Non Disney Trip To Orlando and Stay at Sapphire Falls
Orlando Birthday Weekend
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We recently took a trip to Orlando (which we do quite often), but this time it wasn’t for Disney World. For my daughter’s 6th birthday we decided to get out of town for the weekend and she wanted to check out the American Girl Doll store. She has fallen in love with the Wellie Wisher series and has been begging for one. I figured her birthday was a great time to get it and while we were there we could have lunch at the café. Easy birthday weekend plan right? My only problem was finding a place to stay. It’s rare to have a non Disney trip to Orlando but can be a nice change of pace.
Where to stay for a Non Disney Trip to Orlando
I wasn’t too familiar with the area surrounding the Florida Mall (where the store is located) other than knowing that at night you don’t want to be caught out there alone. The Disney resorts were a little further than I wanted to drive in relation to the mall so I went with a Universal Orlando Resort. I figured there would be a nice pool, we could always walk around City Walk and it was a short drive to the Florida Mall.
I booked the Lowes Sapphire Falls. It is a beautiful hotel and the staff was very friendly! My only complaint is that you are charged for resort parking which is just a big pet peeve of mine.
As we walked into check-in there was a young woman greeting everyone as they entered. My daughter says “It’s my birthday!” to which the young woman smiled and said “Happy Birthday!” The check-in process was smooth and my husband went back to park the car and get our bags while the kids and I headed up to the room. While waiting at the elevator the greeter came over with a “Happy Birthday” card and a shell necklace for my daughter. She was blown away and was convinced that this young woman had made the necklace herself. It was such a sweet, kind thing to do and I was blown away by the customer service of it all.
The room had a very beachy feel and the bool was gorgeous! Little Miss B (my daughter) even made friends with one of the lifeguards who would call to her by name. The pool at the resort is fantastic and there’s a fun slide as well. We spent a lot of time there!
Things to do and see…
We went to City Walk for dinner. I will say this is one area that is very different for a Disney fan. It’s more of a nightlife driven fun place rather than the family friendliness of Disney. It’s not bad, just different. I liked that we had the option of walking or taking a boat ride from the resort to City Walk. Each resort has its own boat so you don’t have to stop over at another resort for passengers. For dinner, we went to the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium which is an amazing restaurant. If you’re ever in Orlando I recommend checking it out!
American Girl Doll Store & Cafe
The next day we headed over to the mall to visit the American Girl store. Little Miss B knew which Wellie Wisher she wanted so that didn’t take long. She was able to pick out an extra outfit with a gift card she had been given as well. My son, Little Mr. H, is 3 and he was having fun pushing strollers around and playing with blankets. Soon it was time for lunch and we headed over to the café. The food was good and the prices weren’t crazy either. It was small, but both kids enjoyed it a lot.
Also, in the mall is Carlos Bakery and they are in the process of finishing up a Shake Shack! Two of my NYC favorites! The mall itself is gigantic and included an M&M World as well as a Crayola Experience. The kids were pretty eager to get back to the pool so we didn’t check it all out, with the exception of the M&M World pit stop for green and blue M&M’s.
It was a nice weekend getaway. The resort is very relaxing and beautiful. The staff was incredibly nice. It’s also not too far away if you want to visit the Florida Mall or even the Mall of Millennia.
Have you visited Orlando for a non-Disney vacation? Where your favorite places to stay and visit?
Check out our Wellie Wisher Birthday Party!
Looking for other non-Disney things to do around Orlando?
Check out Legoland!