For several days this May we visited a number of gardens while in Dublin, Ireland. The weather was mostly good with one morning of rain when we headed out for the National Botanic Gardens. By the time we reached the gardens the rain had lifted.
The National Botanic Gardens – This is a really beautiful garden with a number of greenhouses matching several environments. There were greenhouses dedicated to orchids, another to tropical plants and another to desert flora. The outside gardens cover a number of acres and feature several different styles. Admission is free, there is a restaurant and gift shop as well as a number of special programs including lectures and concerts. If you have time while in Dublin do yourself a favor and go see this garden.
Backed up to the Botanic Gardens is Glasnevin Cemetery and Glasnevin Cemetery Museum. The museum’s web site describes it as “the guardian and storyteller for over 1.5 million people. From the ordinary to the truly extraordinary, these people helped shape the Ireland of today. We want to share their stories and times with you through tours of the cemetery, a visit to the museum or through a genealogy search for your family history”. While in the neighborhood stop in at the well known Gravediggers Pub for a pint.
St. Stephen’s Green is located in the heart of Dublin and is a focus in the area, and provides an oasis of green in the middle of this busy city. The Dublin Public Works web site describes this garden as “four centuries of history that are eventful and complex, involving such important figures as Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, and Countess Constance Markievicz. The park itself hosts a large number of important sculptural monuments to Irish history. Many species of birds and plants also call the park their home. Public facilities at St Stephen’s Green Park include a playground and a garden for the visually impaired”.
Half way from the River Liffey to the National Botanic Gardens we stopped at the Blessington Street Park or “The Basin” and what a find. Located near the intersection of Royal Canal Bank and Primrose Avenue this is a beautiful and well kept pocket park surrounding a lake. After walking thru this park we thought how lucky the neighbors are to live next to this gem.
Back in the day a visit to Disney theme parks meant eating snacks or a variation of fast food with only a couple of sit down venues. Today it’s a whole different story. If you count food stands, bars and lounges, food trucks, cafes, family style restaurants and fine dining you could stay at Disney World for a month or two and never eat at the same place twice. While I wouldn’t characterize the food as inexpensive, I will sing the praises of the general variety and quality. If you are looking for an in-depth look at eating the “World” there are a number of web sites dedicated to supplying just that information. The best, in our opinion, being The Disney Food Blog .
We do have a few of our own favorites from numerous visits over the years and many of our picks vary by if we are dining with children or are going out for a special occasion.
One of our favorite overall selections is Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Our children have always liked this choice because all kids love a buffet and this features tastes of Africa. If the kids are picky eaters and won’t get into African fare there is also a section of kids usual favorites. If you are looking for a more formal atmosphere, again with a taste of Africa there is also Jico also in the Lodge. It features an extensive African wine list as well. If you are in the Animal Kingdom Park and are looking for a dinner choice Boma has a first cousin there called Tusker House with a similar menu but also at times featuring Character dining.
Another buffet that’s a hit with the whole family is Cape May over at the Beach Club Resort in The Boardwalk area. It features all-you-can-eat seafood with a really good selection. Also in the Boardwalk neighborhood is the Big River Grill & Brewery, an independent restaurant featuring their own craft beers and American fare, like steaks, burgers and my favorite, meatloaf. Just a short walk away from the Boardwalk, in the Dolphin Hotel, is our number one pick for seafood at the World, Todd English’s Bluezoo. This is a pricey choice, but well worth the
cost. While considering the Dolphin there is a low price gem tucked away in a corner of the hotel called Picabu Buffeteria. It is more of a snack bar than a restaurant but offers a selection of made-to-order tacos and burritos that are fantastic and surprisingly inexpensive.
A little hard to get to is Olivia’s Cafe, a casual restaurant in Disney’s Old Key West Resort. It offers comfort food dishes and a family atmosphere that feels relaxed and comfortable with a menu based around classic American fare. If you are lucky enough to be staying at Key West, don’t miss this gem.
Another upscale favorite of ours is Artist Point located in the Wilderness Lodge Resort. This restaurant features the food and flavors of the American Northwest. In our opinion, this is one of the most overlooked restaurants in the World. You can get to the Wilderness Lodge by catching a boat right outside the entrance to The Magic Kingdom which makes it easily reachable from the Contemporary, the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian resorts. If you are having last minute problems scoring a reservation at an upscale eatery, be sure and try this gem, it is usually available and you won’t be disappointed.
A number of recent surveys have agreed on a few favorite restaurants inside Walt Disney World with the number one currently being Be Our Guest in The Magic Kingdom. Because of its popularity it is a very difficult reservation to get. Another top pick is ‘OHana at the Polynesian, offering pit cooked meats along with kid oriented entertainment. For pizza the winner is Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy with its coal fired ovens. The number one dinner show for well over forty years is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort campgrounds. It features classic barbeque with a great show along with a sing along.
Two areas of Disney World that deserve mentions on their own are Epcot and Disney Springs and we would refer you again over to the real experts .
Inside Epcot you can choose between over a dozen restaurants themed on foreign lands and we haven’t been disappointed yet. We have had great food at Norway, Japan, Germany, England and Mexico and haven’t scratched the surface. Our favorite pastries can be found down an alley at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie at the France pavilion at Epcot. We have also heard rumors that the best steak in “the World” can be found in Canada at Le Cellier Steakhouse, though we haven’t tried it and they have some stiff competition including Don Shula’s at the Dolfin and The Yachtman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
In Disney Springs we have really enjoyed Morimoto Asia (not so much their street food outlet), House of Blues for good BBQ, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Wolfgang Pucks but that only scratches the surface in this area.
One of our favorites at Disney Springs is Cooke’s of Dublin where you can get great fish n’ chips. Cooke’s is attached to Raglan Road which is more upscale but you can get a beer at the outside courtyard and go and order fish ‘n chips from Cooke’s and have it brought to you.
If you are a Florida Resident, Disney Vacation Club members or Annual Passholder you might consider Tables in Wonderland. It is a membership program with annual fees and each card is good for up to 10 guests. 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at participating Disney restaurants. That includes all Disney operated locations (except Victoria & Albert at the Grand Floridian) and most other on-property establishments but not all. Check out the current listing HERE. At 20% off it makes the cost of eating at Disney World a bit less outrageous.