Monday, June 8, 2015

Wild Willy's Adventure Zone

 If you are looking for something fun to do with your kids on Okaloosa Island, Wild Willy's Adventure Zone is sure to provide hours of entertainment for all ages.

The Tree Top Challenge Rope Course is by the entrance for those who are brave enough! There is a height requirement to go up alone, but smaller children are allowed to go up with an adult. The course is not only fun, but the view is amazing because you can see the gulf and the sound.

Unfortunately guests are not allowed to take cameras or phones up (for good reason), so I don't have any photos from up above.

There are two golf courses: T-Rex Island (18 holes) and Hatchling Haven (9 holes).

We tried out Hatchling Haven, and the kids really enjoyed it.

Dinosaurs can be spotted along with the course along with relevant information.

If you look carefully you might even spot some dinosaur footprints along the way.

You never know when a powerful  mist will spray out on you so watch out!   :)   Don't worry, it feels great!

The battle boats were also fun!

When you get hungry or just need a break from the heat head inside Salvati's for DELICIOUS pizza. I promise you will not be disappointed. This is not your typical amusement park food. Salvati's is an Italian brick oven pizza restaurant featuring a full menu of specialty pizzas, roasted chicken, fried chicken wings, paninis, and salads. 

The Ptero Jump is another fun spot at Wild Willy's.

And what kids don't love inflatables...especially inflatables full of dinosaur eggs!

The arcade is state of the art with the coolest games I have seen. And trust me, my kid drags me to EVERY arcade he can find so I've seen my fair share.

The best part? There are no tokens or tickets to carry around. You simply use your WILD card to play keeps track of your "tickets".

Of course there is a large selection of loot to choose from after you finish playing games.

After games we decided to go try out the frozen yogurt. I am a total yogurt snob. I rarely find yogurt that I like, but this is great. I enjoyed the coconut mixed with the mango sunrise.

Cole enjoyed a little bit of EVERthing mixed together.

We had such a fun day that we almost forgot to go to the 4D theater. There are three movies to choose from, and we saw the Wild West. Let me tell you, Disney has nothing on Wild Willy's. The experience was so realistic and amazing - complete with effects and smells. I can't wait to go back and see another one.

Wild Willy's was such a fun experience, and we can't wait to go back. It is truly a fun time for all ages. Everyone we came in contact with was professional and friendly. I'm sure we will be regulars there this summer.

If you are looking for things to do with kids in Fort Walton Beach - head on over.

If you are staying in Destin, it's only a short drive over. You can find Wild Willy's here:

Wild Willy's Adventure Zone
1306 Miracle Strip Pkwy, SE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
(850) 400-3300



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Salty Islander: Chris Sehman

Chris Sehman is an avid entrepreneur, marketing madman, and dedicated philanthropist, suffering from military envy which is heavily medicated by giving away free pizza every Monday night. A life-long entrepreneur, Chris Sehman, moved to Northwest Florida, fell in love with the beaches, and opened his first bar Woody's Local Safe Sex Bar in Destin, in May of 1993. The local's establishment remained open through New Year's Eve of 2000. That year Chris launched Helen Back Cafe- and Okaloosa Island hasn't been the same since.

Now a local household name, the Helen Back brand and its award winning pizza, has expanded to include 5 locations along the Emerald Coast. Helen Back has developed a tremendous rapport with locals and the military community, and also serves as a tourist destination for our area's repeat vacationers. The Helen Back barge is a staple at Crab Island in the summertime. Chris' additional business ventures include Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Coffee Bar, Trifecta Consulting, Hardwear Clothing, Shoal River Lanes, and he is currently developing a new bar on the Destin Harbor.  

What is your connection to the island?
The island is my life. my businesses, and therefore livelihood, Helen Back Cafe and Whiskey Tango
Foxtrot are right on Amberjack Drive.  I live on the Island. I spend time in the Gulf. I eat here. My friends are here. If you're looking for me, you can probably find me on the Island.

What is your favorite thing to do on the island?
Spending time at my bar talking with people I've known for years, meeting new people. I especially love hosting the military groups that I've been able to get to know. It's been an honor to have had the likes of the Doolittle Raiders eat my pizza and take a shot with me.

What sound do you love?

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? 
invest 80% of it

Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?  
Phil mickelson

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

What would you name the autobiography of your life? 
Life Behind Bars

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Oriole games on Thursday with dad

What was the first thing you bought with your own money? 
lawn mower

What is the best part of waking up?
Folgers in your cup

What gives you hope for humanity?
 the internet

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Civilian Humanitarian Award

What is your business goal this year?
cut debts in half

Where do you like to vacation? 

Outer Banks, NC

What is your mission? 

build a retirement for my daughters

Kindle or paperback book? 
wait for the movie

What was your favorite activity in gym class?
Dodgeball. Personally I think the parachutes were a lot of fun.

Which one fashion accessory do you like better than others? 
gold toe socks

What do you say when you talk in your sleep? 

If you could only watch on TV show for the next year, which would it be? 
daily show

If you couldn’t live in this town, where would you move? 

What was the last movie you went to? What did you think?
50 shades of grey, ...that me and the other four guys in theater were really awesome to agree to watch that crap.

What would you sing at Karaoke night? 
Whiskey Bar...the Doors

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be
bean soup

Aside from food, water, and shelter, what one thing could you not go a day without?  

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

How many pillows do you sleep with?
start with 8...end with one

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? 
George burns

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous?

What do you do to keep fit?
watch p90X

What song would you say best sums you up? 
the hokie pokie

What is one thing you will never do again?
this questionnaire

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
cell phone

If someone was to give you one gift, money is no object, what would you want to receive?
55' foot Viking w capt mate dock

Describe a time you got into trouble.
Well, what happened was....

What do you do when you first wake up in the morning?
go back to sleep

Can you keep secrets?

What is one quality you admire most in others?
desire to learn

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ramada Plaza Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island

Friends from out of town frequently ask where they should stay when they come to the area, and I really have not been able to do more than provide them with a list of hotels on the island. I recently decided to tour all the hotels and provide a summary of each one in order to help people choose the best place for their vacation.

I started with the Ramada Beach Plaza Resort located on 1500 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE Fort Walton Beach, Florida. As you see these photos please keep in mind that they day I stopped by was dreary and overcast.

If you like to stay in a place that is rooted in tradition yet has updated rooms, the beach-front Ramada is for you. This family-oriented resort has been welcoming generations of guests since the sixties. 

Parts of the hotel still resemble something you would expect to see in the 60s or 70s, and that remark is offered as a sincere compliment. The hotel has been updated where it needs to be but some areas have been left unchanged so that you can enjoy the nostalgia.

I started my tour at the Garden Cafe with General Manager Joe Guidry (the Zookeeper) and Jackie Blue, Director of Sales (Head Cheerleader). I normally get the caesar salad when I eat at the Garden Cafe, but on this day I just sat back and enjoyed talking to Joe and Jackie while they had lunch.

The Garden Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have huge salads, and some of the restaurant's most popular dishes are the club sandwich and the reuben. Their breakfast buffet is also very popular.

Joe had the chowder which you can see below looks absolutely delicious.

Jackie had a salad that looks so fresh and crisp.

There are other dining options as well. There is a BBQ Hut (below) tucked away by the pool with hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, and pulled pork.

There is also a new Beach Bar with an incredible view of the sunset. The Beach Bar (below) has items like wings and nachos. I can't wait to check it out soon now that we have some warm weather.I promise the beautiful gulf is in the background although it is obscured by fog in this photo.

 The resort also has a cozy and inviting lounge in the lobby.

The lobby is spacious with a large area off to the right that you can't see in the photo below.

This is one of the pools at the resort, and it is heated. The building you see behind the pool is the fitness center. 

This nice kiddie pool is right beside the pool you see above. There are little fountains that are normally shooting water around the pool. And if you have children, you will appreciate the kids activities they have in the summer.

If you don't have children or if you are a snowbird - they have activities for you too that include BINGO, potlucks, wine tastings, walking, and more.

I was so surprised to see a mini Alvin's Island tucked away by the pool This is an incredibly convenient feature.

Below is a quick shot of the fitness center that was sparkly clean inside.

The resort is full of winding trails with beautiful gardens. The tables you see below are by the BBQ Hut.

Next you can see the other pool. And now for the drum roll...the Grotto Pool Bar. This is the only swim-up bar that you will find in Okaloosa County, and you can only enjoy it if you are a guest at the resort.

Who wouldn't want to come here and enjoy a tropical drink served in a coconut?

The rooms are nice, modern, and super clean.

I promise the next part is reason enough to choose this resort over any other. In some of the rooms...(one more drum roll) can walk directly off your balcony into the pool!

This is one of the coolest features I have ever seen, and again, it is a feature that is only offered at the Ramada. I think I am going to have to book a room here for a staycation just so my son can enjoy this. Seriously.

Another shot from the balcony...

The Ramada is the perfect place for a conference. They have two ballrooms with incredible views of the gulf AND the sound. The Ramada has 335 rooms in case you need to know.

Below you will see a view of the beach from one of the ballrooms.

And on the other side of the ballroom is a view of the Ramada Resort with the sound in the background.

View of the resort from the beach...

The splash area for kids looks like tons of fun even though the photo below does it no justice. The water was turned off when I snapped this.

One more shot of one of the pool with the grotto. To the left of the pool you can see the rooms that have the balconies on the bottom floor that provide direct entrance into the pool.

Below are a few more of the walking paths that you can enjoy all around the resort.

I definitely give the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island a big thumbs up.

I love that this place is rooted in tradition and has unique features that no other resort has in the county.

Even better - the folks who work here are so friendly. That certainly means a lot to me. I know they will welcome you and treat you like family when you stay here.

Ramada Plaza Beach Resort
1500 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE 
Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548 
Phone: 850.243.9161  
Toll Free: 800.874.8962  
Fax: 850.243.2391