When your kids are a little older, you have a ton of options for where to stay when visiting Central Florida. If you’re looking for somewhere that oozes Florida charm and is a bit more reserved than theme parks, check out Celebration, Florida. I recently got to visit and fell in love. Celebration is a great place to stay with teens in Central Florida both because of its proximity to attractions and how easy it is to give teens some freedom.
What is Celebration, Florida?
Celebration is a planned community contained within the City of Kissimmee. It was originally built by Disney. While the House of Mouse no longer controls the area, the Disney charm and thoughtful planning are evident. There are lakes, residential homes, bike paths, and a picturesque area called Town Center with shops and restaurants and the Bohemian Hotel Celebration (more on that below).
Proximity to Attractions
Celebration is located near all the attractions of Central Florida. It’s about 15 minutes from Walt Disney World Resort give or take, depending on where in the resort you are headed, and only 10 minutes to Disney Springs. It’s around 20 minutes from Universal Studios Florida.
I was a little unsure as to how the traveling back and forth to the theme parks would work, as we have always stayed on property at Disney, but it was ridiculously easy.
An Uber to a character breakfast at The Beach Club and back took around 15 minutes. (Depending on where you’re staying at Disney, you could be on property and it could take the same amount of time.) Getting to Universal was very simple and straightforward, too, and didn’t feel long at all.
Having a little bit of a transition away from the park was actually lovely. It felt nice to be headed somewhere a little different at the end of the day. I think tweens and teens would enjoy the different feel.
As kids get older, they are often up for trying out other adventures in Central Florida, whether that’s a Spirit of the Swamp airboat ride, a trip to the Paddling Center at Shingle Creek, catching a pro sports game in Orlando or even heading to Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral which just one an hour away.
That’s all easily accessible from Celebration, but you don’t even have to leave Celebration if you don’t want to. The Celebration Bike Rental tour was great, or you can head out on your own to explore the 10 miles of trails that go through wetlands and oak savannahs and neighborhoods. (Parents, don’t worry, the trails are crazy flat.)
Freedom to Roam
Celebration is a contained community and very pedestrian friendly. In the Town Center, everything is fairly contained and close by. When out, you see a mix of visitors and Celebration residents, and everyone is very genial.
It’s entirely reasonable to send teens out on their own, whether to walk around the lake to take some great pictures for Instagram or to grab your family beverages at Starbucks (don’t miss the fun Instagram-friendly wall there) or the Sweet Escape bakery just a block away.
And if you’re out to dinner and want to enjoy a drink, teens could head to Kilwins for ice cream or check out the macaron store (my teen’s favorite) or just wander around town.
Where to Stay
The Bohemian Hotel Celebration is located on Lake Rianhard and the red and white striped awnings and coordinating patio furniture offer a warm welcome upon arrival.
Once inside, the artwork that Bohemian hotels are known for is a treat for the eyes. When you enter, you walk into a dining area, and the check-in is handled at a desk in the corner. It gives the feel more of walking into a lovely dinner party.
The hotel was quiet and, after a day at sometimes chaotic theme parks, it is a welcome respite. It felt somehow grown-up, in the best of ways, and in a way that older kids can appreciate. The room was comfortable and bright.
I very much enjoyed sitting on the balcony overlooking the lake. There is a pool and while it’s small, chance are it will do the trick for teens who are more into chilling than cannonball contests.
Where to Eat
Definitely plan to dine at the Columbia Restaurant. The Columbia is the oldest restaurant in Florida (that original one in in Tampa’s Ybor City). The founding family still owns it. Eating there is an opportunity to get a true taste of Florida – literally. The Columbia is famous for its 1905 salad, named forth year the restaurant was founded. It is also known for its Cuban sandwich and crab croquettes. The menu is extensive and your whole family will find something to enjoy.
Celebration feels like more relaxed, more grown-up vacation home base. That’s just what families with tweens and teens are ready for when visiting Central Florida.
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