Hope your Wednesday is wonderful! I’m coming back to reality after a relaxing vacation week in the Orlando area. We just returned from 7 whole days, packed with things to do around Orlando (which actually was rainy for our whole trip!). If you follow my Facebook or Instagram, you most likely have seen the photos. We found tons to do! My parents own a home in the Kissimmee area and so graciously purchased us airfare and a rental car this past Christmas (yay for the gift of making memories and not more toys to store!). It didn’t take much convincing to get my best friend and her hubby on board to rent a house close by! We had pretty action packed days and could definitely have used another week away, but I want to share with you…
Our Favorite Things to Do Around Orlando
Gatorland is a pretty cool park full of…well…alligators, of course! There are many other animals as well, including a cute little petting zoo area. All 4 of the kids in our crew were super into letting the goats try to eat their shirts!
This park also offers a couple cool shows included with admission, as well as a splash pad and other activities. if you choose, you can pay a fee for things like zipline, tours, or posed photographs with the animals.
This park isn’t huge, which makes it perfect for a half day trip. This was great for us because it started pouring around lunch time when we were getting ready to leave! It is also not an overly pricey park compared to some others in the Orlando area. Be sure to buy your tickets online for a discount! They can scan them right from your phone which makes it very quick and easy at the entrance!
Sip N Dip
I am a SUCKER for donuts! My body hates them, but my brain can’t say no! So when my good friend Danielle suggested we check out Sip N Dip in St. Cloud, we wasted no time at all! It helped that it was only about 5 minutes down the road from my parents’ house! Sip N Dip has so many yummy varieties of donuts and breakfast sandwiches. Our dozen consisted of some of the donut-y staples like glazed yeast and cinnamon sugar, but also had PB&J, maple bacon, Fruity Pebbles, and blueberry crumble with cream cheese (my FAVE) varieties. Like I said, it’s in St. Cloud, but most definitely worth the drive from Orlando! We will never make the mistake of NOT going there again!
What’s Florida without a trip to the beach?! There are many beach areas within a couple hours of Orlando, but we typically choose Melbourne. It’s a little over an hour from Kissimme and an easy drive (plus you get to drive on A1A for a minute, which makes me feel like I’m in this Kenny Chesney song). It’s a nice clean beach that never seems to be jam packed with people. I’m a total beach snob, too, so me calling it nice is saying something. It’s now Maui, but…
We packed a big picnic, a ton of bottled water, sunscreen, and made a day of it! The kids had an absolute blast catching the waves, playing in the sand, finding shells, and even found a crab! Just be sure to bring some quarters for the parking meters! The CVS across the road will give you change with purchase, but only 2 bucks! Clearly I speak from experience.
Since we were in Florida over our anniversaries (my friend’s anniversary is 5 days before mine) we offered to keep each others’ kiddos for a night so we could have date night with our handsome men! We originally intended to go to Disney Springs, but storms were rolling in so we decided not to travel so far from home.
Mr. Pennington had done some researching and found the 3 Sisters Speakeasy in downtown Kissimmee had great reviews. Plus I’m a sucker for pulled pork tacos and they were on the menu. Not only was this place super cute with amazing sangria, delicious tacos, and a great environment; the entire neighborhood was adorable! We absolutely intend to visit this area again during a sunny day when more is open and we can take advantage of the quiet patio seating area. If you’re looking to take a break from the craze of the city, sneak out of Orlando and make the short trip to Downtown Kissimmee!
I don’t even know where to start! I’m a teacher with an artist son. Not a whole lot is more exciting in my book than an entire place dedicated to Crayola products! I do have to say, we were visiting on our last day and were short on time so did not partake in the entire “experience” part of this.
The Crayola store, which is free to visit (ha! Only if you escape without wanting to buy everything), was enough to keep us entertained for a good 40 minutes! The “Pick a Pack” wall was my favorite! I filled a huge tin with crayons and markers, including “dandelion” which is being retired! The kids enjoyed the computer and printer where they were able to print off coloring sheets of selfies!
There just aren’t enough words for me to express my love for this place! You’ve heard of kids in a candy store? Well, they ain’t got nothin’ on a teacher in a Crayola store! Did I also mention that this place is just outside Orlando in the Florida Mall? This mall is GINORMOUS! M&M World, American Girl….you name it, it’s there!
I know that Orlando is known for its big theme parks, but I feel like less people have experienced this one! This is about an hour away in Winter Haven and is SO worth the trip! Legoland is such a cool park–even if your kids aren’t Lego nuts like mine!
I can guarantee you that (whether she admits it or not) my best friend wasn’t totally looking forward to this part of the trip. In fact, I know she originally was wishing she’d have just done 2 days at Disney. Guess what her suggestion was tonight, though, when I told her I was doing this post?! “LEGOLAND!”
There is just so much to see and do at this park! I’ve been here a couple times and it never seems over crowded, everyone is awesome (see what I did there?), and I always see something new! There are rides, characters, 4D movies, a Ford driving school, plus Miniland! Miniland consists of models sized everything! There’s Washington DC, NYC, Vegas, Daytona, even a rocket launch at the mini Kennedy Space Center.
Legoland now has its own resort complete with a killer waterpark, too! I’ve yet to stay here, but really want to do it in the future! One of my other favorites is that Legoland is built where Cypress Gardens once was! I remember going to Cypress Gardens as a kid! Legoland has kept a portion of the gardens up and running for visitors. They also have boat shows on the water, much like they used to at Cypress Gardens.
Two weeks ago you wouldn’t have seen any Disney park on my list of favorites. I didn’t find it magical in the least! I’ve been to Disney at least 5 times, most with children. It’s always been so busy and we’ve all just felt overwhelmed. This time, however, was a BLAST! We loved it! When I told my family about this blog post, they all ha
d different suggestions for “number 1”. I have to admit, my number 1 Orlando favorite also is a Disney memory. I know you’re in total suspense so I’ll get on with it!
Mr. Pennington says that the Dole Whip is hands down the best thing about the entire vacation! The rest of us don’t disagree that it was delicious! This treat is a non-dairy pineapple “ice cream” that you can get alone or served as a “float” in a glass of fresh Dole pineapple juice. It’s pretty much like heaven on your taste buds.
Both of my littles agreed that Space Mountain was their all time favorite thing! Be sure to download the My Disney Experience app and book a Fastpass for this ride! Saves lots of time so you’re not stuck waiting!
Lastly, the moment that made Disney magical for me. The moment that my younger years came to the surface! When my inner-child came rushing to the surface and I cried happy tears! No words are needed other than: Ohana.
I am a HUGE Lilo and Stitch fan so naturally I set up the Ohana dining reservation at the Polynesian based only on my own selfish want to see Stitch! There may only be a 5 foot tall high school student in that costume! He hugged me and I bawled! Oh…and the kids liked the experience as well. 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! This has been one of the best vacations we’ve taken as a family! So fun, in fact, that we are already planning for next year! If you’re a Florida lover–what are our favorite things to do and see? Share in the comments!
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