Floridian Paradise 

Floridian Paradise 

Dine on a boat in Key West. Take a stroll around St. Augustine’s Castillo San Marcos. Feed alligators amid the cypress trees of the Everglades. All of these experiences are possible when you enter the 4.5 acre glass atrium of the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida. The meandering waterways and prolific gardens highlight three of the most enjoyable areas of the diverse state of Florida. Our family usually travels to this amazing resort for the annual FPEA homeschool conference. However, this past weekend I had the opportunity to spend two luxurious nights at the Gaylord Palms, sans kids!  

Situated minutes away from the Walt Disney World theme parks, there are no shortage of dining options at the resort. The first night I dined at the seafood restaurant Moor. Located on the 161,000 gallon Key West lagoon, the indoor 60 foot sailboat boasts an innovative and sustainable menu that includes but is not limited to soups, salads, fresh fish, flat breads, burgers, sandwiches, chicken and waffles, and shareable sides. I found the duck flat bread to be a yummy, light dinner option. With prices ranging around $8 to $29, Moor is a great date night or family dinner option. Even though Moor offers delectable deserts at only $4 each, I decided to indulge in the creamy frozen yogurt and toppings bar at Honeybells. Visitors can enjoy their “froyo” while watching a family friendly movie on the large movie screen set up nearby.  

For my morning caffeine fix, I grabbed my grande coffee at the Cocoa Bean. The coffee house offers Starbucks coffee and drinks, fresh bakery items, gourmet sandwiches and more.

Wreckers was the perfect spot for a quick lunch. The 37-foot sports screen and more than 50 HDTVs make the sports bar a great place to catch the game. Even though I’m not a sports fan, I enjoyed chatting with some friends over the lunch buffet, which was set up for our conference. In the past, the burgers and fries made a great laid back lunch. With prices from around $8-$18, Wreckers offers a hangout to unwind and share a meal or drink with friends and family.

Since I didn’t have the kids with me, I took the time to enjoy my favorite food, sushi at Sora. At a busy, family friendly resort, I found Sora to be a quiet, more grownup atmosphere. The lava roll ($18) I ordered was a beautiful and tasty dish. However, I found the portions small and overpriced with sushi rolls ranging from $12-$18. The restaurant also offers soups, salads, a kids menu, deserts, and hand crafted drinks.

I didn’t have time to sample the Old Hickory Steakhouse. Perhaps the most elegant dining option, the Steakhouse, with prices ranging from $30-$50, is open for dinner and has a shirt/slacks dress code requirement.

If you would like to dine in an European villa, be sure to check out the Mediterranean themed buffet restaurant, Ville de Flora. My favorite restaurant at the resort, Villa de Flora offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets ($27.50-$36.50). With six different markets, the buffet is a feast for all of the senses.

In addition to dining and strolling through the atrium, Gaylord Palms offers many other activities to enjoy during your visit. With various shops throughout the resort, visitors can browse or pick up gifts, souvenirs, and vacation essentials they may have forgotten at home. Of course no visit would be complete without a trip to the pools. The kids are sure to love the Everglades inspired Cypress Springs Water Park. With the Big Cypress Slides, Wake Zone Flow Rider, and treehouse playground, parents might even be tempted to play. If you need a snack or meal while you are swimming, check out the Sand Bar which offers sandwiches, wraps, salads, kids meals, and beach inspired cocktails. For a more relaxed, grown up space, those over 21 can visit the adults only pool. The ultimate relaxation would be the Relache Spa, which offers full service spa amenities. Many seasonal events also take place at the Gaylord Palms including SummerFest and the ever popular Christmas at Gaylord Palms featuring ICE. With all the dining and entertainment options, one never needs to leave the resort to have a relaxing and enjoyable vacation. I am already looking forward to my next visit!

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