Legoland Florida on a Budget

Whenever I ask my kids where they may want to travel to next, the answer has always been Legoland Florida!

We have a houseful of Legomaniacs and if your children are like mine, you are going to have to make at least one trip to this amazing, family friendly, over the top destination!

Legoland Florida

Legoland Florida is about a five hour trip from our home. My wife and I didn’t tell the kids where we were going until we were turning into the parking lot! We pulled off the surprise of a lifetime and had the most incredible day!

Georgia Family Adventures

I admit, at the end of the day, when we were driving back to our hotel, I mentally had a fist pump moment. The dream came true for my kids that day!

Legoland Florida on a Budget!

It can be tremendously simple to spend thousands of dollars on a trip to any destination in Orlando. Disney, Universal Studios, and the surrounding attractions have mastered the techniques of separating people from their money. I get it. Quality entertainment is valuable but we have a large family and have found that the more expensive something is, the less fun we seem to have. Legoland Florida is an exception to the that rule but we did save where we could.

Tickets

You can find deals everywhere for Legoland tickets. Lego Magazine has coupons for Buy One, Get One Free Admission. There are youtube videos and literally hundreds of blog posts that tell you how to get the best ticket prices and promotional discounts. I was easily able to find discounted ticket prices. However, you may have to fork over a fair amount of money for your trip. Finally, I can tell you that we had a lot of fun and are already planning a trip for later this year, so it is totally worth it!

Homeschool Tickets

We homeschool our children and Legoland offers special weekday prices on specific dates for families like ours. Essentially, we got in on a Tuesday for half the cost it would have been if we came on a Friday or Saturday.

Currently, for homeschoolers, 1 day Legoland tickets for kids are $14.50 and Adult admission is $29. You must book in advance on specified dates and you will need to submit proof of homeschooling. Our family got in the park for $116 dollars. As such, the normal admission price is $84.99 per person, so you can see how we saved. The park has tremendous discount opportunities if you dig deep enough and combine deals. Save money where you can!

Hotels

Legoland has numerous overnight accommodations to choose from. Each of them look amazing and fun!

The Legoland Hotel is literally right next to the front gate to the park. They have themed rooms and several awesome activities for the kids. In addition, staying here also gets you into the park about an hour before the general admission crowds are allowed in. These rooms are pricey but come with the aforementioned perks and if you don’t mind spending the money this is an ideal way to go.

There are also the bungalows at the Legoland Beach Resort for a larger than average family and for perhaps extended visits to Legoland. Next, there is the newest lodging on site, the Legoland Pirate Island Hotel. Just opened!

Additionally, Legoland partners with several condos and vacation rental properties around the Lakeland area. Legoland does offer several ticket and lodging packages that could prove convenient for your family’s needs.

We chose to stay off property at the Holiday Inn Express-Lake Wells and saved a ton of money. This trip was kind of last minute so we hadn’t exactly been stashing cash for this adventure.

Rides, Attractions, and Food

The kids had a lot of fun riding the small roller coasters and various rides. We got soaking wet on the Aquazone Wave Racers ride. The ride is basically an unpowered boat with water cannons you can aim, water explosions that get you wet, and the folks waiting in line and around the outside edge of the river course can squirt you from their own cannons! If you get on this ride be prepared to get wet and just go with it. The water ski shows were a lot of fun to watch and the kids had a great time watching the stunts.

The food options are aplenty in the park and they are literally everywhere. We ate a big breakfast at the hotel and planned to eat a large meal after we left the park that evening. That turned into ordering pizza in our room, after a long but fun day! The kids were happy!

Legoland allows you to bring soft sided coolers and snacks into the park with you. This is the option we chose and basically packed some Pringles, sandwiches, and fruit snacks in each of the kids’ backpacks. We did spend money on bottled water so that the kids would not have to carry the weight all day and we followed some recommendations and tried some of Granny’s Apple Fries. They were a unique, tasty treat and a fine suggestion.

All in all we did the whole trip for less than $350 and really didn’t feel like we missed out on anything except the water park, which we will visit another time. The crowds were very manageable during the weekday. You have gotta check it out!

Things to Know about Legoland-Florida

  • The water park is open from early March til late October.
  • There is an additional fee of $23 for the homeschool deal to access the water park on those dates.
  • Strollers, towels, soft sided coolers, umbrellas, and light food items are allowed to be brought inside the park.
  • Legoland has free wifi throughout the park. Save your data!
  • Chairs and hard sided coolers are prohibited!
  • There are several restaurants conveniently located near Legoland.
  • Bags carried into the park will be searched.
  • Granny’s Apple Fries were delicious!
  • Bring some mini figures. Park employees wear them on their shirts and are required to trade with the kids. If your child has a mini figure to trade, the park employees seem very eager and really get into it!
  • Lego sets are available for purchase in the park. I recommend findin one you like and going online when you get home. Seriously marked up prices in the park!

More budget saving ideas…

For more great things to do in Florida check out these posts…Jacksonville Zoo and the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.

MOSH Jacksonville

Our latest and greatest adventure in search of some family fun took us to Jacksonville, Florida for a quick day trip. There we visited the Museum of Science and History or MOSH, as it is commonly known. We had a great day exploring the exhibits! There is something for everyone here!

The many featured items included a replica Allosaurus Skeleton, a touch tank with sea creatures, snakes and reptiles, a science lab with live demonstrations, a planetarium, an elaborate display on Jacksonville’s history, and a 3D topography model.

The great thing about MOSH is that it was very interactive. There always seemed to be some kind of device to use or educational game to play for the kids.

The First Floor

The first room you come to after the main lobby, is themed to teach children about aquatic life in the ocean waters off the Florida coast. There was a tool that uses echolocation to measure distance, like a dolphin. Next, we found an actual size Right Whale and calf on display and several aquatic specimens preserved for kids to see and explore. The most noteworthy thing in this room is the touch tank exhibit. MOSH staff conduct a program involving the touch tank that allows children to reach into the tank. The kids were able to touch sea snails and anemones, for instance.

Beyond this room is the Allosaurus skeleton and the live animals exhibit. Gopher Tortoises, King Snakes, several Turtles, an Indigo Snake, and a few live birds can be seen in the animals exhibit. At MOSH, there is a commitment to displaying exhibits directly related to the state of Florida. For example, all of the animals on display at the museum are native to to the state of Florida.

The 2nd Floor

After that, we made our way to the second floor where we found a large area for the kids to play in. This level has a topographic map simulator, a mini golf play area, and several educational games. Additionally, a throwing booth with a radar gun is setup so that your kids can test their best fastball. Hence, we spent a large amount of time on the second floor playing. Finally, you will come to the planetarium.

The planetarium has three scheduled shows each day. Therefore, your family can choose one of which to see. Each paid admission includes a visit to the planetarium! We really enjoyed our time watching the timeless “Two pieces of glass.”

Other Exhibits at MOSH

MOSH certainly has several interesting exhibits. Moreover, some are only on display for short term basis. On the 3rd floor we found an area featuring the many boroughs in the City of Jacksonville. The theme was to educate children on the complexities of building infrastructure and social inclusion in a community. On the first floor, on your way out through the gift shop, is a great interactive display on how the human body functions. Additionally, another good option is a small outdoor pond with freshwater and Alligator snapping turtles swimming around. This area is a good place to learn about the plant life found in Florida. Lastly, it was just nice to get some fresh air.

The Science Theater

Certainly, one of the coolest things we did was attend a demonstration at the Science Theater. This lab program, put on by one of MOSH’s staff members . Our presenter did a great job of presenting some awe inspiring science demonstrations. She was very engaging and really made the science fun for the kids. An example of this was when she performed a controlled explosion with a 5 gallon water bottle and alcohol. The kids loved it.

Things to know about the Museum of Science and History

  • The Museum has a lot of school field trips visiting and will typically be busier on weekends.
  • There are paid parking garages near MOSH. Behind the Museum is the parking lot for the River City Brewing Company Restaurant. Their parking is conveniently located near the main entrance to MOSH.
  • The parking is restricted to restaurant guests only, however, it is totally free. We told the attendant we were planning on going to MOSH and to the restaurant for lunch, as a result, he let us right in.
  • Also, parking at this lot has no validation so if we changed our mind then there wasn’t going to be a fee. We recommend you park here. This may be more difficult on busy weekends.
  • We did have lunch at River City simply due to the convenience factor. The food was great and we sat outside on the patio. We had a great view of the St. John’s River and the Jacksonville Skyline.
  • Also, stop by Friendship Fountain between River City and the museum for some great photos.
  • There are several additional picnic tables near the fountain so bringing your own lunch is an option for saving a few dollars.
  • Everyone in our family had an enjoyable experience but MOSH is ideal for ages 11 and under, specifically.
  • The planetarium was worth seeing multiple shows.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking around.
  • MOSH opens everyday at 10 a.m.
  • There are several hotels in the area if you need to stay. Staying outside or away from Jacksonville’s downtown district would be the less expensive way to go.
  • The Jacksonville Zoo is another great day trip for a family visiting the city!

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Our family had been hearing how great St. Augustine was to visit from several friends for months. Since it was only a few hours drive from where we live in South Georgia, we made a day trip to the Old Town. St. Augustine was well worth the drive! We had a really fun day checking out the fort, walking around St. George Street, and eating some amazing food.

St. Augustine-A great weekend getaway for families!

When planning this trip, three awesome destinations were recommended to us. The first stop was the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. We really wanted to make the trip as educational as possible for the kids and soak up all the history that St. Augustine has to offer. Of course, my kids love watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and so we had to include this stop. The second spot was the Colonial Quarter just next to the pirate museum. Lastly, we made the short walk across the street to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the main attraction.

Viewing the Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

The monument was a really enjoyable experience. The kids did a scavenger hunt here, took some really unique pictures, and even got to see the live cannon firing demonstration. The volunteer reenactors dress in Spanish colonial uniforms and give all the firing commands in Spanish, giving the experience a unique authenticity. Upon completing the scavenger hunt the kids earned their Junior Ranger Badges from the National Park Service park rangers. Over the years my children have done several junior ranger programs but the staff here were great about talking to the kids and helping them through the workbook. Exploring the fort was pretty cool. To walk on stonework that was several hundreds of year old was an experience. We really got a great sense of this piece of history. The pictures we took were pretty cool too.

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum

This museum was full of great artifacts from the age of the pirate. There were marvelous flags, gold doubloons, swords, hats, and lots of interactive exhibits for the kids. The staff dress in costume and walk around offering information and such. There are tours available if you are interested. We just wandered as a family. Inside there were replica cannons that the kids can “fire”. A small room off the back of the museum has a short movie you can watch about the time period. The sword Johnny Depp used as a prop during the Pirates of the Caribbean movie was on display too. The museum has an excellent gift shop with every pirate novelty you can imagine. Dad walked away with a great book he found called, Blackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast. Two of the boys pooled some allowance money to buy a pirate gun and sword set. This completed their complete uniform they said. As you can see in the picture above, they already had the hat and coat. Outside, there is a cannon and old stocks to pose in. The pirate museum was really a lot of fun for the kids.

The Colonial Quarter

After leaving the pirate museum, we walked next door to The Colonial Quarter. This attraction is basically a living history village, complete with a blacksmith’s shop, woodworkers studio, and several other historical buildings. Staff dress in period clothing and give tours of the village. The tour guides really take their history seriously and know it very well. We were so enthralled with the historical information presented that we forgot to take pictures during the entire tour. There is an observation tower at the property that overlooks the fort. That is how we got such great views from across the street. As I said, once up in the tower, we snapped out of it and began taking pictures. In the parade ground of the village, the kids were given wooden toy guns and invited to take soldier training. It was playful and the tour guide gave gentle commands and the kids had some fun participating. Here are a couple pictures from The Colonial Quarter.

Things to know about the Castillo and St. Augustine.

  • It can be be very warm in Florida. No, really. We went in May and it was hot. Fill a couple of Nalgene bottles and carry plenty of water.
  • You can have a great time in a single day in St. Augustine but there is so much to do that we are already planning a visit lasting several days in the very near future.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Walking around the city shopping and exploring is a big part of any visit to St. Augustine. You could easily become foot sore.
  • Trolley tours are running through the city all day long. It is possible to park outside of town and take the trolley tour into St. Augustine. Hop on/Hop off is allowed by the trolley companies. We did not do this but it seemed like a great idea for our next visit. It may save some tired legs.
  • We bought a combination ticket package that gave us access to both the Pirate and Treasure Museum as well as the Colonial Quarter for a discounted price. Call directly to either attraction for this deal as I have not seen it online.
  • Visiting the Castillo de San Marcos can be FREE! The Every Kid in a Park Initiative is awesome! 4th graders can get themselves and their families into the park for FREE! The pass admits all family children under 16 and up to three adults for FREE!
  • There is an amazing playground called the Project SWING playground, within walking distance of the Castillo and downtown St. Augustine. Parking space is limited so you may have to park in a parking garage.
  • Walking around St. George Street is a lot of fun. There are great ice cream shops, boutiques, chocolatiers, and art galleries! The kids stood watching a taffy puller for several minutes, mesmerized.
  • Food! We ate at two great places: O.C. White’s for lunch and Pizzalley’s for Dinner. O.C. White’s had great outdoor dining and Pizzalley’s was a great respite from the heat. Both had delicious food and we recommend them both for lunch or dinner.
  • We stayed outside of town, near the World of Golf, to save a little money. St. Augustine lodging downtown can be a little pricey. Our hotel for the night was the Holiday Inn-St. Augustine.
  • Anastasia State Park in a popular spot in St. Augustine for camping. It is very popular and your visit here does need to be planned well in advance.

Jacksonville Zoo

If your kids love animals and exploring then the Jacksonville Zoo is the place to go. Our family recently made several trips there and had discovered something new each time. We are a family that loves the outdoors and the kids are always fascinated by animals. That is why we basically visit every zoo we can get to. We always have a lot of fun checking out the various exhibits and cannot wait any longer to share our experiences with you.

The Jacksonville Zoo is a few hours drive from our home but we don’t mind making the trip. We have been several times this last year. We always pack a lunch to save a little money. The interstate can be a bit congested but getting there is easy enough. The thing the kids wanted to see more than anything was the Jaguar exhibit. With the Jaguars being the local NFL franchise it made sense that the Jacksonville Zoo would have this animal on display. Our friend wasn’t feeling up to it on this day but it was still awesome to get so close to such a good looking cat.

Cat napping!

Great weekend getaway!

The great thing about zoos is that they are designed for kids and families. The Jacksonville Zoo takes this to the limit. They have several things in addition to the animals. There is the Splash Ground water play area, the Wildlife Carousel, Jungle vines to swing on, and a goat petting area. Family themed restrooms are also quite useful for visiting with small children. Not to mention the wide eyed discovery of the awesome zoo creatures!

Things to know about the Jacksonville Zoo

  • November is FREE admission for kids 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket! I’ll say it again, Jacksonville Zoo is FREE in November for kids!
  • Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is within an hour of Jacksonville and it is FREE ADMISSION! If your family is vacationing in Jacksonville this would make for a great day trip from your base.
  • Scavenger hunt sheets are available for little kids and teens alike. It’s fun, you should try it. Download here and enjoy the hunt!
  • There is plenty of parking. Don’t fret. Parking is FREE!
  • There are no bathrooms outside the main gate. Go before you arrive. A long line may be a part of getting in and this could pose a problem for small kiddos.
  • We always pack lunches. Zoo prices for our family of six to eat can escalate quickly. The zoo does have some tasty treats. We have splurged on dippin’ dots on hot days.
  • Field Trips and Homeschool programs and deals are available.
  • There is a great playground right off the Garden Maze and Goat petting area.
  • You can take a train ride through the zoo for an additional fee.
  • College students can get $10 general admission tickets with college ID. This is a great deal!
  • We live withing a few hours so we did not stay in Jacksonville. However, being such a large city, Jacksonville has every imaginable restaurant and hotel possible. Even some rare finds.
  • If staying in Jacksonville, Florida for a few days. Consider spending a day at the Museum of Science and History, located in the heart of the city. MOSH, as it’s called, is a great place for kids to learn and play.
  • Pet the stingrays! It’s FREE and my kids thought it was the most amazing part of our visit!
  • Climb on an Elephant! No really, climb on. It isn’t a live elephant, so go for it!