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Robert Niles

Vote of the week: Where else do you visit in Florida?

Published: November 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

We are wrapping up the final edits on our Theme Park Insider Orlando guidebook, which should be available on by the end of the month. (Add it to your Christmas lists!) The book includes a section on some of the top attractions outside the Orlando area that theme park fans often include on their Florida vacations, such as Busch Gardens Tampa, Legoland Florida, the Kennedy Space Center, or the beach.

Busch Gardens Tampa
Many theme park fans include a side trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa on their Orlando vacations. Photo by Joe Keenen.

Which of those is your family's top choice for a vacation destination, outside of Orlando? Or do you not venture beyond Orange and Osceola counties when you visit Florida?

Busch Gardens offers a superior collection of roller coasters and thrill rides for theme park fans who are wanting more physical thrills in addition to visiting the Orlando-area theme parks. Legoland offers a more focused alternative for families with elementary-aged kids, who might feel a bit squished in the crowds of so many older kids and adults at the other parks. KSC offers grand history and a window into the science of spaceflight that Disney's Epcot only suggests. And the beach is, well, the beach — an often-tranquil getaway from the sensory overload of a modern theme park.

It's an hour or so in the car, each way, to these destinations, but many families enjoy the alternative when they're visiting the Orlando area. What about your family?

Please tell us in the comments what else you do, besides the theme parks, when you visit Florida. And thank you, again, for reading and being part of the Theme Park Insider community.

Replies (12)

Matt McDonough

Published: November 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

My wife and I never miss Sleuth's Dinner Mystery show in Orlando. Good food (beer and wine included) and a great, funny and interactive show. A perfect ending to a day at the amusement park of your choice
Charles Reichley

Published: November 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Well, there's Gatorland.

Published: November 8, 2013 at 4:58 PM

My family and I visited Florida for the first time last year. In addition to 5+ days at WDW and 2 days at IOA/USF we also visited the Gulf Coast, the Everglades, the Keys including a day in Key West, and a couple of art museums we had read about in the guidebooks.

So there was a theme park week, followed by a nature/culture week. It was a perfect balance, although we a) exhausted ourselves completely doing eight straight days of theme parking, and b) would have loved to have had another full week to...yep, you guessed more theme parking.

We're all a bunch of addicts, aren't we?

Published: November 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM

I do stuff on I Drive (the Pirates dinner theatre is fun!) but that's it. I'd like to do the other stuff but it never works out. Heck, I've still never done Sea World because I don't want to give a day away from Disney and Universal.
Joe Keenen

Published: November 8, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Me and my family went down to Florida to watch some Phillies spring training games a few years ago. Since the games are in Clearwater we just had to visit Busch Gardens Tampa. We loved it but unfortunately Cheetah Hunt was still being built while we were there. Oh well!
AJ Hummel

Published: November 8, 2013 at 11:51 PM

I've never been to Florida, but when I get a chance to visit Busch Gardens, Legoland, and the Kennedy Space Center are all on my to-do list (along with 5-6 days at WDW, 2 at Universal, a day at SeaWorld, and one or two other things). As Busch Gardens would be my top choice, it gets my vote (although I would hate to miss the Kennedy Space Center as well...I'd probably pick it over SeaWorld). I wouldn't bother with the beach since I'm not a beach person and I already live in California.

Published: November 9, 2013 at 9:27 AM

We usually need 3 days or R&R after our Orlando stay. Fort Myers Beach, Sarasota, Clearwater Beach.. I let my wife decide. Sea World, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens are always an option, but the beach is on the list no matter what,
Derek Potter

Published: November 10, 2013 at 6:48 AM

I'm just a guy that belongs at the ocean. That said, a trip to Orlando usually also merits a day at the beach. It used to be Ormond/Daytona, but these days it's Clearwater.
Anthony Murphy

Published: November 10, 2013 at 7:48 PM

The Kennedy Space Center is a favorite of my family. Pretty close to Disney, affordable, and something a little different. While EPCOT has Mission Space, this is the real deal! Plus, you can visit the World Famous Ron Jon's!

Published: November 11, 2013 at 6:21 AM

A very overlooked classic attraction is Weechi Wachi an it's under the sea mermaids. It ia legendary and still manages to dazzle today. The entire springs are beautiful. I would love to see you do a feature story on this still wonderous Old Florida attraction!

Published: November 11, 2013 at 8:44 AM

The times that I have traveled to Orlando with family we have never ventured out of that area; we always plan to but never get around to it. Aside from the theme parks and water parks in Orlando we spend a lot of time on I-Drive. Places we’ve visited are: Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, WonderWorks, Fun Spot America, Titanic Exhibition, Downtown Disney, DisneyQuest, CityWalk and we took a helicopter tour over Orlando once.

We’re planning a trip to Orlando for 2015, visiting a couple of beaches will be top priority for this upcoming trip.

Published: November 11, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Having family in the Orlando area, we like visiting Blue Springs State Park in the Orange City area. The manatees come up the St. John River to winter there.

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