Orlando Minus the Theme Parks

Orlando is almost the knee-slap, ‘duh’, place to go with children. We’ve been about 3 times and I’m already over it- BUT it IS a great place to go at least once.

When we went in January it was cold. We didn’t anticipate the weather to mirror that of Atlanta. That posed an issue because water activities and anything else outdoors, was out of the question.

So, here’s the deal- we stayed at the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa when we went in January. The plus side to staying there is that they have activities daily (some have a nominal extra charge). They have a bowling alley there and we were able to bowl at a reasonable cost. We had the whole place to ourselves. They also have an arcade which is next to the bowling alley. Due to the cold, we weren’t able to do their paddle boats, or miniature golf. There is an onsite waterpark now. When we went it was still under construction. When I referred a friend there it was in operation.

Another option that we’ve enjoyed is staying at CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort. Last year we stayed there for a trip and their onsite waterpark was a great attraction. There is a covered portion and an uncovered area, as well. Staying onsite was pretty affordable and we used their laundry facilities, as well. The machines were all new and well maintained. The room we stayed in had two queen beds, a microwave, fridge, and was spacious.

Transportation– Frontier $26.20 RT (non-stop) and a rental car
Accommodations– Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa (without listening to a timeshare presentation)

We Dined at:

  • Draft’s Sports Bar & Grill (onsite at Westgate)
    • We had their amazing “Tatchos” which are nachos using tater tots. We had them without bacon. Their menu is accurate- once you start you can’t stop.
  • Kobe Japanese Steakhouse (I-Drive location)
    • We always get the vegetable hibachi. Their portions are HUGE and the food is delicious. I always suggest eating prior to your last night so that you can have leftovers to eat for the next morning. I save on a breakfast that way.
  • Hot Krust Panini Kitchen
    • Great vegan menu
  • Old Spanish Sugar Mill (worth the drive)
    • They offer vegan options and that’s what we went for. This makes a nice, memorable activity.
  • Yard House
    • They had some pretty good BBQ ‘wings’ (vegan). Their Gardein Orange Chicken was too spicy for me, although I liked that it came with rice.
  • Bahama Breeze (Just for piña coladas, virgin of course!)

We Visited:

  • The Boat Ride at the DeLeon Springs State Park (when we visited the Sugar Mill)
  • Wonderworks (Check Groupon.)

During Previous Trips, We Visited or Dined at the below:

  • Aerophile– a tethered hot air balloon ride. (Be there before 10am and the tickets are cheaper. Otherwise, check Groupon.)
  • Crayola Experience– (Check Local Flavor’s site for discounted tickets.)
  • The Slime Factory– (Check Local Flavor’s site or Groupon for discounted tickets.)
  • Showcase of Citrus– (Check Groupon.)
  • Wild Safari– a drive-through animal safari. (Check Groupon.)
  • Sea World– Not as impressive as we hoped. The dolphin encounter was very nice.
  • Aquatica– I favor here over Sea World for sure. We had a blast!
  • Semoran Skateway- roller skating
  • Boardwalk Bowl- bowling
  • Ethos– a vegan restaurant with a great lasagna and other fare.
  • McDonald’s (at I-Drive and Sand Lake Dr)- I had no idea this was the world’s largest McDonald’s. We ate pizza there.