Summer is not quite officially over but the kids are back to school. In the meantime I’m still trying to catch up with all of our summer travels.  The first trip we took right after the kids were finished with school was down to the Florida Keys. There aren’t a lot of hotels with a swimmable beach in the keys, but fortunately we found Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key.

Lagoon

Hawks Cay has their own ocean fed saltwater lagoon. It is large enough for kayaks and snorkeling and is full of aquatic life. We spent a lot of time here catching little fish and crabs. There are a couple of outdoor grills nearby and food or drinks can be ordered from the wait staff who make the rounds through the lounge chairs.

Iguana

We didn’t stay in the resort building itself, instead we rented a two bedroom villa that was equipped with a kitchen, dining table, and a small area with a couch and television. While my wife and I enjoyed making our own breakfasts in the mornings and having extra space, I think the kids favorite thing were the iguanas that were living in the trees near our back porch.

Pirate Ship Pool

In addition to the lagoon, there are five pools scattered on the resort grounds. We didn’t use the adult only tranquility pool but spent considerable time at the kid’s pirate ship pool, the resort pool near the lagoon, and the sunset pool that was closest to our villa.

Mini Golf

And if that wasn’t enough there are so many family activities planned throughout the day. We competed in a scavenger hunt and also spent a lot of time on the turf soccer field. There is also a miniature golf course, plenty of tennis courts, and a full service marina.

Soccer

There is so much to do that you may not even leave the resort area. If you do it is at least 15 minutes drive to any other restaurants or attractions. We had such an incredible stay at Hawks Cay and I definitely think we will visit again in the future.

My son Trey has really developed a love for fishing over the last year or two. During our summer vacation to Hilton Head Island my wife searched hard for a fishing trip to take our six year old and his five year old buddy. We struggled to find a boat large enough for group of eleven and eventually found it would be easiest to just have the four guys take the boys out for this trip. Once the group was reduced down to six we quickly found Bulldog Fishing Charters and reserved their 2 hour fishing trip that was marked as great for kids ($350 for up to 6 people).

The Bulldog is 32 foot long and is captained by Christiaan Politzer, a second generation Hilton Head fishing captain for over 25 years. Christiaan’s teenage son Stratton was also on board for our trip serving as first mate. Both were extremely helpful and courteous throughout our entire trip. After cruising out for awhile we had reached our fishing destination above a pile of rocks that local legend says was formed by old sailing ships dropping their rock ballasts on their way into Savannah.

Once our anchor was in, the crew immediately threw in some lines for the boys. While doing so we were told of the history of the area and how the rock pile is full of sea bass that should given plenty of entertainment for the boys. Before the lines were even in the water for a minute they had already hooked one of these black seas bass. None that the boys caught were large enough to keep, but they still had a blast reeling them in and probably caught a dozen throughout the trip.

While that was going on they also threw in some larger rods for the adults. Though we didn’t see any sharks on this short trip, we did reel in 2 cobia and thought we might have had a shark or sting ray on but it broke the line after a good fight from my dad. We had an amazing trip on the Bulldog and would not hesitate to go on another trip with Captain Christiaan in the future.

After our exciting rafting trip my family and I walk over to Spring Creek Tavern for lunch. We arrived around 1:30 on a Sunday and found that most tables were occupied. Fortunately a high top table for four was just leaving as we arrived. We grabbed this table inside near the bar and kitchen. There is also a large outdoor dining area.

Kick’N Chick’N Sandwich

My wife and I split the Kick’N Chick’N Sandwich with blackened chicken, sautéed onions and mushrooms with a sweet Carolina BBQ sauce ($9.49). All sandwiches and burgers are served on garlic toasted Texas toast with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and your choice of fries, chili, salad or slaw. This was a really good sandwich and I especially liked the waffle fries.

Classic Burger

There is no kids menu, which was a little disappointing. We ended up with a classic burger with cheddar for our six-year-old son ($8.49). He really enjoyed having the burger on grilled bread rather than the traditional bun. This was a lot of food for him though.

Cheese Pizza

Our four-year-old daughter wanted pizza. Again there is no kid size so we ended up with a full cheese pizza ($10.99). This is why my wife and I split a sandwich. We knew there would be plenty of pizza leftover for us to enjoy. The pizza features handmade thin crust and a delicious red sauce.

There aren’t a whole lot of options in Hot Springs. While the Spring Creek Tavern was not very kid friendly, we made it work for a weekend lunch.

Spring Creek Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On our way back from Hilton Head, my family I and stopped for the night in Asheville, NC and the next morning visited the nearby town of Hot Springs. I had booked us on a calm water rafting trip with French Broad Rafting.

Given that my wife and I had both rafted a handful of times in the past, I booked the unguided 4 mile trip through class I-II rapids. The minimum age limit for this trip is 4 years old, so our little one just barely qualified.

After checking in at Hot Springs, we grabbed our gear and headed immediately for the water. There was another group that was going with a guide at the same time we were, so we let them go ahead and tried to follow them. But with only two paddlers we soon lost sight of them. Fortunately they have given us some verbal directions on which way was easiest to navigate throughout our three-hour float. Once our trip was over the staff was waiting with a van to drive us back to our car and where we started.

Our entire family loved the trip and wanted to go again right away. We will definitely be back.

My wife and I took advantage of our family trip to Hilton Head for one night out without the kids. Based on the recommendations of our group we headed for Marley’s Island Grille. This restaurant is up near what our group always calls the second traffic circle, where Pope and William Hilton Parkway meet. This is one of many restaurants owned and operated by the SERG Restaurant Group.

Kitchen

Inside Marley’s feels a bit tropical and for the most part very casual. There was a wait for a table when we arrived, but we found plenty of open seating at the bar. We enjoyed having a close view of the kitchen staff working hard to get a ton of food out in a timely manner.

Inside

My wife is nearly always ready to try something new, and she was immediately drawn to their shrimp burger feature. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a shrimp burger before but she was very impressed by it. The toppings were simple and allowed for the flavor of the shrimp patty to stand out, with citrus mixing well with old bay. This was served with fries on the side ($11).

Shrimp Burger

I was in the mood for something hearty and immediately found the Rasta chicken pasta with blackened chicken, red peppers, and mushrooms tossed in a Cajun crème sauce and topped with cheese and scallions ($17). This dish was a touch on the spicy side and had a great Cajun flavor. The penne pasta was a solid choice for this dish and I really enjoyed it. A petite size is offered, but for only $2 you should get the entrée size and take some home if necessary.

Rasta Chicken Pasta

Overall we were very pleased with our dinner at Marley’s and would not hesitate to go back. A lengthy kids menu is offered so perhaps next time we will make a reservation and take the whole family.

Marleys Island Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Frosty Frog Cafe is a always a must hit on our vacations to Hilton Head. On this most recent trip I actually dined in twice. Our group all went out to dinner the second night of our trip, and when my brother joined in later in the week I took one for the team and made a return visit. I think by that point I had finally recovered from the large jungle juice daiquiri I had the first time around.

Daiquiris

I’m not going to lie, the main draw here is the frozen daiquiris. Their jungle juice is a favorite of mine, a combination of hurricane and jump start (mango), both of which are mixed with 190 proof grain alcohol. One large (32 oz, $13.75) should probably be considered the limit per visit. I made the mistake of having two of these on my second visit!

Jamie’s Sorta Chicken Philly

With all the talk about their daiquiris, I should mention that their food is actually pretty good too. The first meal I went with Jamie’s sorta chicken Philly with sautéed mushrooms and onions, loaded with cheddar and mozzarella ($11.99). This is served with a choice of side, either chips, fries, baked potato salad, or southern peach coleslaw. The roll was toasted, the chicken was plentiful, and there was more than enough cheese to blanket it all.

Wendi’s Chicken Walnut Salad Wrap

On my second visit I enjoyed Wendi’s chicken walnut salad wrap ($10.99), again served with your choice of side. Their chicken salad also features grapes, which always mix well with walnuts and a mayonnaise base. This was mixed with lettuce, tomato, and onion and wrapped up with a tomato basil flour wrap. I think I preferred the Philly over the wrap, but both were pretty good accompaniment to the frozen deliciousness.

Frosty Frog Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

During our recent trip to Hilton Head Island, we ordered a carry out lunch from the newly opened Sandbar Beach Eats in the Coligny Plaza Shopping Center. I picked up our order around 11:30 and found a decent crowd already gathered at the outdoor bar area.

Outside

In addition to the large outdoor bar, there is an equally as large bar inside as well. There are also plenty of tables both inside and out for those wishing to dine in. The entire space definitely has a beach feeling to it and is very clean and modern.

Inside

For lunch I ordered the Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, creole mustard, and sliced pickles on a toasted baguette and served with fries ($12). I found the baguette to be a little thick for a Cuban, but that is as far as my complaints go. The ingredients inside were top quality and true to the Cuban style. The fries reminded me of the fresh fries we would make at home as a kid, freshly cut potatoes that are fried to order, and lightly salted.

Cuban

A popular item for our groups order were the tacos. The tacos de pescado combine fresh local blackened fish with Caribbean slaw, sriracha mayo, sour cream, and lettuce (2 for $12). The jerk tacos combine jerk chicken with pickled peaches, sour cream, and lettuce (2 for $10). Each taco order was served with chips and salsa on the side.

Tacos

Everyone loved the freshly fried taco shells. Both styles were spicy, with the jerk being true to style and quite hot! The meats were fresh, and the toppings were minimal to allow for the meaty flavors to shine. I especially liked the pickled peaches, which I had never had before.

Our kids enjoyed a quesadilla ($7) and the single size son of a bun burger, plain of course ($8). Sandbar had something for everyone and we would not hesitate to enjoy their food again. In fact, I think next time a dine in visit will be on our agenda.

Sand Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We spent all last week on Hilton Head Island. Our car arrived just before 7:30 in the morning and we were ready for breakfast. We’ve tried a couple other restaurants for breakfast upon our arrival in the past, but wanted to try someplace new. I quickly found a place with a funny name, Southern Coney & Breakfast, but good reviews online.

Outside

They are located in a strip mall with a few other restaurants and the BI-LO grocery store, fairly close to Coligny Circle. The inside is a no frills but clean-looking diner. A rows of booths line one wall, eight stools are located at the bar overlooking the kitchen, and one larger table sits just inside the front door.

Inside

Several reviews mentioned that the southern style biscuits and gravy were excellent. I went with the full order, two split biscuits smothered in homemade sausage gravy ($6.99). The biscuits were light and fluffy, while the gravy was full of sausage and flavor. The combination of creaminess and pepper flavors were perfect!

Southern Style Biscuits & Gravy

They advertise as having the best pancakes ever. My son is becoming a bit of a connoisseur, eating pancakes nearly every chance he can, and he did think this were very good. The three silver dollar pancakes ($3.99) was the perfect serving size for a six-year-old.

Silver Dollar Pancakes

My four-year-old daughter decided on oatmeal with the extras ($4.99). There are over a half-dozen of extras that can be added to the oatmeal, and you can have as many as you like. I think she had almonds, dried cranberries, and brown sugar. It was more than enough for her, though she did seem to really enjoy it.

Oatmeal

My wife enjoyed the egg and cheese biscuit with sausage ($3.29). Most of the food seemed to be cooked fresh from scratch, and the egg on this sandwich was no exception. This was enough food for her, but if you’d like to add a side there are a variety of potatoes or grits available.

Egg & Cheese Biscuit with Sausage

We really enjoyed our breakfast at this casual diner. One thing I will note is that no alcohol is served. So if a Bloody Mary or mimosa is a requirement for your breakfast, you better head elsewhere. Otherwise this is a great spot for a quick and easy meal.

Southern Coney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cork & Cap has been operating out of the their Hyde Park Square location for over a year, occupying the space formerly held briefly by J Bar Pizzeria and Indigo Casual Gourmet Cafe for many years before that. The dark interior is very similar to the remodel that was done when J Bar took over.

Inside

Pizza is still on the menu but main entrée selections have been added and are more of the focus here. With that said, I’m a pizza addict so I quickly decided on the sausage pizza for my meal. This combines Italian sausage, rapini, red onion, three cheese blend, and black truffle oil ($15). The serving size is good, my wife stole a slice and I still had another leftover. This could be shared if you added salads. The toppings were plentiful and all very fresh. Initially I missed not having red sauce on it, but this actually allowed the other ingredients to shine.

Sausage Pizza

My wife tried something that I no longer see on the menu, the pulled pork sandwich served with fries ($14). This was a little pricy but again the ingredients were high quality. I much preferred the pizza to this sandwich as the pork was a touch too dry and could have used some more sauce. Honestly I’m not surprised to see this is not on the menu anymore.

Pulled Pork

Overall we enjoyed a nice meal away from the kids. The food was mostly good, the prices were a tad high, but this makes for a good date spot. We will have to give it another try now that some of the menu has been redone and recipes have been tweaked.

Cork and Cap Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I’ve slowly been making my way through the growing list of Cincinnati breweries. It is definitely a good time to be alive for craft beer drinkers! The Woodburn Brewery has been open for nearly a year in East Walnut Hills. So far they have been solely focused on their draft beer, but they will soon have limited bottle releases and I’ve always heard that cans would be in the future too.

Inside

The Woodburn has a beautiful space right on Woodburn Avenue with exposed brick and rafters, skylights, plenty of seating around an L shaped bar, and even more seating at picnic style benches in the back. There is also a nice courtyard at the back of the building for those nice weather days.

Tostada “Sliders”

They have partnered with Mazunte to offer Mexican themed small bites. I’ve long considered Mazunte to be my favorite taqueria in the city. The food served at Woodburn is equally as excellent. I would highly recommend the tostada “sliders” that stuff fried mini tostadas with pork in chile Guajilla sauce, scallion ricotta, pinto bean purée, cabbage, avocado, and arugula (3 for $8). My mouth is watering just writing about these!

Teku Glass

As far as the beers go, it is hard to go wrong with their always available chocolate cherry stout. The chocolate mint imperial stout is also delicious and truly like a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie in a glass. Now that the temperatures have reached summer highs I need to get back to try some of their IPA offerings, and I’m sure I will do that soon. The Woodburn is one of my favorites around.