Now is the Best Time! Our 2024 Florida Road Trip (update 7/20)

4/10 continued - Disney Springs
We arrived at Disney Springs and headed straight for the Cookie Bar at Summer House on the Lake. This was our first time trying their cookies. We had heard a lot about the Brown Butter Rice Krispy treat, so we ordered one of those.

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This tasted exactly like a rice krispy treat. It was a fresh, tasty treat but really not mind blowing like some vloggers have stated. We didn't notice much of the brown butter taste. It was certainly good but nothing we’d rush to get again.
We also ordered the Double Chocolate Cloud cookie.

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This was huge, fudgy, soft and delicious! We really enjoyed this cookie. My DH preferred it over Gideon’s cookies which are too underbaked for his tastes.

After our snack it was a beautiful day for a boat ride so we headed down the Sassagoula to the Old Key West resort.

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We wandered around the resort for a bit and then headed back to Disney Springs for an early dinner.

We decided it was time to attempt another burger and knew right where to go…D-Luxe Burger! We ordered one of our previous favorites to share: Bacon and Blue burger: Two-pressed Signature-blend Patties with Bacon, Onion Jam, Blue Cheese, Lettuce, and Tomato

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As we took our first bites, we both had the same reaction: finally a great burger! We absolutely loved this burger once again. The two patties were perfectly cooked and seasoned. The bacon added saltiness with the contrast of the sweet onion jam with creamy blue cheese crumbles.

We also shared a full order of fries.

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These too were cooked and seasoned to our liking. In all of our previous visits I never noticed the sauce station but this time I decided to take a small sampling of each of the sauces. (I accidentally cut the sixth one out of my picture.)

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Here’s the ones I tried: Truffle Aioli, 1921 sauce, chipotle mayo, Garlic Ranch, barbecue, and buffalo mayo. DH said there’s no substitute for good ole ketchup on his fries so I was the only “dipper”. Overall they were quite tasty. I liked the garlic ranch the best.

After our early dinner we wandered around Disney Springs and discovered a really short line at Gideon’s.

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We had already discussed skipping Gideon’s this time but with that short of a line, we just had to pop in. We picked up a slice of Chocolate Churro cake. We actually ate it a night or two later. This is my half after my DH cut it before I had a chance to take a picture.

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This was very good with rich chocolate cake and buttercream. It had cinnamon sugar churro seasoning folded into the buttercream. My DH loved it. I enjoyed it but felt it wasn’t as good as the Pipistrello (chocolate crumb) cake.

We also grabbed a bag of Gideon’s Bites. These are quarter cookies covered in chocolate. At the Disney Springs store you only have the option of whichever flavors they happen to be selling that day. On this particular day it was the Pistachio Toffee Chocolate chip cookie covered in chocolate.

Here the picture of one “bite” that we tried a couple days later:

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Oh my goodness! This brings the Gideon’s cookie to a whole 'nother level! We’ve never tried the pistachio toffee cookie but the saltiness of the pistachios, the crunchiness of the toffee, the sweetness of the cookie with the delicious chocolate coating was fantastic! My DH, who previously said he didn’t care for Gideon’s cookies, loved this!

After we picked up our treats (for later) from Gideon’s, we headed to the Basket for our evening’s dessert. As we made our purchase, we were informed by the cashier that the Basket doesn’t accept Disney Giftcards. I was quite surprised at that, as every other place we’ve made a purchase in Disney Springs had accepted them. I ended up having to use my credit card instead to purchase the Millionaire’s Shortbread.

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We both felt this was tasty but that the shortbread was a little too blond. I think it needed to be baked a little longer.

Overall this was another great day. It started with a wonderful breakfast, a relaxing time at Animal Kingdom, a boat ride, and some delicious Disney Springs food.

Total steps: 20,856

Up next…Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot
 
Wow the line for Gideon’s was really short! I passed up Gideon’s my last two trips but did try cookies from the Summer House and liked all the ones we tried.
The pistachio toffee is my favorite cookie at Gideon’s

I love all your food reviews!
 
Wow the line for Gideon’s was really short! I passed up Gideon’s my last two trips but did try cookies from the Summer House and liked all the ones we tried.
The pistachio toffee is my favorite cookie at Gideon’s

I love all your food reviews!
We definitely want to try more Summer House cookies on our next trip. We also need to try the pistachio toffee cookie in regular form. We've shied away from it for fear it would have too much artificial pistachio flavor but it was so good in bite form.

Glad you're enjoying my food reviews. There's a lot more to come!
 
4/11 Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot
Back in 2022 when we attended the F&G festival, we wanted to eat around the world so we didn’t really eat anything at the food booths. This time we made a list of a bunch of things we wanted to try. We didn’t have a great experience with food quality at the Festival of the Holidays in 2022 but had great food at the Festival of the Holidays in 2023, so we were hopeful.

Since we were now staying off-site, we weren’t eligible for early entry. We arrived around 8:45 and were let in right at 9:00.

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We headed straight for the Land. DH went on Living with the Land while I got in line for Soarin’. There was a posted 15 minute wait but it only took 10. I had requested B-1 and was accommodated. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a straight Eiffel Tower.

After our rides, we headed to Norway for breakfast and got our usual schoolbread.

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The one we had in December was the best one we’ve ever had. It was really fresh and filled with delicious cream. This one wasn’t quite as good. It was a little dry and stale, which is surprising since it was so early in the day. It also didn’t seem to have as much cream.

We walked around for a bit, stopping to take pictures of the topiaries along the way. This one was our favorite:

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As you can see this day was very overcast, with rain predicted for the afternoon. It was our first day in Orlando with less than perfect weather.

We had opted not to purchase Genie+ which we knew meant we’d probably skip Remy, Frozen, and Test Track. As we walked around we stopped and rode Figment, Living with the Land, and Finding Nemo with no waits.

I had purchased an ILL for Guardians at 11:10 so we headed there. I made the mistake of giving my DH my phone figuring it was easier than storing it on the ride. As I entered the Lightning Lane I realized the line was all the way down the ramp. I had no way to tell DH I was going to be there for a while and knew I couldn’t exit without losing my ILL. The wait took 30 minutes before we entered the first pre-show area. It appeared the Lightning Lane was actually longer than the standby line.

Eventually I got on the ride and got Disco Inferno. This is my favorite ride in all of Orlando. I really wish DH could experience it but there’s no way he’d survive the motion sickness it would cause him.

Finally when I got off the ride, it was time to hit some food booths. First up, we purchased the Fried Cinnamon Roll Bites at Brunchcot.

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We thought these were very good. We liked the cinnamon filling but would’ve liked to try the ones from the previous year with the cream cheese filling.

Next we picked up the Chicken and Waffles from the Honey Bee-Stro.

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This was excellent! It was our favorite main dish from the festival. The chicken was well cooked and the waffle was sweet. The honey added just the right amount of extra sweetness.

We also picked up the Liquid Nitro Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake from Swirled Showcase.

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This was interesting but had some odd flavors. We expected to like this more than we did. It was not bad but not great.

We ventured around World Showcase for a bit, enjoying the beautiful topiaries.

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We made our way to America and picked up two more treats from Magnolia Terrace.

First, the Spicy Chicken Gumbo.

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This was extremely good. It had a little spiciness to it. It was our second favorite main dish. Really, really good!

For dessert, we purchased the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.

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This was good but a little bit too heavy on the banana flavor for our tastes. It was banana bread with bananas and a caramel banana sauce. If you love bananas, you would love this. For us, it was just a bit too much.

As we were eating our treats from Magnolia Terrace, it started to rain. We knew heavy rain was coming but it was predicted to start at 3:00. Our plan was to leave the park before then and come back later for dinner. Unfortunately the rain actually started at 1:30 and we were as far as possible from the parking lot at that point and hadn’t brought our rain gear. We decided it was a good time to pop in for Voices of Liberty and the American Adventure.

After seeing the shows, it was absolutely pouring out. We ended up sitting on the floor with lots of other people in the American Adventure pavilion. After about an hour, the rain let up a little and we made our way back to our hotel and enjoyed our Gideon’s treats from the day before.

Up next, making our way back to Epcot for dinner.
 
4/11 Dinner at San Angel Inn
After our weather break back at the hotel, we made our way back to the park for our dinner reservation at San Angel Inn. With all the heavy rain, it was amazing how everything had dried up completely.

On our way in, we stopped by Spaceship Earth since the wait was very low. Then, we headed to Mexico.

For our meal, we decided to share two appetizers and one entree.

First, we ordered the Totopos, Corn Chips with sides of White Cheddar Cheese and Salsa

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This was our first time getting this appetizer and it was absolutely delicious. The chips were fresh and crispy. The salsa was perfectly seasoned with a little kick of heat and the queso was creamy and delicious. A simple appetizer but very tasty!

We also ordered the Queso Fundido: Melted Monterey Jack Cheese topped with Chorizo, Poblano Peppers and Onions served with Flour Tortillas

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This was also really good! The server brought us extra tortillas so we could enjoy every last bit of this cheesy goodness!

For our entree, we shared the Tacos de Ribeye: Shaved Ribeye, poblano and red peppers, onions, bacon, and Monterey Jack cheese served with corn tortillas and plantains, topped with crema Mexicana and cotija cheese.

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This too was excellent. The steak was tender and cooked perfectly. The plantains were sweet and nicely fried. This was another great dish.

Overall this was one of the best meals of our trip. The ambience was so cool, service was excellent, and the food was great. San Angel Inn did not disappoint!

After our meal, we wandered the World Showcase and checked out more topiaries. Two more favorites:

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For dessert, we stopped by the Primavera Kitchen in Italy for the Chocolate Cannoli.

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This had a delicious peanut butter filling and nice crunchy chocolate coated shell. It was very good but very small for $5.75. We split it so we each got one bite.

Realizing that we needed a little something more substantial for dessert, we headed to the Funnel Cake stand in the America Pavilion for the F&G special funnel cake with powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, whipped cream, strawberry glaze and strawberry crunch.

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Neither one of us had ever tried a funnel cake before so we had nothing to gauge by but this was phenomenal! The funnel cake was light, crispy, and sweet and the strawberries were so fresh! The vanilla ice cream added a nice creaminess. This was our favorite sweet treat of the festival and one of our top three desserts from the entire road trip.

As we made our way out of the park, we stopped by to ride Living with the Land to see the new overlays during the night time. The little vignettes of Disney stories were very cute but not nearly as impressive as the holiday overlay.

Snow White:

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Winnie the Pooh:

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Alice in Wonderland:

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We love riding Living with the Land and it’s always interesting to see new displays.

We decided to beat the crowds so we skipped the Luminous show. We enjoyed IllumiNations and HarmoniUs (but we’re glad the barges are gone). Maybe someday we will stick around for Luminous.

Overall we had a great day at Epcot. The couple hours of rain didn’t really affect us too much and we truly enjoyed the Flower & Garden festival, the displays as well as the food.

Total steps: 26,881
 
4/12 Magic Kingdom

Since we had accomplished so much earlier in the week with our sons, we opted not to purchase Genie+ for our second Magic Kingdom Day.

We arrived in time for rope drop and made our way to the Haunted Mansion. We got right into the attraction with minimal wait. Next we headed to Peter Pan and waited only 14 minutes followed by Pirates with a 12 minute wait. For breakfast, we stopped by Sleepy Hollow for a “new to us” treat, the Nutella Fruit Waffle.

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We enjoyed this. The waffle was well cooked, the fruit was extremely fresh and who doesn’t love nutella on everything? I’m really glad we finally had a chance to try it, since it appears to be a thing of the past.

Next we rode the Little Mermaid with only a 5 minute wait and then headed to Tomorrowland. As we rode the Peoplemover (after a 3 minute wait), I was struck by the line at the end “Now is the time. Now is the best time to go out and explore tomorrow today.” Hence, the title of this report…Peoplemover is definitely one of our favorite rides and my DH and I try to enjoy the “now” as much as possible.

After our Peoplemover ride we headed to Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. We usually end up skipping this attraction but we had already done so much we decided to stop in. This time though was hilarious, all thanks to a little kid. During the show, one of the monsters asked a little boy and his younger sister to share a joke. I’m pretty sure the little girl asked “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Then, it was her brother’s turn. He couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old. He asked “Why did the squirrel swim on his back?” The monster didn’t know. The boy responded, “To keep his nuts dry.” The entire room erupted with laughter. I suspect the boy didn’t really get the joke but everyone else sure did. It was very funny to see the “Monster” trying to recover and move the show along. It was definitely memorable.

I had purchased an ILL for Tron so we headed there next. I really enjoy this coaster but don’t think I’d ever wait a long time in line for it, since it is such a short ride.

After Tron we walked to the Grand Floridian for a lunch break. We love the Gasparilla Grill and have tried different things each time. This time we ordered two sandwiches to share with fries and a side order of the mac n cheese.

The first sandwich was the Cuban.

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It was very tasty. The sandwich had lots of meat, mustard, pickles in delicious pressed bread. The fries were basic shoestring fries but good.

Our other sandwich was the Caprese sandwich.

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The tomatoes, basil and mozzarella were fresh and flavorful, served on delicious focaccia bread. This was a great sandwich! The fries were good too.

We also ordered a side of mac n cheese.

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This is the second time we’ve had the Gasparilla mac n cheese and it was really, really good. It was creamy and cheesy with well cooked noodles. It seems so simple but truly is one of the best mac n cheeses on property, probably behind Chef Art’s, Steakhouse 71 Lounge and Polite Pig, but definitely up there on the list.

This was a great lunch and a nice break from the park.

We walked back to the Magic Kingdom. We then rode the train and saw Carousel of Progress and Mickey’s Philharmagic. We waited 24 minutes for It’s a Small World, making the mistake of joining the line immediately after the afternoon parade.

We grabbed some ice water at Pinocchio's Village Haus and sat up on the porch doing some people watching before taking one more ride on the Peoplemover with a 14 minute wait.

We then made our way to Liberty Tree Tavern for our dinner reservation. We have had mixed experiences at LTT in the recent past. The first time in 2022 was great, the second time was just okay and the third time was awful. (See my review: Third Time is not the Charm ) We were hoping for another good experience. Our server was very friendly so it seemed promising.

First she brought us the Declaration salad: Mixed Greens, Apples, Cranberries, and Cheese tossed with our House-made Dressing

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Wow! Was this good! We enjoyed the previous version of this salad but the apples, cranberries and cheese took it to another level. This was a huge improvement.

Our server also brought us rolls with herb butter.

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These are pretty standard rolls but the recent addition of the herb butter elevated them a little. They were decent and an improvement over the plain ones.

Next our server brought out the Patriots’ Platter: Roasted Turkey, Pot Roast, and Oven-roasted Pork with Herbed Stuffing.

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All the meats were very good. The pot roast is our favorite. The stuffing and cranberry sauce were also tasty.

Our meal also came with mashed potatoes and green beans.

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The mashed potatoes were creamy and very tasty (we ordered seconds of the potatoes). The green beans were tender crisp and garlicky. We prefer our green beans a little more cooked but that’s just our preference.

The main meal also came with “housemade” mac n cheese.

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This wasn’t great. It definitely needed more cheese sauce.

Lastly, our server brought us out dessert, Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake (the real reason we booked this meal).

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Sadly this particular one wasn’t as good as previous ones we’ve tried. The toffee cake was hard, stale and thin. We didn’t ask for another because we were too full anyhow.

Liberty Tree Tavern is still a solid option but surprisingly for us it is now second place to our new favorite, Tony’s Town Square. It is no longer a must do, just an occasional do.

After our meal, we made our way back to our hotel.

Total steps: 24687

Up next..another rocket launch from the comfort of our hotel.
 
Last edited:
I was low-key thinking of popping over to GF for the QS sandwiches next trip, now i really want to!!
 
I love the Mac and cheese at Gasparilla!
The sandwiches look very tasty.
We have had several good meals at San Angel Inn and our last meal at LTT was very good. Bummer about your ooey gooey toffee cake this is usually so delicious.
 
I love the Mac and cheese at Gasparilla!
The sandwiches look very tasty.
We have had several good meals at San Angel Inn and our last meal at LTT was very good. Bummer about your ooey gooey toffee cake this is usually so delicious.
It is a bummer about the oooey gooey toffee cake. We've had such good ones in the past. Glad it wasn't our first time trying it.
 
4/12 Nighttime Rocket Launch from Our Hotel Room

For those keeping track, this was the trip of rocket launches. We couldn’t believe how many were being launched while we were down there. So far we watched one from Ormond Beach and one from Universal City Walk. This time we could see the launch from the comfort of our hotel room at the Residence Inn Flamingo Crossings.

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AD_4nXdR6DBhkynf5lsHbYpj1BVoCYwdojYz_8Aqvj4FaaU7j-VXwKj2JUhyO6xyABbMbEhjKnj3HRg3DTvbalktAR-bLvlKBMjnhKxTYChAQBQr8CptNu8Pof78afc2yU9Dk19kgCT0_OnWqisw4HuZ2LVzU19t
AD_4nXfdJ4M661iiPZlfelxmeaifUujst6tc2OWw78j4semtCBluCvdB0Fro-oULuHbu3_JO9jB73HmWMXAnajleU8moKmoPMACnPBMpe6Vjxd-IZMElCfIJC090fpZElVsZ8bzqFexGHrv7qa9AWo1F8eDK1-k_
AD_4nXes12cZx2WHcNW9b-24nq_iRgK-NPF6mWGTaBYRsjJPjRVq4RsEI7c6WU38LTMfQPF8QFQwMPCMzznXspFvZx8QTlhEdifZ7gwJUyHQ4SI-gPmRaLqkNq8muZ8b2iubxD6XoXCSmToy29c_3_hi_WolSyc
AD_4nXct0b1S23NxkCwelPd7ZO06tk55eltfnxOXoVZ_9VWfQMWiD7LwCyGFkveCL_mzXDbUNP8juC2vgZCKzfYC6Zy8B_xqczX4DX6iT5DtYCwzihp65a-IYBGp42gbEjQuO4IxISzHi5zfaQQjMuMxzo4g8mif
AD_4nXdqzNGVTu3dVX1_HZf36j6HEc8pFj7j_d7RnM-jH0OOLM5Ainl_pUVU4o8eGi04L7G2YKnUtodfVAq0Kh6wiYhDgdFZM4WEo2e5EUXvXyP3xKpxdQXhm-P-wodK9TccEdMAcVvyjArUJt6hmdoIXSdpdL_5


These were all Starlink satellite launches I believe. The technology is just so impressive. There are more launches and better photos to come…

Up next…resort hopping searching for delicious food. Did we find some?
 
4/13 Kona Cafe & Sassagoula Floatworks
My DH calls Kona Cafe the ADR I love to cancel. We went for breakfast in April of 2022 and since then I have booked a breakfast ADR for every trip. We’re always so full by the time it pops up that I end up canceling it. This time, we finally kept the reservation. My DH loved the Tonga Toast in 2022 but I preferred the Macadamia Nut pancakes. So, we ordered those both to share again.

First up, the macadamia nut pancakes. I have been dreaming of these ever since I got them back in 2022 (hence all the ADRs).

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This time they were good but for some reason not as amazing as I had remembered. I think they were fluffier last time I got them. Perhaps I built them up in my mind. The “spiced ham” (Spam) was very good however.

Tonga Toast:
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Inside view:
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The Tonga Toast was a disappointment. The edges were really hard to cut through and it lacked cinnamon sugar flavor. The banana filling was barely noticeable. It was dried out and chewy. The spam was excellent though.

The syrup and strawberry compote helped a little with the dryness but wasn’t enough to save it. I remember my DH commenting, “it’s saying something when Spam is the best thing on the table.” Haha!

Unfortunately, this time Kona Cafe was a miss for us. The food was mediocre at best and the service wasn’t anything special. Guess I don’t feel bad for canceling my ADRs on all the previous trips.

After breakfast we parked at Hollywood Studios and spent the day riding the Skyliner, stopping at each of the stops.

We spotted some Hidden Mickeys at the Riviera Resort. Can you see them?

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After our day of exploring, we headed for a late lunch/early dinner at Sassagoula Floatworks at POFQ.

We ordered two entrees to share. First, a dish we’ve tried before, gumbo.

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My goodness is this delicious! It is filled with andouille sausage and chicken and a very tasty sauce. It has a little bit of heat but is so flavorful.

We also shared the jambalaya which we’ve never tried before.

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This was excellent as well! The corn bread was sweet and not dry. This was filled with chicken and andouille sausage with a tasty tomato-based sauce. This also had a little spice to it.

Both of these dishes were so good that Sassagoula is now on our must do list! I really want to try the shrimp and grits there too but it’s going to be hard not to get the gumbo or jambalaya.

For dessert we headed over to Scat Cat Cafe for beignets (how can you not?) We were too full for an order of 6 so we compromised and placed an order for 3 regular and 1 cinnamon.

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We’ve never tried the cinnamon sugar one before but this was really good. It had much better cinnamon sugar flavor then our Tonga Toast and was light and airy.

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We just love these beignets. They are consistently hot, fresh and delicious. Since we only had 3 we could only get one dipping sauce. The chocolate one is our favorite but strawberry and caramel are good too.

After our lunch/dinner, we walked around the POFQ and POR for a bit and then headed back to our hotel for an early night in.

Total steps: 22,166

Up next: A long awaited ADR for breakfast.
 
I love the beignets at FQ. I need to try the gumbo one of these trips!
We have had lack luster service and food at Kona so it is low on our list now.
 
















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