We all know that Walt Disney World is Florida’s shining star and that most visitors are going to experience the Magic of Disney, however, Florida has so much more to offer. Whether you are looking to experience something extra on your annual Disney trip or want a couple ideas for when you are Disney-ed out…keep reading to see our top 5 things to do in Florida that AREN’T Disney World.
So, let’s start with the obvious: Florida is home to more theme parks than just Walt Disney World, particularly Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Orlando Resort could be called “an adults answer to Disney” as though it has 2 family-friendly theme parks, you won’t find rides like the Jurassic World VelociCoaster and The Hulk at Walt Disney World. Universal’s Islands of Adventure is where the majority of the “big” rides are located, including The Hulk, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Doctor Doom Freefall, Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls and more. These rides are not for the faint hearted and are seriously scream-inducing! Though, Universal Orlando Resort is home to family friendly rides too, including the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and more! Universal Orlando Resort is also the place to go for Harry Potter fans visiting Florida as it is the home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; here you can stroll through the halls of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, enjoy a butterbeer or 2 at Diagon Alley and even get your very own magic want at Ollivanders.
If shopping is more your style or you’re wanting to take a break from the long days at the theme parks, then Orlando’s Premium Outlet Malls have you covered. The Orlando Premium Outlets and the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets are a cornerstone of Orlando. These shopping complexes offer incredible discounts from both high-end and high-street stores: from Coach, Mulberry and Burberry to H&M, American Eagle, and Adidas, there is something for everyone at the Orlando Premium Outlets. Though, be aware that in true American fashion these malls are huge! We like to leave at least a whole afternoon to really look round them…sometimes even a whole day! There are food courts, Starbucks and plenty of other refreshment stands to graze at too.
Another of our favourite non-Disney activity to do in Florida is Top Golf. Orlando is home to one Top Golf facility, and there is another relatively close by in Tampa, just minutes away from Universal Orlando Resort. Top Golf is not your typical driving range and is a great day/ night out for everyone, not just golf lovers. Each bay at Top Golf has a TV, areas to sit, eat and drink. From Top Golf Orlando you can see the Orlando Eye – an even better sight at night when it’s all lit up! You can take your own clubs or rent theirs and enjoy an evening/ afternoon of golfing, eating, drinking, and chatting with friends and/or family.
One morning if you are up early and ready for the day, why not drive out to Florida’s east coast and visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. See how NASA really works at the Kennedy Space Center and see the wonderful artefacts, relics, and replicas of real-life rockets - such as the Saturn V moon rocket! Take a deep dive into the mysteries of space and see behind the scenes of how NASA really works, walk amongst the giants of space exploration in the amazing Rocket Garden, and be inches away from Space Shuttle Atlantis. If you time it right, you may even be able to watch an actual rocket launch!
Finally, why not take a drive to one of Florida’s best and most beloved beaches: Clearwater. From Walt Disney World Clearwater beach is around a 1.5-2-hour drive so certainly doable in a day but is also home to some great hotels if you would prefer to stay the night. This Gulf Coast beach boasts some of Florida’s most pristine, turquoise waters and golden sands. Apart from its beautiful, shallow, clear blue water Clearwater beach has plenty to offer visiting families, including a huge playground and a Beach Front Promenade. The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is a great option for a hotel if you are looking to stay the night that not only offers a fantastic beachfront location but 2 pools, multiple restaurants, and a kids club. You could even treat yourself to a pamper session in the spa.
There are plenty of other things to do in Florida when you fancy a day off from Walt Disney World, or you want to explore the state a little more. When you book your Florida holiday with Charter Travel, be sure to talk to your Travel Advisor by calling them on 01635 551011 and asking them what else Florida has to offer you!