view

Hotel Highland view downtown Birmingham
The views from my room at night. The hotel is on a fairly busy city street, so you may want to request a higher floor if you’re a light sleeper. I was on the 7th floor and was able to hear a police siren pass by, but street noise in general wasn’t a problem at all.

Hotel Highland room view of downtown Birmingham university area

 

Daytime views. Birmingham is pretty!

Downstairs next to the lobby, there’s a martini bar. I actually got all excited the night I arrived because I spotted a sign in the elevator advertising $6 caramel apple martinis on special (Do not mock my appletini love. They are delicious and you know it.), but super sadly the bar was closed on Monday nights, which it was. No cheap delicious booze for me.

Bar at Hotel Highland in Birminghal AL

University area bar in Birmingham at Hotel Highland

The bar/lounge area by the light of the next morning. Let’s play “spot the accidental blogger mirror selfie!”

Hotel breakfasts are my jam (sometimes literally), especially when I have a long drive ahead and can grab an extra mini muffin or something for later. The Hotel Highland had a pretty good selection available, with breakfast standards like juice and muffins and bagels and coffee and such, as well as fun extras like the maple pecan thing you can see on my plate below. If you’re a hot breakfast person, there’s also a waffle maker and some kind of protein like eggs or bacon daily.

free breakfast at the Hotel Highland in Birmingham

Hotel Highland continental breakfast

My breakfast goals are usually just all of the pastries and a vat or three of coffee.

I really enjoyed by short stay at the Hotel Highland and would love to visit again when I’m in less of a hurry to get somewhere. The surrounding part of Birmingham looked really interesting, so it killed my exploration loving heart to just hop in the car and leave the next morning, but Florida was waiting!

If you’re looking for a great hotel in Birmingham, be sure to check out the Hotel Highland’s website, Facebook, or Twitter!

Feeling Spoiled at Ameristar Kansas City

Feeling Spoiled at Ameristar Kansas City

You know you’re totally on top of your blogging game when you’re writing about your February adventures in mid-May! I attended a horse convention/event/shindig thing in Kansas the end of February, and decided to spend a couple of nights in Kansas City on my way there, both to get in some relaxation and sightseeing, and to break up the drive a little bit. The absolutely awesome people at Pinnacle Entertainment, (who you might remember let me check out their River City Casino & Hotel in St Louis last year!) hooked me up with two nights at their Kansas City location, the Ameristar Casino Hotel. This place should totally be on your list of where to stay in Kansas City!

 

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I’m not a big gambler, but I love staying at casino hotels, and I think you’ll get why by the end of this post! Having my room, lots of dining options, as well as entertainment all under one roof is awesome, especially when I’ve been traveling all day and just want dinner & relaxation without having to find my way around a new city!

I asked on my blog’s Facebook and Twitter accounts just how many photos were TOO many when it came to a hotel post, and everyone who responded said there was no such thing as too many pics, so get comfy because I have a LOT to share! Let’s start with…

 

The Room:

You guys probably know that I’m a huge hotel nerd. I worked front desk and concierge for 7 years, with jobs ranging from a small independent 100 room hotel in Branson to Disney’s All Star Resorts, which comes in at over 5,000 rooms. Hospitality nerdiness aside, I just love a good hotel room! You get to step totally away from your usual life and relax in a beautiful, cozy little getaway that you don’t even have to clean yourself. Yes, please!

My contact at Ameristar went SO above and beyond this time – instead of the regular hotel room I was expecting, she got me an absurdly awesome King Suite that was larger than most apartments I’ve lived in!! (Actually, I just looked it up on their website – the Deluxe King Spa Suite is 1104 sq ft! So it IS bigger than any apartment I’ve ever lived in!!!) I only got lost in there a couple of times.

 

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Hello, kitchen!

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I love that all of this company’s hotel rooms come with free bottled water! These were so convenient to grab before I went out on adventures!

 

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Living room area. I had some glorious times on that sofa with pizza & cable news.

 

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I never got around to actually using the dining room area, but how awesome would this be for playing board games?

 

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Yeah, I’d say that’s ample counter space for all of my makeup and skin care stuff! (Although there was actually a totally separate vanity with awesome lighting for doing makeup!)

 

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Is there any person alive who doesn’t love hotel soaps? That shampoo smelled awesome, btw.

 

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And, of course, the bedroom!

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You guys know I made excellent use of the bath robe and slippers!

 

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I arrived at the hotel just before sunset, so everything had a sort of dreamy pink and blue glow.

 

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My room had a ginormous wrap around balcony with a view of the Missouri River. 

 

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Yeah, I could get used to this!

 

Deluxe King Spa Suite

Oh, did I forget to mention the giant jetted tub? As soon as I saw this, I knew it was going to feel a-mazing after my horseback riding lesson the next afternoon!

 

 

Relaxation:

Between work and health stuff and taking care of my mom, I was SO READY for a couple of days to just hang out and relax!

One of the first things I did after arriving was run downstairs to purchase a pizza slice the size of my head and a decadent dessert, and then settle in on my sofa to watch larger-than-life Chris Hayes. 

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There is no vacation from my cable news obsession!

 

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Yes, I’m wearing my beloved “Socktopus” socks here. Because they are the best.

 

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No, for realsies, it was the size of my head. And only like $3.

 

The problem with working from home is that it’s hard for me not to work ALL the time. Just kicking back on the couch with pizza and TV is something I NEVER get to do! It felt totally indulgent. 

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And yes, that bath felt as great as it looked.

 

And I may have spent like 90% of my time in the room wearing these little slippers. Because vacation.

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I even had bonus relaxation for falling asleep! I went to stick my phone on the bedside iHome to charge while I slept and discovered that it was equipped with nature sounds! Happily fell asleep to gentle rain for the next 2 nights.

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Yes, I keep weird night owl hours no matter where I am. Don’t judge me.

 

Entertainment:

First, let’s discuss that this is what you see when you enter through the main Ameristar doors heading towards the casino:

Ameristar Kansas City lobby

Yes, that’s a train. No, it isn’t Platform 9 3/4. Yes, you’re indoors – the whole complex has a gorgeous painted sky ceiling.

 

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The actual casino is SO PRETTY, you guys. My photos don’t do it justice. But check out this big light…fixture? Ceiling thing? What do you even call this?

 

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This photo from Ameristar KC’s Instagram account captures the awesomeness way better than I did:

 

 

Pro tip: I’m the kind of person who carries a ginormous purse most of the time. I need room for my multiple notebooks and eighty thousand lip glosses and a spare pen or fifty. I have no desire to lug all that around a casino with me, though, so I brought this cute little bag that I picked up in Mexico for $5 several years ago:

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I tucked my room key, players club card, drivers license, and some cash inside to take downstairs to the casino with me. Way easier! And I just wore the bag’s strap across my chest like a crossbody style so I didn’t have to worry about it, since it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I spaced out and left behind a purse I had to remember to pick up any time I moved to a different slot machine!

I also discovered a new slot machine that I like. I think I only broke even, but the excited little bonus fish cracked me up, so it was worth it!

 

 

 

There’s plenty of non-casino entertainment here, too, though! Live music on some nights, an arcade for the kids (or big kids), and an on-site movie theatre! On my second night there, I took the opportunity to FINALLY see…

Movie Theatre Cinema Times

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Yesssss. If you’re keeping track, my Thursday included horseback riding, Star Wars, and cake. I have no idea how they ever got me to leave.

 

Eating All The Things:

Look, let’s just skip to the important stuff here.

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There’s a solid chance that I ate my weight in tasty things from the Falcon Bakery. But there were so many tempting looking things that I felt like it was my duty as a blogger to sample them for you! You know, in the name of research and journalistic integrity and all that. Right?

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I still have dreams about this passion fruit mousse dome thing.

 

Cheesecake on a stick

Cheesecake + chocolate + “on a stick” = Very yes.

 

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That chocolate mousse cake, though…

 

I’m guessing that a magical little Ameristar fairy Godmother saw my tweets about all of the desserts I was buying, because when I got back to my room after riding on Thursday, I had a note that I had a message at the front desk. When I got there, they handed me my “message”.

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Sorry I ate you, little birdie, but you were delicious!

 

One thing that I meant to check out but never got around to was Ameristar’s fancy fruit beers, which are available at their Amerisports Bar & Grill. (In the city of the KC Royals, you MUST have a sports bar!)

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Something for next time’s to-do list!

 

If you happen to be one of those people who can’t survive on pizza and cheesecake alone (weirdo), there are also plenty of “real” food options.

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There’s a steakhouse (above), a traditional buffet, a food court, a deli, you name it!

(Confession: I just had to take a break from writing this blog post to go make lunch. Writing about food makes me hungry!)

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Just me, or does Pearl’s Oyster Bar look like it was designed with being Instagrammed in mind?

 

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And, of course, room service! I had originally planned to order myself the big kids grilled cheese after riding, but ended up just doing pizza 2 nights in a row. Oops.

 

I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t been super excited to get to Equifest that weekend, they may have had to literally drag me out of my room. I had cool horse stuff to do, though, so I waved goodbye to my awesome bathroom (literally…)

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…and set off towards Topeka. Definitely looking forward to staying at the Kansas City Ameristar Casino Hotel again the next time I’m in the area! I mean, did you SEE all of the desserts I didn’t get to sample yet??

If you’d like to learn more about Ameristar Kansas City so that you, too, can hang out eating cheesecake in bath slippers while trying to decide if you’re in the mood for a movie or some blackjack, you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and, of course, their website! You can also find my review of their gorgeous St. Louis area River Ctiy Casino & Hotel here! So much love to Ameristar for taking awesome care of me, and letting me hang out in this gigantic suite for 2 nights in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys!

Ins and Outs of the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine, FL

Ins and Outs of the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine, FL

This post originally appeared on my old blog, Straight On Till Morning, on January 12, 2014.

Ah yes, the Florida vacation posts continue! One thing that I was really looking forward to for this trip was actually leaving town to visit St. Augustine. Even though it’s only about two hours northeast of Orlando, I’d never been! (In my years of living in Orlando, I almost never made it out of town! Time off work was rare, and gas money was even more scarce!) I originally planned for four days of blissful beach relaxation, but sometimes life happens, so I only ended up being able to go for one night. I’ll write about playing tourist in a separate post, but I wanted to show you the snazzy Bed + Breakfast that I stayed at, first! (My site’s refusal to let me type ampersands gets annoying when I’m talking about a B and B! So pardon the weird ways I type that to get around the ampersand issue.)

I wrote this post a few weeks ago about why I chose the St. Francis Inn out of the abundance of charming places to stay in St. Augustine. Did it live up to my expectations?

I was happy to find that the inn was easy to get to via the directions on their site. It’s about a five minute walk outside of the touristy part of town, but I appreciated the quiet of the more residential area. There’s plenty of parking just across the old brick street from the inn, and the parking lot was easy to spot. (see the sign at the top of the post!)

I hope I look this good when I’m over 200 years old!

The street-facing sides of the building are quite plain, but the rest makes up for it!


I think this was supposed to be an “Ooooh, check in!” face. It came out totally awkward. 


When you pass through this little gate, you’ll find the lobby to the right, and a lush courtyard to the left. It’s a great place to bring snacks or drinks, or to just hang out with a book. (Or your laptop, since there’s free wifi!)

Looking down at part of the courtyard area.


My favorite part was a little spring-fed koi pond, which had a statue of the inn’s namesake.


Helloooo, fishies!


There are three separate guest areas (other than the rooms) in the main building – the lobby, which has the front desk and a selection of gifts, a dining room, and a small sitting room. Being the awesome blogger that I am, I totally neglected to get photos of any of them! Well, that’s not totally true – I snapped one photo of the selection of gift items, but it came out totally blurry (my awful new camera strikes again!). I borrowed these two pics from their website and Facebook to give you an idea:

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Lobby 

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Sitting Room

Just mentally add a lot of Christmas decorations, since I was there in December! Oh wait! I did get a photo of the tree in the sitting room. Woohoo

Totally in love with the giant old fashioned tree lights!


Upon arrival, we were given all kinds of info, including a menu of the various food and drink offerings throughout the day. (This should be called a “Bed and EAT ALL THE THINGS!” Because I did. But more about food in a bit!) I loved having a printed listing of the food and times it was served to refer to throughout the day. (You guys know I wasn’t about to miss free food!) After taking care of checking in, the lady from the front desk led us up to the room and gave a quick tour. Since this post is going to be long and photo heavy as it is, I decided to do a separate post about the room I stayed in, and keep this one just about the inn itself, so check out the Garden Hideaway details post if you’re interested!

If you just spent all week iced in like I did, this probably looks like heaven about now.

Okay, let’s talk about FOOD! And DRINKS! This place certainly does not let their guests go hungry or thirsty! A few hours after check-in, there’s a “social hour” with free beer and wine. Of course, if you’re like me you can choose to totally avoid the “social” aspect and just hang out with your travel companions (or take your glass of free wine back to your room to enjoy with a book!) They’re totally cool with you taking your food and drinks anywhere within the property, so even if you’re not in the mood for a drink when social hour rolls around (But seriously, who is ever not in the mood for free beer?) you could always just grab one for later. (That’s what I did with dessert, but I’m getting way ahead!)



This photo is making me a little nostalgic for vacation. Look at all of that pretty free wine. Looking back, I have ZERO idea why I didn’t try all of them. (Especially since I wasn’t a big fan of the sweet red that I grabbed a glass of.) Note to self: Never pass up the chance for a spontaneous wine tasting! Anyway, the cool thing here was that they featured wines from a local winery (San Sebastian Winery), as well as a few selections from Corbett Canyon. (Since you probably can’t read the little signs, that’s a Merlot, a chardonnay and a white zinfandel.)


There was also a selection of cold beer for those who prefer it to wine. You can also purchase glasses/bottles/carafes of beer and wine outside of happy hour, as well as mini liquor bottles and mixed drinks. There are also non-alcoholic drinks available, if that’s how you prefer to roll.

Also: Snacks! Those who know me know that I can totally make a meal out of crackers and dip (or chips and salsa.) At first when I saw the menu that I was given at check-in, I was totally bummed to see that I missed hummus and pita chips night by ONE DAY. (The social hour snacks change daily. Also, I am a hummus addict.) The homemade curry dip totally made up for it, though. I have no idea what’s in it, but it was SO GOOD. Great, now I’m craving curry dip and free wine.

I was a LONG way from the inn when I realized that the time that free desserts are served was coming to a close, so I did some major speed walking to get back on time. Missing dessert time is unacceptable and unthinkable! Thankfully, I made it and grabbed a pecan thingy (that being the technical term) for later, since I’d just eaten dinner and was totally stuffed.

The things on the left were some kind of peppermint chocolate cup thing. I don’t like mint, so I passed. I was a little sad that there wasn’t a non-minty chocolate option, since I was totally craving chocolate (well, I always am…), but the pecan pie bar was really good! (Especially with the sherry upstairs!)

As you can probably guess from the fact that this is a Bed and Breakfast, there was breakfast the next morning! (Shocking plot twist, I know!) There are few things that get me out of bed as effectively as knowing that there is someone waiting to make me a gingerbread latte. Yep, they do seasonal lattes! I believe they were also offering peppermint at the time, but as we already discussed, I don’t do mint. Seriously, though, look at this magnificent creation:

It’s so pretty! I wish there was someone waiting to make me specialty coffee drinks every morning! I’m referring to the little printed menu they gave me as I’m writing this, and I JUST noticed that I also could have asked for an espresso! Do you guys know how blissed out I would have been with a gingerbread latte in one hand and a shot of espresso in the other? Opportunity missed!

If I recall correctly, they have coffee on hand pretty much all the time. There’s plenty of sweetener and creamer to choose from, as well as a variety of flavored syrups that you can kind of see on the tray to the left.

If you’re more of a tea person, they had a selection of both bagged and loose leaf varieties.

And of course, actual breakfast! Again I was sad to see that I missed the menu offering that sounded the most awesome (strawberry soup) by one day! Most of the offerings involved eggs, which I don’t eat, but there was a cheesy hash brown casserole that was really good!

I also ate an absurd amount of bread with apple butter. (And by “absurd” I mean two pieces. But I never eat in the morning, so it felt like a LOT!) And although it’s not pictured, I seem to recall some kind of fruit salad. Why didn’t I take a photo of my plate? Man, my trip reporting skills have gotten totally rusty!

I totally appreciated that breakfast runs from 7:30-9:30, so you don’t have to get up at some painfully early hour just to get your food! I made it out of bed at 9 in the name of gingerbread latte, but anything earlier would have been rough on vacation!

There are no other “meals” served, but they do have snacks available overnight (packaged pretzels, crackers, chips, etc.) and you can get coffee, tea, and bottled water any time. (I asked the front desk for a bottle of water for the road when we were leaving to drive back to Orlando.)

A couple of last random things to throw in: There are DVD players in the rooms, so you can bring your own favorite movies, or borrow one from the inn’s library. They also had a selection of board games, which made me super happy! (Yep, that’s the FSU version of Monopoly down there. Ah, Florida!)

One cool perk of staying at this particular place is that the owners also have a beachfront property a few miles away. Inn guests can use the free parking there, as well as beach towels and chairs. Since my trip got cut so short, I didn’t have much beach time, but I think this is a seriously awesome option to have available.

The inn’s staff was great. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful, but we never felt smothered with attention. They seemed to have a fairly large staff for a small place!

And saving the very most important thing for last… ZEKE! As I mentioned in my preview post, the St. Francis has a kitty! I kept an eye out for him every time we were coming or going, but only spotted him once on the first day. I was pretty sad to leave with no quality kitty time, but then guess who I spotted out in the parking lot right when it was time to leave??

Crazy cat ladies give the best ear scratches.

He was a total sweetheart of a cat, and we played a pretty solid game of “I’ll drag this stick that I found back and forth so you can catch it” before I had to hop in the car and leave. (I think he won?)

Since this was super long as-is, I made that a separate post just to show you the gorgeous Garden Hideaway Suite that I stayed in! I’m also planning to write about the fun I had sightseeing around St. Augustine. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!