Universal Studios’ 5 Musts For Your Next Visit

Universal Studios’ 5 Musts For Your Next Visit

After visiting Universal Studios in Orlando, FL in October, I realized I missed out on quite a bit growing up.

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This was my second trip to Florida in 27 years…where have you been Mike? After four days in the sunshine state, here are the major tips if you are going to Universal in the not too distant future.

1. Go on as many rides as possible (especially The Mummy and Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey).

The part of universal that makes itself so unique is the virtual ride experience and the different rides. Even if you're not wearing 3-D/4D glasses, the rides tend to feel incredibly real even if you're in front of a screen: that to me is a very rich and worthwhile experience even if you have to wait 35 minutes for a three-minute ride.

2. Consider visiting during the fall season - you'll be able to do an evening of Halloween horror nights

Universal changes its entire experience starting at 7 p.m. for what they title Halloween Horror Nights. This includes some different walking scare zones and about 8 to 10 different themed haunted houses. The key to this is making sure you get there early or stay inside the park to avoid massive entry lines. I went to one haunted house, and I'll be quite honest with you, I can't remember the last time I went into a haunted house. This particular house was titled slaughter cinema. And each room had my heart pounding as I walked in until the only way I could cope with how scary everything was to laugh.

Get a frozen butterbeer and Simpson's doughnut

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Out of all the sweet treats, candies, and fast food items you could purchase in the park, the butter beer from Harry Potter's Diagon Alley is an absolute must. The concoction is a slushy with vanilla and butterscotch flavoring. Even if you don't like butterscotch (because I don't); it still tasted awesome. As for a food item, go with the Simpson's doughnut. It will be the size of your head, but the pink frosting and sprinkles taste delicious. Trust me on this one: Chicago is spoiled with donuts, but this one is a serious contender.

4. Make sure to take time to sit down for lunch or dinner (your feet will thank you)

There are a variety of different restaurants throughout the park. You'll find somewhere no matter the type of food you're craving. My suggested pick is the Cowfish's Bacon Burger Sushi. The outside may be a little crispy with the potatoes; with a little ketchup and mustard you're in for a real tasty spectacle! The honorable mention goes to the brunch French toast burger at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium.

5. Try a ride that you normally would not consider

And so after 27 years, I finally went on my very first roller coaster. It was a better experience than I anticipated. I didn't get sick, I had all of the chills and excitement, and before I knew it, it was all over. So, I went back three more times!

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9 Reasons Why Topsail Island is the Best Beach in NC

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in North Carolina.
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1. The sunsets.

Topsail has the best sunsets out of any beach in North Carolina. Hands down.

2. The shark’s teeth and seashells.

You can always find a large amount of cool shells and shark’s teeth every beach trip. I have found that it is not like this at every beach, only at Topsail. Shell hunting tip: check out the point on the south end of the island every morning for the best shell selection. You might even come across a hidden mailbox with notes in it while shell hunting down there.

3. The food.

From Max’s pizza with the pepperoni under the cheese to the seafood at Breezeway and even having the experience of eating outside at Sears Landing, Topsail has some of the greatest restaurants any beach in NC has to offer. The best part about the food in Topsail is that the restaurants are all local. Also, there is a brand new doughnut shop in the Surf City part of the island...what could be better than doughnuts and the beach?

4. The Fourth of July.

Every year Topsail and neighboring town, Holly Ridge, rotate between who does fireworks on the fourth and who gets to do them on the fifth. Basically this means two whole days of celebrating our great nation at the beach. The Fourth is also fun in Topsail because the beach is full of people decked out in red, white, and blue, blaring country music, and playing cornhole and swimming all day. Some parts of the town even have mini Fourth of July block parties (okay maybe that's just my family and our neighbors but it’s still pretty fun).

5. The small town atmosphere.

Topsail is a small island which gives it a small town, everybody knows everybody kind of feel. It’s really easy to make life long beach friends here because you have the opportunity to see the same people out on the beach every summer.

6. The ice cream.

Growing up, we went out to get ice cream EVERY single night and admittedly we still do. It often feels like the whole island has the same idea because the lines are always out the door at every ice cream place on the island. Don’t let this discourage you though. It’s an unspoken rule to wait in the line no matter how long it may be because ice cream always tastes better at Topsail.

7. The best of both worlds.

Because Topsail is an island, in most cases you can see both the ocean and the sound from wherever you are staying. This is pretty awesome because you can watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the sound without having to go too far. You also can go from playing cornhole on the beach to jet skiing in the sound without having to walk too far so you really do get the experience the best of both worlds.

8. Outdoor movies.

On certain nights of the week Topsail this has cool thing called “Summer Movies in the Park” where they play movies on a big blow up screen at a park that sits on the sound. The best part about this is that the movies are FREE. Tip: if you are vacationing at Topsail with bae, I highly suggest going to an outdoor movie together, even if it is Cinderella and even if you have seen it 100 times already you should still go. But, if outdoor movies aren’t your thing then I suggest going roller skating or playing a game of putt-putt.

9. The memories.

Whether you go for a week or a weekend, I promise that you will make some great memories with the people you love at Topsail Island. After spending 19 summers on the island, I know I sure have. From Fourth of July block parties, running into friends from all over NC, adventuring with cousins and swimming during hurricanes, I can honestly say that spending my summers at Topsail Island has been one of the best things ever.



North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in NC and I highly recommend planning your next beach vacation to Topsail Island.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.topsailnewsonline.com/?p=9478

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5 Things To Do In Columbia, South Carolina, To Keep You Entertained

It's bigger than you'd think.

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Growing up in the state of South Carolina, I'd been to Columbia lots of times but I never really got to experience the sights and sounds quite the way I do now that I'm in school here. That being said, I feel like I've gotten to check some cool things in the past three years and I'd like to recommend some to you!

1. Get Coffee!

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Obviously, we have a trillion Starbucks, but I mean try out some of the other, more localized coffee shops such as Drip, Immaculate Consumption, Cool Beans, Zombie Coffee and Donuts, and the list goes on. And again, while we all love Starbucks, it's good to try new things, especially locally based things that put money back into your economy and locally sourced coffees.

2. Catch Some Baseball!

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We have our lovely Gamecocks in action basically every weekend, and the SEC season is underway so there will be some talented teams rolling into Columbia in the next few weeks to take on the Gamecocks. We also have the Columbia Fireflies in action pretty soon, so go check them out as well. Don't forget your glove!

3. Brunch!

My friends introduced me to some really great places to have brunch. I definitely think Tazza Kitchen is my favorite but there are so many great restaurants to explore throughout the city that have brunch food and drink specials! Also, it's a nice way to kick off or end your weekend surrounded by food and people that you care about.

4. The Great Outdoors!

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There's always something to do outside! For the most part, we have great weather, so outdoor activities are a must! And we have various festivals that come and go throughout the year. We also have lots of parks and rivers for walking, running, kayaking, swimming and more!

5. Museums!

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I know everyone thinks museums are lame but I don't! So, we have plenty of things to look at and take in around Columbia! We have a children's museum for the younger crowd, in addition to the Columbia Museum of Art and the South Carolina State Museum. I actually used to go to the state museum a lot as a kid with my parents. There are also other smaller places around Columbia and on campus to check out if you're into history like I am!

This is only a small list of the attractions in Columbia. For all the trash I talk about this state and about this city, it does have some pretty loveable things. You can eat your heart out, learn, cheer on your favorite team and that could only be day one.

If you have any other suggestions of things to do or would like to request me as your personal tour guide, let me know!

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