Everyone knows about the abundance of family-friendly activities in Central Florida, but sometimes, families would prefer to relax at their hotel rather than venture out to the parks. Covering 63 acres and including shops, restaurants, a full-service spa, arcade, fitness center, adult pool, and kid-friendly water park, the Gaylord Palms is one hotel families don’t have to leave.
Like the other Gaylord properties, the restaurants, hallways, and guest rooms sit under a glass atrium. Plants and waterways are located throughout the resort, giving it an indoor feel even outdoors. After checking in, it may take a while to find your room – this is a rather large hotel! Three popular Florida regions – Key West, the Everglades, and St. Augustine are represented through the decor. You’ll find a huge replica of the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the St. Augustine section, a pond full of turtles and baby alligators in the Everglades section, and a giant sailboat in the Key West section. The alligators are maintained and fed by nearby Gatorland, and guests can watch the feedings a few days a week.
There are lots of other activities and attractions at the Gaylord Palms. Popular characters from DreamWorks movies, including Shrek, Puss in Boots, and Kung Fu panda regularly greet guests in the afternoons, and families can also choose to book a character breakfast with Shrek for an additional fee. In the summer, dive-in movies are hosted by DreamWorks characters in the pool area.
The newest amenity at the Gaylord Palms is the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park, which includes an adult-only pool, 4 waterslides, a zero-entry pool, and a multi-level tree house. Families could absolutely spend the day at the pool – a great way to relax and recharge after some busy days at the theme parks. For the adults, there’s a full-service spa which offers a steam room, sauna, digital showers, and a spa shop. It’s a nice little oasis for mom and/or dad to get away during the family vacation.
The Gaylord Palms boasts several restaurants including a sports bar, sushi bar, seafood restaurant, ice cream shop, and the fabulous Old Hickory Steakhouse (a standard in all of the Gaylord Resorts). All of the food I had during my stay was delicious, and I’d definitely recommend eating at least a few meals on property.
The rooms at the Gaylord Palms have been recently renovated and are extremely comfortable. Many of the rooms offer balconies overlooking the atrium – a splurge that’s worth it if you can afford it. The resort fee includes WiFi and bottled water, and the rooms offer refrigerators, desks, flat-screen televisions, and a nice-sized bathroom.
The Gaylord Palms Resort is located in Kissimmee Florida, not far from SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Orlando International Airport. You can book your stay through Hotels.com and Priceline.
Disclosure: My trip to the Gaylord Palms was complimentary for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.
Article and photos by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine.