🙂 = Very kid-friendly and family-friendly atmosphere. Various food options for every kind of foodie. Lots of space to play and relax. Beautiful views. Live music. Plenty of room for strollers/wagons/etc.
🙁 = Free parking spaces are limited, but there are plenty of paid spaces for a daily rate of $5. There are no high chairs or kid’s menus.
If you want to get a genuine sense of Orlando, the Farmer’s Market at Lake Eola is the place to go. The market is only open on Sundays from 10am-4pm. There are foodies of all ages enjoying the beautiful views of Lake Eola and enjoying food and crafts. You can get everything from funnel cakes to fresh fruit. There are vendors offering potted orchids, Italian ice, fresh coconuts, and there is even a place to take pictures with parrots. There are musicians, chefs, farmers, crafters, massage stations, and so much more!
There is also (usually) a live band or musician and lots of space to run around and play! The park boasts a playground with swings, slides, and a climbing wall, and it has lots of benches for moms and dads to watch their toddler foodies play. The bathrooms are public, but there are lots of stalls and one changing table. There are no formal kids menus at any of the vendors, but you get to pick where you want to eat and you can build your own meal from several different places all at once!
If you’re going to bring your toddler foodie, you have to plan ahead more than you would when you’re planning to take your little one to a conventional restaurant. There are various seating areas around, but the chairs and benches may not be ideal for your kiddo. There are no high chairs and many of the toddler foodies we saw were having lunch while sitting in their strollers. It can get pretty crowded around peak times (11am-2pm), so depending on the time you arrive you may have trouble securing a table. The crowds start to dwindle around 2pm, but you can come at any time AND still enjoy all the food the farmer’s market offers! How? Have a PICNIC! That’s right, Toddler Foodies – Orlando is going to help you have the best time EVER by giving you tips on how to host a picnic while enjoying the foodie goodness a farmer’s market has to offer. Like any good picnic, it starts with being able to surrender all germ-phobias :).
Pre-Picnic Packing List: Before you head to the lake, we recommend packing the following FIVE essentials to help make your trip easy, breezy and tons of fun!
- Blanket (you may want to pack 2 for extra cushion).
- Sippy Cup (cold drinks are not hard to find, but the cups are not always toddler friendly or spill-proof).
- Cash. (Some vendors accept cards, but cash is best. There is an ATM on site.)
- Paper/plastic bags to dispose of trash/recyclables.
- Stroller fan (optional)
Tip: There is a Publix Supermarket nearby if you forget something from the list.
As for wardrobe options, you want to remain as cool as possible so we recommend dressing in breathable fabrics like linen and cotton. The Florida heat is very unforgiving so if you’re going to be outside you want to try to stay cool and comfortable. Also, consider that your toddler foodie may want to run around in the grass, so closed toed shoes may be the best option for them.
Choosing Food: When you arrive we recommend taking one lap around the whole market to get an idea of what is offered. The cuisine ranges from Jamaican Jerk Chicken (delicious!) to award winning BBQ to burgers, tacos, and some vegan options as well. There is something for everyone. Take notice of all the food and fruit stands and make a mental note of things you and your toddler foodie will want to try.
Tip: Most of the food vendors are near the center area with many of the crafty vendors in the middle and then more food vendors on the outside.
Here is what we ate:
A crepe from The Crepe Company for an appetizer. They offer entrée crepes like turkey, ham, and cheese. They also offer sweet crepes like the Nutella, banana, and strawberries one we had. It was so good!!! On any other day, you can catch their food truck around Orlando. Check their website for locations!
Smokey Jays BBQ. They are an award winning BBQ offering their renditions of barbecue pork, chicken and beed brisket. They serve the food in a cup which makes it much easier to enjoy while on the go. The sides are pork and beans, mac and cheese, cole slaw, and sometimes they have rice. We can see why their food has won so many awards! My tastebuds did a happy dance! We’re told they are raising money to open a brick and mortar restaurant, but in the mean time you can contact them by visiting their website.
Fresh peaches from SallyTomato for dessert. Sally and John have a wide selection of fresh fruit and veggies ranging from mangoes to plums, and tomatoes to avocados. The peaches are so juicy and sweet I ate two all by myself!
After you choose your food options, it is time to set up your picnic. The whole space around Lake Eola is so beautiful you may find it challenging to pick one spot. We chose to set up our picnic in front of the Administration Building facing the playground. There are options to set up closer to the lake, but we wanted to take advantage of the shade the building and the large trees in the field offered. After all, the high was 101 degrees!
Although the vendors pack up at 4pm, there are still lots of families there well after the market closes. The parking can be a pain, but there is free parallel parking on the streets close to the lake and at least two lots and one garage that charge $5 for a parking spot all day.
Other Activities: There are swan boats available for rent, and there is donation based yoga that happens every Sunday morning at 11am as well. There is plenty of beautiful green space, (real) swans are everywhere, and the people watching options are endless!