Tampa: A Helicopter Skyline Tour.

When photographing a city skyline people like to walk and drive to various vantage points, grab a shot from the water and look for the high rises when landing or taking off in an airplane. What about getting up close and personal to the heart of a city via helicopter?

My wife and I had the chance to see the Tampa, Florida skyline via a helicopter tour from Old City Helicopters. We met the helicopter in the Davis Islands neighborhood at Peter O’Knight Airport. You could already see the skyline off in the distance from the runway.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Upon take off Seaplane Basin and Hillsborough Bay sat right in front of us. My wife sat in front with the pilot and I was the backseat flyer. :)

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Doing a 360 in the air there was the heart of Tampa off in the distance along with the Seddon and Sparkman water channels.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Before reaching downtown we went over some ritzy neighborhoods.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Our pilot was friendly and made sure we were safe and having a great time. He also pointed out various spots all along the way. Can anyone guess whose white mansion with the pool that is in the center of the picture? Hint: He is retiring from his sporting profession this year. :)

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, celebrity home

Well it was time to head into downtown via a brand new means, getting goosebumps as we got closer and closer. Nothing like capturing a photo of someone capturing a photo of a city skyline in the air!

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

You could almost touch the buildings. The tallest building in Tampa and along the Florida Gulf Coast is the 42-story 100 North Tampa building to the far left.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Looking to the east you can see McKay Bay, also capturing more of the neighborhoods as we looked away from downtown in each direction. Typical of Florida, you have dark ominous clouds on one side and clear blue skies on the other. :) We lucked out with no rain during our tour.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

It was time to head back towards the airport and Hillsborough Bay.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, Tampa Bay

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

We circled the bay getting some skyline and marina shots from out on the open water, I mean over.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline, harbor

Back to Peter O’Knight Airport we go, where you’ll find lots of small planes and helicopters taking off continuously.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

tampa-helicopter-tour-025

We went on the Bay & Downtown Tour. Along with various Tampa tour options, Old City Helicopters also provides aerial tours of St. Petersburg, the nearby Gulf of Mexico beaches, St. Augustine and the Florida Keys. You can get flight instruction or even just go on a ride that is photography based. Checkout their website and Facebook page for more information.

We had a great time and would definitely recommend this excursion when visiting the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area.

Old City Helicopter tours, Tampa, Florida

Have you ever had a helicopter tour? Any around the heart of a city?

Florida: The Sunsets of St. Pete Beach.

No matter the evening, viewing a sunset on St. Pete Beach along the Florida Gulf Coast is magical. The beach, sand, palm trees, Gulf of Mexico and other beach goers in combo make for a romantic and beautiful setting every time. A great spot for honeymoon! :) I’ll let the pictures from various summer evenings do all the talking.

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

Where are your favorite spots, either around home or that you’ve come across in your travels, to capture a sunrise/sunset over and over and over again?

Alaska: A Dawn Arrival in Skagway.

One of the best things when on a cruise is pulling into port, especially around sunrise. It’s the beginning of a new day and you’ve arrived at a new place like Skagway, Alaska.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway is a historic gold rush town that sits at the top of the Inside Passage and panhandle of Alaska near the border with Canada and the Yukon.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

We weren’t alone as it was summertime at the heart of the Alaskan cruise season. The town population of 900 doubles this time of year with tourism traffic.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Walking up-top the Celebrity Solstice in port we enjoyed the calmness of the Taiya Inlet waters and the early morning light shinning on the snow-capped mountains.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

It was the wee hours of the morning so of course a coffee and it’s mug had to take in the experience too. :)

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Well it was time to get off the ship and head for some rafting fun on the Taiya River. What a great first taste of Skagway, Alaska though by pulling into port at dawn.

What ports have you enjoyed pulling into when on a cruise? Any Alaskan favorites?

Chicago: Bucktown’s Ipsento Coffee.

While in the Bucktown (Logan Square) neighborhood of Chicago recently, I was hanging out in a couple of coffee shops. I was tweeting about my whereabouts, posting pictures online (surprise, surprise) and interacting some with the locals. Some of the comments I received online and the questions I was asked face-to-face had nothing to do with where I was at, but where else I should go in the neighborhood, Ipsento Coffee.

So in the early morning the next day I returned to Bucktown and this is what I came up to along N. Western Avenue just north of N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Lots of bikes, racks and outdoor seating in front of the entrance to Ipsento Coffee. It immediately reminded me of the setup in front of Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco. :)

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Walking inside Ipsento Coffee the baristas were busy making individual coffee’s as the customers waited amongst the warm, cozy, retro and wood like atmosphere. I ordered my coffee and set up shop on one of the bar stools seen to the left.

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

The baristas were knowledgeable and friendly asking new customers what their names were and talking to regulars about how things were going. The coffee shop definitely had that true neighborhood vibe. I soon had my coffee, a Nutella Latte made with beans roasted in-house, and laid it to rest on the wooden counter.

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee, Nutella Latte

My pre-sipping routine always involves capturing the caffeinated beverage in all its form. This coffee definitely passed the eye test. A fun backdrop, some latte art and a colorful mug with the coffee shop logo displaying front-and-center. All these things say a lot about the care Ipsento takes in making for a great coffee experience.

Oh yeah, I did put the camera down to experience the Nutella Latte. Outstanding. It was recommended from more than one person. Note: I always post my coffee Instagram pictures after consumption has already begun so the coffee doesn’t get cool haha. :)

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee, Nutella Latte

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Loved the retro Pepsi storage containers that were used as shelves through out. I enjoyed the rest of my latte while reading the paper, brainstorming my future Chicago roamings and using Ipsento Coffee as my #coffice, home base for that early morning. I’m so glad I listened to all the feedback I received the previous day.

If you are ever in Chicago and especially around the Bucktown neighborhood, make Ipsento Coffee your coffee destination. :)

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Some additional information:

  • Get there early to grab a seat.
  • You can learn Coffee 101, classes offered up on what Ipsento has learned in their coffee travels.
  • 6 AM! Looking for that very early cup of coffee before work? They open up earlier than others in the area.
  • Quieter seating options are available in the back, away from the hustle and bustle of the counter/entrance area.
  • Get the Ipsento Latte! I didn’t have a chance too. Tell me what you think?
  • Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

What’s a neighborhood in a city you frequent or have come across in your travels that has a great coffee shop, cafe scene?

Chicago: A Grant Park Skyline Walk.

When in the big city, I’m always looking for that next skyline shot. Chicago is no exception. One my favorite places to go for a walk and capture the Windy City is from Grant Park. On my most recent walk through the park I hopped off Michigan Avenue onto E. Balboa Avenue. The skyline was already in plain site as I walked over the train tracks coming and going from Chicago Union Station.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

Can you see the Sears, I mean Willis, Tower peeking out from behind?! :)

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

After crossing the bridge I turned and headed north on S. Columbus Drive.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

I started playing peekaboo with Willis Tower, as it was coming in-and-out of view along with the rest of the skyline from behind the trees.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

Nothing like seeing a baseball field in summer right in the heart of a city.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

The taller trees soon became shorter opening things up. There you are Chicago. It was a cold winter and Spring in the Midwestern United States, but everything is green, in full bloom and beautiful now.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline

Love and marriage, love and marriage. Go together like a horse and carriage. Walking further along S. Columbus Drive. you’ll come up to Buckingham Fountain on your right (at E. Congress Parkway) which many will recognize from the title sequence of the television series Married with Children. The fountain marks the center of Grant Park and is one of the largest you’ll find anywhere, providing wide open panoramic skyline views.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline, Buckingham Fountain

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline, Buckingham Fountain

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline, Buckingham Fountain

It’s time to lay down on the brick walkway, relax and soak in all the tall buildings.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline, Buckingham Fountain

I went back to the peekaboo continuing north past Butler Field until I reached E. Monroe Street and Millennium Park. It was a short, but nice summer day stroll through Grant Park checking out the high-rises of Chi-town.

Grant Park, Chicago, skyline, Buckingham Fountain

Checkout my previous post, Chicago: The Agora Sculptures of Grant Park, for more Chicago skyline walking fun within Grant Park. You’ll see some pretty cool and interesting sculptures too.

What city parks have you walked in in your travels or around home that provide great skyline views?

Scoping Out the Future Flatlands Coffee.

While driving and hanging out in northwestern Ohio recently, I decided to walk around downtown Bowling Green and checkout the future home of a third-wave coffee shop.

Downtown Bowling Green, Ohio

Right on Main Street in-between a gaming store and a tattoo parlor in the heart of a college town…

Flatlands Coffee, Bowling Green, Ohio

…will sit Flatlands Coffee.

Flatlands Coffee, Bowling Green, Ohio

As I have chronicled before, they are right in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. I am backing Flatlands Coffee because I see the passion and knowledge Ben and Crissy have for coffee, a unique coffee shop design and experience and for helping to bring a welcoming and warm spot to their hometown.

Flatlands Coffee, Bowling Green, Ohio

Photo courtesy of Flatlands Coffee

I was getting goosebumps approaching the vacant building, where no coffee is even being served yet.

Flatlands Coffee, Bowling Green, Ohio

They will be offering up coffee from several brewing methods, at the same time staying away from the specialty drinks you see in a lot of coffee shops. A monthly “specialty” drink will be offered designed to complement a coffees flavor, not hide it. As an example they could serve a fruity Ethiopian as espresso and add sparkling water, cherry juice and a strawberry slice. My mouth is watering just writing this.

Flatlands Coffee, Bowling Green, Ohio

Photo courtesy of Flatlands Coffee

Another thing that raised my eyebrows is that they will offer the customer coffee from numerous roasters along with seasonal offerings. You’ll also be able to buy and take home co-branded, wonderfully designed packages of your favorites, something you don’t see everyday.

Flatlands Coffee, Bowling Green, Ohio

Photo courtesy of Flatlands Coffee

Checkout their Kickstarter campaign, video and my previous post and if you like what you see they are offering some pretty cool, coffeelicious rewards for helping. Next time I walk by that building in Bowling Green I will be going inside. :)

You can also find Flatlands Coffee on Twitter and Facebook.

“The” Chicago Coffee for Me.

Chicago has a thriving independent, non-chain coffee shop scene. Every time I’m in the Windy City lots of coffee exploration of course takes place. Each new trip brings new coffee experiences with one exception…

The Wormhole Coffee, Wicker Park, Chicago, coffee shop

…The Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park. I always find time to walk into the sci-fi themed coffeehouse and order “The” coffee drink for me in Chicago. One Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa coming up.

The Wormhole Coffee, Wicker Park, Chicago, coffee shop

I’m enjoying one as I write this post. So good. There is a DeLorean parked in the back of the shop. Does that mean Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown are here?!

What is “The” coffee drink for you in Chicago? In the city you live near?