ORLANDO: Family Fun Abounds Near Orlando Hotels
If wild animals, fun-filled theme parks, lush tropical nature and Mickey Mouse appeal, then booking a hotel in Orlando is a must. With good weather conditions year-round and several of the globe's greatest themed entertainment opportunities, Orlando leaves visitors captivated by its manmade glitz.
When to visit based on priceThe best time to visit Orlando is whenever school is session, because this is a family destination, and that’s when families come. That means plan on visiting between January and March, when the little ones are in school.
Key attractions and having FunThere are so many world famous attractions and theme parks in Orlando area that it’s difficult to know where to start. The truth is, plunk yourself in Orlando and you are guaranteed not to be bored.
Universal Studios is a major draw, with so many different experiences for your pleasure. Where else in the world can you actually star in a Star Wars Adventure movie? If you go, plan to be there when the gates open, and go right to your favorite adventure, before the crowds get there and lines get ridiculous.
Disney World goes without saying is the largest draw in Orlando, with multiple adventures to explore. There’s fun and adventure for all ages, from It’s a Small World which has been bringing smiles to little kiddies for years, to Space Mountain, a ride that can still whiten most faces. Plan more than one day at Disneyworld if possible, because one is never enough.
Then there’s Sea World, where you get to cool off as you are splashed by the dolphins in the show. If you plan ahead and see if you can get a reservation, you can actually get an “in the water tour and swim with Dolphins at Discovery Cove.
If your there in the heat, you may just want to spend a day at a water park. We have just the thing, at the Orlando Wet N Wild Waterpark. One of the best and most fun “rides” in the waterpark is in the “Bubba Tub”.
Another fun adventure that’s sure to pump up your blood pressure Dad is Orlando’s Gatorland Adventure. You actually can latch up to a Zip Line and soar above the alligator breeding marsh containing well over a hundred live toothy jaws just waiting for you to fall. If you’re really brave, how about signing up for “Trainer for a day”? Get “hands on” time with live gators.
If you have ever dreamed of squeezing into a formula one race car and speeding around the racetrack in Daytona, well here is your chance to try. The Richard Petty Driving Experience at Disneyland just might fit the bill, and the seat. With a bit of training you will soon find yourself in the seat of a six hundred-horse power Formula One NASCAR. Zip around the track at speeds up to 100 MPH or more as your wife (or husband) takes a video of a lifetime.
ShoppingIf you need a little shopping time there are multiple options available to you in Orlando. You can find designer brands and many well-known stores at The Mall at Millenia as well as the Florida Mall.
If you’re seeking top designers and exciting fashions, then it’s off to International Drive and Orlando’s Premium Outlet Stores.
Keep in mind that you will have plenty of opportunities for vacation shopping on Main Street, Disneyworld and also Universal Studios. You might even get on the plane home with a new set of “ears”.
NearbyNot far from Orlando, the 450-year-Old city of St. Augustine is quite refreshing after a few days of nothing but busy in Orlando. Stroll the quiet historic streets; sip morning coffee with fresh baked croissants and other baked goods. You’ll find some awesome little boutique stores to wander through. And of course, if you still need a beach fix, you will find over forty miles of beautiful sandy beach.
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One of the best things you can do besides the obvious in Orlando with your young children is take them to the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Wait! Take the kids to a market? Relax; it’s not just a marketplace, although there are great things for you adults there too. But also located here is the LEGO Imaginations Center. Have your camera at the ready as you approach this magical bright store, because your children’s eyes with light up as they see the large purple dragon at the entrance.
Whether your child is pre-school or still living their life as a child at 30, there’s something for everyone. Kids build Lego cars and race, build and play with all things Lego. All that activity and entertainment, and it’s free.
For the whole family, there’s the excitement of Cirque Du Soleil where you all get to hold your breath in anticipation of what’s to come.
There are lots of daily free shows for children at the DJ Kids Dance Party at Waterside Stage, adults at the Raglan Road Live Music-Patio Stage or the adult club at Paradise 37 Entertainment.
Another inexpensive attraction to visit, and almost a “must do” is Florida’s famous Gatorland. You’ll experience hundreds of these nightmare producing ancient creatures, from little “cute” babies for monsters over 20 feet long. You can actually take a Zip-line over a alligator pit is you dare. And the best part is admission can be had with discounts for only $9.99.
A really cooling and relaxing way to end a perfect day, is to grab a coffee or cold drink and visit the Lake Eola Fountain between 8 PM and 9:30 nightly for the exciting and spectacular light show. You might even decide to have a late night picnic with you. The best part is it’s free.
If the summer sun is getting a bit much and you are seeking some indoor activities, we have an excellent suggestion for you, the Orlando Science Center. Here you can explore four floors of exciting exhibits, some with giant screen movies. If you’re lucky enough your family might catch one of the live demonstrations in the Digital Adventure Theater. You also have an opportunity to visit outer space in the Crosby Observatory, where live programs for kids can lead to a career in space exploration.
There is a small charge for admission, but many times they offer free admission. It’s quite the experience and well worth a few dollars.
Check out these free activities in greater Orlando, Florida
The entire market is inside and air cooled for your comfort, and also offers fifteen choices for lunch. Free parking and free admission will start your adventure, and guys, there’s beer on draft to help you relax with Mom “shops till she drops”. Now just to ease you mind, this isn’t your average flea market, offering junk, but one offering booths selling AVON at discount prices, Discount Cellular, multiple pet stores, Graphic Design stores and more.
To make it more of a complete day adventure on a weekend, there’s also a surprise for the kids. Funworld is there too, offering magic acts, acrobatic shows and even a circus.
Take a day trip to beautiful Lake Jesup for a day on the water. While there visit Black Hammock Adventures on Fish Camp Road and check out their airboats while you enjoy the free wildlife show. Featuring alligators, Gold & Blue Macaws, a bull python and turtles. And for that special “selfie” for you and the kids, get your picture taken holding a 3-foot alligator. You also will see up close and personal during the show, “Hammy” their 12-foot alligator.
Interesting note: Lake Jesup is famous for having the largest alligator population of any lake in Florida. Let’s go swimming?
Black Hammock also offers great opportunity for lunch or dinner on the lake, known for having the best fried gator tail in town, and the Lazy Gator Bar and Tiki Bar, both with super happy hours if you adults get thirsty. If the airboats become to exciting to pass up on, it’s still a lot cheaper than admission to other attractions, and well worth it. Just be sure to have your camera ready for that alligator shot of a lifetime.
Take a day trip for an afternoon on a beautiful and quiet beach in the Canaveral National Seashore near the Kennedy Space Center. This trip can be a combination of either the Kennedy Space Center in the morning, followed by a relaxing day for you while the children play on the beach and in safe calm waters. However, there is another option for you, if the beach isn’t sounding so great.
Fort Christmas Historical Park in Christmas, Florida nearby the Space Center is a fun, interesting and learning experience for both children and adults. The park holds a complete replica of the original Fort Christmas and homes around it as they stood during the Seminole Indian Wars between 1835-1842. Your family will learn the history of the Indian wars, as well as what life was like for these early settlers and soldiers.
If you plan your day ahead, bring a picnic lunch or burgers or hot dogs and cooler of beverages along. The park offers three large pavilions and barbeque grills, water and electric outlets. Nearby is a play area with a wooden fort, swings and activities for the youngsters.
If you just can’t get the kids away from the lights, glitter and pizzazz of Walt Disney World, maybe you can at least get some relief from the high costs of being inside it for a half-day, or all day? We’re talking about Disney’s BoardWalk, which is a quarter-mile of unique shops, restaurants and nightlife. Street performers will continually entertain the children, and you can show them how to play the exciting midway games.
Disney’s idea here was to create something as exciting as Atlantic City or the old time Coney Island New York that has entertained the ages. Why, you can even rent a 4 person Surrey bike and cruise up and down the boardwalk. There are choices of sit down dining as well as less expensive grab and go food to enjoy on a bench as you people watch. The Boardwalk Bakery offers excellent sandwiches and like other boardwalks, Disney’s offers pizza slices to go at the Boardwalk Pizza Window.
To get off your feet and catch that ball game with the kids, you just might want to spend some time at the ESPN Club offering excellent food and drinks, as well as a 108-sf television screen in addition to 100 others. Ladies beware, that if you son or husband disappear to the rest room for to long, there are televisions mounted in those as well!