Looking for what to do in Orlando with your toddler that don’t include theme parks? This post is for you!
So today is basically Part Two if of our November Orlando trip. I talked about all things Disney in this post if you are interested!
I grew up pretty much going on vacation to the exact same place every year, Captiva Island. Nathan and I have continued to vacation there about every other year with my family – I LOVE it, but it’s basically the complete opposite of Orlando. (Find all posts about our recent Captiva vacations here). Like I said in the Disney post, growing up we would drive over to Disney for a day while we were down there but that’s the only experience I had with Orlando. I always had kind of negative thoughts about it being super touristy and not something I wanted to be a part of. While of course there are some busy areas I mostly find it to be really easy to navigate and if you are used to the theme park crowds the crowds outside the parks will seem like nothing!
This was the longest trip we have taken to Orlando (a full week) AND we took Camden AND Nathan had to work several days while we were there. I was kind of freaking out as soon as I agreed to go. If you know me well, you know I can not sit in my house all day let alone sit in a hotel room with a toddler! So I read basically every post on the internet about what to do in Orlando with a toddler and based on those suggestions we did some really fun stuff. So I’m going to mix in our suggestions with this recap then list them at the bottom for those of you who just want to get to the good stuff 🙂
As soon as we walked into our hotel, Mickey was there waiting for us! We were dying at how much Camden loved this picture of Mickey. If we were in the room and he didn’t want to leave we would say “Let’s go downstairs and see Mickey” and he would zoom to the door. We stayed at the Residence Inn Orlando Convention Center and even though the room was a little dated, I would stay there again. It was great to have a full-sized frigde, microwave, and dish washer right in our room and the hotel was very well located. Not directly in the crazy busy areas but with easy access to the main roads.
Toddler Activity #1 – Monkey Joe’s
I knew from our Memorial Day St. Louis trip that Monkey Joe’s would be a great option as soon as I saw it on someone’s list. We visited the Orlando Pointe location twice during this trip! Once when there was virtually no one there and once when it was super busy and had great experiences both times. For those of you who may not know, Monkey Joe’s is an inflatable place that is perfect for big and little kids! They have a designated toddler area with smaller inflatables that parents can go in if the littles need help. This location was brand new when we visited in Nov. 2017 and it was SO nice!
Toddler Activity #2 – Explore Your Hotel Amenities
It was even nice enough to swim a couple of times while we were there. I wasn’t sure if it would be in November but it was HOT (like 80-90) and the consensus seems to be most hotels heat their pools so guests can swim year round! Obviously, the amenities at each hotel are different so be sure to ask what they offer when you are checking in.
The Orlando Eye was just a block or two down from our hotel and one night after dinner we decided to check it out. There was virtually no wait so, even though we were getting dangerously close to bed time, we hopped on. It’s basically a huge ferris wheel (I mean you can not miss this thing) with stunning views of the city! You can stand up and move around as much as you want which meant Camden loved it. Any time you don’t HAVE to make your child sit still is a win in this mama’s book.
Toddler Activity #4 – Central Florida Zoo The Central Florida Zoo is about 40 minutes away from the heart of Orlando where we stayed but was a fun way to spend part of the day! Entrance was either free or heavily discounted with our local zoo membership so make sure to check the list on your zoo’s website before you go. This zoo was very toddler friendly with a petting zoo, nice playgrounds, and even a really nice splash pad!
Toddler Activity #5 – Disney SpringsDisney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) is a huge, free area with tons of shops, restaurants, and entertainment and is honestly one of our favorite places to go in Orlando! The crowds can be nuts later on in the evening but you get the exciting Disney vibe for zero cost. We had dinner at The Boathouse then spent the rest of the evening popping into stores, just walking around taking it all in (my husband’s favorite lol), and participating in the dance party! They do this at Magic Kingdom too. They have a DJ to a big, open area, play kid-appropriate tunes, and let everyone dance. I’m not kidding when I say this may have been the highlight of the trip for Camden. An hour later we dragged him kicking and screaming from the dance for so we could get back to the hotel for bed time. This kid LOVES to dance!
Toddler Activity #6 – Orlando SeaLife Aquarium We love, love, LOVED our time at the SeaLife Aquarium! We actually went on Tuesday morning when they have a little Toddler Time program before they open to the public. They read a quick story and did a simple craft before releasing you to explore the rest of the place! It was so fun and I highly recommend going for that if you can swing it in your schedule. It’s not a huge place so you only need to a lot a couple of hours, tops to have a good experience.
Here is a quick list of my suggestions in case you aren’t here for the pictures of our kid 😉
1. Monkey Joe’s Orlando Pointe
2. Hotel Amenities
3. Orlando Eye
4. Central Florida Zoo
5. Disney Springs
6. SeaLife Aquarium Toddler Time
One other thing. I get asked a lot why we travel and just generally DO so much with our baby/toddler and simply put, travel is a value to us. For our family, memories trump things every time. My house is not perfectly decorated. I don’t have the cutest, most stylish clothes you will find. We choose to use our extra money to do things like this. My husband also travels A LOT for work so we have tons of flight miles and hotel points to use up 😉 I also try to be very laid back and have low exceptions of our son who is after all, not even two! Expectations can be key! Just my two cents 🙂
I hope this helps some of you who are planning your trips to Orlando with your toddler <3