A couple week's ago, we headed off to FL. It was a much anticipated and much needed break for all 4 of us! We typically try to escape and do something as a family in March, as it's really the only time my husband can take a full week off from tending to his lobster gear. If you follow along, you know last year we went to the FL Keys, which we loved! This year we were several hours north with the main purpose of visiting my elderly grandmother and attending a family reunion. We also had bought a few park hopper passes at the local March of Dimes auction, so we added a quick stop to see Mickey at the end which as you can imagine the boys were thrilled about!!
We started our journey bright and early, leaving the Portland Jetport and 5:30am!
Our first stop (well after a detour for lunch at the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney, and a visit with my Grandmother) was the Plantation on Crystal River. We spent 5 nights there and enjoyed exploring everything the area had to offer. The nice thing about this area is that despite being the height of spring break, it never felt over crowded. With that said you can't go there expecting to do lots of high end shopping etc. or walk miles of beaches, but we had a great time. It's our second time at the hotel and we've been visiting family in the area for years. My husband had a blast bass fishing, I enjoyed relaxing mornings with my book, we all had a blast swimming multiple times a day in the pool. The Plantation feels like a bit of a throw back with it's old southern exterior, low-key vibe, family friendly atmosphere, and a lawn full of games. The hotel is situated right on Crystal River with boat rentals (including kayaks and pontoon boats), as well as great guided excursions through Kings Bay and the amazing springs. We chose a Jr. Suite which was super spacious with a King bed and a pull out couch, and a little patio area with a river view (I should note all for half the price you'd pay in other areas in FL.. a great perk). We could not have asked for better weather, with warm and sunny days our entire stay except for one morning at Disney (which proved to be ideal).
While there may not be miles of beaches, just minutes down the road from the plantation is Fort Island Gulf Beach, a great little spot the boys loved. The drive from the hotel to the beach is about 10 minutes down a quiet and peaceful road.
Also close by is the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park- unfortunately this is the only picture I took while we were there, but we had fun walking through the park and checking out all the animals.. everything from manatees, to alligators, birds, and even a hippo. From the main parking lot and office you can take a tram or a pontoon boat to get to the park; we opted for a 10 minute relaxing boat ride.
After a few days on our own, we had a number of family members join us at the Plantation for a family reunion. It was great to catch up and connect, enjoying the sunshine and company. We had a blast exploring the river and swimming with manatees on an early morning snorkel trip; Jack was a natural, mastering snorkeling better than his mom.
We ended our stay at the Plantation with a delicious brunch. I wouldn't say the boys were on their best behavior, they were a little restless and anticipating the afternoon at Disney. :-) Jack was pretty excited that brunch included dessert and was pretty much wearing it. Even with the antics, it was great to be together and such a gift for my grandmother.
After brunch we drove 1.5hrs over to Orlando spending our last 2 days immersed in Disney. The boys were over the moon! I wouldn't say my husband is dying to get back to the magic, but we all had fun and watching them was indeed magical. We stayed at the Wilderness lodge which deserves a post of it's own. If you're planning to "do Disney" staying on property is really the best; so convenient and really a continuation of the magic. We really loved the Wilderness Lodge and will surely be back. The boat service to Magic Kingdom, The Contemporary, and Fort Wilderness is fantastic, it's easy, and relaxing after the craziness of the park. The hotel itself is super clean, well themed and appointed, great restaurants, and friendly staff. Some of our favorite things included the Whispering Canyon Cafe, family movies on the beach every night at 8pm, the volcano and outdoor theme, and of course the pool and awesome splash pad. Feel free to email me or comment below if you want to chat more about our stay.
We packed a lot in spending time at both Magic Kingdom as well as Animal Kingdom. No matter how many cool rides we go on though the boys always love the Disney Railroad, and of course the Monorail :-)
On all accounts the trip was a great success. We connected with my grandmother and other family members, spent time just the four of us, relaxed, explored, and recharged. The boys traveled like champs and had a blast. Jack keeps saying how he missed FL and wants to go back soon. And now that I've finally unpacked all our bags and done all the laundry, it's time to back up for our adventure next week in Seattle! Don't forget to check out my tips for traveling with toddlers and what we take along.
Thanks as always for stopping by!
I'm Rebecca, a Maine mom of three energetic young boys and wife of a lobsterman, living in my favorite place, the coast of Maine. You'll find me here talking about my parenting journey, mom style, recipes, running and exercise, travel, stories from our life in Maine and so much more! Most days I'm just figuring it out as I go - Thanks so much for stopping by!