Read on to discover how to make the most out of winter workamping in Florida…on a budget.
While workamping at Avon Park AFR in south central Florida we have stayed pretty close to our campground. But recently we’ve had the opportunity to see more of Florida, specifically; Orlando, Tampa and Cape Coral.
Making a day trip to accomplish more than one task or visit more than one destination is one way to stretch the gas budget! Mark has had several VA appointments recently and this has allowed us to see some great Florida State Parks, beaches and attractions.
In Orlando for an appointment recently, we enjoyed visiting Disney Springs. This large shopping and entertainment area is the size of a small city with bowling alleys, movie theaters, 104 various shops, 64 restaurants and 23 attractions, shows or events. I would describe it as a small, budget friendly, taste of Disney World. We parked in one of the three large parking garages on site. There are no parking or admission fees so we walked around, shopped and people-watched for most of the afternoon, then ate dinner at one of the many themed restaurants, The Rain Forest Cafe. The Cafe looks like a huge volcano from the outside – it even erupts every hour. Once inside, we felt like we were in a rain forest with lots of bright aquariums throughout and we had the option of eating on the covered deck overlooking a lake. Even though the menu was NOT budget friendly, we splurged since it was almost Valentines’ Day and the cost of the meal was still MUCH less than tickets to Disney World!
After dinner we caught one of the free buses at the Disney Springs town center that took us to the Polynesian Resort. The Polynesian is a Disney-owned resort with restaurants and gift shops and of course people pay big bucks to stay overnight in these lovely accommodations. We just wanted to walk through, enjoy the ambiance and see what it was like. Outside the Polynesian we caught the monorail, another “freebie.” We rode the loop through Disney World and saw the lights of the castles and rides and then got off at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort to check it out.
It was definitely GRAND! FANCY and FABULOUS would certainly describe it too! With the grand piano playing in the lobby, the high-end decorations and marble floor tile… everything about the Grand Floridian Resort is over the top beautiful. We browsed through a couple of the gift shops then walked out to the beach behind it and we were able to view some amazing fireworks there (again, FREE.) Disney World has nightly fireworks displays that are visible from several places nearby. After the fireworks we headed back to the campground at Avon Park. Our Day-Trip to Orlando was busy, fun-filled AND productive!
Florida also offers some affordable and amazing state parks. We visited the beach at Honeymoon Island state park after we were nearby at the Bay Springs VA.
This state park is located on a barrier island not far from Tampa and is accessible by a causeway. It received it’s name in 1939 when a developer purchased the island and, together with LIFE magazine, held a contest for newlyweds. The winners had the opportunity to stay in a thatched bungalow for two weeks on Honeymoon Island. For an $8 entry fee per car, you too can now spend some time on Honeymoon Island and we highly recommend it! Bring a picnic lunch, your beach chairs and umbrella and relax on this beautiful beach for a few hours.
We have also recently visited Fort Desoto state park near Tampa and Lovers Key State Park near Bonita Springs. All of these state parks are on the gulf side of Florida and offer miles of soft, white-sand beaches.
On our way back to Avon Park Air Force Range, after exploring the western coast of Florida we visited our Moonshine Creek workamping friends, Robert and Peggy in Alva. We enjoyed catching up with them and they grilled up some great burgers! We left with Canadian “goodies” (Poutine gravy and Maple Syrup) and a Florida Honey Bell orange as well. Thank you for your hospitality Robert and Peggy!
If you ever get the opportunity to visit Florida or workamp here, don’t miss the state parks and gulf beaches. And don’t be afraid to explore Orlando on a budget -there are free or low cost activities and experiences around every corner!