I must admit I’m not a great lover of theme parks, and my first visit to Orlando left a sour taste in my mouth. But after three weeks in Iceland, a sunny jaunt to Florida seemed like a good idea. I’m glad I went.
I became good friends with a swell group of bloggers and was shown a side of Florida I hadn’t expected to see. If you’re visiting, these options are worth checking out.
1. Plan a girlfriend trip with Global Resort Homes
We stayed in an epic vacation home with enough space to host a small village. Tons of privacy, a fully stocked home, AND a pool with hot-tub (jackpot!) makes for a pretty economical trip. We also had chef Linda Page come over to cook us dinner one evening. Livin’ like royals.
I didn’t have high expectations for Gatorland, not being particularly fond of gators and all. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip, thanks partially to an enthusiastic guide who gave us a backstage tour. I saw a rare white (leucistic) alligator, watched some badass dude wrestle a pit of gators, and then I even sat on one. A gator, not a badass dude. It was totally weird.
I recommend eating some of the deep-fried gator bites. They taste like deep-fried chicken. (I feel like I’ve said “gator” too much in this post. Gator, gator, gator.)
ALSO: I was too much of a pansy to try out the Screamin’ Gator zip line, but it’s a pretty cool line that hangs right over the alligator swamp. Don’t look down.
Gator, gator, gator.
3. Orlando Balloon Rides
The hot air balloon ride was probably the highlight of my trip. Watching the sunrise at 800-feet was pretty spectacular, despite me being high on drugs to combat my crippling fear of heights.
4. Wine and dine in downtown Kissimmee
I LOVED downtown Kissimmee! It was pretty quiet for a Saturday night when we were visiting, despite it being Halloween and a snarky band was playing on a tiny stage in the middle of the street. But we had a delicious dinner at Savion’s Place with a wine tasting menu from Vintage Vino, next door. We moved over to Vintage Vino afterwards to have a few glasses of red before calling it a night.
5. Fun Spot
Again, I’m not a theme park person at all, but this was a quieter alternative to the chaos of Disney and Universal. Their Sky Coaster is the tallest in the world…which naturally meant I wasn’t going anywhere near it. I did hit the go-karts, however, and ate the dust of pretty much everyone else on the track, 5-year-olds and all. Still. The $3 cold pints of Budweiser in the hot sun were all worth it.
6. Osceola County Pioneer Village
This living history museum takes you through what a pioneer village would have looked like a hundred years ago, and includes a citrus packing house, a one-room schoolhouse, and a residence. My favourite was the hiking trail through the nature reserve, however, which winds through gorgeous swampland.
7. Boggy Creek Airboats
It’s amazing how smooth these airboats are. We glided through Boggy Creek like we were flying, basically skimming the top of the water as we made our way around. We saw a mama gator and her babies, and caught a glimpse of an endangered falcon.
Do you have favourites in Kissimmee? What did I miss?