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Thread: Things to do Orlando (other than parks)

  1. #1
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    Things to do Orlando (other than parks)

    So, a week in the Canaries morphed into a fortnight villa holiday in Orlando. We have been several times and have the parks covered. I may be able to prise SWMBO away from Winnie The Pooh so don't intend to spend all our time in them.
    I know a lot of you guys are seasoned Florida visitors and am hoping you may be able to suggest some ideas for interesting places/things to visit. We have a car so anything within a days drive of Orlando will be great. We have previously done air-boating in the Everglades, balloon rides and Discovery Cove, but that sort of thing would be of interest thanks.

  2. #2
    Journeyman ELD1970's Avatar
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    Busch Gardens?


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    Grand Master SimonK's Avatar
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    Have you been to Silver Springs in Ocala? It's where the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films were shot, as well as a lot of other water-themed films, scenes and TV series - such as Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges. I find it a nice antidote to the parks in Orlando.

    You could also get to the coast - Cocoa Beach, Daytona, New Smyrna Beach, etc.

    In Winter Park there is the Morse Museum of American Art, with a huge collection of Tiffany glassware.

  4. #4
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    Surfing in Cocoa Beach. This and the rest of the Space Coast.
    The Dolphin Rescue centre in Tampa was both eye opening and extremely good fun.
    I used to love the baseball batting cages for an hour or so.

  5. #5
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    We've enjoyed these two:

    Edison & Ford Winter Estates
    http://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org

    The Ringling
    https://www.ringling.org

  6. #6
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    We normally stay at the Hard Rock at Universal but last time thought we’d try out the Hard Rock at Tampa for a few days to break up the holiday (has a casino at this one) and had a great time. Not only is Busch close by but there’s some amazing places close by - We had a couple of days in Clearwater and it was stunning. Definitely going up there for a week next time. Also strangely the weather is better there - less rain.

  7. #7
    Cocoa Beach is great. Near the Pier (near Ron John's Surf Shop) you can hire a board and even get some lessons as well. A little further down at Lori Wilson's Park there are beach guards as well. The Space Coast has several museums about Space.

    Busch Gardens: worth a visit.

    Sarasota has the Mote Marine Aquarium. Worth a visit as well. https://mote.org

    Ft Myers: Edison & Ford Museum is nice, about 30mins to the SW: Sanibel and Captiva Island (as mentioned: Ringling's). Beaches are great. But honestly, it's pretty long drive from Orlando and back! Also in Ft Myers: IMAG History and Science Museum (nice for kids until the age of 12, I think). https://www.tripadvisor.nl/Attractio...s_Florida.html It's been a while since we went to that museum so I cannot tell you how it's now.


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  8. #8
    Master Lammylee's Avatar
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    The Kennedy Space Centre was the highlight during my last trip.


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    Blue Springs is a great place to spend an afternoon and isn’t too far from Orlando. It’s a designated Manatee refuge and has a boardwalk, spring to swim in and also tubing. It’s not mega touristy, and so you will mainly find locals. There are quite a few National Parks that are worth a visit and there you’re likely to see gators, manatees etc in the wild rather than in enclosures. My lads loved it last time and we’ll be going back in April.

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    Tampa Bay Rays baseball game?

    The game's rubbish IMHO(!) but it's a real spectacle/novelty.

    Daytona racetrack/museum.
    Last edited by David_D; 10th February 2018 at 15:16. Reason: Added

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lammylee View Post
    The Kennedy Space Centre was the highlight during my last trip.
    Absolutely agree. Amazing place.

    Close to Cape Canaveral there's another couple of museums - Astronaut Hall of Fame and a police museum. (At least they were there 9 years ago when I was there!)

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    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    KSC definitely, baseball game sure.

    If you are feeling a little more adventurous for a real thrill that's not a Disney ride take a Harvard up for a flight!

    Hoagland Blvd, Kissimmee


    http://www.warbirdadventures.com/flights

    Interesting museum too.
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  13. #13
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    And if you want to recreate "Cable guy", Medieval Times Dinner and jousting!

    https://www.medievaltimes.com/
    Cheers,
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Neil.C View Post
    And if you want to recreate "Cable guy", Medieval Times Dinner and jousting!

    https://www.medievaltimes.com/
    For us, from The Old Land a toe-crunching experience. But that makes it so nice to watch.
    Last edited by thieuster; 10th February 2018 at 16:50.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lammylee View Post
    The Kennedy Space Centre was the highlight during my last trip.


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    ^^^ definitely this. As you go in pop into the visitor center / office and ask them to plan your day as things are happening throughout the day. Done a great job for us.

    Gatorland is good for something a bit different, spending a few dollars to feed them is great fun!

    Reslly good Escape Room on iDrive, The Escape game orlando.

  16. #16
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    As has been said- Kennedy
    Last time we did a manatee swim at crystal river, air boat ride- the eye is also pretty good

  17. #17
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    Orlando is quite close to the Ocala National Forest, and Alexander Springs.

    http://www.floridaadventuring.com/al...r_springs.html

    You're also not that far from Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and the Canaveral Seashore. Boating and fishing options abound.

    http://www.visitspacecoast.com/thing...ports/boating/

    They've just opened an Ace Cafe in Orlando, and its quite popular, but there is plenty else to eat in town. Here is the hotlist.

    https://miami.eater.com/maps/best-ne...urants-heatmap

    http://www.acecafeusa.com/

    And as far as food goes, I'm a bit of a fine wine fan, and have been planning a trip to Bern's for my next visit to Florida. Its something of a wine guy's Mecca. Its in Tampa, and not too far away, (1.5 hrs or so).

    http://www.businessinsider.com/photo...-cellar-2014-3

  18. #18
    4 rivers smokehouse is worth a visit (as is smokey bones)

    agree with kennedy and airboat tour

    Its a trek but if you're up for a long day then going down towards miami is good - as is heading over to clearwater and seeing the manatees - depends on your appetite for racking up mileage - but fort lauderdale seems to have a fair few watch shops!

  19. #19
    Craftsman Gullers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David_D View Post
    Tampa Bay Rays baseball game?

    The game's rubbish IMHO(!) but it's a real spectacle/novelty.

    Daytona racetrack/museum.
    This! We did this (Tampa Bay Rays) and I would recommend. I may have my geography wrong as we stayed in 6x resorts on a trip round Florida but other highlights;

    Miami (no need to elaborate)
    Clearwater, Naples or Fort Lauderdale for a nice beach resorts with decent restaurants etc

    Key West has a nice vibe but appreciate its quite a drive.

    Enjoy

  20. #20
    Master theoriginaldigger's Avatar
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    Things to do Orlando (other than parks)

    Snorkelling with Manatees was the highlight** of our 7 Florida holidays - the Guys at the Best Western dive lodge Crystal River were superb - dinner at Cody's just down the road - a trip to the Homassa Springs wildlife park again just down the road was great.

    ** plus a shuttle launch
    Last edited by theoriginaldigger; 10th February 2018 at 20:53.

  21. #21
    Kennedy Space Center is a must see. Plan for at least an entire day. KSC is very close to Daytona.
    Gatorland is fantastic. Very entertaining.
    It's the off season for Major League Baseball, and spring training games don't begin until late February.

    I'd find a place to snorkel with the manatees.

    Have fun.

  22. #22
    Craftsman smokey99's Avatar
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    We were there a couple of years ago as a family and probably our best day out was the visit to Everglades and a trip on the airboats. Entry fee includes visit to animal park to see the Gators feeding up close. Also saw a few wild American eagles. Just a nice break from the hulabaloo that is Orlando just an hour away.

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    I knew I could rely on you guys!
    Thanks for the suggestions so far. We have done Kennedy a couple of times and I doubt I could drag swmbo along again, although maybe a boys day out.
    I will let the boss have a look and am sure we will incorporate some of the above.

  24. #24
    Master stoneyloon's Avatar
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    Airboat ride was great, plenty of critters and birds to spot too....


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    Quote Originally Posted by Beanie View Post
    I knew I could rely on you guys!
    Thanks for the suggestions so far. We have done Kennedy a couple of times and I doubt I could drag swmbo along again, although maybe a boys day out.
    I will let the boss have a look and am sure we will incorporate some of the above.
    Depending on how recently you've been to KSC - it was significantly refurbished and expanded when they started exhibiting the shuttle. Having been many times before the changes and again after - I was very impressed by the difference.

  26. #26
    ... and we've not even mentioned Cirque du Soleil! Eyewatering expensive tickets, but something to remember for years! Much cheaper: Blue Man Group at the end of Universal's City Walk, around the pond. Near the Hard Rock Cafe - you can go to the show as well without Universal tickets. You only need BMG tickets and a parking ticket for the Universal Parking.

    There are a few nice movie theatres as well; Cinemax at the north end of I-Drive is nice.

    Menno

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    Last time we went, 2014, Cirque du Soleil was mentioned but we didn't seem to have time for it. Good call thanks.
    I shan't discount KSC, but I know someone who may.

  28. #28
    We used to head over to Anna Maria Island for a day or two at the beach. We now spend a fortnight there every year!

  29. #29
    Master theoriginaldigger's Avatar
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    If you enjoy snorkelling the reef of the John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo is fantastic.

  30. #30
    Kennedy Space Centre is a must, and Gatorland is also surprisingly excellent. For a small premium over the standard entry you can actually feed the gators.
    I think Cirque du Soleil may have closed in Orlando now. Disney decided that the area isn't Disney enough so I believe it will be replaced by a Disney show.

  31. #31
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theoriginaldigger View Post
    If you enjoy snorkelling the reef of the John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo is fantastic.
    Yes it is.

    Also in Key Largo is the last resting place of the actual boat from the African Queen. Holiday Inn as I recall.
    Cheers,
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  32. #32
    Master theoriginaldigger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil.C View Post
    Yes it is.

    Also in Key Largo is the last resting place of the actual boat from the African Queen. Holiday Inn as I recall.
    followed by Sundowners in Islamorada for dinner

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by theoriginaldigger View Post
    followed by Sundowners in Islamorada for dinner
    Always a nice thing to do: eat with a view on the sun going down. East Coast US citizens love that view because most marine views are facing east. I've never been to Sundowners. I did eat at The Whale Harbor Seafood Buffet. And I've heard great things about Ziggie and Mad Dog's a little further south.

    But, tbh, not a trip you can do in a day from Orlando to Islamorada vv. I 'guestimate' that a single trip is a 4hr drive.

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    If you are heading to Cocoa Beach or Cape Canaveral, you ought to stop for breakfast at this traditional American diner. They have branches everywhere but it was something of a novelty as it wasn't a tourist spot and so it felt authentic!

    https://locations.wafflehouse.com/fl-cocoa-607

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    And how could I forget this??

    https://www.navysealmuseum.org/


    Some amazing exhibits!

    https://www.navysealmuseum.org/home-...er-seal-rescue

  36. #36

    As said multiple times, do nasa! Get on a upclose tour, worth it!
    While I was up that way we went to Daytona and watched nascar! I’m into my motorsport and nothing comes close to the noise! Be prepared to be covered in rubber and stink of fuel afterwards! Plus you get to go in A yellow American school bus!

  37. #37
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    Some interesting museums there (well they appeal to me anyway). We aren't big snorkelers tbh, but are pretty keen on food!
    I quite fancy the Keys, but if we were to do that, we would probably need to consider an overnighter somewhere.

  38. #38
    Chesapeake Bay Resort on Islamorada is fine. Located next to the Overseas Highway, a spot in the middle of the restaurants I mentioned above. It's about halfway between Miami and Key West. There are a pool and a beach for kids.

    Menno

  39. #39
    Craftsman r1ch's Avatar
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    Sunday Brunch at the Grand Bohemian, (in downtown Orlando), is exceptional.
    If we fly on a Saturday from the UK, this is a fantastic way to start the holiday.
    http://www.grandbohemianhotel.com/

    (Has to be booked ahead).
    Last edited by r1ch; 13th February 2018 at 08:46. Reason: added location

  40. #40
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    Looks like I will need to pack some eating pants (or work harder on my diet)!

  41. #41
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    Gatorland - if you enjoy seeing wild animals teased with lumps of meat to make them jump. I have no problem with Zoos with large enclosures for conservation and education, but performing animals is a step too far.

    Alternatively just get out to the Kissimmee swamps or Everglades and see loads of alligators in their natural environment. You'll also likely see large gators while doing the bus tour at Kennedy Space Centre.

  42. #42
    Craftsman r1ch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperStripes View Post
    Gatorland - if you enjoy seeing wild animals teased with lumps of meat to make them jump. I have no problem with Zoos with large enclosures for conservation and education, but performing animals is a step too far.
    I don't disagree with the sentiment at all.
    However, its worth noting, (I've family in the Orlando area with direct experience through their line of business), that Gatorland take "problem" 'gators, (eg that have been encouraged to hang around populated places by people stupidly feeding them), rather than them simply being killed. There was an incident last year in St. Cloud where some school kids threw food to a 'gator and it eventually had to be removed as it would wait at the side of the pavement for them each morning for its "breakfast".

    Talking of breakfast :)

    [IMG][/IMG]

    It's well worth a visit, (seafood is brilliant if thats your thing and bottomless OJ/Prosecco etc.. ), and theres valet parking right at the door.

  43. #43
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beanie View Post
    Looks like I will need to pack some eating pants (or work harder on my diet)!
    You've got to forget about diets.

    Elasticated shorts for me and worry about weight loss when I get home.
    Cheers,
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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by r1ch View Post
    I don't disagree with the sentiment at all.
    However, its worth noting, (I've family in the Orlando area with direct experience through their line of business), that Gatorland take "problem" 'gators, (eg that have been encouraged to hang around populated places by people stupidly feeding them), rather than them simply being killed. There was an incident last year in St. Cloud where some school kids threw food to a 'gator and it eventually had to be removed as it would wait at the side of the pavement for them each morning for its "breakfast".
    Rescued, problem or other. As a society we now abhor performing bears, elephants, monkeys etc, but somehow allowing Alligators to perform is ok. Plenty of other places to see problem Gators in zoos, wildlife reserves etc that are not made to perform.

  45. #45
    Craftsman r1ch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperStripes View Post
    Rescued, problem or other. As a society we now abhor performing bears, elephants, monkeys etc, but somehow allowing Alligators to perform is ok. Plenty of other places to see problem Gators in zoos, wildlife reserves etc that are not made to perform.
    Like I say, I don't disagree with your sentiment. I personally dislike the Circus for the same reason.
    The reality in that part of Florida however is that problem 'Gators just get shot.
    I was just suggesting it's better than death that was all.
    Anyway.....

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by r1ch View Post
    Like I say, I don't disagree with your sentiment. I personally dislike the Circus for the same reason.
    The reality in that part of Florida however is that problem 'Gators just get shot.
    I was just suggesting it's better than death that was all.
    Anyway.....
    Is it?

  47. #47
    Craftsman r1ch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    Is it?
    Feel free to make your own mind up.

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by r1ch View Post
    Feel free to make your own mind up.
    In my mind better dead (and eaten) than kept alive to entertain us.

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    In my mind better dead (and eaten) than kept alive to entertain us.

    I always said that about Paul Daniels!

  50. #50
    Craftsman r1ch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigvic View Post
    I always said that about Paul Daniels!
    Bremont could've made some limited edition "Magical" straps from him, unlike a shot 'gator!

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