Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Going to Florida Gluten-Free Part 1

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden
I'm going to highlight for you some of the places we visited in Florida and some of the places we ate at while we were there.

First off, if you have a connecting flight and there is a Five Guys at the airport and you are gluten-free, go eat at Five Guys. The Washington-Dulles airport has two Five Guys (one in the B terminal and one in the A terminal) and, with the exception of the bun, everything is gluten-free. That includes the fries. The burgers are delicious, even when you are eating one without the bun.

Now, once you are in Florida, what do you plan to do? I've been to Florida numerous times. My family went to Disney World on vacation all the time when I was a kid, and we did all the surrounding theme parks and beaches. You'd think there would be nothing left for me to see, but you would be wrong. I'd never been to the Kennedy Space Center, so my husband and I made that our first stop on our Florida vacation.

Our hotel in Lake Buena Vista (Quality Inn & Suites) was right near Disney World and Universal Studios and only an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center. (Our hotel was also in a prime restaurant spot, but more on that later.)

FYI: If you are a teacher or member of the military, you can get discounted tickets. That's what we did.

Space Shuttle Endeavor from the back
Upon arriving, you enter the visitor's center, which has a Rocket Garden, play areas for kids, and two IMAX theaters. The main attraction is the 90-minute to 2-hour tour. A shuttle bus takes you over to where the real NASA magic happens. First you go to an observatory deck to see the two space shuttle launch pads. When we were there, the space shuttle Endeavor was set up but we couldn't see it very well because it's back was toward us. The second tour stop is the Saturn V building where you watch a cool movie about the start of the U.S. space program, see the back-up shuttle for Apollo 8, touch a moon rock, and essentially marvel at how anyone was able to figure out just how to get anything up into space.

Unfortunately, Kennedy Space Center food venues are not gluten-free. However, the center does allow reentry, so just get your hand stamped at the exit, go out to your car, grab your cooler of food, and sit at the picnic tables in front of the bus parking lot. When you're done eating, you just go back to the main entrance (you'll have to go through security again), show them your stamped hand and you're back in! That's what we did and it saved us a lot of money on food.

inside the Saturn V building
For dinner, we lucked out. There was every restaurant imaginable near our hotel, including ones I haven't seen in years, such as Shoney's and Ponderosa. For non-gluten eaters, the array of restaurants is perfect. We ate at UNO, which offers gluten-free pizza and a delicious regular deep dish pizza. We love that place!

Our hotel room also had a full kitchenette, which made it possible for us to buy and store gluten-free breakfast and lunch items. The hotel also offered a free hot breakfast every morning and the yogurt they had out said "gluten-free" right on the packaging. The hotel probably didn't even know it, but I thought that was great because our first morning there, we hadn't gone to Walmart to get my husband's cereal yet and so he ate two cups of the yogurt.

Up next... Busch Gardens, gluten-free baseball, Islands of Adventure, and more!

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