Kennedy Space Center
The Space Center itself is huge and is nestled among a beautiful reservation inhabited with birds, gators, turtles, and even dolphins and manatees. I was expecting more of a museum-like atmosphere, but the Center is actually spread out in different stops and locations that you travel along at your own leisure. It’s great for those into the history and mechanics of the space program, but it can get pretty crowded.
It sounds campy, it looks campy, and honestly, itis campy. It’s a lot of fun though. Gator Land is a sprawling reservation home to hundreds of alligators and crocodiles. You get to walk around and see these amazing animals in their natural habitat (without the fear of getting eaten). Some of these creatures are huge! A few of their many shows include alligator feeding where you get to see these monsters lunge into the air to get there meal, alligator wrestling where you can even sit and get your picture taken on a live alligator, and some smaller reptile and insect shows. There’s a small petting zoo which is fun for little ones, but even if you’re not that little, Gator Land is still a great destination.
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Not a very large zoo, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. Instead of walking on drab concrete, the whole zoo is set atop wooden planks amidst a beautiful forest-like atmosphere. You get an up-close and personal view of the animals, including monkeys, big cats, alligators, kangaroos, and more. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the “ZOOm Air Adventure Park” where you zip line through the trees. Also, for the younger ones there’s the “Splash Ground,” a small waterpark for kids. This zoo is relaxing, beautiful, and pretty low key. I did not have to fight through a crowd here.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Rays, it’s always fun to check out a different ball park and watch a good game. The best part is tickets are pretty cheap and you don’t usually have to worry about them selling out.
This is actually in Tampa Bay, but it’s worth the drive. There’s sharks, more alligators, penguins, stingrays, and lots of fish (obviously). The aquarium is breathtaking and rated one of the top ten aquariums in the country. My favorite exhibit was the otters (so cute). They also have tours, diving with sharks (if you’re brave enough), and swimming with fish.
Go on a Day Trip
So this isn’t really in Orlando, but it’s always fun to take a drive out to a different area of Florida and spend the day there. Recently I went to Coco Beach and spent the day there. I’ve also been to Tampa which is great and once my sister traveled to Miami and raved about it for days. Look at a map, pick a point, and just explore.
Other Amusement Parks
Besides Disney, there are lots of other thrill-seeking destinations you can visit. The obvious choices are Universal Studios, now equipped with the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” Sea World, Busch Gardens, and Silver Springs. The last one isn’t really an amusement park, though they’d like you to believe it is, but it has river cruises with glass-bottomed boats, a bear exhibit, more alligators if you haven’t gotten sick of them yet, a cougar exhibit, wildlife tours, and a botanical garden.
This is kind of cheating, but approaching Disney in a different manner can make all the difference. Take a peek at all those shows you never have the time for, actually explore Epcot, try that ride you never gave a chance, or go to one of the water parks. There’s always something new to do.
The most important thing is to have fun and relax. You’re on vacation!