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Going to Florida with toddler - but not to do theme parks....

(19 Posts)
InTheZenGarden Wed 26-Aug-09 14:02:00


Desperately trying to find somewhere warmish to go in November for a 3 or 4 week holiday

Had fallen in love with the idea of South Africa, but the flights were just too expensive

Weather in Florida looks OK, flight not too long and a bit cheaper than SA

Fairly sure there is no point taking DD (will be 19 months) to any theme parks as she just won't "get it".

So I'm wondering what we would do - thinking Everglades, Florida Keys, beaches.... anyone been with a toddler? What did you do?

Posting this is Longhaul and General! TIA

bellavita Wed 26-Aug-09 14:34:17

Hi how about looking at this website?

My children were a lot older when they first went to Florida, but there are lots and lots of families that take little ones. I would say there is something for everyone.

What about the Canaries (warm all year round) or California? San Diego, San Fransisco, LA, Palm Springs?

InTheZenGarden Wed 26-Aug-09 14:41:32

Wow, that website is perfect, thanks! Having a read now

Canaries - we are not really "lie on a beach" people, and even if we were, we can't do that with DD now!! So am worried we would get bored of 3 weeks in the Canaries..

Considering California too, but we have been pre-DD, loved it, but don't really like re-visiting places and not sure what we would do with DD... she's not quite ready for National Parks sadly!

Thanks for the help and suggestions

bellavita Wed 26-Aug-09 15:05:28

No problem smile

FWIW - we have just literally come back from Las Vegas with DS1 (12) and DS2 (nearly 10) and the comments I got beforehand about "eurgh, taking children to LV...." we had a great time and a holiday is what you make it.

Hope you get something organised... (I do love booking holidays)

InTheZenGarden Wed 26-Aug-09 15:31:11

I didn't particularly like LV - I mean it is amazing and OTT but the poverty was a bit of a stark contrast with the money wasting, slot machines before breakfast etc etc. Fun for a day or two though...

But, we did a great trip from there - Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches NP, North and South Rim of Grand Canyon etc etc. Wonderful time But don't think DD would get that much out of it, plus she is not enamoured with the car, so a Road Trip, which DH is desperate to do again, is out of the question.

Any more ideas of where we could go? grin

Previous holidays which we have loved have been road trips around Oz and NZ, and travels round China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Borneo...... don't really think any of these are any good for DD

Sourdough Wed 26-Aug-09 15:50:57

We have a family home in SW Florida and it is the perfect place for us. I avoid Orlando like the plague, but DD2 is now starting to badger me about taking her to Disney World (she has been when small, but wants to go again, now she is old enough to appreciate it). Our area of Florida is in as stark a contrast to the Orlando vibe as it can get. We have Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande (google it), Sarasota and Henry Ford's house. Our house is built within the confines of a bird sanctuary and we have resident alligators in the lake at the bottom of the garden. You can rent a boat and go through the mangroves or out to Cabbage Key (great restaurant on there) or Cayo Costa which is like the Bounty advert - all white sand and sweeping palm trees. Dolphins swim upsides the boat and you drop anchor in the shallows and wade in to the shore and have a picnic on the beach. Heaven. The weather is near perfect at that time of year and of course everyone is friendly and really nice to the DCs. No language barrier either. Can't think of anywhere I'd rather go, actually. Have been almost resident for 33 years and never tire of it.

InTheZenGarden Wed 26-Aug-09 16:06:19

omg sourdough it really does sound like heaven grin

Really sounds like the kind of thing we want to do, and would keep DD happy too!
We have realised that at this age, we can't plan our holiday for DD, as she really isn't into much (we went to the Zoo on Saturday, and she was more excited about walking on gravel than seeing animals hmm)

So we need to book a holiday for us but make sure DD will be happy, not bored, etc. This sounds perfect and i am going to google all those places tonight

Thank you for telling me about it!!!!

thehairybabysmum Wed 26-Aug-09 16:16:48

Sounds lovely SD...i want to go and see a shuttle launh next year, is your area near enough??

Also am i likely to see a snake...have been put off S. FLorida by a nature programme that had some type of black snake falling out of trees onto a passing tourist boats as snake slpet....this is my worst nightmare!

Sourdough Wed 26-Aug-09 16:17:32

BTW, if you do find yourself in the restaurant on Cabbage Key, have a Mahi mahi sandwich. Delicious and straight out of the sea.

Sourdough Wed 26-Aug-09 16:19:42

There are snakes,hairy but I haven't seen many. It is the tropics so you get all manner of mad wildlife - Bobcats, Armadillos etc and of course snakes. We had a little black one on the lanai once, but apart from that they've never been a problem. They tend to be shy.

thirtysomething Wed 26-Aug-09 16:35:52

We've done SW Florida a few times - starting when DD was 4 - and the kids always love it. If you rent a house with a small pool you will have lots of space to relax and DD should enjoy splashing in the pool. Food and shopping etc are very easy and the roads tend to be quite empty so it's a pleasure travelling around. Everglades and state parks good for boat trips/alligator watching and you can go to lots of islands or on boat trips to dolphin watch too.

i am totally petrified of snakes and so avoid certain beaches in Florida which have signs up about snakes - the only place I've seen one though is round some busker's neck in South Beach Miami!! I couldn't run away fast enough....

Have been to SA with small children too - it was bliss!! The beaches are so stunning and they just loved the penguins, elephants, lions etc!! We stayed in a forest in a log cabin and i was terrified I'd see 100 snakes but didn't actually see any!!

InTheZenGarden Wed 26-Aug-09 20:06:41

OK, starting to get excited about Florida now... Trailfinders have found us flights for £850 all-in, which is far better than the £1500 to SA! And I can get car hire for £350ish for a largeish car for 3 weeks.

Sooo... where to stay? I fancy the Keys, anyone recommend a villa/place to stay?

Also want to see the Everglades and the places Sourdough mentions, so another base to those would be good

And then I was wondering about going north? Apalachicola? Or is it too far to drive to be worth it? (we will be flying into and out of Orlando I think)

grin grin

Hulababy Wed 26-Aug-09 20:09:56

Even a 19m would like Magic Kingdom and ASnimal Kingdom. DD was 18m when we went for a day trip to Disney Paris and loved it so much, we went back the next day, lol! There are rides they can go on and so much to see. Plus you can do baby swap so you and Dh can ride bigger rides should you wish. DD loved it so much we came home and booked our first Disney Florida holiday for the summer after, when DD was 2y.

InTheZenGarden Wed 26-Aug-09 20:29:29

That's interesting Hula.
She's only 16 months now, and really was more excited by walking on gravel than looking at the animals at the zoo!

I guess I'm not really into all the rides and the thought of queueing for any amount of time fills me with horror, when we could be doing other things.... are the queues generally shorter for the toddler rides?

Hulababy Thu 27-Aug-09 08:19:27

Sadly the queues on the toddler rides can often be the bsiest as they are so popular. However the queues at DisneyWorld are much shorted IME than the queues at DLP, so for most it is a 20m queue max, many shorter and you can use Fast Pass for a fair few too.

Me and DH (well he does now, lol) both like rides though, so we went for me us too originally. DD was very excited by it, but then she'd been very excited at zoos and wanting to go on little toddler rides for a while before that too.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 27-Aug-09 09:40:22

Its a journey of several hundred miles from Orlando to the Keys. FL is a big state all told and you need a detailed map.

If you are thinking of going to the Keys you'd be better off flying into Miami rather than Orlando.

InTheZenGarden Thu 27-Aug-09 13:36:06

Thanks Attila

We are going for 3 or 4 weeks, and want to see a fair bit of the state, so flying into Orlando shouldn't matter too much

It is an extra £200 to fly to Miami. That said, it would mean we could fly from Heathrow instead of Gatwick, which is more convenient for us, so it is worth considering, certainly. I'll look at the guidebooks and decide where we want to go

sandysmum Thu 27-Aug-09 21:05:07

We are going to Florida in November for three weeks with a 20mth old - think he will be as happy on beach but if anyone has any other entertainment ideas we would be grateful! We are going to Tampa/Sarasota area to stay with family. Also does anyone have any suggestions for keeping him entertained on the 8 hr flight?

InTheZenGarden Thu 27-Aug-09 22:16:53

Hmmm sandy, when we originally "came up" with the idea of going longhaul, it was on the proviso of an overnight flight.... and now it seems all the decently-priced, direct flights leave at lunchtime

Not looking forward to the flight out, but at least the flight back is overnight....

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