If you ask me for some ideas for a holiday date night in Orlando this time of year, the first thing that will come out of my mouth will be GAYLORD PALMS. In my humble opinion this is the best spot for a value-packed, festive-filled night out with your honey.
When you arrive at this palatial 63-acre resort, self-park your car and make sure to bring your ticket into the hotel with you. WHY? Because self-parking ($18) will be validated as soon as you spend at least $24 at any of Gaylord’s restaurants.
You can splurge and have dinner at Old Hickory Steakhouse, which is perched over the 4-acre atrium’s Everglades wing. Or you can snuggle into the ship at Sunset Sam’s where tarpon swim below and twinkling lights reflect in the shimmering waters.
SORA, a Japanese eatery in the center of the hotel’s atrium, will put you in the heart of Gaylord’s fabulous holiday aesthetic. Snag a seat and enjoy sushi and cocktails while you take in the festive scene set aglow with 2 million twinkling lights and an astounding 54-foot Christmas tree.
Afterward, head over to the concierge desk and ask for the clues to this year’s Great Reindeer Roundup. You’ll spend about an hour giddily wandering through the hotel looking for the elusive reindeers hidden in hard-to-see spots.
On most nights, the hotel presents a series of free holiday shows, which blend a live band and singers with an awe-inspiring aerial show. Grab a seat by the stage and enjoy the holiday tunes and spectacular aerial feats.
Of course, who could forget that ICE!, the annual frozen attraction, is also taking place over at Gaylord’s Holiday Hall. Inside this 9-degree space more than 2 million pounds of ice has been hand-carved into a winter wonderland. Be sure to order your tickets online and use the Florida Resident code FLR13 for a $4 discount on tickets. Specially priced overnight packages provide further discounts.
On Sunday, December 8 (7 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.), the Orlando Polar Bear Plunge returns to Gaylord when participants dressed in swimsuit or summer attire will race through this chilly world, likely laughing all the way. Tickets, which are $18.99, are available online.
Spa lovers might consider booking one or more of the ICE!-Inspired Treatments now available at Relâche Spa. That list includes a Fire & Ice Facial and the ICE! Mani/Pedi.
All of Gaylord’s holiday happenings are taking place now through January 5, 2014. Be sure to add this must-do festive event to your Christmas bucket list.