One night in Apopka Florida
Need a little adventure on a tight budget? Let's do it!
Use your rewards:
If you are a seasoned Adventurous Alfords reader, you know that I highly encourage people to sign up for rewards. No matter what! It's completely free and whether you travel often or rarely, those rewards are going to add up. Hotels.com is fantastic with their reward system because they reward you per night, not per trip. So the "stay one night free" is rewarded sooner than you think. We have had a reward night on standby for months and decided to use it for our trip to Apopka. Our hotel choice was a 9.6 rated hotel for the area on a very popular weekend so our nightly rate was approximately $150 a night and our reward covered the average cost of all of our hotel stays which ended up being approximately $120 dollars costing our stay a whopping $30! And the hotel included breakfast which covered the cost of one of our meals. SCORE! The hotel we chose was Hampton Inn and I highly recommend it. It was super clean with breakfast included. There was also a great Mexican restaurant nearby called Garibaldi's. The price was a little on the high side but the atmosphere and drinks are fantastic.
Book your excursion:
Since we were traveling with the kids, we opted for tandem kayak rentals at King's Landing. We could have brought our own kayaks for a substantially cheaper rate but decided to use the rental company for a more realistic experience for our readers who do not kayak or board as often as we do and that may not have their own gear. Working one on one with rental companies is very important to us in order to guide you guys in the right direction for the most enjoyable experience. King's Landing also offers guided tours for an additional cost. If you are a beginner kayaker, I recommend a guide. They can ensure that you receive the best experience. King's Landing does offer primitive camping. I usually prefer more of a "glamping" experience so I can not attest to the reviews but I have read that you must paddle to your campsite which is a very long and somewhat strenuous paddle so beware. But for those of you looking for a more glamorous camping experience, there are two cabins in King's Landing that offer luxuries and include your very own kayaks in the nightly rates. When launching off on your day paddle, I recommend taking the path to the right for a scenic paddle. There are several places to pull off to the side so that you can step out for photos and quick dips. This paddle is up stream and takes a little over an hour to get to the end. Be warned that if you are a first time paddler, this upstream paddle will be tiring. Once you turn around you will be going down stream with the current which is way faster and very relaxing and only takes about 30 minutes. Our paddle window reservation was only 2 hours so that was plenty of time but I would say that once you start seeing private docks and residential areas along the stream, turn around. At that point, you have passed the prettiest parts of the paddle and you can use some of your extra time to dip your feet in.
*WARNING* Please be aware that this is Florida and alligators are abundant where there is water. Spring is mating season and during the summer, mother gators are nesting. Both can make for aggressive gators. They tend to enjoy darker and murkier water with little visibility rather than natural clear springs but be very aware, none the less. Keep children and pets within arms reach at all times and stay on guard. Though we did not see any during our own visit, this gator photo here was taken by a guest within the park a couple of years ago. This is their natural habitat. Be super cautious when stepping out of your vessel.
If you are looking for a more unique experience sans kids, Otterpaddle offers SUP (stand up paddle) yoga! Your guide will lead you to an anchor point where you can stay in place while getting in a yoga session. Enjoy the peaceful lull of the stream while connecting with nature. They also offer tours that are kid friendly while accompanied by their guardian but be aware that there is a weight limit per board. See website for more details and visit their Instagram account for some really beautiful photos.
Kelly Park/Rock Springs is practically next door. Entry to the park is a first come, first serve basis, only allowing 140 cars in a day and they do meet capacity daily. It was full the Saturday that we were at King's Landing. Tubes can be rented at the restaurant, Rock Springs Bar & Grill, just before you get to the park or you can bring your own to tube down the river. This was not something that we had time to do on our very short getaway, but several locals told us it was loads of fun. If it's something you'd like to experience, be sure to go early in the morning to secure an entry spot.
Incredible at a low cost!
The total cost was just under $200 for our family of four! That excluded our meals but INcluded one breakfast. Obviously this trip can be modified to stay more nights for more money. But for those who are looking for a weekend trip that transports you to a jungle-like adventure with crystal clear water and abundant wild life, this is the trip for you. Keep in mind the distance you may have to drive for this trip. King's Landing is 4 hours from where we live. Our limit for one-night trips maxes out at that distance. If you are driving a longer distance than that, I tend to encourage people to stay more than just one night. If you'd like your trip to be longer with more money to spend, Walt Disney World is just a 45 min drive away!
We were able to find a few great places near Apopka, Florida that offered stellar food selections. Specifically just outside of Kings Landing, there is the Hog and Dog, which is a restaurant that offers so many delicious items including ribs and barbecue along with, wait for it... hotdogs! The weekends at this little eatery offer brunch selections as well! Order the grits and brisket and thank me later. It was so good, I took it with me on my kayak to snack on. It comes in an aluminum to-go box. That is important because King's Landing has a strict no styrofoam policy. (As they should) Remember not to litter. If you brought it, don't leave it.
Just outside of our hotel was a Mexican restaurant called Garibaldi, that had an atmosphere like no other Mexican restaurant I have ever ate at. The setting is very trendy and relaxing with delicious drinks and even more delicious food options. The price here was a little high, in my personal opinion, but the food, drinks and service live up to the hype.
If you would like something that has a bit of a famous reputation, in my opinion, you must visit Mount Dora and eat at Wave Asian Bistro and Sushi. It was about a 25 minute drive from our hotel and worth every single mile. I have to credit my favorite foodie girl, Christina with @somehowimnotfat, for recommending this incredible find!! The crunch wrap was to die for, and the sushi was so amazing that we ended up ordering extra and buying a cooler nearby to bring it home with us! It fully gave meaning to the phrase, "nom nom"!
Near our hotel was a free public park called Minnehaha Park in Maitland, Florida. This park has a short board walk that boasts views of water, a playground, and areas to picnic. If you're looking for an hour or two to pass while also running that last bit of energy out of the kiddos, definitely visit this park for some laid back fun that is totally free!
So as you can see, a trip to King's Landing, Apopka Florida can be a very affordable trip and depending on where you are traveling from, a very short and easy trip at that. Remember to use your rewards if you have them, and bring your own gear if you can, and this trip could be even more affordable. Cheers!
The Adventurous Alfords