Florida ideas, wk2 after wk at parks(15 Posts)
Looking for ideas for week 2 of our holiday after we will have spent a week at Disney/ Universal et al. Looking for a contrast - more natural beauty, some R&R but have 3 kids 7-11 who will want to keep busy and see things as well as pool/beach time. Is it too far to go to Keys? Or if Keys where would you stay? Where else would give this kind of thing. Have reasonable budget so looking at 4* plus kind of level (but there is a budget so not limitless!)
Also any tips to max time in the parks and minimise queuing time would be great too.
There are lots of Alligator farms which are just amazing. I still remember seeing an absolutely massive alligator -really more dinosaur than anything else. The Kenedy Space station is worth a visit.
The East coast and West coast are very different in feel but the beaches on both are amazing. Can you do a bit of a road trip to get the feel of both? Miami or Boca Ratone vs Sarasota for example (4 hours drive).
Can you drive a boat? The canals and lakes are really fun to poodle around on. If not then a trip out to the Everglades on one of those floating boats are great.
I don't think the Keys are the most fun for kids but lots of people seem to really love them.
It's a long long way to the Keys from Orlando (6 hours - may be more if the traffic is bad - once you're on the Keys it's just one road all the way down). It's also really really hot there in the Summer. Key West in particular is absolutely packed in July/August and I'm not sure it's that much fun for kids either. If you are still keen to go - we stayed in Marathon once which is about halfway down the keys at a lovely resort called Tranquillity Bay www.tranquilitybay.com/?NCK=tabl-tranquilitybay&chebs=tabl-tranquilitybay good family pools, spacious houses, beach activities etc. It's really near to the Dolphin Research centre where they rehabilitate and rehome dolphins injured or rescued. You can swim with them and interact, but they don't do tricks for a hundred seater theatre so your conscience feels clearer. There's also a turtle hospital next door. The hotel has lots of facilities and I'd say you could happily spend a week using Marathon as your base.
However, you could also go somewhere like Naples/Marco Island which is on the gulf coast and is very family friendly. Lots to do and great hotels (Trip Advisor has the run down of the nicest hotels). I'd say you're looking at 3 - 4 hours to drive from Orlando. Fishing, boat trips, Manatee and dolphin spotting, shell hunting and lovely beaches - there's a lot to do round there.
There are natural artesian springs dotted around central Florida. It is well worth spending a day at one. Cheap too! Go to Publix and buy a picnic (great subs and fried chicken), put your bathing suits on and drive out to an old fashioned swimming hole for the day.
Lots of choices down the west coast, Anna Maria Island, Marco Island, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Naples And if you stay towards the south of this coast, it's an easy drive to the Everglades for day trips or an overnight stay.
TBH, I wouldn't do a week straight at the parks (we did five days straight and that was plenty!). If you've got two weeks why not mix things up a bit and do parks interspersed with days doing other stuff?
For instance: Gatorland, Orlando Science Center, Winter Park boat tour, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Brevard Zoo, Anastasia Island, Boggy Creek airboat tour ....
There is a lot more to the Orlando area than just the Disney/Universal parks.
We went to Busch Gardens for the day from Orlando. It is a zoo and a bit of a theme park. But the interest for us was the Animal Hospital there - dd is interested in vets and you can view the zoo vets at work in the Animal Hospital.
I think Ft Lauderdale is great, no need for a car, get the bus to largest mall in American, well it was when I was there. Coach trips to the Everglades, Seminole India village and the beach!
I know we went canoeing on a creek a bit north of Orlando, with a guide pointing out the local nature, flora and fauna (including turtles, crocodiles and lots of different birds). Ended with a swim in a water hole with a rope swing over it, which DD and various teen boys of another family there loved. (I cannot remember the name of it, sorry).
A day or even 2 at NASA (Kennedy Space Centre) is well worth it.
Sounds like "tubing" BiddyPop. Those would have been alligators, not crocodiles.
BlueSprings is nice and it is a reasonable drive from the Orlando area. More info here, plus you can look up other state parks.
Depending on when you are going to be there you could go to a rodeo. Try the Kissimmee Rodeo or SilverSpurs rodeo which are in the Orlando area:
Remember that Miami and the Florida Keys tend to be geared towards adults rather than kids.
We're doing a similar thing and heading to Treasure Island for the R&R part. No such budget here though so doing an AirBnB with a lovely wee beach house.
I have been advised by friends (we plan to go when youngest is about 8 - 7 more years to go!) not to cram everything into a week.
I was advised to spend a day at a park then the next day as a day of rest in the villa/hotel etc.
We did that when we went to Turkey. We planned trips so that we had 1 or 2 days rest in between because trips can be very draining.
People I know do twin-center holidays with a week at International Drive where everything is more or less accessible and then a week on the West Coast having a beach holiday.
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