I know it’s winter. I know winter will go until May-ish. Still, when the calendar year shifts, I start thinking it’s spring. So when we head off to Florida for our weeklong escape from winter, I will call it spring break.
It was easiest for me to get a non-stop flight from Calgary to Orlando on WestJet. Yes, it was a little cheaper to fly through Toronto, but that non-stop flight is a lifesaver when flying as a family, so we used our WestJet dollars and the $99 Companion Fare for having a Westjet World Elite Mastercard, to cut down on the costs!
Fingers crossed we might even get to fly down on the WestJet #MagicPlane or #FrozenPlane.
We check in on Saturday night at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Kissimmee, Florida, smack dab between the Orlando airport and the legion of theme parks in the area. Embassy Suites is an all-suites hotel. They have free breakfasts in the morning, and each room has a space for mom and dad and a space for the kids. Toss in their nightly complimentary happy hour and you can see why they own the #PrettyGreat hashtag. I won our week’s stay at this family focused chain during last year’s Dad 2.0 Summit!
We’ll get up and DIY some breakfast before making the 90 minute-ish trek out to Kennedy Space Centre. I’ve got a Kia Sedona booked for our trip – my first time driving a minivan. Seriously. It looks like a great, roomy ride which will be perfect for this trip which will take us all around southeastern Florida.
I last visited the Kennedy Space Centre when I was 5 yrs old. Back then the focus was on the lunar missions, and I even got to ride in a lunar buggy. Nowadays, Cape Canaveral is a launch pad for commercial satellites and the staging ground for NASA’s plans for Mars. We’ll visit the rocket garden, tour the facility, and touch moon rocks!
Time to show off our Disney side. We’re in South Florida, world headquarters of theme parks, so we had to do one, right? Almost no. The purpose of our trip is to see Florida panthers, crocodiles, and alligators. Zacharie chose this spring break because of his fascination with these animals. If Disney’s Animal Kingdom wasn’t there, we likely would have wandered off to into the everglades around Kissimmee to get our gator on.
But there is a Disney animal park, so we will chase giraffes, zebra, elephants, and more. Planning a trip to Disney requires a lot of planning. So I’ve planned it. We’ve got our early morning FastPass+ rides booked for the things we really want to see, leaving the afternoon open to wander. Disney Animal Kingdom is the least intense of all the Disney parks and I’m hoping for a relaxing Disney day.
En route, we shall spend half a day or so at Cocoa Beach. I picked Kennedy, the boys picked Disney, my wife picked Cocoa Beach. Apparently this is where people on The Newlywed Game, or The Dating Game, used to win trips to back in the day. She’s been always wanting to go there (and Catalina Island for the same reason), so this one is her bucket list check.
Apparently Cocoa Beach is good for surfing. We don’t surf, but we will dig in the sand, have some snacks, and watch the surfers for a few hours. After that we will pull some Vanilla Ice moves in the Kia Sedona and head down the A1A to Deerfield Beach, stopping and starting as inspiration grabs us.
After a quick start to the trip with lots of walking, sightseeing, and driving, we will relax. The Embassy Suites in Deerfield Beach is right across the street from the beach. We will explore that beach hard. Check out the Google Streetview:
There will be much chilling out, digging, surfing, sunning, and sleeping. Oh, and there’s that afternoon complimentary Happy Hour that Embassy Suites is famous for! This is supposed to be a vacation, after all.
Miami. Deerfield Beach is about an hour north of Miami, so we’ll cruise down to South Beach for a stroll. Apart from that, I haven’t really nailed down the kid-friendly things to do in MIA.
This is Florida Panther day. After watching an episode of the Wild Kratts where the brothers helped rehab a Florida panther, Zacharie has loved them. It’s the reason we’re going to Florida for the break. So we’re going to hit Sawgrass Recreation Park for a day of some gators, an airboat ride, and up close encounters with Florida panthers.
We have an early evening flight home out of Orlando, so we’ll load up the Kia Sedona on Saturday morning for the 3 hour drive north west through the Florida everglades keeping our eyes peeled for panthers.