Katie Ellison: Top 10 Tips for Relaxation in Orlando

Award-winning U.K. blogger Katie Ellison is back, this time with her top tips for making your time in Orlando as relaxing as it is unforgettable.

By Katie Ellison

With all the fun that's around every corner, you could spend a year in Orlando and not come close to experiencing it all — and wear yourself out trying. Happily, my family and I have discovered plenty of ways to relax while you're in town. From fun in the pool to relaxing strolls, here are my top 10 tips for chilling out in Orlando.

1. Spend an Afternoon in Winter Park

Park Avenue in Winter Park
Park Avenue in Winter Park

About 20 minutes from Orlando, charming Winter Park is surrounded by lakes and green spaces, including Central Park. You'll also find upmarket restaurants and shops all down the main street, Park Avenue. The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is really fun too, especially as the tour guides give you all the gossip on the big, waterfront homes.

2. Drive Around Celebration

Lake Rianhard in Celebration
Lake Rianhard in Celebration

The brainchild of Walt Disney himself, and just 15 minutes from Walt Disney World, Celebration is a master-planned community where residents live the Disney dream. Centrally located, Celebration's Lake Rianhard has a play area for kids, with a few restaurants, shops and café bars dotted about. Be sure to visit Wonderland Cookie Dough Co., where you can safely eat all sorts of delicious flavours of cookie dough!

3. Have Some "Free" Days

Schedule Some “Free” Days When You Come to Orlando
Schedule Some "Free" Days When You Come to Orlando

With young children, we definitely found it useful to plan "free" days in between visits to the theme parks. Perhaps have a day at Disney's Magic Kingdom, then a day by the pool, followed by a day at Universal Orlando Resort. This can be tricky if you are only in Orlando for a week, but even an afternoon spent relaxing really helps to recharge your batteries.

4. Wander Around I-Drive 360

I-Drive 360, Featuring the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye
I-Drive 360, Featuring the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye

I-Drive 360 is a fantastic entertainment complex on International Drive. It's home to the 400-foot Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, places to eat, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and even a central lawn where you can sit and relax. It's a really nice place to spend some time.

5. Stroll Around Winter Garden

Plant Street Market in Winter Garden
Plant Street Market in Winter Garden

Not to be confused with Winter Park to the north of Orlando, Winter Garden is south of the main city, about 25 minutes from Disney. It's another beautiful little town that is well worth a visit. We headed to Plant Street Market, which is a large, air-conditioned, cool-looking building with vendors selling a variety of bespoke goods. We had amazing popcorn chicken and chips from Five Thymes Five, and delicious pizza from Michael's Ali. Further up the street is a fountain with swinging seats, great for total relaxation.

6. Bike the West Orange Trail

Bike Rentals Are a Great Way to Tour Orlando’s West Orange Trail
Bike Rentals Are a Great Way to Tour Orlando's West Orange Trail

One of our favourite days in Orlando was the morning we biked the 22-mile West Orange Trail, which has multiple stop-offs. We cycled past beautiful churches, stunning houses and scenic lakes. We ended up doing about five miles, which was enough for us. We rented bikes from Winter Garden's Bikes & Blades Co., which even has bikes with trailers for the kids. They also have a small playground on-site, which our children really enjoyed.

7. Plan, Plan, Plan ... but Be Flexible

Even the Best-Laid Plans Can’t Account for Tired Kids
Even the Best Laid Plans Can't Account for Tired Kids

One of the best ways to have a chilled-out trip to Orlando is to plan, and Orlando-specific apps are great resources for planning before you arrive. Visit Orlando has a fantastic app, as do Disney and Universal, which are all free. However, be aware that plans might change for a variety of reasons. Don't be too strict on scheduling, as you all might need a lazy morning or an early night at times.

8. Take Lots of Breaks

Make Time for Pool Days When You Visit Orlando
Make Time for Pool Days When You Visit Orlando

Orlando will make you feel like a big kid. If you are traveling with actual children, though, make sure you have some downtime. For example, while you might want to try every ride at Disney, your children would actually appreciate an ice-cream break in front of Cinderella's Castle. Everyone needs a rest, and it's important not to try and take on too much.

9. Enjoy a Swan-Boat Ride on Lake Eola

Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park

Our friends who live in Orlando recommended we visit Lake Eola Park, which is in the heart of downtown. There's a lovely walkway around the lake that's short enough for small children to manage. You can also rent swan-shaped paddle boats, feed live swans and other birds, or just relax while enjoying a spectacular view of Orlando's skyline.

10. Stroll Down Disney's Boardwalk

Disney’s Boardwalk
Disney's Boardwalk

Disney's Boardwalk is an old-fashioned promenade with entertainment, restaurants, resorts and a quiet atmosphere, with twinkly lights everywhere and a lovely view of the lake. We ate takeout from Pizza Window, got frozen drinks from BoardWalk Joe's Marvelous Margaritas and topped it off with ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery.

These are just a few ideas for ways to relax when you're in Orlando. Once your family's batteries are recharged, you'll all be ready to hit the theme parks and attractions again.

All photos provided by Katie Ellison.

Katie Ellison is founder of the multi-award-winning parenting blog Mummy Daddy Me, as well as co-founder of the travel blog Space in Your Case. Mummy Daddy Me recently won the Best Travel Blog at the Family Traveler Awards and is regularly featured in the press, having appeared in VeryPrima BabyMother and BabyAt Home, Gurgle and OK! magazines. She was also featured as one of Daily Mail's Top 10 Mummy Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following.

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Related Categories: Hotels & Resorts , Attractions & Theme Parks , Arts & Culture , Sports & Recreation , Restaurants & Nightlife , Orlando with Toddlers , Inside Orlando , Shopping

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