Attractions in Central Florida

Attractions in Central Florida Other than Disney World

Have you noticed that any time someone mentions they are going to visit any attractions in Central Florida most people just automatically assume they are talking about Disney World? Now, it is certainly well known that Orlando is famous for Disney, but there are other attractions in the Orlando area besides the home of Mickey Mouse.

Attractions in Central Florida

Attractions in Central Florida

I do love Disney, make no mistake about it, and I enjoy theme parks in general, but don’t forget the other parks when planning your visit. Most people do remember Universal Studios but some do not think of Islands of Adventure or else they don’t realize they are two separate parks. My son and I have visited Islands of Adventure, or IOA, every year since it opened which was when he was about 12 I think. We almost always have an annual pass and usually head over in the late afternoon or evening to avoid the heat and crowds. This is a FUN park if you love thrill rides and/or water rides. The Spiderman ride itself is worth a visit, one of the best rides you’ll find. The Hulk coaster is worth riding for the launch at the beginning. I remember the first time I rode it, somehow I had not heard that it launched and I was…er…surprised. Love that coaster though. I hear Harry Potter area they are building is going to be great and very true to the movies/books but I am not a Harry Potter fan so can’t really say. I looked at the videos on the website and it looks pretty cool though.

There is also Sea World of course, and this park is heavily advertised so surely you won’t forget it. I like it now and again but it’s not a park I want to visit over and over. I can see all I want to in one or two visits. I do enjoy the shows though.

Some people don’t realize it’s not too far to go to Busch Gardens in Tampa. While it is not technically one of the attractions in Central Florida, it is only about 90 minutes away from Orlando. There is lots to do there whether you enjoy roller coasters or shows or even midway-type games. What I usually like to do is just drive over and spend the night in a hotel so that I can have two days at the park without driving back and forth from Orlando. But you can do it in one day easily. I do the hotel thing so I won’t have to be rushed.

Looking for something kind of quiet and out of the way? Don’t dismiss Silver Springs for a enjoyable afternoon, nice place to have your weekend getaways for two . It’s about an hour away over in Ocala, and they are famous for their glass-bottom boats.

About an hour from Orlando in the other direction, Cape Canaveral area, is the Kennedy Space Center. I suggest if you are going to visit this attraction that you do some “homework” before going so that you have a bit of background knowledge of the space program. It will make your visit a lot more fun and enjoyable. If you are driving over in the days before or after a launch, expect busier crowds than normal. You can see most everything at KSC in a day if you get there early and don’t dawdle around too much. Otherwise, you may want an extra day.

The Holy Land Experience is another attraction you may be interested in. Some relatives of mine recently spent the day there and had a great time. It is located at 4655 Vineland Road at the corner of Conroy Road just off Exit 72 on I-4. You can see most everything in one day but it is recommended by the park that you spend two days (of course – more money!). The best strategy is to arrive early and plan your day based on the different performances and what times they are. During the middle of the day when it is very hot, try to schedule shows that are inside.

Gatorland – I have never been to this place and have never heard of anyone going that actually enjoyed it. I can take our boat out on the river and see gators every day of the week, and they don’t do much but just lie around, so….that’s about all I have on Gatorland.

Lakeridge Winery Tour: I pass by this place every time I go to my mom’s but I don’t enjoy wine so have never stopped in. It is a beautiful place though and they have free tours and wine tasting. The tours run constantly as long as there are guests stopping by. The tour is about 45 minutes long. After the tour you can sample some wine.

So those are some attractions in Central Florida that you might consider in addition to the head honcho Disney. There are plenty more, I’ll have to make another post as this one is dragging on too long now. If you want some tips to save money on your next Disney World trip, check out this saving seattle guide. It was written by a former employee.

Daytona Beach: 3 Ways to Spend a Weekend

So your family has decided to take a trip to Daytona Beach for the weekend. Great! But before you pack up the kids, sunscreen, and beach umbrellas be sure to plan how to spend your time. There’s plenty to do in Daytona Beach, so make sure you know ahead of time some of the things that you want to do. Here are three things that should be at the top of your list in order to make the most of your weekend.

1. Check out local history. The historical Ponce Inlet bike and walking tour showcases plenty of historical features of the beach area. From the lighthouse to the historical cemeteries, homes, parks, and botanical gardens, there’s plenty to do while getting out in the fresh air and even getting  little exercise. After a full day of whatever activities you have planned there’s also The Cellar Restaurant, the former home of President Warren G. Harding which was built in 1907.

2. Engage in fun water time activities. No matter what age you are, there’s fun to be had in the water of Daytona Beach. If you and your family like to kayak, they have rentals available. There are also airboats and jet-ski’s if you want to just sit back and enjoy your ride across the water. If you’d rather be flying above the water of course, they have that too. Zip lines can be a fun way to travel, and there’s plenty of good scenery along the beach.

3. Have fun playing games (for all ages). There’s plenty to do in the Daytona Beach area too if you want to spend time away from the beach. There’s Congo River mini-golf, which the whole family can enjoy. Or maybe you’re travelling without the kids, and you want to spend some time playing poker. The Poker Room offers plenty of options for you then. Whatever games you end up playing, however, the Boardwalk always has plenty to offer in terms of activities. Be sure to check it out as they rotate their attractions.

Heading out to the beach is a fun weekend activity for any group, whether it family or friends, and there’s plenty to see and to do while you’re there. Make sure to check out all of the activities available at Dayton Beach before you go though. You won’t want to miss anything!

4 Reasons to Visit Miami Beach

If you’re in the state of Florida then you already know how many beaches it has to offer. Daytona Beach, St. Pete, Clearwater, Jacksonville– they’re all good choices. But where do you go if you’re in the south of Florida? The answer, of course, is Miami Beach. If you’re worried that there won’t be enough for you to do there, then don’t worry. There’s plenty. Here are the top four things you can do while visiting Miami Beach aside from working on your tan.

1. Get cultured. Of course if you’re already as cultured as a batch of yogurt, then you’ll still want to check out Miami’s art Deco district which offers plenty of museums and a historical setting perfect for strolling and drinking in the art. There’s also the New World Symphony available for visitation for a concert of beautiful music. Listening to the symphony can be a relaxing way to end a day.

2. Catch a flick. If cinema is your game, then be sure to check out the Miami Beach Cinematheque. This cinema is a haven for people who love the artistry involved in movie-making. Of course it’s also perfectly enjoyable for people who just want to catch a movie while on the beach. Either way be sure to give it a go.

3. Get Healthy. For those of you who enjoy finding your inner-balance and harmony while at the beach there’s also beachside yoga available daily. There’s nothing quite like listening to the early-morning sounds of turf with a warm sun and breeze on your face as you stretch and find your center.

4. Let your hair down. Miami Beach offers plenty in the way of dining and night life. The most popular stretch is the Ocean Drive, a catwalk adjacent to the Atlantic coast. During the day there are plenty of places to dine under shady umbrellas, and during the night there’s Washington Avenue which is just across the street that offers plenty of clubs and bars. There’s always bustling activity along these stretches, and there are plenty of excuses to let loose and have some fun.

Because of its location so close to the coast, Miami has a bustling beach life and provides a little entertainment for people of all ages. If you’re going to stay for only a weekend make sure you plan accordingly, or you may find your weekend vacation goes on for a month!

Clearwater Beach Fun

Located on Clearwater Beach is a beautiful pier full of activities and shopping for everyone. Pier 60 is conveniently full of great eating establishments, bars to grab a drink on the beach, live music, street entertainment, shopping boutiques and shops, and a beautiful view of the white sand overlooking the ocean. There are celebrations and special events for holidays, festivals, and to celebrate the sunset each day. As the sun sets of the Gulf of Mexico this fishing pier comes to life and day performances and food turn into a nightlife scene that adults will enjoy.

Pier 60 is a thousand foot pier where you can fish, buy tackle and bait, grab a bite to eat, watch a show or event, and let your kids play at a playground. During daylight hours street performers can be seen juggling, doing magic tricks, dancing, and performing unbelievable stunts and tricks for free.

When you are finished with the activities and fun on the beach you can visit the Downtown Clearwater area and the Sand Key area by paying a dollar to ride the trolley. The trolley makes several stops along the way to each of these two locations and is about a thirty minute ride to either location.

After the Trolley ride to Cleveland Street, grab a bite to eat at Café 421, Tony’s Pizzeria and Ristorante, or a drink at Mixx Bar and Grille all located on Cleveland Street. Take the Trolley back to your hotel or resort like the Sheraton Sand Key Resort where you can swim in the pools, work out in the fitness areas, or watch the waves from your balcony of this beautiful resort on the beach.

Clearwater Beach is full of sun, sand, culture, and adventures that will please everyone in your vacationing group. You can take the relaxing route and fish off of the pier, take in the culture with performers and art, or enjoy the nightlife when the sun sets. Your experience in Clearwater Beach will be one for the entire family to remember, so book your getaway at this gorgeous beach location today.

Best Magazines for Florida Beach Lovers & Visitors

Floridians understand just how amazing their position is on the continental United States. With access to oceans and gulfs, there is a plethora of gorgeous beaches. Both sides of the state have incredible amenities to boast about and visitors will be awestruck by the sheer beauty of Florida’s choice beaches.

There are magazines available to beach lovers and visitors that will assist in choosing the beaches best suited for their needs and desires. Here are some of the best magazines for those so inclined:

#1 Florida Monthly Magazine

Florida Monthly seems to be the go-to magazine for all things Florida. Those familiar with the state will still find great value in this magazine because it provides a cornucopia of resources. Readers will find historic and heritage based articles as well as travel destinations, parks, dining reviews, and the state’s best beaches including Daytona Beach and Clearwater Beach. Subscriptions are available at 12 per year for $21.95.

#2 Florida Travel & Lifestyles Magazine

Florida Travel & Lifestyles is for people who love Florida. This magazine can be viewed online for free and provides an in-depth look at amazing Florida travel destinations. A previous issue focused on Florida’s southwest coast and the incredible white sand beaches replete with shells and sunsets. Since this magazine is free, there’s no reason to forego checking it out prior to a Florida vacation!

#3 Ocean Drive Magazine

Ocean Drive is based out of Miami Beach and is a very high-end magazine catering to the prestigious visitor or affluent resident. It focuses on the historic and cultural significance of Miami. For example, the latest issue points out that Amelia Earhart started her last trip from Miami! Readers will find a vast array of Miami-based storylines, reviews and interviews. It’s everything Miami and you can read it online for free. However, if you’d like to subscribe, it’s 11 per year for $70.00.

#4 Gulfshore Life Magazine

Gulfshore Life is a Naples, Florida-based magazine that’s been in business since 1970. It’s an award winning magazine that covers the area from Fort Meyers to Marco Island. The photography included in this magazine is exquisite containing sunrises on Sanibel Island and Florida panther cubs out exploring the land. For those traveling to the southwest parts of Florida this magazine is a must have! A subscription is 12 per year for $16.95.

Have Magazine, Will Travel

According to magazine aficionados at Priority One Clearing Services, reading local magazines prior to traveling is beneficial because the residents know all the best spots.

Therefore, before you make a Florida beach destination decision, you should check out the magazines we’ve included here. Priority One Clearing Services can help manage any magazine subscriptions you do choose to check out.

Places to Stay on St. Pete Beach

One of the great things about Florida beaches is that they are incredibly accessible. Some beaches prohibit building on the beach to preserve natural beauty, while others have given over to developers. St. Pete Beach is one of the latter types of beaches, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the ability to stay right on the beach is one of the great appeals of St. Pete Beach. No matter your budget or party size, there are plenty of options for places to stay on St. Pete Beach. Listed below are a few highlights.

Guy Harvey Outpost

Guy Harvey Outpost is a mid-range resort that offers guests beachfront access, three pools, nightly bonfires, and plenty of family-friendly activities. Staff are known to be friendly and special arrangements can be made for people with pets.

Loews Don CeSar Hotel

The Don CeSar Hotel is an historic landmark on St. Pete Beach. You’ll know it when you see it: it is an enormous, elegant, pink building right on the beach. Many celebrities have stayed here, and owing to its romantic elegance and attention to detail it is a popular spot for weddings or celebrating other special events.

Gulf Tides Inn

Gulf Tides Inn is not located directly on the beach, but sand and surf is a pleasant five minute walk away and downtown St. Pete is close as well. This establishment is family-owned and enjoys immense popularity on TripAdvisor, so reservations can be hard to get.

Plaza Beach Hotel

Plaza Beach Hotel is a mid-range resort located on St. Pete Beach. It has a pool overlooking the beach, with hotel chairs on the beach and free parking available for guests. Families with children will enjoy the amenities such as shuffleboard and mini-golf, and guests are generally friendly and interact with each other.

Alden Suites

Alden Suites is yet another accommodation on the beach. Rates are reasonable and rooms are large and recently furnished. Guests are free to use the pool, Jacuzzi, grills, and beachfront shower/dressing room. Alden Suites does not charge a “resort fee” like some beachfront accommodations, meaning that parking and most amenities are free.

The accommodations listed here are a just a few of the many options available right on St. Pete Beach or a short walk away. St. Pete Beach and the neighboring city of St. Pete are filled with things to do, so staying on the beach can be as relaxing or involved as you want your vacation to be.

Florida’s Hidden Secret: Drum Circles on the Beach

By day, Florida’s beaches are thronged with sun-worshippers, beachcombers, and vacationers of all sorts. Come sundown, most people head home to rinse off the salt and sand. However, at certain beaches, the main attraction comes alive as the sun begins to set. The drum circles on Florida’s beaches are one of the best-kept secrets that locals cherish and tourists are lucky if they discover.

Not every beach has a resident drum circle, but the ones listed below have well-established groups. Drum circles can have between a couple dozen or a thousand people, depending on the location, day, and weather. Anyone is welcome to attend a drum circle, so consider this your invitation! Mostdrum circles start in the early evening and continue until after sundown; specific details are given below.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island is a beachfront town that befits its name: it is indeed on an island and the attractions here really are Florida treasures. Treasure Island is situated between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach, so it is easy to find. To get to the drum circle, drive along Gulf Boulevard. Look for the Treasure Island Publix and listen for the sound of drum beats. Park in the lot across from Publix and you are on your way to a unique Florida experience. The Treasure Island drum circle is held every Sunday, starting early in the evening and concluding shortly after sunset.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is a beautiful attraction in Sarasota, home to a bevy of restaurants, accommodations, long stretches of beautiful white sand, and its own drum circle. Every Sunday one hour before sunset, the drum circle begins to gather between lifeguard posts three and four on the public beach. Parking is free and there is a pavilion with restrooms and food for sale. Later in the evening the drum circle moves from the beach to the pavilion and continues until late in the evening.

Casey Key / Nokomis Beach

Located just north of the Blackburn Point Road bridge on Casey Key is yet another drum circle, held every Saturday and Wednesday evening beginning around 6:00 and continuing for several hours. Casey Key is just north of Venice on the Gulf coast.

Whether you want to make music, dance, hula hoop, spin fire, or just sit back and take in the free spirits celebrating against the backdrop of a beautiful beach sunset, drum circles have it all. For residents and those planning on visiting the Gulf coast, the drum circles are an organic community event not to be missed.

Saint Pete Beach and Its Wonderful Tourist Accommodations

Saint Pete Beach

Saint Pete Beach

If you have been to Florida, you may have gone to St. Pete Beach as well. The name is a shorter version of St. Petersburg Beach. Locals of this beach community voted to change the name to distinguish it from the city of St. Petersburg.

This sunny paradise is also renowned among tourists simply because of its breath taking beaches and resorts. Hence, if you are the person who loves to immerse on cold waters during hot summer season, then Saint Pete Beach can be among your best summer escapade option. Whether you want to spend time in nice restaurants and bars or have a shopping spree vacation, this place is ready to address what your heart desires.

Local Resorts

If you happen to stay in its Sandpiper Suits, you will have the privilege of a free breakfast and a dive to an exclusive adults-only pool.

If you want to commune with nature, you can visit Island Grand Beach Resort and witness the view of flocks of swans and wonderful Coi fishes.

TradeWinds Island Resorts offers a paradise that resembles the Gulf of Mexico. This resort comes with 7 swimming pools for you to enjoy, adrenalin rushing paddle boats, and a very accessible beach – which happens to be situated on its own backyard. This is very convenient especially if you have kids.

Famous Local Beaches

After a refreshing night’s sleep, be sure to stop by one of the famous local beaches. After all, St. Pete beach isn’t the only white sand beauty in the area.  If you want to venture outside the city limits of St. Peterburg, try a day trip to Clearwater.

Clearwater Beach has a lot to offer. There is more to this place than its nice blue waters. The nightlife, dining, and bars will prove that fun and excitement is not dependent on sand!

The beach’s undersea water attraction will surely entertain both adults and kids. Discover life under water and this will definitely become a of your lifetime experience. Try snorkeling or scuba diving.  Or, if you would rather stay above sea level, try a jet ski or fishing charter.

Saint Pete Beach and its surrounding communities have a lot to offer visitors.  Stop by on your next visit to Florida.  You’ll be happy you did!