A guest post by Danielle Larkins
Like most kids, I enjoyed Disney movies and Disney World. But, folks, I don’t have a tattoo of Mickey Mouse on my arm. I say this because growing up, I noticed many die-hard moms who freaked out over Disney. I didn’t get it. Until now. Our visit to a Disney resort last summer was amazing. I realized my limited experiences (prior to having kids) blinded me to the “magic.” And I admit- thanks to our one-week stay at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, I was one daiquiri short of permanently imprinting Mickey on my décolletage.
Last July, my husband and I did the unthinkable. We drove 17 hours straight to Vero Beach. With a sick toddler, a preschooler, and a car vomiting with beach toys, we embodied the Griswolds – embarking on our own family vacation. The ride was everything you’d expect it would be… arduous, long, whatever synonyms you can think of for “tiring.” But once we arrived, it was all worth it.
When we entered the lobby, we were greeted by warm staff and sparkling floors. You could see the palm trees and ocean waves across the lobby, which led you right to the beach and pool. My husband and I immediately looked at each other – “Disney does it right” he said to me. Every inch of the place was created with families in mind.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is a timeshare, but they offer available rooms to guests. Ours was a pretty typical hotel room – with the added benefits of being impeccably clean and with an ocean view balcony. There was a little kitchenette with a sink, coffee maker, microwave, and mini-fridge. To save money, we stocked up on breakfast and lunch foods.
The one downside to it being a time share is that there is no daily maid or turn down service (it is available for a fee). Not to worry though, because we used the complimentary laundry room on our floor where we could wash our clothes and sheets. Rates are surprisingly not outrageous for the quality and service that this place brings – you can find a standard room like ours with two queen beds in late August 2015 for $228/night!
In my opinion, breakfast at Shutters was the best meal experience. One morning Shutters had a buffet. While I’m normally not the biggest fan of buffets, this was actually a really good spread. They had more selections of fruits, meats, seafood, and other standard breakfast fare than I expected. And with my food allergies, I was very pleased how accommodating and understanding they were. Another morning was a character breakfast with family style eggs, bacon, and Mickey Mouse Waffles. The kids were thrilled to get pictures with Goofy and Donald Duck. Shutters also offered Character dinners. My kids enjoyed meeting Mickey and Pluto, all dressed up in a pirate theme. The BBQ food left a bit to be desired, but the food really took a back seat to the activities with the characters.
The poolside restaurant, Bleacher’s Bar & Grill, was pricey, but for the most part was the best poolside restaurant I’ve enjoyed. In addition to your typical grill fare, I was happy to see a number of healthy options for families to enjoy. And my husband appreciated the diverse selection of adult drinks available (and the strong pours as well).
For a fine dining experience, you can also try Sonya’s (although we didn’t make it there this trip).
I saved the best for last because the activities are what left me jonesing for more. Not only are you two hours away from Disney World, but you have a fantastic play area on the hotel grounds. There is a spacious pool with a two-story, 163-foot water slide. My kids lived on this for the week, and I kissed it every day because it allowed me to sunbathe while I watched them. During the day, they have pool activities, contests, and games.
A few steps from the pool, there is a 9-hole mini golf course ($5/age 3+), ping-pong (free), a playground, and the Tiger Lily Wet Play Area. This water play area is a pirate ship with cannons and a slide. They even host activities where the kids can pick out a toy. My son (above) scored a bottle of bubbles.
If you’re tired of the pool, you can rent bikes from Eb & Flo’s Rentals and follow the Peter Pan trail around the resort. After dinner, you can walk over to the beach for a campfire, s’mores, and songs. And for children ages 3 to 19, there are a variety of programs offered during the day (e.g., scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, sports). Even on the rainy nights, the Vero Beach Resort crew brought the fun indoors. There were hula hoops, hop scotch, and other toys in the lobby to keep the kids entertained.
Needless to say, this resort offers everything a family could want to have a fun and relaxing beach vacation.
BIO-Danielle Larkins is a stay-at-home mom and blogger residing in Northern Virginia. She writes about parenting, her DIY attempts, and everything-mommy at Where’s the Mama.
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