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Family Vacation Fun

Orlando is one of the top destinations for family vacations for good reason. Not only does the area have some of the biggest theme parks in the U.S., but it also has wild nature to delve into, family-friendly entertainment to enjoy and delicious dining to indulge in. Whether your children are sea-lovers or thrill-seekers, they are sure to have fun from the minute they wake up to the minute they fall asleep (hopefully exhausted with the day’s activities!). Find out how to have a great week away with your family — and children of all ages — in Orlando.

Day

1

Morning
  • Sunrise Safari.

    What better way to start a family vacation than to experience the wonder of nature? Join one of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes’ Certified Florida Master Naturalists on a guided tour through the resort’s 500 acres. You’ll have the chance to see (and photograph!) everything from deer and bobcats to river otters and alligators, along with birds like the great horned owl. You’ll also visit our neighboring Whisper Creek Farm, whose chicken coop and 7,000-square-foot garden we tap for our restaurants. Book ahead for spots — the safari is popular and space is limited.  

MIDDAY
  • Poolside Lunch.

    Nothing says resort more than poolside dining after a quick dip. Pull up a few chairs at Bleu and order a frozen drink for yourself with a sparkling strawberry lemonade for the little one. Choose from local favorites like grilled Florida mahi or pulled chipotle chicken nachos while watching the fun at the pool.  

AFTERNOON
  • Scientific Proof.

    The Orlando Science Center has making the topic fun for kids down to, well, a science. For over 60 years, the center has engaged kids in interactive education like Ask a Scientist or their Young Maker Workshops, where kids can learn about environmental topics like upcycling. Children under 7 will love the full-floor KidsTown exhibit, while older kids will enjoy the 3-D movies in the Digital Adventure Theater.  

  • Sundae Stop.

    Everyone loves an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, and The Soda Fountain is a classic. You can go lighter with an egg cream or a sorbet spritzer, or be truly decadent with a warm brownie sundae. The whole family can share The Zoo, with five scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, nuts, whipped cream and enough cherries to go around.

     

EVENING
  • Night Out.

    The younger family members can join Ritz Kids for ca fun-filled evening of dinner, arts and crafts, games and movies. Meanwhile, parents can enjoy a date night of fine dining at Norman’s. Chef Norman Van Aken is known internationally for introducing the idea of fusion to the culinary world, and his list of accolades is practically too long to list. Take in gorgeous views of the lake and golf course while dining on his signature New World Cuisine, which combines elements of Latin, Caribbean and Asian cooking with classical European techniques.  

Day

2

MORNING
  • Magic Kingdom for Little Kids.

    Start your day with one of Disney’s famous Character Breakfasts (think dining with Cinderella at her castle). Move on to the park for classic rides like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World or, for the more adventurous, Space Mountain. Sit back in the Tiki Room, go Under the Sea with the Journey of the Little Mermaid, and take a spin with the Mad Tea Party.

  • Epcot for Big Kids.

    Tour the world at Epcot with curious tweens and teens. Whether you want to spend time shopping in the Mitsukoshi Department Store, be thrilled by the Mission: SPACE ride to Mars or listen to a mariachi band, there’s something for everyone to do. Make time to meet favorite characters in their home countries, or just stroll around the lake to be amazed at the depth of detail on each country’s buildings.

MIDDAY
  • Lunch Globally.

    In many ways, the global culinary experience is the star of the Epcot experience, even hosting its own International Food and Wine Festival every fall. Make a meal of British fish and chips at the Rose & Crown, a taco sampler at La Hacienda de San Angel or a fresh baguette sandwich at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie.

AFTERNOON
  • Hit the Trail.

    While the kids enjoy themselves in the Ritz Kids program, you can hit the Hidden Lake mountain bike trail. Take the resort’s new Scott bicycles out for a 2-mile, two-wheel adventure. Take a self-guided tour or sign up for a guided ride led by the hotel’s resident Trail Boss, who can point out the wildlife along the way. And don’t worry — helmets are included with each rental.  

EVENING
  • Family Dinner.

    After a full day of activity, unwind at a dinner cooked by James Beard-nominated chef Kathleen Blake at her restaurant, The Rusty Spoon. Start with hearty family favorites like a take on traditional French onion soup, shoestring potatoes and Caesar salad, and move on to carnivore-centric mains (or “Sustenance,” as the menu calls them).  

Day

3

MORNING
  • Legoland for Little Ones.

    Kids under 13 will enjoy a trip to Legoland, where theme park fun like Begin with breakfast at the hotel’s Degrees restaurant, which serves delectable American regional cuisine. Your options include eggs Benedict with Chesapeake Hollandaise and signature South Street S’mores French Toast, District Chicken and Waffles and Orange Crème Pancakes.roller coasters and shows are combined with feats of architectural wonder with Legos. Start with Miniland USA, where 32 million Legos go into miniature reproductions of Las Vegas, New York City and more. Cool off in the Water Park’s wave pool and water slides, or let young imaginations go wild in the Build-a-Raft River.

  • Universal Studios for Big Kids.

    If you are traveling with tweens or teens, head to Universal Studios Florida. The Harry Potter-themed attractions are spread across the main park and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, connected by the Hogwarts Express train. Explore Diagon Alley, soar above the Hogwarts School, be selected by your wand and drink butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. Get an Express Pass to move quickly through the lines for rides, including the Jurassic Park River Adventure.  

MIDDAY
  • Lunch on the Go at Legoland.

    Pick up a healthy lunch at the Market Restaurant and head for Granny’s Apple Fries, the signature sweet treat of the park. Fried slices of Granny Smith apples are dusted with cinnamon and sugar, and now offered a la mode with soft-serve vanilla ice cream.  

  • Unexpected Lunch at Universal Studios.

    The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar not only upends your expectations of burgers and sushi but also theme park food. The eatery offers traditional takes on rolls and burgers, along with fusions of both. The Cowfish Bento Box combines a mini-cheeseburger and sweet potato fries with a four-piece sushi roll.

AFTERNOON
  • Sea Life.

    Aquarium fans, rejoice. Orlando’s Sea Life offers attractions like a 360-degree ocean tunnel to walk through, interactive dive shows and talks with the experts. You can find out the feeding times for your favorite animals when you arrive so you can get to know them even better.   

EVENING
  • Farm to Table.

    Highballs & Harvest celebrates the freshest local ingredients, including produce from Whisper Creek Farm, along with classic Southern cooking. The whole family will enjoy the updated twists on favorites like shrimp & grits, deviled eggs, and pimento cheese. Save room for red velvet cake, fruit cobblers and Key lime tart for dessert.  

Day

4

MORNING
  • Into the Briarpatch.

    Start off the day with a delicious breakfast at Briarpatch in the chic neighborhood of Winter Park. Choose from sweet options like lemon raspberry cream pancakes or a Nutella waffle, or go savory with a jumbo lump crab scramble, served with your choice of grits and biscuit (you are in the South, after all).  

MIDDAY
  • Park Avenue.

    The main drag of Winter Park is charming Park Avenue, which is dotted with more than 140 boutiques and cafes. The kids can blow off steam in the beautifully landscaped Central Park, situated on the avenue itself — don’t miss the rose garden on its southern end.

  • Be Ravenous.

    A few blocks off Park Avenue is The Ravenous Pig, a James Beard Award-nominated gastro-pub. The Lunch Bento Board with soup, tomato salad, choice of slider and fries, and a chocolate chip cookie is sure to be a hit with the kids. The adults can tuck into options like the Fig Salad with smoked ricotta and Lamb Burger with tzatziki.  

AFTERNOON
  • Boat Tour.

    Get to know Winter Park better from its chain of lakes. The Scenic Boat Tour takes out up to 18 passengers hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to see a more hidden part of the neighborhood — the water side.  

  • Glass Full.

    The Morse Museum boasts the world’s most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works, including his jewelry, pottery, paintings, and art glass and lamps. See the chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Exposition and objects from Tiffany’s own Long Island Estate, Laurelton Hall.  

  • Thai Up.

    Before you head back to the resort, swing by Krungthep Tea Time for a Thai twist on sundaes, ice cream sandwiches and teas. The almost encyclopedic list of teas and tea-based specialty drinks is a treat in itself, but the High Hats will entrance the kids with combinations like Battle: Cookies’n Cream ice cream, Kit-Kat, Ferrero, crushed peanut, chocolate syrup, chocolate powder and waffle cone.

EVENING
  • Set Up Camp.

    Guests in executive suites can move out the rollaway bed to be replaced with a fun-filled camping setup. The staff will pitch a premium tent with a feather bed (blanket and pillow, too). Then the fun really kicks in with the addition of a book, stuffed animal and S’mores-themed pastry with a welcome card. If your child loves the tent, you can buy it to take home.  

Day

5

MORNING
  • Canoe Trip.

    Take advantage of the resort’s proximity to beautiful lakes with a canoe tour with Adventure Experiences through Shingle Creek. Take a two-hour guided Eco-Tour through the headwaters of the Everglades as you get help spotting the wildlife.  

MIDDAY
  • To Tango.

    Have lunch at local favorite Café Tu Tu Tango, which combines a colorful dining room and global tapas with local artists creating their art in the dining room. Order a selection of their signature dips and small plates, and settle in for a fun and
    lively meal.

AFTERNOON
  • Make Memories.

    As busy as you can get on a family vacation, it’s hard to slow down to get that perfect photo to remember the trip by. Guests can enjoy a complimentary 45-minute photo session with a professional photographer at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Get great lifestyle shots of you and your family to enjoy now and later, thanks to being stored on an easy digital platform.  

EVENING
  • Spring Forward.

    Disney Springs offers a vast array of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including shops, movie theaters, a bowling alley and dining destinations. Go upscale for dining with Morimoto Asia, serving the chef’s signature sushi along with dim-sum, noodles and classics like Peking duck. Little ones will have a blast at T-Rex, digging for dinosaur bones in the sand pit in between courses.