Central Florida, with its world class theme parks, has become the vacation capitol of the world.
The major theme parks include the four at Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) and Animal Kingdom; Two at Universal Orlando: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure; Sea World and its sister park in Tampa, Busch Gardens. In addition there is Discovery Cove, Cypress Gardens, Kennedy Space Center, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Aquatica, Wet and Wild, Old Town and Fantasy of Flight. This does not even include the plethora of mini golf courses; minor attractions such as WonderWorks, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and the Water Ski Museum; or cultural venues such as the Orlando Science Center, Museum of Art, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Mennello Museum of American Art and the list goes on from there…
But let’s face it, these places are EXPENSIVE. Yes, they are worth the price of admission. But when you have to pay $75 per person for one day in a theme park (not to mention all the food, souvenirs and beverages) it can take a huge chunk out of your vacation budget.
Yet, amidst the chatter and shouting of the major attractions, Central Florida has so much more to offer–And you might be surprised to learn how much of it is free or very low cost.
The primary purpose of this blog is to expose the underrated or off-the-beaten-path destinations that get drowned out in the clutter of the major attractions of Central Florida. These are often wonderful vacation spots that many guests don’t find because of the sirens‘ calls of the big boys. Still, you can vacation to this area on a shoestring if you want. And since there are so many major attractions, it is relatively easy to have a fabulous vacation with world class accommodations and service on a very limited budget.
Here are just a few ideas of things to do. There are many others. And I have (or will) devote entire blog posts to most of these off-the-beaten-path attractions:
Rent a vacation Home with a private pool–No, I’m not just saying this because I own the vacation rental home company, I own the vacation rental home company because I sincerely believe it is the best way to vacation. If I thought a hotel or RV park was better for my guests, I would sell this business and buy one of those. Taking a day to relax by the pool in your own, private vacation home is a real treat and a real money saver!
Caladesi Island State Park–This pristine island beach is ranked as one of the top beaches in the entire USA! Perhaps it retains its natural serenity because no vehicles are allowed on the island–It can only be reached by boat or ferry. It is on the gulf coast, near Tampa, so there are not many waves. But there are white sand beaches, kayak trails, picnic tables, shelters and Florida wildlife.
Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach–Located on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida, these popular tourist destinations are perfect for all the usual beach-loving activities (and better waves than you find on the gulf coast!)
Wekiwa Springs State Park–This huge spring provides the perfect, old fashioned watering hole for a cool dip in year round 72 degree water. Or enjoy a kayak or canoe trip down the Wekiva River.
Spook Hill and Bok Tower–Spook Hill is a curious anomaly–An optical illusion makes it seem as though your car is rolling uphill. Nearby Bok Tower is a beautiful Carillon built by Edward Bok and set in a colorful garden where peace seems to emanate from every corner.
Geohashing–This is not indigenous to Florida. You can geohash anywhere. But this link to my blog post will explain how I found an unexpected vacation that cost nothing and helped me to de-stress when Number One Son introduced me to the concept of geohashing.
West Orange Trail–This 22 mile “rails to trails” biking or walking trail goes from Clermont to Apopka passing through quaint towns, like Winter Garden.
These are only a few of the many excellent vacation choices available to the well-informed traveller, on a budget, who is looking for “more than a mouse!”™