Day Trips From Orlando with the Family
By Dalia Colon
So you're finally taking that epic family vacation to Orlando. There's plenty to do around O-town, but since you've traveled all this way, don't forget to check out what the rest of Central Florida has to offer. (Check out our guide to Central Florida for more travel ideas).
Here are five family-friendly day trips from Orlando, all under a two-hour drive.
1) Life's a beach:
Have some fun in the sun in Daytona Beach, where you can tour Daytona International Speedway, visit the pier, climb Ponce Inlet Lighthouse or just spend a lazy day at the beach. Drive time: about 1 hour.
2) Walk on the wild side:
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo has been crowned America's No. 1 zoo by both Parents and Child magazines. With animal exhibits, shows, rides and even a splash pad for kids, it's easy to see what makes the zoo so family-friendly. After some fun in the sun, grab dinner in nearby Seminole Heights, a burgeoning historic neighborhood full of respectable-yet-kid-friendly restaurants. Drive time: about 1 hour, 20 minutes.
3) Block off time for this:
When it comes to theme parks, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios may be the big fish. But LEGOLAND Florida also deserves a spot on your itinerary. The Winter Haven attraction is the largest LEGOLAND in the world, with 150 acres of rides, hands-on attractions, restaurants, shopping and LEGO displays that'll impress adults and kids alike. Drive time: about 1 hour, 20 minutes.
4) Fun in bloom:
Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales is a site to behold, with a stately bell tower, walking trails and acres of lush Florida greenery. Depending on when you visit, you might catch a concert from the 205-foot "singing carillon" tower. For kids, be sure to borrow a complimentary discovery backpack stocked with binoculars, a compass, bubbles and activities to help little ones get the most out of their visit. And no matter your age, be sure to bring your good camera; there are photo ops at every turn. Drive time: about 1 hour, 25 minutes.
5) Swim with the mermaids:
At Walt Disney World, you might run into the Little Mermaid. And in the town of Weeki Wachee, you'll encounter actual mermaids -- well, about as close to real mermaids as it gets. At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, catch synchronized swimmers wearing fins and performing a mermaid show. You can also enjoy a river boat cruise, canoeing and kayaking, animal encounters and more. Drive time: about 1 hour, 40 minutes.
For more information on day trips from Orland with the family and other Florida travel ideas, go to VISIT FLORIDA's official travelers guide.