Last week my family paid a visit to Orange City, Florida and the Holiday Inn Express there. If you don’t know where Orange City is, it’s about 45 minutes north east of Orlando International Airport. The hotel is conveniently located right off I4 and just a short drive to Daytona Beach. But we weren’t interested in going to the beach. You see… this section of Central Florida is rich in history and what I like to refer to as “the real Florida”. More on that later.
The first thing we noticed…lots and lots of restaurants. Score! Two of our favorites were very close by. One was right across the street (Tijuana Flats) and the other right down the road next to shopping (Woody’s BBQ). There was a Bob Evans within walking distance as was Sonic and Chik-fil-A.
This Holiday Inn Express was neat and tidy and everything that you want your home away from home to be. This location serves a hot breakfast from 6:30-10am. The highlight of the breakfast for us was the pancake machine. In lieu of the heavy and sometime messy and complicated waffle machines, this location had a pancake machine. Simply press a button and within a minute two hot fresh cakes fly down the conveyor belt and onto your plate.
The breakfast alone is worth staying at the Holiday Inn Orange City. There were other options including bacon, eggs, sausage gravy and biscuits, bagels, muffins, cereal, cinnamon rolls, fruit, English muffins and oatmeal. This is a huge savings for larger families traveling together.
Our room was located on the top floor of the hotel and was equipped with a fridge and microwave. The bathroom was rather large and the beds were super comfortable.
I LOVED the fact that there was a selection of pillows. This is a major issue with me traveling. I use a feather pillow at home and will sometimes wake up with a migraine from firmer pillows in hotels. See…they are even labeled…
Another MAJOR perk. Free WiFi. Knock a few more dollars off the cost of the room right there. On top of the free breakfast for everyone in your party, you can save even more here with the free WiFi. The room was equipped with a small sitting area with a table and two chairs as well as a desk work station. Our work chair was a bit fussy and would not stay in its adjusted position. I’m sure management would have taken care of this right away had I asked them to.
We really enjoyed swimming in the pool. It’s Florida and there are bugs. The pool has a screened enclosure and has to be accessed with a room key so that was a big plus. There was also a hot tub.
The pool had lounge chairs as well as sitting chairs and umbrellas. I was happy to find that the wifi worked at the pool as well and I got some work done while my daughter enjoyed swimming….and doing handstands.
I had mentioned before that this area of Florida was “the real Florida”. And our main focus on this visit was to visit a place near and dear to my heart…Blue Springs State Park. About 10 minutes down the road you will find one of Florida’s hidden treasures. A natural spring with a constant temperature of 72 degrees which is a refuge for the West Indian Manatee. While it’s posted that swimming with the manatees is NOT permitted, there were two curious manatees that actually came into the designated swimming area and we got a chance to see them up close and personal.
That dark shadow in the water is a manatee…don’t worry, they don’t bite…they’re vegetarians.
Later on the evening we took a 10 minute drive in the other direction from the Holiday Inn Express Orange City and ate dinner at one of the most delicious spots on the St. Johns River called the Swamp House Grill (488 W Highbanks Rd, De Bary, Florida 32713). It was karaoke night so it was a ton of fun. We got to watch the sun set over the water and eat some of the best food including clam chowder, fried pickles, lobster pasta and steak!
This was the view from our dinner table. We even spotted a few gators swimming around that night!
There’s lots to do in the Orange City area. The hotel is far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks but yet close enough to get there if you want to visit for the day. It’s also a short drive to the east coast beaches and minutes from a few of Florida’s natural springs. We also hit up a local bowling alley the first night we were there and let me iterate again the plethora of dining options that are available around the hotel property. I would definitely stay at the Holiday Inn Express Orange City again. The resort is located at 1330 Saxon Boulevard, Orange City, FL 32763 and the phone number there is (386) 917-0004. Rates start at around $78.