Monday, May 25, 2015

Orlando with Kids, No Theme Parks

Alright... the title is a little misleading. We plan to go to the theme parks. Due to some changes in our trip we have a bonus day in Orlando and wanted to do a few things outside of the theme parks.

Our flight arrived late in Orlando and we had a two hour time change so the kids were a little out of sorts. We rented a car and found that a week rental was less expensive then just a weekend rental, plus it gave us tons of flexibility. We also decided to do a few nights at the Spring Hill Suites, Sea World instead of heading right to Disney property.

The Spring Hill Suites turned out to be a great hotel. The rooms are quite large. There was plenty of room for our portable crib and for the kids to play some in the room. The pool has a great shallow kids play area. There is free wifi and breakfast. We arrived on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend so everything was swamped with people, but the hotel handled it well.

Our first stop was the Orlando Science Museum.  (The Orlando Science Museum is a reciprocal with the Denver Science Museum so admission was covered with our membership.) There is a large parking deck which costs $5 and connects with a bridge right into the museum. The museum was perfect for our three and one year old. None of the exhibits are particularly thorough, but almost everything invites children to touch and play. Kids Town in the basement,  has a play Orange Grove that the kids could have stayed in all day picking the oranges and loading them into the tractor. There is also a transportation area that has a variety of play transportation items - cars, trains, planes - that the kids loved. Digging for dinosaurs on the top floor is also a great play area. We were having so much fun that lunch time crept up on us and before we knew it, it was after noon.

The Orlando Art Museum is just across the park. On this particular weekend they were hosting the International FRINGE Festival, with the kids section of the festival just next to the museum. We headed over to the food tents to grab lunch. After we dropped into some of the kids performances and crafts. There was even a bounce house!

When we leaded back into the car the plan was to head to Celebration to play in the park and walk around. As we turned out onto the road we had two sleeping kiddos and the rain had started to fall. So we did what anyone would have done and rerouted to the coast. We made the 50min drive to Titusville and headed out to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  The visitors center was closed but they had maps available on the signpost. We found a short walking trail to take the kids on complete with lizards, spiders and lots of huge vegetation.

Somehow our three-year old got it in his head that we should head to the beach. Just a few miles down the road is Canaveral National Seashore. The seashore admission price was included in our National Parks Pass. We got H into his swimsuit and let him play around in the water. He laughed the whole time!

Jeff and I have been down to the cape a few times and have some "old stomping grounds" - ha! Anyway, we decided to hit up Dixie Crossroads, a place we had eaten on a previous visit. We love the corn fritters (coated in powdered sugar) that come to the table.  It can be hard to find non-friend options here. The shrimp tacos are my favorite. The kids meal portion was almost as large as Jeff's regular portion on fish.

After dinner we drove back to Orlando in time for H to get some swim time before bed. Both kids were exhausted and went right to sleep, which in our book is a win!

Canaveral National Seashore

Coral Touch Table at the Orlando Science Museum

Orange Grover at the Orlando Science Museum. 

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