Zara Bisonette: 

Hi! I’m a realtor and soccer mom from Orlando. That’s right, DisneyLand, as we locals call it!

I get questions every day from people who are thinking about moving south–is Florida really as great as it seems? What’s there to do? What should we know?

I’m starting this blog to spread the word on all the great stuff Florida has to offer. It’s a native perspective on the state, the people, and, of course, that big blue sea just outside the front door

Your Florida guide, off the books!


Golf Getaways:

Today, I wanted to shine a spotlight on some great golf getaways! These places make good vacations, no matter if you’re a Floridian or from another state.

Without further ado, here’s my Top 3 Favorite Golf Getaways:

Turnberry Isle Miami

This one’s part of the Marriott family. It’s a massive 300-acre resort on Miami Beach. There’s all the stuff you want from a big resort, like a spa, lots of restaurants, and a big shopping center in walking distance.

For golf, there’s a Raymond Floyd signature course, which is completely amazing. Think attention to detail, to the max! If you like perfectly sculpted greens and rolling curves, this is the course for you. It’s perfectly manicured, and lots of fun to play on.

The hotel is amazing, too. It feels more like a house, since the rooms are so big and the noise from your neighbors is pretty much nonexistent. There’s also a few cool options of views on either the golf course or the pools.

My favorite part is actually the promenade in front of the main hotel. You literally feel like such a movie star from the moment you get out the car!

Orange Lake Resort
-Orange Lake

This one is my personal favorite for a family vacation. My husband and I bring our boys every year or two, because we’ve had so many good experiences.

You know how a good city like New York or London feels like a bunch of cool villages tied all together? That’s kind of what Orange Lake is. It’s a huge network of villages, greens, lakes, and buildings. There are four whole villages, an incredible amount of swimming pools, and even water sports and boats on the manmade lake.

The highlight is obviously the golf course, which was designed by Arnold Palmer!

It’s super cool because you can stay in a different type of cottage, hotel, or lodge every time, and even switch villages. I can honestly say we’ve never been bored. You know how most resorts you can go to once and be done? Not this place! It feels kind of like our vacation home at this point.

Hammock Beach

This one #1 in Travel and Leisure, Golf Digest’s Editor’s Choice and I’ve seen it in pretty much any vacation or golf magazine I’ve ever opened. So, here’s a few of my favorite things.

There’s so much water. This one’s right on the ocean (!!!) and also has a waterpark, lazy river, and so, so many pools.

Resort food isn’t always the freshest in the world, but this place serves fish right off the boat! There’s a million different restaurants to go to,

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson designed two whole golf courses, both of which are amazing. I think what I like most about these is they kind of blend into the landscape more. There are more trees and natural things like rocks and long grass, which makes you feel like you’re in less of an artificial environment. It’s sculpted, but not in a fake-y way. It’s like the best of both worlds!

You can rent some amazing condos, or stay in the absolutely enormous hotel that’s right on the waterfront. It’s always better to have your run of the place in a house, but you really can’t beat the view from the hotel, so it’s hard to say which is better. As a realtor, I know it’s all so subjective!

Packing tips–top things to bring:

-Golf clubs
-Rangefinder (if you don’t have one of these, you should! Check out this site to find some great ones. They’re a must-have for pro-level courses like these.
-The wardrobe (golf clothes, swim clothes, and something dressy for dinner.)
-Sun stuff (so expensive to buy at a resort, so bring your own)
-Special occasion clothes (all three of these places have lots of cool concerts and events, and it’s exciting to dress up and go out with other fashion-forward couples).
-A book (I know none of us read enough, so I think that it’s a good idea to do this at the end of the day. You can sit on the porch or on the beach, wherever.)
-Special booze (another super expensive buy on-site, so bring a good bottle of gin for the evenings).  


Spring Training Baseball:

With Spring rolling in, there’s nothing better than watching your favorite team start the season off with Spring training! All those Northern teams come South like a flock of birds, to practice in the warm Florida sunshine!

This isn’t something you’ll see on the tourist brochures, but I think Spring Training is one of the top benefits of living down here! Here’s why!

-It’s cheap!

-You get to see your favorite players up close!

-I’ve gotten to meet some super famous people. You can meet the current players, and I’ve also found that retired players who you’ll definitely know drop in to lend advice, or hang out with their old teammates.

-You can spend all day. Most games last 3 hours, max. Spring training lasts literally all day long. A day pass is less than a ticket to most games, so that’s a whole lot of bang for your buck.

-Not traveling! You can set up camp at your team’s training grounds, and come back each day.

-Not waiting between games. Teams practice on a daily basis.

-You’ll see all those cool moments of camaraderie that they don’t show on TV! Plus, you get to actually see players get better, and see all the cool tricks they learn from the coaches.