Family Travel

Get into the Christmas Spirit at Gaylord Palms by JD Andrews

Christmas at Gaylord Palms:
November 21, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
6000 West Osceola Parkway · Kissimmee, Florida 34746

"It's a holiday tradition" my daughter told me and she's right. For the last three years we have been greatful for the invitation to the opening of ICE at Gaylord Palms in Orlando.

The entire property is beautiful decorated with holiday lights and accessories.

There's an amazing 60-foot-tall Christmas tree with more than 2 million twinkling lights that towers over the Cirque Dreams Unwrapped Stage Show. The entire family can enjoy this uniquely inspired 25-minute Christmas dream.

Then you must see ICE! featuring Christmas Around the World!
Travel the globe and experience the magic and traditions of Christmas Around the World in more than two million pounds of ice!

ICE! is an indoor winter wonderland kept at a chilly 9 degrees featuring:

  • Two million pounds of ice sculptures hand-carved by artisans from Harbin, China.
  • Five ice slides, plus interactive Christmas displays and photo opportunities.
  • Scenes of holiday celebrations from around the world.
  • The Frostbite Factory — a live carving zone showcasing ice artisans.
  • Breath-taking Nativity scene carved from crystal-clear ice.

We are always so excited to see what's new each year and we enjoy all the holiday festivities - Including the Alpine Village where I watch my daughter zoom down the tubing hill over and over and over. And she loves throwing the snow balls at the fun interactive targets since we don't get much snow here in Florida.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms Highlights Video
Take a sneak peek into all the wonder and excitement that awaits you during Christmas at Gaylord Palms!

There's so many events and activities going on:

JOYFUL Atrium Light Show
Sounds of the Season Concert Series
Photos with Santa
Painting with a Twist
Christmas Tree Trail
Jack & Jackie Frost: Warm Up The Winter
Build-A-Bear Workshop® Scavenger Hunt
Mrs. Claus' Christmas Traditions
Gingerbread Decorating Corner
Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends

Have a very Merry Christmas and New Year! 

The Wonderful World of Nemacolin by JD Andrews

When I told my daughter we were invited to stay at a hotel in Southwestern Pennsylvania named Nemacolin she asked "does it have a pool?" Answer: Yes. She was happy!

Chateau Lafayette

But Nemacolin is SO much more...

Located on 2000 acres (yep, 2000) in Southwestern Pennsylvania, 70 miles from Pittsburgh, is.. well a... ummm. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with what exactly Nemacolin is so let me start by listing. Yes a list, of everything that is there so you can see why it starts to become overwhelming.

Five lodging options - Falling Rock, Chateau Lafayette, The Lodge, Townhouse and there are even private homes on the property.

We stayed in Chateau Lafayette more on that later, on with the list.

  • 18-hole, Pete Dye-designed Championship Golf Course
  • Huge Spa
  • Healing Center
  • Kids Spa
  • Fitness Center (yep, huge)
  • 4 Pools (my daughter was thrilled)
  • Tennis court, Squash court (I'm not even sure of what that is), Croquet Court and Shuffleboard.
  • Shooting Academy, Archery and Fly Fishing
  • Jeep off road Academy
  • Wildlife Academy - Like a zoo with 100 animals!
  • Horseback & Pony Rides, Carriage Rides
  • Hardy Girls Gym - 8,400' Olympic caliber facilit
  • Mountain Biking
  • SuperFlyer Zip Line - 3,000ft
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ropes Course
  • Paintball
  • Are you starting to understand now why it's SO hard to describe this place?
  • Miniature Golf, Disc Golf
  • Bowling
  • Arcade
  • Kidz Klub (yes spelled that way, auto correct went nuts)
  • Mystic Mountain - Seven slopes of downhill Skiing (What? Skiing, yep! and Snowboarding)
  • Snow Tubing, shoeing, cross-country skiing and Dog Sledding
  • Wine Tasting, Wine Cellar
  • Art Collection worth 45 Million Dollars (cha-ching)
  • Museum Collection of Airplanes and Cars
  • 15 Dining Options including the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Lautrec Restaurant
  • 10 Lounges
  • Casino - Yes, a real casino with 600 slot machines and 28 table games
  • 32,000-square-foot Conference Center with 25 meeting rooms
  • Airfield (I you have a private plane, you can land right on property, Taylor Swift did)
  • I'm sure I missed a few...
So needless to say, my Daughter and I had a lot to do!

The entire property is luxurious and beautiful but still family friendly, with so many things for kids to do. But there are also many adult only areas if you need to get away.

Our room was located in Chateau Lafayette and it was huge (like everything else) and it had a fireplace which my little warm blooded Florida girl loved!

The outside is designed and inspired by the Ritz in Paris.

In the lobby there are many beautiful Chandeliers which are all Waterford Crystal.

Amazing art is seen throughout the property inside and out.

I believe experiences are more important than 'stuff' so bringing my daughter on wonderful trips like this is priceless. She surprises me on each adventure. She always tries new things, new foods and up for anything. I couldn't believe that she jumped from a 60ft platform (in a harness with supervision) and was laughing and smiling all the way down, my brave girl!

She also has an opportunity to get pampered getting her nails painted at The Grove, Nemacolin's Kidz Spa, for our big night in the five star restaurant Lautrec, for the dessert tasting. There she got the opportunity to meet the award winning Chef Butterworth (yes that's her real name) and see behind the scenes in the kitchen.

The staff was incredible and helped make this the perfect Daddy/Daughter trip. Making lifetime memories of incredible experiences!

The Name: Nemacolin.  I was told it's the name of a famous Delaware Indian Chief from 1740 who created a trail that was the most direct route from East to West. That trail became the National Highway and is now called Route 40.

All in the Family: The Owner was Joseph A. Hardy, III, founder of 84 Lumber Company. In 2002, Hardy transferred full ownership of the resort to his daughter, Maggie Hardy-Magerko, who serves as President and Owner, and continues to grow the resort. 

RES. 866.344.6957

Disclosure: Nemacolin hosted my daughter and I But As Always, all of the opinions expressed here are my own.

First Time Skiing in Keystone Colorado by JD Andrews

Growing up in the mountains of Colorado I started skiing around four or five but my daughter is a 'beach girl' and has never even seen snow (she's not a fan of the cold). 

Her First Snow Angel 

Her First Snow Angel 

So I was very excited to take her to keystone Resort for her very first time skiing.

Perfect Day in Beautiful Keystone Colorado

Perfect Day in Beautiful Keystone Colorado

I knew the best option for her was beginner ski school. It's an all day lesson with lots of breaks for hot chocolate and even lunch.

First Time Skiing

First Time Skiing

I was a little worried she would get cold and want to quick or just become to tiered and frustrated. BUT to my amazement she loved it and wanted another lesson the next day! I knew this excitement was a result of the wonderful instructors at Keystone. Also there's Kidtopia which has tons of events each day for kids (and parents) to participate in.

The Bunny Course

The Bunny Course

On the third day we all skied together (on the bunny course) and I was blown away by how well my daughter could ski after only two lessons. Next year she wants to try snowboarding. I told her we would be at the same level since I've only snowboarded once and I didn't do so well.

Ready to Hit the Slopes

Ready to Hit the Slopes

The reason I wanted my daughters first "snow/ski' experience to be at Keystone was due to all the fun activities there are there.

Including ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides.


We all created lasting memories and can't wait until next year!


Keystone Resort was kind enough to comp one day of lessons, lift tickets plus tickets for ice skating and the sleigh ride but as always, all opinion are completely my own.