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.

Visit Jekyll Island!

Jekyll Island

One of our favorite family destinations is the always adventurous Jekyll Island, Georgia. This amazing barrier island has it all! Beautiful hiking trails, bike riding paths, playgrounds, mini golf, and a water park. If you are looking for some great family fun in the sun, this is the place to visit.

Sand and Surf

We visit the island whenever we need to get away and spend some time lounging in the surf. Jekyll Island features seven beach areas to enjoy. Our favorites are Driftwood Beach and Great Dunes Beach. These two beaches are very distinct. Driftwood Beach features a maze of trees that have washed ashore, therefore, creating beautiful opportunities for pictures.

Great Dunes Beach is the most popular beach on the island as it is has the most access points and is near a few restaurants. Also, the miniature golf course, and a bike rental concessionaire is nearby. There are several picnic tables here and a large playground area just across the street. Great Dunes is our favorite beach on the island for playing in the waves and building sand castles!

At Great Dunes, near the playground, there is a snack bar and additionally, Tortuga Jacks Restaurant. These are both great options for eating however, there are several picnic areas on Jekyll Island. We have enjoyed many a lunch under the shade of some ancient live oaks at the South Dunes Picnic Area.

Activities on Jekyll Island

There is so much to do while visiting this island getaway! If you are on an extended stay or looking for something educational to do there is the
Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Tidelands 4-H Center. Both of these are excellent places to expose kids to the natural wonders of the Golden Isles of Georgia. Furthermore, your family could go camping, ride a horse, play 18 holes of golf, take boat tours to see dolphins, and so much more!

Dining and Lodging

Jekyll Island has several great restaurants and a large number of additional options off the island in nearby Brunswick, Georgia. Also, several hotels are available on the isle with the Days Inn being the budget friendly option. Several Jekyll Island Vacation Rentals are available through VRBO and Home Away. Flipkey by Tripadvisor is also great for vacation rentals. Laura S. Walker State Park, a 30 minute drive from Jekyll, has cabins that are reasonably priced as well.

The dining options look amazing! Although,Jekyll Island offers many great choices for dining, we have only ever ate at two of them. You may laugh but we have splurged at Tortuga Jack’s, which was amazing, and the local Dairy Queen. Dining on the Island can be a little high for a family traveling on a budget!

Things to Know Before Visiting

  • There is a fee to visit Jekyll Island. It is $6 per vehicle. Weekly Passes and Annual Passes are available as well.
  • Tent and RV camping is available in the campground. Prices range from $28 for a tent site to $43 for an RV. Book early as the sites can be in high demand.
  • Bring your own bike or rent one from the kiosk near Great Dunes. The island has 20 miles of paved bike paths. This is a great family activity!
  • Every beach in the world has the occasional jellyfish. Keep a bottle of white vinegar in your beach bag. If you are stung, this home remedy can neutralize the sting, making the irritation bearable.
  • Laura S. Walker State Park, outside of Waycross, is another possible camping destination within an easy drive of Jekyll and St Simons Islands. These beautiful georgia state park cabins can sleep 6 comfortably and are about half the price of some hotel rooms on the island.
  • Bring plenty of water! The winds and sun of the Golden Isles can quickly draw the moisture out of your body. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
  • Sunscreen up! Even on overcast days you will slowly bake if you don’t apply sunscreen when beach going.
  • The Jekyll Island Visitor Center is right before the pay station along the Jekyll Island Causeway. If stopping here, before entering the island, you will need to make the left hand turn just before hitting the pay station, so be alert as you approach.
  • Look into Jekyll Island events like the annual Turtle Crawl Triathlon, the Sidney Lanier Bridge Run, and the Shrimp & Grits Festival.
  • Check out Fort Frederica National Historic Site on nearby St Simons Island!

Bonus!

January and February on the island are plenty cool and windy. However, during these months Jekyll Island features the annual Island Treasures hunt. This is where volunteers hide colored glass orbs all over the island for visitors to find. People come for miles to hunt these unique items. If you find one of the samples on the island, you return it to the visitor center, where they exchange it for a real glass ball! The hidden treasures are actually colored plastic, so that it won’t break! Enjoy!

Dry Falls

Waterfalls in the Highlands

Ok, so this amazing place is not actually in Georgia. After all this is Georgia Family Adventures, right? Well we do have some wonderful family activities in the five states that border Georgia and in time I will bring you those stories. This waterfall, ironically named Dry Falls, is just across the Georgia border above the extreme Northeastern tip of the state, in Highlands, North Carolina.

The falls were gushing due to heavy rains in the area the previous night. The cool thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind the water. As thousand of gallons of water roar above your head, you can stay dry and snap the photo of a lifetime. It reminds me of that scene from :Last of the Mohicans”. Watch that movie if you have never seen it. See for yourself how awe inspiring this experience was for our family.

What you need to know before going

Dry Falls is on US Forest Service land and there is a $3 per vehicle fee. The parking area is roomy but can fill up quick. There are bathrooms in the parking lot as well. There are stairs and they can be icy in the Winter months.

The falls are about 10 minutes East of Highlands on Highway 64. Highlands lies at 4100 ft above sea level high up in the Appalachian foothills and all the roads to it go up. They are winding and roads with some good climbs. However, it seems that there are gorgeous overlooks about every other mile and pull-offs for you to get out and take a picture. Highlands is a very nice town with plenty of B & B’s, classy restaurants, and boutique shops. We did not stay there but we have visited a few times over the years. A place we recommend for a lunch stop is just South of Highlands in Scaly Mountain. The restaurant is named The Mountain Junction Cafe. The carrot cake came in huge slices and was amazing! The place has some great character too.

This would make a perfect day trip for anyone camping or vacationing at nearby locations such as Tallulah Gorge State Park, Moccasin Creek State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park, or Franklin, North Carolina. Check out these neat pictures we were able to get.

Bonus!

Two for one bonus! On the way to Dry Falls you will drive right by and possibly under, Bridal Veil Falls, right off Highway 64. The Forest Service will sometimes block it off if it is icy or rocks have been falling, so do be careful. Usually the road leading behind this waterfall is open and you can take some cool photos, like we did.

Bridal Veil Falls, Highlands, NC