Where To Stay: The Gaylord Palms where the sun always shines

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Fish feeding at The Gaylord Palms (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Fish feeding at The Gaylord Palms (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Florida Vacation Guide: The Gaylord Palms – more than just an accommodation

The Gaylord Palms Resort is a destination in and of itself. Located so close to Universal Orlando and Disney World that transportation to and from is provided, the Gaylord is a popular place to stay for many families visiting Kissimmee. It also happens to be one of those places where you need to take a map around with you for the first couple days of your stay, so that you don’t get lost on your way back to your room after an afternoon of exploring. And exploring you will be doing at the Gaylord Palms – whether you’re bringing children along with you or not!

4.5 acres to explore

It’s difficult to gage from simply looking at the exterior of the Gaylord exactly how enormous this resort actually is. It’s grand to look at, but you won’t be taken completely in by its magical spell until you walk a few steps past the reception area into what appears to be a lush tropical garden. And a lush tropical garden it is…but it’s indoors.

The Gaylord Palms resort is famous for its bright, sunny atriums which make it feel as though the best of Florida is right there in front of you, under a protective 4.5-acre dome built from glass and steel.

The Gaylord Palms’ signature atriums

What really makes this property stand out – besides the attentive service, fine restaurants, and the incredibly fun Cypress Springs Family Water Park – are its three sprawling atriums. Each one represents a different area of Florida: Key West, St. Augustine and The Everglades. The balcony in your guestroom does not look out over Orlando, rather, it looks out onto one of these indoor vignettes. There’s something special about a resort so sunny that you need to wear sunglasses inside, wouldn’t you agree?

The S.S. Gaylord in the Key West Atrium (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

The S.S. Gaylord in the Key West Atrium (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Key West Atrium

Head to the Key West Atrium’s 161,000 lagoon for fish feeding time any Monday, Wednesday or Friday afternoon at 1pm. Located next to the 60-foot schooner, the S.S. Gaylord, the spot is pretty hard to miss. Step aboard the ship after a stroll along the wharf and grab some dinner at Sunset Sam’s. Enjoy a cold beer with a plate of nachos or a serving of Prince Edward Island mussels. Try to time it so that you’ll be finishing your dessert when darkness falls over the resort. That’s when the thousands of indoor twinkling lights dance on the water and reflect off the glass of the atrium, making it feel as though you’re gazing up at the stars.

St. Augustine Atrium

Explore a replica (on a smaller scale) of North America’s oldest fort – Castillo de San Marcos. When children see this structure, they’ll start looking for the princess who lives there. It really does resemble a castle. There’s a mini museum inside the replica, where you’ll find relics from The Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. Visit Gator Springs and see the alligators getting fed. If watching the gators eat makes you hungry, head to Villa de Flora for a buffet feast. Or snack on sashimi at Sora. If your guestroom looks out over St. Augustine, you may be lucky enough to witness a couple exchanging their vows. At least one wedding is held every week at the Gaylord, and most of them take place in this atrium.

Everglades Atrium

While exploring Everglades Atrium, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! The foliage is thick in this part of the resort and the scent of healthy vegetation makes you quickly forget that you’re not actually outside. When coming to the Everglades Atrium from the lobby, turn right once you reach the “dome.” After you pass the upscale Old Hickory Steakhouse and before you get to Relache spa, you’ll find some creepy crawlies to study; snakes and grunts (that’s a baby alligator!). Don’t worry, though, they’re all behind glass!

Tell us…

Which of these atriums sounds most interesting to you?