Rest days are so important on a trip to Orlando. Take the time to have a breather away from the parks and recharge the batteries. The parks will be ready and waiting for you! We always recommend scheduling a couple of rest days (or at least half days) for each week you're doing theme parks.
So, here’s 10 brilliant ways to use those rest days:
1. Pool Time – I have lost count of the number of parents that say “I’ve paid thousands of pounds and all my kids want to do is play in the pool”. This is just how children are sometimes. By building this time in they will have a wonderful relaxing time and be set to go in the parks again the next day. If you have your own villa with a pool it’s worth investing in some inflatables at the beginning of your holiday from Walmart for a few dollars - or check the garage sometimes previous guests will have left some behind.
2. Mini Golf – this is one of our favourite things to do in Orlando. Disney and Universal both have their own courses, which are in beautiful condition - it may even be included in your tickets. For those of you on a stricter budget there are much cheaper options along International Drive and the 192. It only takes an hour(ish!) so you can combine with other rest day options. We usually spend the day round the pool and as it gets cooler head out to the mini golf course – bear in mind there’s often not a lot of shade round the holes.
3. Florida Mall –it can be quite a journey from some of the resort areas, especially nearer to Disney, nearly an hour in traffic. But, it’s totally worth it. It’s the best place for all the latest fashion and you can easily lose a happy afternoon there. I even remember when it was the only place you could get Hollister and Abercrombie and begging my Dad to drive us out there.
4. Water Parks – not quite as restful as some of our other options, but for us this counts as a rest day. They’re certainly less tiring than a full on theme park and are usually only open 10am-5pm. You’re best to get there early, grab a good sun-bed and ride some slides before the park gets busy. Then you can chill out on the beach, in the wavepool or relaxing round the lazy river all afternoon.
5. Disney Resorts – I love spending half a day riding the monorail route or walking round Crescent Lake (Epcot area) – it’s great fun to visit Disney resorts without staying there. Grab a famous Dole Whip at the Polynesian and see Cinderella at the Princess Promenade at the Grand Floridian. On our last trip we stopped in for an ice cream at the boardwalk - best ice cream I've ever had! Please note you cannot use the pools unless you are a resort guest.
6. Clearwater – this is just about a day trip but if you can squeeze in going overnight you should. Only an hour or so out of Orlando you can see the pristine white beaches of Clearwater. You can also take Little Toot or the Sea Screamer boat rides which aren’t cheap but you’re guaranteed to see dolphins and they love jumping out the waves behind the boat.
7. Disney Springs – previously Downtown Disney. It’s free to go and to park so that’s a bonus. There’s loads of shops and restaurants but it’s the atmosphere that makes it really special for me. We try to go once in the day and once on an evening because it has a completely different feel to it. We also like to take a round trip on the free boat shuttle that goes from on side to another
8. The Outlets – Florida Mall is great but it’s not the best place for bargains. At the time of writing the exchange is $1.22 to £1 so really nowhere is brilliant for bargains. But, I believe it will bounce back, one day and even now Vineland Outlets are a convenient place to get some great, goo quality buys.
9. Wekiwa Springs (pictured) - Go to the springs and here I don’t mean Disney Springs. There are a few options but I’d recommend Wekiwa Springs. You can swim but also take a kayak down the river, and then struggle to get it back upstream!
10. Visit Showcase of Citrus – this is a lovely half day out and I’m already building it into my next schedule. You can take a 4x4 monster truck ride and pick your own Florida Orange. There’s a playground and farm animals for the children too.
What do you think? Any other suggestions you think I’ve missed – let me know in the comments!