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Robert Niles
Editor

Vote of the week: Best destination for visiting outside the parks?

Published: February 1, 2008 at 4:14 PM

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days. But here's something to talk about over the weekend.

By the fact that you are on this site, I'm pretty confident that I can assume you like visiting theme parks. But there are other things one can do on a vacation in addition to visiting the parks. I've picked five U.S. destinations with top parks in the Theme Park Insider reader ratings. Of those, which has the best vacation offerings *outside* their theme parks?

Lake Erie and Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame? Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown? Canoeing, the beach and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida? Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Or Los Angeles, with the beach, Beverly Hills and local mountains?

(FWIW, I left the international options off the list because it just seemed too weird to me to throw Paris and Tokyo in as options here. Maybe in a later poll I'll take the top two options here and face 'em off against those cities.)

Pick your choice, then talk about it in the comments.

Replies (10)

Olivier Sanguy

Published: February 2, 2008 at 2:16 AM

The reason that I checked Central Florida is that there is the Kennedy Space Center just an hour ago and that I am a space enthusiast...
And when you combine a WDW area trip with an EPCOT visit (yes, I do still write it in caps...) just before attending a shuttle launch, you get a real glimpse of what the future could be!
The STS-116 shuttle launch I videotaped
Mark Hollamon

Published: February 2, 2008 at 5:41 AM

IT is going to be a long time before Central Florida is not #1.

Not only the theme parks, but there is a huge renovation going on in Orlando for Tourist type spots that are very local friendly as well. Check out Pointe Orlando on I-Drive the next time you are in town! The old mall area just received a $45 million facelift and it is really nice with some new upscale dining and shops!

Disney is forever evolving and USF is catching on! The new SeaWorld water park Aquatica is sure to be a hit this yaer as well.

We cannot forget Kennedy Space Center. It is educational and fun as well. I have seen several launches, but they never lose their splendor!

There's a WHOLE lot of vacation in one spot!

Larry Zimmerman

Published: February 2, 2008 at 7:00 AM

Central Florida also hosts professional major-league sports teams (Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays), excellent museums (MOSI in Tampa, the Salvador Dali museum in St Petersburg), beaches (on both coasts), salt- and fresh-water diving (offshore or in the springs), and is only a couple of hours away from Miami and the swamps of south Florida. There's NASCAR and Grand Prix auto racing (Daytona, Sebring, and the St Petersburg Grand Prix, one of the few remaining races through a downtown area!). Hunting. Fishing. Camping. What else do you do? We do it here in Central Florida, too.
Eric Ey

Published: February 2, 2008 at 8:30 AM

I chose SoCal because not only do you have the Disneyland Resort, you have the Anaheim Resort with many fun features and museums. You also have close access to Knott's, Six Flags, The beach, San Bernadino Mountains, LA, The Honda Center (aka The Pond) with concerts and hockey, Anaheim Stadium, the list goes on and on
Melissa Faulkner

Published: February 2, 2008 at 11:13 AM

I chose the Smokies because its the closest to me. We live about 2 hours from Gatlinburg, so we visit quiet often. We never get tired of the mountains. As the first poster said, we visit Kennedy Space Center once a year and if lived close enough would love to go more often.
Robert OGrosky

Published: February 2, 2008 at 11:31 AM

To me, being a lover of American History it has to be Williamsburg VA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With JamesTown/Colonial Williamsburg/YorkTown right next door to BGE, and then within a very easy drive is Mount Vernon and all the museums in Wash. D.C., besides the Confederate White House in Richmond VA, and so many other historical sites in the general area you cant beat the area for a great placce to ride coasters in BGE/PKD/SFA and then see all the varied historical sites.
So IMHO there is no other part of the country that can give you great rides and great American History experiences!!

claudia maffei

Published: February 2, 2008 at 9:47 PM

I picked Southern Cal because I am a Hollyweird fan. I also love the good ol 90210 zip and the O.C. You also have Catalina island, Universal the original, Magic Mtn. Knotts Berry Farm, Lego Land and all the San Diego things like Sea World. You can tour the stars homes, there are it least 5 Hard Rock Cafe's, beaches that are popular like Hunington for the surfer, of course Malibu and Venice and then shown in numerous shows and movies you have the Santa Monica Pier. Long Beach has the Queen Mary and Aquarium of the Pacific. Then there is Medieval Times and the Pirates Show, Rodeo Drive the Sunset Strip, Chinease Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl. Don't forget the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park. Not too far away is also Palm Springs and the Salt and Sea and Ariel tram as well as tours of the San Andreas fault. :)GOD! I wish we could afford to live there. It is just too much for what you can get in housing and car tags etc... We live in Phoenix (SuperBowl Home tommorrow :) ) Arizona and are only 4-5 hours from Southern Cal. I love it there and you can really never get bored. I have been going there a few times a year for years.
I also love Florida. Don't forget to do an airboat. :)
Barbara Boyer

Published: February 3, 2008 at 5:31 AM

I LOVE the mountains, so the Great Smokys have got my vote! We love to hike and I am a naturalist and love to watch for wildlife. Also, the calmness of a mountain trail balances the mindbending effects of rollercoasters and the noises of theme parks. Mountain trail hiking is the perfect way to end up a theme park vacation!
Rob P

Published: February 4, 2008 at 2:47 AM

I voted Southern california.

Where else can you visit the beach, the mountains,the desert,the inner city and even another country all in one day ?

Don Neal

Published: February 7, 2008 at 5:58 AM

I'll just echo what some have already said. Central Florida has it locked up pretty well right now. From putt-putt, t-shirt shops, outlets, malls, restaraunts, weather, beaches an hour away, Daytona Speedway, the Space Center, Gatorland, and other smaller attractions. So much to offer families and people young and old.

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