It might seem strange, writing about our summer holidays in January, but I have been updating my travel blog We Blog Travel, and thought it might be a nice opportunity to look at the Orlando Florida holiday as a whole and share with you some holiday snaps of the family here. As the cold weather is definitely being felt, I always start day dreaming about warmer summer days, so looking back to Florida seemed a lovely way of doing it.
This was out 10th trip to Florida (obsessed much?) and over the years we have visited a few different areas including Miami, Tampa and Sarasota, plus beaches like Cocoa and Miami. We’ve spent the majority of the time in Orlando though and this trip we had secured a really reasonable priced flight and villa in the Orlando area, so decided to book. The only problem was, and it was a big one I think. We had to travel from London to Dublin, then from Dublin to Miami and finally travelling up in the hire car to Orlando. That’s a hell of a lot continuous travelling. That ride up from Miami to Orlando is not one I ever want to repeat. I was hallucinating by the end of it. I wasn’t driving by the way, don’t worry!
We were there for nearly three weeks, and we wanted the trip to be a real mix of activity and inactivity, so time to read for me, swim and have fun round the pool for the girls. We wanted a villa big enough for us to spread out in, and chill in the evenings if we didn’t have anything planned, but also close enough to all of the many activities in Orlando. We decided not to do Walt Disney World this year, as it wasn’t within out budget sadly. We did however book tickets for Universal, and enjoyed lots of days there as well as other activities including Boggy Creek and The Blue Man Group.
We definitely took advantage of the amazing shops.
I’ve covered some of the main things that we did away from the parks over on my travel blog, so here are the links :
I’m going to cover Universal Studios separately, as its a lot of information to be honest, and I’ll probably dedicate a few posts to it, to do it justice.
First up, we stayed this time in a four bedroom villa, with a pool. We’ve tried staying on property (at The Polynesian and Port Orleans, Riverside) as well as other villas and apartments, and we like all those options for different styles of vacations. They all offer something different. I covered staying onsite at Walt Disney World Florida in a post too, if you were interested in finding out a bit more.
Our villa was in Davenport, not somewhere we’ve ever stayed at before. It’s around 10 miles from Walt Disney World and around 1.5 hours away from the beach. The gated community (which we prefer) was called Solana had great facilities, but we didn’t actually use any of them, as we had everything we needed. If you did fancy using the gym, mini golf, or the communal pool then it was a short walk away. I would recommend the resort, it seemed to be a mix of residential and vactioners, it felt safe and was really well kept.
It was quite a traditionally Floridian style villa, which we do tend to go for. The positives were that it was big and gave us lots of room to spread out. With two living rooms and two dining areas. It was definitely one of the largest we’ve stayed in. I’m going to add a link in to the villa we stayed at, but we paid for this trip, it wasn’t in any way sponsored. Here is it SOLANA Villa with Home and Away.
The negatives of this villa was its proximity to the other villas, as it backed onto another pool and villa, so there wasn’t a view at all. We knew this before we booked though, and went for it because in other ways it really fitted the bill.
We did visit a few places in the surrounding area, and we do have some favourites including Winter Park, and Winter Gardens :
There’s a lovely shopping area in historic Winter Gardens, which has some cafes and small bars too, we wandered around there for a while, but then quite by accident (as it was right back where we had parked the car a good 15 minute walk away) we stumbled across Plant St Market.
Plant Street market is a local community market located in downtown Winter Garden, hosting 20 vendors featuring natural, organic food and handmade products all inside of one large building. It felt like a we had found something modern and interesting that we’d never seen before in the Florida.
The Press’d smoothies were GOOD!
The Plant St. Market is an indoor artisan market. Open 7 days a week, but not into the evening, it usually closes around 6/7 pm. Fresh farm products, artisan specialties and local products. Also, attached to the market is the award-winning Crooked Can Brewing Company, hand crafted beer. It even has live entertainment and a pet friendly patio with lots of seating.
We enjoyed gourmet Mac N Cheese from MAC’d OUT – comfort food with an artisan twist. Washed down with a sampler of beer between us, which you can see above. I think it was around $8, and we really enjoyed it. I don’t really drink beer or lager, but it’s very refreshing after a walk in the sun. They had funny names like The Workaholic an American Pale Ale and the Tri Wishes, an Irish Red.
So I think I’ll leave that here, and if you have any question, then please let me know. I thought I might cover in more detail why to choose a villa in Florida, and things to look out for, even what to pack for a villa holiday?