I’ve mentioned this numerous times in the past but I absolutely love visiting aquariums and zoos. If I’m out traveling around and there is one nearby I’ll go out of my way to check them out. Some are huge, and others are much smaller but it just doesn’t matter. I enjoy the different exhibits, animals and of course they more often than not have a pressed penny machine somewhere on the property.
A few years ago I found out about the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford which is about an hour north of Orlando. Above some further research they also were listed on pennycollector.com as having a penny press so I packed up my kids and headed out to visit. Unfortunately at that time the zoo was under some pretty heavy renovations and many of the exhibits were unavailable. An even further travesty was that the penny press was no where to be found. We finished up our day and headed home a little disappointed.
Fast forward a few years and I get a message from a fellow collector that was visiting the Orlando area and checked out the Central Florida Zoo. His report back mentioned the construction was all done and the penny machine was back and fully operational. That was all I needed to hear to know what we were doing that following weekend. I packed up my family on a Saturday morning and we headed back to Sanford to check out the new and improved zoo.
The front part of the zoo was pretty much the same, and most of the elevated wooden boardwalk paths throughout the zoo were also unchanged but had received some much needed repairs. But as we headed further back into the zoo we found many of the new exhibits and all of it’s residents seemed to be enjoying their new surroundings.
I also found there was a nice flow to the park. Nothing bugs me more than having to retrace my steps in a park when a certain area just kind of dead ends.
Inside the reptile house were many Florida local creatures which always scares me a little bit. I’m definitely not a snake person but always feel I should make sure I know as much about them incase I find one on my lanai at home.
Lemurs are one of my favorite animals to visit, they always look so interested in everything that is going on. Most of the zoos I’ve visited seem to prefer the white and black ring-tailed lemur, but here they had a beautiful red and black friend that was really amazing.
Located right about in the middle of the property is a petting zoo. This was pretty standard and had the usual animals to visit with like goats and sheep, but we also found an alpaca in the back. He didn’t come close enough for us to visit with, but he was showing off his pretty cute haircut from a distance.
In the same area as the petting zoo was the ZOOfari Outpost, basically the zoo gift shop. Outside under that covered awning was a mold-o-rama machine which I’ve seen more and more around the Central Florida area. Even Universal Studios now has a few of these inside their parks.
The gift shop was pretty small inside and didn’t have a huge selection of items for sale. Plenty of t-shirts and photo frames but a far cry what what we are used to seeing at the larger theme parks. As you walk in through the main door the penny press machine was located straight back.
This machine immediately caught my eye when I walked inside. It has a nice bright paint job and the animal artwork on the cabinet was really beautiful.
The pennies rolled out really nicely, only one ended up rolling a bit long with a tail but the images were all nicely pressed. I always really like when they have the zoo location listed in the design as opposed to just generic animal designs. The River Otter, Rhino, Giraffe and Alligator designs were fairly standard and I’m sure we have seen similar at other locations but I was still happy to finally have this set for my personal collection.
The Central Florida Zoo has come a long way from that first time I visited and we had a really fantastic day. This is not a huge zoo, but you can definitely spend a good portion of your day here if you really take your time exploring all the exhibits and different activities available throughout the day. They do also have a few places to purchase food so you can really make a day of it. Don’t forget to visit the Outpost and press a set of these pennies for your own collection and as always be sure to Keep on Pressing!
I hate to be “that” person, but I do feel that I’m a connoisseurs of pizza. Living in New Jersey we had some really great pizza, including the locally known Tomato Pie, plus I visited New York City many many times for a lot of pizza. I’ve even visited Chicago for authentic deep dish pizza and I honestly love it all. Sometimes I’m in the mood for thin crust and other times deep dish is what’s calling my name. The long and the short of it is that I just really love pizza as I think so many of you do as well. Now some of you may be asking now this pertains to pressed coins. If you have been following my adventures on this blog I’m sure you have noticed that we have pretty much collected all the pressed coins available in the Orlando area and most central Florida locations. When that happens it’s just time to start expanding our collecting boundaries and venture a little further away from home. One of these cities on my to do list was Gainesville Florida. I’ve already documented a couple places we visited on previous trips but I was saving the best for last, a place called Satchel’s Pizza.
I’ll get the pizza review in a little bit, but first I just wanted to mention that this is probably the most unique pizza joint I have ever visited. Satchel’s pizza opened on March 7th, 2003 by Satchel Raye the founder and owner of the restaurant. Their mission was to make great food in a beautiful atmosphere. Basically this entire place is a collection of unique and one of a kind works of art. Just wait and I’ll show you what I mean.
The front of the building has a fun garden area with tables that you can sit and wait for your table. This place gets so busy that there can be wait times of up to and over an hour if you don’t get their early. Also, see that van on the left? There is a table inside and you can actually sit and eat your meal inside that van. This could be a bit hot in the summertime, but still seems like an interesting table option for those adventurous types.
Just around the one side of the front door area are some of their outdoor tables. They all have pretty mosaic designs on top, and even the walls have wonderful art work and designs on them.
Along the other main side of the building where the parking lot is located the art work continues. This one wall was covered in all different kinds of sports trophies.
There was a bit of a pass through walkway between the restaurants two buildings and the exterior design continued everywhere. This wall had all sorts of different items mounted directly on it.
That second building I mentioned towards the back is called Lightnin Salvage Enterprises and has a pretty large bar inside that is also surrounded with some additional tables. I think this is used as kind of overflow seating for the main dining room and you do have access to the full food menu in addition to the bar offerings. The above picture was taken in the parking lot area and you can see some interesting looking items all the way in the back of the lot. Let’s take a closer look.
This covered area was like an open air greenhouse and we will step inside shortly, but what first caught my eye was the airplane mounted up on top.
Underneath the airplane were plenty of potted plants and some additional seating. It was raining when we visited so no one was outside other than myself trying to take these pictures. But I can see this being a fun place to eat your pizza.
We then came across another section with some larger picnic tables and cement tables for diners.
Here are the few seating areas inside the greenhouse. There is no glass along the walls so this is an open air place to eat. I would think it could get pretty hot inside here if you are eating during the middle of the summer, plus the tables are not very large so this could be a tough seat to get if you really wanted to eat here.
Along the back wall of the building I found a section that was covered in a mosaic style patter of cell phone cases in every different color you can imaging.
The last little area outside was a “kids play area”. I put that in quotes as I’m not sure any kids would actually want to play here, and it reminds me of something you may find at an abandoned school in some horror movie. My daughters just kind of walked through this area and didn’t seem interested in actually playing here. Maybe that was due to the rain, or maybe some other reason.
I mentioned earlier that this place can have really long wait times to get a table, so I made sure we arrived before it even opened which is why we took our tour of the grounds first. Once we had finished outside it was perfect timing and the restaurant was just opening, but even at this time in the morning it filled up pretty quickly. The interesting decorations continued on the inside as you can see from the things hanging from the ceiling and all along the walls.
Above is a picture I took of the menu just to show there disclaimer that it could take a while for your food to be prepared if they are busy. Also during our visit they were cash only but they did have an ATM machine inside to use but there is a service fee to use so you may want to plan ahead. I have seen online that they are now accepting credit cards and digital payments probably due to increase demand for touch-less payment options which is nice.
On our visit the pizza didn’t take too long and it was delivered to our table within 20 minutes. By this time we were starving and we couldn’t wait to dive in. My daughters wanted just plain cheese and I opted for pepperoni and green peppers. This pizza was fantastic! As you can see it’s not really a thin crust pizza, but definitely not a deep dish is kind of in between. The crust exterior was crunch, but soft and garlicky on the outside. There was so much cheese on top which I love and the tops on my side were fresh and flavorful.
The pizza was definitely filling, but when offered dessert we just had to see what was available. Instead of a regular paper dessert menu, they brought over an old school view master with a photo disc inside of all the sweet offerings.
I tried to take a picture of the view master menu above.
It’s a bit small and the 3D obviously doesn’t work, but this was still a cool way for guests to see the menu. My kids really got a kick out of the view master and couldn’t believe this was a toy I had when I was young. A far cry from all the fancy tech they have now.
After our lunch we headed back outside and walked towards the back building Lightnin Salvage which as I mentioned before is a bar and additional seating for the main restaurant but also has a small gift shop.
The tile work on these walls was very eye catching. For some reason the area to the right of the door just reminded me of a bunch of post-it notes covering the wall.
Here is a picture of the inside where the bar could be found. You can see some small trinkets in the lower right corner that I’m sure kids would enjoy.
This is just a sample of some items they had for sale in the gift shop. They had plenty of things with Satchel’s Pizza on it like mugs, t-shirts, sweaters and even their salad dressing for sale.
But of course other than the pizza I was here to find their pressed penny machine and this is where you can find it. I actually thought it would have been in the main restaurant area, but when I couldn’t find it my very kind server said it was back near the bar. I really liked that they had a van model on the top of the machine. It didn’t quite match the one they have outside to eat in, but still a fun addition to their machine.
This machine style is one I’ve used quite a few times in the past, and I always find they seem to roll the designs a bit short. However I was pleasantly surprised to see that my pressed coins came out very nicely and I really loved these designs. If you saw these on eBay or somewhere out of context you probably would have no idea what they were all about, but once you have visited Satchel’s you instantly recognize each of the designs.
All I can say is that this was definitely a unique place and I cannot wait to go back. I only wish it was a bit closer to our home so I could get back there more often. It will be on my list of places to visit again anytime we are in that area, or even just passing through. Be sure to get their early, or just have some patience when waiting for your table and food. It will be well worth the wait, make sure you get your pressed pennies, and don’t forget to check out all the artwork. Though as you can see from the pictures above it’s pretty hard to miss since the restaurant itself is the art work. Keep on Pressing!