When you think of Florida and a Family Vacation chances are you think straight to Orlando and Walt Disney World or Universal Studios. Florida is much more than those two places. Even a short drive outside of Orlando can be a fun and exciting day.
We don’t want to just look outside Orlando. We want to see what the State has to offer for the whole family. From the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast. From the Space Coast to the Panhandle and down to the Keys. It’s time to stop thinking Florida is just Walt Disney World when it comes to a family vacation.
Florida is a great place to visit at any time of the year. The summers are hotter than the sun but the winters can get pretty warm. Just know that anytime is a good time to go if you are with your family.
Now get ready to plan your next Florida vacation without stopping in Orlando. Or if you are visiting Orlando. Plan a day trip or two to one of these wonderful family friendly areas. Don’t forget most of these areas will have some kind of zoo, aquarium, or wildlife area that your family will love as well.
This place is awe-inspiring. It may not look like much but this place is full of mystery. How did the stones get there? Did he really do it all by himself? Can one man really do that with no help?
From Orlando, it will take you around 4 hours to get to Coral Castle. But boy is it worth it. This place will leave a lasting impression on you and your family. Maybe you will be the one to unlock the secrets.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 4 HOURS
Right here you have a week-long vacation in itself. The amount of things to see and do is mind-blowing. From the Tampa CityPASS (Learn more), to the beautiful beaches of Clearwater to the Guinness World Record holder for most consecutive days of sunshine in St. Petersburg.
The white sand beaches are amazing. Busch Gardens has more thrill rides than Universal or Walt Disney World. Plus who doesn’t want to meet a movie star? I’m talking about Winter the Dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies over at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Each area could be a mini vacation on its own. We just wanted to put as many cool and fun places on our list and figured 12 was a weird number so we went with 10. One really cool and unique thing to do would be to find all the different dolphin statues. You can find one at the Florida Welcome Center off of I-95 and many, many more in and around Clearwater.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 2 HOURS
Kennedy Space Center
If you or anyone in your family loves looking up at the night sky. Kennedy Space Center is the place to go. For someone who loves space this place is amazing. From seeing all the different rockets used to get man to the moon, to seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
WOW let me tell you how cool the show is right before you see the space shuttle. I’m still trying to figure out what happened.
With the new space race upon us, there is no better time than to visit Kennedy Space Center. If you are lucky enough to go during a launch you will be in for a treat. One thing on my bucket list is to watch a night launch in person.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 1 HOUR
Daytona is more than just the home of the Daytona 500. It is full of amazing museums like the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Some of the best beaches on the east coast. Daytona is also home to the tallest lighthouse in Florida.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse soars 175 feet into the air. Can you make it to the top? If you do you will be rewarded with some of the best views Florida has to offer.
When visiting Daytona try to avoid race weekends. Fans from all across the country come to see the Daytona 500. It’s Nascar’s biggest race of the year and one of the best too.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 1 HOUR
Pensacola is located on the Florida Panhandle and is the westernmost city in Florida. Now when most of us think of sunny Florida and the beaches we don’t think of the panhandle. Well, they have some pretty amazing beaches here.
Spend the day relaxing on Langdon Beach. It is a quiet white sand beach. Plus I don’t know about you but I enjoy the Gulf of Mexico’s waters over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 6 ½ HOURS
Now instead of heading northwest from Orlando head South towards the Keys. Once you hit Route 1 in Homestead you will start to see some spectacular views on your left and right. The Overseas Highway is an adventure on its own.
Forget about all the things to see and do along the way down to the southernmost point of the US. Swim with dolphins. Take pictures of sunrise and sunset over the ocean. Of course, who could forget about getting a slice of Key Lime Pie?
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 6 ½ HOURS
Did you know St. Augustine, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the U.S? It’s true. It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish and people have lived here ever since.
Check out the Pirate & Treasure museum for movie props, artifacts, and even scavenger hunts. If you want a little more hands-on head down the road to the Black Raven Pirate Ship. Just imagine what it would be like to sail the Seven Seas on that. It would be pretty amazing.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 2 HOURS
Aruba, Jamaica, Oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go, JamaicaBeach Boys- Kokomo
Whenever I think of Key Largo that song pops in my head. However, Key Largo should be more than a quick line in a song. They have some pretty amazing things to see.
Like the only Coral Reef Park in the US. Take a tour in a glass-bottom boat for something you would only think you could do on one of the Islands. But nope, you can do it in Florida right in Key Largo.
TIME FROM ORLANDO: APPROX 4 ½ HOURS
I’m willing to bet when you think of Florida you think of Disney, Beaches, and the Everglades. You might not even know that’s what you are thinking. That wetland area is full of wildlife and those crazy flat bottom boats.
The Everglades is one of the largest US National Parks. Miles upon miles of hiking trails to explore. Alligators and turtles that are hidden in plain sight or just sitting back along the banks of the marsh. You can even have a unique tour on an airboat. You know the flat bottom boats with the large fan on the back. Just be mindful of where you came from and where you are going. It is a big place.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Possibly the coolest National Park in the US. Maybe even the coolest place to visit in all of the US. You can’t drive here. It’s 70 miles off the coast of Key West. The only way you can get here is by boat or seaplane.
If you can stomach the boat ride out to this 19th-century fort you will do something very few people will ever do in their lives. Do you have what it takes to be one of the few?
Florida is a great state packed full of wonderful and exciting family-friendly places to go. Next time you are planning a vacation to Orlando. Try skipping it and heading to one of these locations. Sure its no Walt Disney World but these locations won’t cost you near as much. You can probably visit all 10 places in two weeks and still save thousands of dollars compared to your Disney Vacation.
Do you ever take a day trip from Orlando? If so where do you go? I will go to either Kennedy Space Center or over to Clearwater. It’s a nice way to break up your theme park days. Plus both are a short drive from Orlando. Take it from me both Universal and WDW are a lot of fun but there is something about visiting other places in Florida too.
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