Nestled about an hour north of Orlando in DeLeon Springs State Park, is a hidden gem that is truly a treat; the Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House.
My kids LOVE pancakes. From the time Josiah could eat solid foods, he could put away more pancakes than I could. They would eat them anytime of day and are beyond thrilled when I attempt to make them into different shapes (Mickey Mouse is pretty much the best I can do). So, this past weekend, it made sense that we go check out this unique pancake house.
A little bit of history.
The Pancake House sits behind the Ponce De Leon Spring, a natural spring named after the famous explorer who set foot in Florida in 1513. Today, the spring is the centerpiece of DeLeon Springs State Park, a popular spot for canoeing, swimming and picnicking. According to the restaurant’s website, the original mill was built in the 1830’s to crush sugar cane, but the building was built around 1900, after the original mill was battered in the Second Seminole War and the Civil War.
The Pancake House today.
Today, the family-owned restaurant delights pancake lovers ( like my kiddos) with all you can eat pancakes, that you cook at your very own personal griddle. You do have to pay the $6 per car fee to enter the State Park, which we don’t mind because it supports the upkeep of the Springs.
Brought to your table in super cute pitchers are two different types of pancake batter; their original batter, and a whole grain, buckwheat batter. They also serve a gluten-free batter, so I was able to enjoy the experience, as well (and get my own pitcher of batter to myself!).
At first, I was a little nervous about having my little ones close to the hot griddle. However, our server was very informative and the plates and utensils provided a good barrier. We didn’t have an issue with the kids being too close. They did want to flip their own pancakes, which we helped them to do safely.
Because the pancakes are all you can eat, you pay per person. Children 6 and under are free with every adult pancake purchase. This perk helped make the overall price ($4.95 per person, $5.95 for my gluten-free) fairly reasonable for our family. Toppings are extra, but we found the dishes of individual toppings to be more than enough for our meal. To add to the value, you can choose between local, Florida honey, all-natural ( no high fructose grossness) maple syrup, and pure molasses to sweeten your pancakes.
All in all
The service was exceptional, the pancakes were delicious and the experience was fun for the kids. Open from 8-5 most days ( serving ends at 4:00 p.m.), you will be able to nosh away whenever your desire. You may wait longer as the day wears on, though. Plus, if pancakes are not your thing, they have a full menu with other offerings.
The only downside is that the restaurant is not air-conditioned. Paired with the heat from the griddles, it made the dining experience a little toasty. This is absolutely no-fault of the restaurant and I definitely would recommend this spot as a fun, unique family activity. The heat is just something to consider if you plan on going on a super hot day ( like we did). However, if you dry off after jumping into the decently cool spring, the restaurant would be a nice warm reprieve. This would also make an awesome breakfast spot when it gets chilly in winter mornings ( and, yes, we do have those come January).
Upon leaving, you can visit their gift shop, or grab a homemade baked good to go.
Don’t feel like you will be in Florida long enough to drive an hour north? Check out my post on unique budget and kid-friendly Orlando activities!