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family resorts

travel

The Hilton Orlando X Disney World Guide

We just got back from Orlando, or should I say Disney World, and man am I beat!  Doing Disney World with toddlers in a weekend trip is exhausting!  Lainey is at a great age (5) but Roman is still in that terrible toddler age (3) where a lot of meltdowns occur very often.  I was thankful for the days we spent at the resort more than the days at the parks this trip.  I do have a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years with toddlers I will share below, and you can read my last blog post on Disney with toddlers here!  You can also see all the behind the scenes videos on my Instagram story highlights here.

Where we stayed:  The Hilton Orlando (conveniently located 15 minutes or less from all the attractions, and 15 minutes from the airport!)  Here are several tips on the resorts site to help you enjoy your stay.

  • My first tip is where to stay when doing Disney with kids. I was pleasantly surprised how close this resort was too everything without being overcrowded by the holiday rush for Mickeys Halloween Party (which we did our last night).  Transportation can be arranged ahead of time with your concierge.
  • Book a resort with a water park & outdoor activities for downtime between parks.  The Hilton Orlando has two huge pools, a lazy river, splash pad, slide, and outdoor sports areas all over the property!  It felt more like a tropical vacation when we relaxed at the resort.
  • Plan your days and fast passes as far in advance as possible.  This is key with toddlers that have very little patience for rides and meals.  We filled up every morning at The Hilton Orlando’s daily breakfast buffet at The Bistro. The service and food was amazing!  You can do 3 fast passes per day per ticket.  I like to plan ours first thing in the morning to knock out all the key rides before lunch!  Make sure to mention rider switch if one child isn’t tall enough to ride!  Always go back to the resort to nap :).
  • Bring a Stroller and tie balloons to it as soon as your in the park to easily spot yours! We easily rolled the stroller back into our hotel room each night.
  • Tips specifically for Mickeys Halloween Party:  Arrive to the park early (they let you in as soon as 4pm day of).  Try to go mid week for less of a crowd.  Dress up!  Bring your own trick-or-treat bags!  Hit up the rides when everyone is grabbing candy, there are no fast passes during this time so barely any waits!  If you are visiting other parks, The Hilton Orlando has packages that include Universal Orlando & 4th night free! (Harry Potter was my favorite during Halloween)
  • Get the specialty drinks at the bar, from milkshakes for the kids to patron in a mini bottle, The Hilton Orlando pool bar had the best selections!
  • All and all we really enjoyed our convenient location & hospitality at The Hilton Orlando!  It was the perfect quick weekend trip to get the Disney bug out of our system 🙂  Thank you so much to the Hilton team for having us!

travel

Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Santa Barbara was not what I expected at all, in a good way!  It is about a 2 hour drive typically depending on traffic from LA, and for that reason I expected the area to be a very busy beach town like Santa Monica/Venice area.  It did not feel busy at all!  In fact it felt like a southern small town on a beach, with very high class/dressed people.  We went during “June Gloom” (which is known as the gloomiest weather), but over half the time it was sunny!  I saw a quote the other day that also summed up how I felt about the weather and what you should pack in California: “Welcome to California. Winter starts at 6am.  Spring starts at 10am.  Summer is at 2pm and Fall is around 4:30ish.  Dress accordingly.”  Too true!   Here is everything you need to know!


Where to stay:

Belmond El Encanto This 5 Star resort is located just a mile up the hills from downtown Santa Barbara and the beach!   This was one of our favorite resorts we have ever stayed with the kids!  Make sure to request Bungalow 101, you can see behind the scenes videos of the resort on my Instagram stories here.
What we loved about the hotel:

  • Proximity:  You could walk out of your bungalow and the pool, spa, fitness center, and restaurant/lobby were all within 5 feet.  You never had to walk far and the entire property felt small, not crowded at all!
  • Pond area:  There is a turtle feeding area that the kids LOVED!  The bell men give you turtle food and my kids would spend hours sitting by the pond playing with all the turtles.
  • Room:  I loved that we felt like we were in a small southern house in the middle of a resort.  It was a newly updated villa with one bedroom, a huge bathroom with heated floors, and then a small living area with a pull out couch.  They even personalize the pillow cases with your last name initial, what a personal touch!
  • Dining:  We ate on property almost the entire time because the food was so good!  Every morning we had breakfast over looking the fog rolling off the beach view you could see from the cliff.  Get the nutella french toast!!
  • Activities:  From onsite work out classes to electric bike rentals, you won’t get bored at this resort but also feel relaxed at the same time!



What to do:

  • Explore downtown Santa Barbara & Beach:  We rented a fun 4 person bike from Wheel fun rentals SB, located right in the Funk Zone!
  • Visit all the kid Museums/Parks:  We had a press pass, but we were only able to hop around to 4 different ones during the week we were in town.  I loved the Moxi Museum the best, it is right in the funk zone and has a roof top area for the kids to explore.  Make sure to visit Santa Barbara Zoo as well, and reserve a private giraffe feeding, or any type of feeding for that matter!  We did the turtles!  Other Museums we visited included: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (more educational) & Santa Barbara Museum of Natural Sea Center (you can touch the sharks & various animals)
  • Hop around all the wineries:  There are some in the Funk Zone you can walk around to, but we opted to do a full day wine tour with Dee Tours one day!  Dee can customize the tour for you, or you can plan your own tour and just use Dee Tours for the open air jeep that fits 10 people!  The Wineries we ended up doing were: Sunstone Winery, Brave & Maiden Winery, & Lucas & Lewellen.
  • If you need a babysitter:  Belmond Recommended this company- Mummys Day Off, we used them one night while the kids were sleeping and felt great about the babysitter.  She said she worked for the company for 3 years since she was 18.


 

Where to Eat:

  • Breakfast: Acai Bowls: Backyard Bowls, Bree’osh Bakery
  • Lunch: Brophy Bros (seafood)
  • Dinner: Los Agaves (mexican) , The Lark (american)
  • Ice cream: McConnells (funk zone area)