Florida is an ideal spot for a family holiday combining the best of more than one world; from theme parks for the kids to relaxing tropical beaches, fantastic shopping, dining and entertainment. It also contains a host of unique national parks and attractions that offer fantastic days out for every member of the family. The beauty of Florida is that getting off the beaten track is easy and it doesn’t involve travelling far from the beaten one! Combining keeping the kids entertained and getting the chance to relax yourself couldn’t be easier. Orlando and the surrounding area offers some of the best and most varied holiday options for Florida holidays 2012. The best-known theme parks in Florida are located within the area around Orlando. The advantages of theme parks should need no explanations – but what else to do when the kids have had their fill of scary rides, magical treats and burgers and candy floss?
The Space Coast
Space, in several senses of the word, features in the Space Coasts’ offering. It is home to the Kennedy Space Center and this offers a different type of theme park experience. At the visitor centre there is a range of activities and exhibits. The “Rocket Garden” features early space craft from NASA’s extensive range of out-of-this-world experiments, while the Apollo/Saturn V Centre houses equipment from missions to the moon. The shuttle launch experience was designed by astronauts and offers the chance to experience for ‘real’ the feel of taking off in the shuttle, while a life-sized replica shuttle offers the chance to take a more detailed tour of the facilities (or lack of them) available to astronauts. With the shuttle programme at an end, holidays to Florida in 2012 no longer offer the possibility of viewing a shuttle launch. However, regular launches of unmanned space craft still take place and this may prove a more memorable treat than even the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – maybe! Daily opportunities are also available to meet astronauts who have been for real on the mother of all rollercoaster rides.
Space to breathe
The Space Coast stretches along a 72-mile length of the eastern coast of Florida and is characterised by its undeveloped beaches and shorelines. Ironically, it is thanks to the ultra-modern space exploration work at the Kennedy Space Center that this part of the Florida has been left intact in its most natural state. Water sports include unparalleled surfing on the coast and kayaking along unspoilt creeks and shorelines. Kayaking, particularly, offers opportunities to get up-close and personal with wildlife living in untouched habitats. Cocoa Beach is considered to be the ‘surfing capital’ of the US east coast where a steady Atlantic swell combines with tropical temperatures to make this a surfing Mecca for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
In addition to National Parks, Florida is littered with local State Parks and these are often the hidden gems that foreign tourists can miss. For those making their way to Florida in 2012 on holiday one that is worth a visit is certainly the Sebastian Inlet State Park on the southern tip of the Space Coast. Here the dark blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean begin to mingle with the turquoise-coloured waters of the Caribbean. Three miles of pristine beaches await the surf hungry, while other activities include diving, snorkelling or simple sunbathing. There are cycling or hiking trails, boat launching and camping facilities. The park also features the ‘McLarty Treasure Museum’ for those who have not quite had enough of the pirates of the Caribbean. Located on the site of a camp set up by survivors of a 1715 wreck, the museum displays what is left of their cargo. Gold, silver and other treasure that was destined for the Spanish royal coffers are on display – and today salvagers and divers are still bringing treasure ashore so new items are a regular feature.
Disney holidays 2012 are a great option for families – but remember there is far more to Florida than theme parks – the Space Coast and its vast range of attractions are less than 40 miles from Orlando and offer a different theme for any Florida holiday!