Disclosure: This post is in partnership with VisitOrlando, Wild Florida, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, The Spa Orlando and Wonderworks! I received compensation to share my honest travel experiences. Read my full disclosure policy here.
I hadn’t been on an actual relaxing girls weekend getaway since becoming a mom. That’s more than 10 years — way too long without some out-of-town “me-time.”
Sure, I’ve been to conferences and on work-related trips without the family, and they’re certainly fun. But when there’s work and networking involved, can you really call it relaxing? What I needed was a mom-cation.
I finally took one recently with my friend, Sara from Major Hoff Takes a Wife, and we went to Orlando — a destination more associated with theme parks and family vacations. (Be sure to check out Sara’s post for her take on our Orlando girls’ getaway.)
But we found lots of ways to relax and recharge in Orlando, pampering ourselves with spa treatments, high-end shopping, resort living, fancy food and drink, outdoor adventures and laugh-out-loud fun. Read on to virtually tag along on our trip for lots of great Orlando destinations, attractions and girls weekend ideas.
When you’re taking a mom-cation, you definitely want to feel like you’re on vacation.
That’s why we chose to stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, a luxury resort hotel with impeccable service.
We could have stayed on property the entire time and we still couldn’t have experienced everything the resort had to offer: a lagoon-style pool with waterfalls and slides, an on-site lake with water sports and, a rock climbing wall, four Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf courses, a relaxing spa, tennis and racquet ball, amazing restaurants and so much more.
The view from our room was amazing. In addition to sweeping views of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, we could see a lot of the Orlando skyline, including the theme parks. We were able to watch the fireworks at Disney from our balcony every night.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy the view was with a glass of champagne in hand! The hotel offered free bubbly at check-in and we could go to the lobby anytime for a refill!
In my opinion, pampering is an important part of girls’ weekend or mom-cation.
Sara and I headed to The Spa Orlando for an afternoon of relaxation.
While we waited for our services, we got to hang out in these massage chairs. It was so nice to relax with my feet up while reading a celebrity magazine.
Because this trip was all about relaxation, I decided to have an hour-long Swedish massage. I so needed this, as I drove to Orlando, and my muscles were tight from the 12-hour car ride.
I love that The Spa Orlando allows you to customize your massage with an everchanging selection of scented scrubs and body butters.
Once I woke myself up from my massage and wiped the drool off my face — it was that relaxing! — I continued the pampering with a calming facial. It was just what my tired, congested mom-skin needed!
If you don’t want to leave after your services, you’re welcome to hangout in one of the spa’s relaxation rooms or on the patio, where there’s a hot tub.
Moms like to laugh and be silly and have fun — and we did plenty of that on our girls’ weekend getaway.
Orlando has so many options for grownup and family-friendly fun. There’s also a host of live entertainment and nightlife. And there are lots of fun attractions beyond the theme parks, like the Orlando Eye and several escape rooms!
We had the chance to spend some time at one of these attractions, the mind-bending WonderWorks upside down interactive museum.
WonderWorks would definitely be a fun place to visit with your kids, but Sara and I also enjoyed experiencing the exhibits, like the earthquake and hurricane simulators.
I also really enjoyed the mind-bending art gallery. I’ve been a fan of M.C. Escher and optical illusion artwork since I was a kid, and WonderWorks had some great examples.
Speaking of optical illusions, we also got to see magician Scott Humston perform at WonderWorks.
These dads from the audience were so funny participating in the show.
Humston and other magicians perform nightly as part of The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show at WonderWorks. It’s a great deal — unlimted pizza, salad, dessert, beverages (including beer and wine), plus a show! (Be sure to check out the end of this post for a giveaway featuring some of magician Scott Humston’s tricks.)
When I’m on vacation, I love to step outside my comfort zone and experience things I’ve never done before.
How about getting up close and personal with alligators?
And I’m not just talking about this little guy! We saw some giant gators on our airboat tour with Wild Florida.
What an amazing experience!
We took an early morning airboat ride with Wild Florida on Lake Cypress, which is located in the headwaters of the Florida Everglades.
Required selfie from the boat!
It was amazingly beautiful and relaxing to be on the water watching the wildlife. We took the hour airboat tour, and honestly, it wasn’t long enough. I could have stayed there for hours.
We saw lots of gators, including a mama with her nest of babies, but I never felt frightened the entire time. Wild Florida’s airboat captains are knowledgeable about and respectful of the wildlife in and around Lake Cypress. You get close enough to see the wildlife without endangering the animals or yourself.
I had such a wonderful time at Wild Florida that I can’t wait to take my family there on our next trip to Orlando. (Be sure to check out Sara’s post about Wild Florida with more amazing photos from our tour. Lake Cypress is a bird-watcher’s paradise!)
In addition to the airboat rides, you can also take a Ranch Buggy tour of the property, including the adjacent 100-year-old cattle ranch.
Yes, those are cows in the lake!
After our airboat ride, we spent some time exploring and meeting the residents of Wild Florida’s Gator and Wildlife Park.
This proud, beautiful peacock was hanging out in the picnic area!
We met more of his ilk in the park, including this stunning white peacock.
The Gator and Wildlife Park is home to more than 200 animals, including lots of birds, zebras, sloths, lemurs, bobcats, and other exotic species. And yes, even alligators that you can safely feed.
There are lots of opportunities to get hands-on with the animals through various encounters, including the chance to work as an animal keeper for a day.
Sara got up close and personal with the peacock! (I’ve been stalked by a peacock at another park, so I kept my distance!)
I love a little retail therapy when I’m traveling, so shopping definitely ranks high on my list of favorite girls weekend ideas.
Though the retail store is small, it’s such a fun space to visit and be inspired.
The Park Avenue area of Winter Park is a vibrant little shopping district, with a mix of local boutiques and upscale national retailers, plus dining and bar options.
There’s also a beautiful park and rose garden in the center of the downtown area. It would be a great place to read on a nice day.
You want to know one of my favorite parts about a moms’ getaway?
Not having to cook or worry about feeding anyone but myself!
What a nice break!
I’ve already mentioned the free-flowing champagne at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and the yummy pizza dinner at WonderWorks!
We also got to enjoy some wonderful cocktails, snacks and meals at the hotel.
After our airboat tour, we arrived back at our room to find this delicious caprese snack. (Of course, we had to have more champagne!)
We also enjoyed dinner at the LakeHouse at the Hyatt. The restaurant has a seasonal menu and serves regionally inspired cuisine.
Can you tell I love the flavors of caprese? My ravioli was very reminiscent of the fresh, summer salad, and the portion size was just right!
And yes, that is rosemary you spy in my cocktail. I love trying craft cocktails when I travel.
All in all, it was a memorable, fun, relaxing, and refreshing moms’ vacation. I came home creatively refreshed and also plotting my next getaway.
If you’re a mom, you deserve a getaway, whether it’s a solo trip, a junket with your best girlfriends or just slipping away for a few hours of me-time during a family vacation.
That’s one of the things I love about Orlando. If you’re traveling there with your family, there are plenty of opportunities to steal some moments for yourself. I hope these Orlando girls weekend ideas I’ve shared will inspire you to plan your own trip and explore these amazing places.
And when mom goes on vacation, she has to bring home a souvenir for the kiddos, am I right?
Magician Scott Humston helped us out with that by providing some of his magic tricks and a DVD for a giveaway. We’ll be choosing several winners to receive a magic wand, a magic DVD and a Toca Boca tote bag and stickers. Enter to win one of the prizes below.
And don’t forget to check out Sara’s post for more girls weekend ideas.
Some photos courtesy of Sara Hoffman, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, WonderWorks, The Spa Orlando and dolgachov at 123RF.