Tackling your first Orlando, Florida vacation can be quite daunting. Which theme parks do you visit? Where do you stay? What other Floridian attractions do you experience while in Florida, etc.? I have a series of posts I will be rolling out over the next week, with tips for planning an Orlando vacation planning you might be working on.
Having visited the Orlando area a handful of times, I have experienced a variety of accommodations, and I now have my favorites. There are so many hotels and vacation homes to choose from, and while there are likely many good ones, I recently stayed at one that was heavenly, so you might as well add it to your list of accommodations worth checking out. The Bluegreen Vacations Fountains is part of the Choice Hotels family, and the Ascend Resort Collection. If you are collecting rewards for Choice Hotels, then they can be applied to The Fountains Resort in Orlando. This resort is also a timeshare, so you have your options.
With the Ascend Resort Collection, talk about a home away from home. One thing I know for sure is that when you are doing the full-on Walt Disney World experience, with multiple days at parks, and then extra days doing other activities in Orlando, you will want a home base. I was so excited when it was time to check into The Fountains, because it was like walking into our very own furnished 2 bedroom apartment rental! Some people may not have liked this room for the price that it was held at and I get it, why pay so much for a room when you can look for 3 bedroom apartments for rent and pay much less during your vacation. The highlight for me was the stackable washer and dryer, which was free to use! We were already on day 4 of our family vacation, and everyone was due for clean laundry. The resort even included detergent and fabric softener, which made my day. Not to mention the full kitchen, to save yourselves from eating out every meal!
My only regret was that we didn’t get enough time at the resort. The two pools were incredible, with one boasting a water slide, and the other featuring an indoor AND outdoor pool all in one! The grounds were landscaped beautifully, and a handful of restaurants could be found on-site, including a pool-side grill. If you are looking for a day of downtime, amidst your many activities, this is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Now that you have your “home base”, what do you do? Everyone knows about the theme parks in Orlando, but what else does it have to offer?
Just 45 minutes from the resort is NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. I’d say to allow for a few hours at minimum. Take the included tour of the launch pads, and the Apollo missions.
Check out Atlantis (the first space shuttle), and take part in some of the simulations.
There are several gift shops, and real-life space gear to be seen throughout the center. I personally loved the rocket garden, with actual rockets! The kids LOVED the slide, which is a 22° glide slope simulator.
You will likely get hungry during your visit. My recommendation is to skip the high prices at the Rocket Garden Cafe, and visit the Orbit Cafe. More options and better prices. The Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit destination on Cape Canaveral. While you’re in the Cape Canaveral area, be sure to check out Ron Jon Surf Shop (open 24 hours). Definitely a cool spot, and right next to the beach.
When you’re finished at the space center, head over to the brand new Orlando Eye. This is the best spot in town for views of the city. You can see Disney World and Universal Studios, all from the top of the Eye. Before your ride, experience a cool 4D movie, all about the creation of the Orlando Eye. The ride is nice and slow, with glass sides to really take in the city. In the same building as the tickets for the Eye, you can check out the new Madame Tussauds Wax Musem and an aquarium. So much to do in one spot!
We experienced the coolest bowling alley, not far from the Orlando Eye. My kids love to bowl, and we were treated to quite the games of bowling at Kings Bowl Orlando.
The staff was phenomenal, the games were fun, atmosphere is cool (can even have a private party with your own lanes), and the food is exceptional. Don’t go just for the bowling and the fun, go for the food! Everything is made from scratch right at Kings! We got an appetizer sampler and a few desserts to share. We had more than enough food, and I seriously enjoyed it all.
I have one more stop for you, before I need to carry over into another post. Just down the street and around the corner from The Fountains is a new restaurant called Freddy’s. Step out one evening and treat yourself to a super yummy steakburger and frozen custard. YUM!
Orlando is not lacking in things to do. Don’t just visit the theme parks – see it all! Stay tuned for my next Orlando tips.