Things to Do in Orlando and Tampa
Arguably the two most popular attractions in the Orlando area are
Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. There are however plenty of other
things to see and do to add to your theme park vacation or come to Florida to
do these on their own.
Kennedy Space Center
Located about 42 miles from the Orlando airport on Merritt
Island, the center of which is known as Cape Canaveral. Since 1968 it has been
NASA’s primary launch center for human flight into Space. The visitor center
features exhibits, displays, historic spacecraft, memorabilia, shows, two IMAX
theaters and bus tours. Admission tickets can be purchased in advance online as
well as add-on tours. Recommended add-on tours include Lunch with an Astronaut
and KSC Explore Tour, which gets visitors up close to restricted areas such as
launch pads, and the Vehicle Assembly building. Some tours can be booked online
as a package with admission tickets. The visitor center is open 365 days a year
at 9 am each day, closing time varies depending on the time of year.
Located in Winter Haven, almost right between Tampa and Orlando
this theme park opened in 2011 at the site of the old Cypress Gardens. Legoland
preserved the botanical gardens and re-themed the park with the various Lego
brands. The park is designed for children ages 2 to 12, and has over 50 rides,
shows, attractions, restaurants, shops and a water park. There is also an
adjacent Legoland Hotel and Legoland Beach Retreat. The park is open most days
of the year at 10 AM, it is often closed on Wednesdays and sometimes on
Tuesdays in the fall and winter when school is session. Tickets and
accommodations in the hotels can be booked online.
A marine zoological park and theme park located just 12 miles
northwest of Walt Disney World.
The park has seventeen rides and attractions, seven main animal
exhibits and five live shows. The park is open daily at 9 am when schools are
out of session and 10 am when school is in session. Closing time varies
throughout the year.
Located in Orlando adjacent to Sea World, this all inclusive park
has dolphin encounters, snorkeling with rays, bird feeding & a lazy river.
Advance reservations for the park are required and the admission also includes
unlimited food and drink and a ticket to Sea World or Aquatica Orlando. Package
enhancements to your admission include swimming with dolphins and trainer for a
Located next to Sea World and Discovery Cove, this waterpark has
a wide variety of attractions some of which pass by or through animal habitats.
There are two wave pools that share a white sand beach with chairs, sun beds,
and umbrellas. There are also eight slides, two lazy rivers and two children’s
areas. The park is open daily through January 1st then it closes for a couple
months until the Spring.
*Ticket packages combining two or three parks are available at
a savings. Dining packages are also available for Aquatica and Sea World.
Located near Universal Studios, the Titanic Exhibition features
17 galleries of artifacts with guided tours led by trained actors in period
dress. Recently over 100 new artifacts have been added including a 3-ton
section of the ship’s hull. The museum also has full scale recreations of the
Grand Staircase, First Class Cabin, Verandah cafe and more. The museum hosts
dinner events recreating the tragic night the ship sank. Guests interact with
some of the most notable passengers while enjoying first class food and a first
class show. The museum is open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.
A Christian based theme park located in Orlando just northeast of
Universal Studios. The park recreates the ancient city of Jerusalem and has 43
different exhibits including restaurants and retail shops. The park also has a
full schedule of live productions shows. The park is open from 10 am to 6 pm
Tuesday through Saturday. It is closed on New Years Day, Christmas Day, and
Crayola Experience- This attraction offers 26 hands-on
exhibits at Orlando’s newest family destination The Florida Mall, located less
than 12 miles from Disney World and about 5 miles from the Orlando
International Airport. Over 70,000 square feet of fun awaits visitors from
naming and wrapping their own crayon to seeing their digital art come to life
on a huge interactive wall. Discounts are available for purchasing tickets in
advance and teachers get in free with a valid ID. The attraction is open daily
at 10 AM, closing time varies during the year.
An African Animal themed park in Tampa Bay with an adjacent
Adventure Island Water Park. Busch Gardens has 8 roller coasters and two water
rides plus animal attractions, a Sesame Street area and several other rides.
Busch Gardens is daily at 10 AM until 5 or 6 PM with extended hours in the
summer and school breaks. Adventure Island has 10 water slides, 2 pools, a lazy
river, and two areas just for little kids. The park is only open in the late
spring, summer, and early fall. Its open typically when school is not in
session, with special hours on certain days of the week and weekends when
school is in session.
The Florida Aquarium
There are thousands of plants and animals to see here including
sharks, alligators, seahorses, stingrays, sea turtles, river otters, birds, and
other native fish. Located next to the cruise port in Tampa, the aquarium will
store guests luggage for free for those visiting pre or post cruise. The
aquarium is open daily from 9:30 am - 5 pm daily, except for Thanksgiving Day
and Christmas Day.
15 MLB teams hold their Spring Training in Florida, of those 7
are within about an hours drive of Tampa. Games start towards the end of
February and run through almost the end of March, coinciding with Spring Break
for many across the country. The players tend to be a little more accessible
for autographs and pictures before and after games then they are during the
regular season, and the game tickets tend to also be a little cheaper than they
are for regular season games.
Atlanta Braves- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,
Baltimore Orioles- Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, FL
Detroit Tigers- Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium,
Lakeland, FL (between Orlando and Tampa)
New York Yankees- George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL
Philadelphia Phillies- Spectrum Field, Clearwater, FL
Pittsburgh Pirates- LECOM Park, Bradenton, FL
Toronto Blue Jays- Dunedin Stadium, Dunedin, FL
Tampa Area Beaches
Spend a day or two at the beach, below is a listing of the best
beaches in the Tampa area.
Caladesi Island State Park-This top beach is only
accessible by boat. Beach goers can take the Ferry over from Honeymoon Island
or rent a kayak and paddle over. The island also has 3 miles of nature trails
and kayak trails. The park has a marina with electric and water hookups, as
well as a snack bar and gift shop.
Honeymoon Island- This island neighbors Caladesi and until
a hurricane in 1921 the two used to be connected. Visitors love the 4 mile
stretch of this beach perfect for swimming, fishing and collecting shells.
There is also a section of beach for pets. Nature lovers enjoy the 3 miles
Osprey trail where horned owls, osprey and eagles can be seen nesting. There
are two snack bars in the park, a pavilion, cafe, and umbrellas, chairs, kayaks
and bicycles available for rental.
Fort De Soto County Park- The largest park within the
county park system it is made up of 5 interconnected islands. The area is home
to native plants, mangroves, wetlands, and over 328 species of birds.
Loggerhead sea turtles nest here between April and November. This area is
perfect for kayaking or just relaxing on the beach. The park has restrooms,
playgrounds, camping, and an area for dogs on the beach. Lifeguards are
stationed from March through Labor Day.
Ben T. Davis- If you are staying in Tampa Bay and just
need a quick shot of Vitamin D, this beach fits the bill. Located along the
causeway it is perfect for a quick visit for some sun and surf.
Indian Rocks Beach-3 miles of beautiful beach along the
Gulf of Mexico. There are 27 beach access points.
Treasure Island-Located on a barrier island west of St.
Petersburg, there are nearly 4 miles of beautiful beaches to enjoy. 3 beach
access points have both public parking and restrooms including Sunset Beach
Pavilion, Gulf Front Park, and Municipal Beach. All parking is $2 per hour.