When it’s summer, we road trip! What better way to beat summer boredom than to explore all that Florida has to offer? Whether it’s the Florida springs, theme parks, or family-friendly resorts where you can happily stay on-site the entire visit, the Gaylord Palms Resort’s Summer of More is a MUST.
Let’s be honest, theme parks can be exhausting. The getting up early, leaving the hotel to catch a shuttle, trying to beat the lines… you get the idea. I’ll take a “ready-to-play” vacation over the hustle and bustle any day!
Luckily, Jacksonville to Orlando is a super easy 2.5-hour car trip. And even luckier, Gaylord Palms’ new Summer Exploration is the perfect answer to the lazy mom’s Orlando getaway. Here are the top four reasons why you need to add this to your summer bucket list ASAP.
The ‘Summer of More’
The Gaylord Palms Resort recently launched a live-action, theatrical tour that includes maps, live animals, and fun-loving characters all surrounding the theme of exploration. As you are guided through the 4.5 acres of indoor gardens, kids are hunting for clues while learning about Florida’s natural wonders and meeting some of our fair state’s fabled folks. Along the journey, you’ll learn secrets about Florida’s flora and fauna. Our kids were thoroughly entertained by our guide, even the big kids!
The journey is wrapped up at the Explorer’s Club and Bar, a family-friendly lounge full of interesting artifacts where the kids become certified explorers! We also enjoyed the special libations which included adult beverages and a few mocktail options. Also throughout your stay during the “Summer of More,” enjoy the Illuminate Florida Light Show, Animal Encounters with Wild Florida, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Adventure Kids Club, and Family Move Night in the pool! The “Summer of More” is scheduled mainly on weekends and runs through September 6th.
Cypress Springs Water Park
Of course one of the best features of the Gaylord Palms Resort is the Cypress Springs Water Park. With a brand new lazy river that boasts waterfalls, sprinkling leaves, and a speedy current, this action-packed river attraction is where we spent most of the day! The Crystal River Rapids is also a great spot to reserve some premium pool seating or even a cabana. No need to rush down and get your spot when you can easily make a reservation.
In addition to Crystal River Rapids, families can enjoy a zero-entry pool and a multi-level treehouse with mini slides, sprinklers, and bucket dumps that are perfect for younger kids. For the bigger kids, Big Cypress Towers are some of the best water slides around. What a blast we had racing each other down the tunnel slides! And for the little daredevils, the Florida Free Fall drop slide is a must thanks to its 35-foot drop with a trap door and giant spinning bowl. Our big kids loved it!
Other things to see and do at the water park include having some drinks at the Sandbar and checking out the Wake Zone and give bodyboarding or surfing a try.
Having a Blast in the Glass Atrium
In addition to the acres of gardens and Florida history that make up the glass atrium, it also becomes the central part of your stay at Gaylord Palms. It is the perfect place to let the kids get the wiggles out and explore after dinner (or during a summer storm) while parents can relax at the hotel bar or shop nearby. Enjoy the cobblestone streets of St. Augustine and vibrant Key West as you explore the atrium’s diverse culture, Florida’s flora and fauna, and learn more about the history of Florida. Guests can also enjoy animal encounters with alligator feedings daily, a museum, an escape room, and more! In the evening, from the comfort of your private balcony, the glass atrium turns into a celebration of millions of lights for a light show the family won’t forget!
Dining… With Kids
If you’re like me, food is a very important part of any vacation. The Gaylord Palms Resort offers some solid dining options, from high-end to casual, and it’s all kid-friendly. Be sure to reserve a spot for dinner on the pirate ship at MOOR, set right on the lagoon in the Key West section of the atrium.
Villa de Flora offers an amazing breakfast buffet and is set right in the middle of the glass atrium. Don’t want to miss the game? Wreckers Sports Bar has enough TVs to literally have every kind of sport on. We caught the French Open and had a bucket of beers while the kids filled up on loaded tots. The SandBar was also a great option for poolside lunch and beach-inspired cocktails. A great spot to chill during the family movie night! Overall, the options for dining were enough to please everyone.
Although the Gaylord Palms Resort is a hop, skip, and jump from the popular Orlando theme parks — and can be a great choice for your Disney trip accommodations — this can totally be a “never left the hotel” kind of vacation. Personally, I loved the fact that the kids were entertained all weekend with the “Summer of More” activities, and of course, the amazing Cypress Springs Water Park. Sometimes you don’t want to get up early to catch a shuttle, and you just want to sleep in. Sometimes you want to take a nap and not have to worry about not getting your money’s worth at the parks. That’s perhaps the best part of Gaylord Palms — you get all the fun of a vacation without all the planning and travel stress!
Have you been to the Gaylord Palms Resort yet? Sound off with your thoughts!