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Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

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Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

I am planning a trip with my kids and my parents and have booked 4 nights this June in one of the Universal Studios hotel so that we can do the theme parks for a few days. My husband is flying in after those four days and was looking for somewhere to go for a family vacation - Beach, golf, kid friendly etc. I can travel up to 2 hours drive from Orlando airport but don't want to be much further if possible. Hard to figure out driving distance on maps. Does anyone have any good ideas of hotels or just a location for me to start looking.

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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1. Re: Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

Assuming you are driving from Orlando, within two hours, you can get over to the Gulf side around Clearwater, and maybe down to Sarasota if you stretch it a bit. Within two hours, you can travel to a wider range of places on the Atlantic side, from Saint Augustine on the north down to Vero Beach or maybe slightly further south. In just 45-60 minutes, for example, you can get over to the closest beaches at Cocoa Beach / Cape Canaveral. That area is especially convenient to Orlando International Airport.

On the Gulf side, you will see whiter sand and shallower water, giving a pretty blue to the water. There will be nice sunsets. However, there will be little surf action. Clearwater Beach is more built up, with high rises. Sarasota is less dense, and more upmarket. During the cooler months, the shallower water will be warmer than on the Atlantic side.

On the ocean side, there will be waves and surf sounds. We have a condo at Cocoa Beach, and like to leave our windows open at night and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach or have breakfast on the balcony watching the pretty sunrises. The waves also are more intriguing to children and allow surfing -- Cocoa Beach is the surfing mecca of the east coast. Of course, that also means more undertow (riptide), so small children can't be left unattended very far out in the water. During the warmer months, there will be a refreshing ocean breeze on the Atlantic side.

I am more familiar with the Cape Canaveral / Cocoa Beach area, but perhaps someone can tell you more about the Gulf side if you are interested. Daytona Beach is also a touristy area on the Atlantic side that is more built up.

CC/CB are due east from WDW, reached by the Beachline Expressway, SR528. The area, being the closest beach to Orlando, is touristy in the central section, but more residential further north and south. The coastal area south of CB and toward Melbourne is dominated by low and mid rise condos and a few bigger hotels. Patrick AFB is also there.

The Kennedy Space Center is at Cape Canaveral. It offers a visitor center, rocket "garden", exhibits, rides, IMAX theatre, and bus tours of the historic launch sites and control rooms. Occasionally, there is a rocket launch of a satellite (there are also two space shuttle flights left, currently scheduled in April and June). There is also an Astronaut Hall of Fame nearby, with a launch simulation and more exhibits. KSC is a major attraction that deserves at least a half day to a full day, depending on your level of interest. Young children may enjoy some of it, but seem to be more bored with the bus tours because they don't appreciate the history.

Cocoa Beach is more of a mid-level family beach town. On weekends, residents of Orlando come over for the beach. The vibe tends to be families and younger adults compared to Sarasota, for example. Around Cocoa Beach Pier, you will see the surfers. Just south of that is the flagship store of the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop (there are several large beach shops, including the competing Cocoa Beach Surf Company that is in the same complex with the Sheraton Hotel). Ron Jon is a huge shop open 24 hours, and the source of the shirts seen all over the world.

There are many hotels, mostly along the strip between highway A1A and the beach. A few of the better ones are the Hilton, Doubletree, Hampton, Marriott Courtyard, Best Western and LaQuinta Oceanside, all on or with views of the beach. There are many more, including the Sheraton, which is about a block off the beach, and the Radisson, which is well off the beach. The Inn at Cocoa Beach is a smaller boutique hotel on the beach.

Ron Jon operates a resort with some rooms on the beach and some a short distance away. It has a small waterpark with lazy river and family activities. The Discovery Beach Resort, near the pier, and the Resort at Cocoa Beach are both nice apartment-style resorts on the beach with resort activities.

The area has a zoo, airboat rides, golf, parasailing, kite-boarding, horseback riding, kayaking, lagoon cruises, mini-golf, go-carting, cineplexes, deep-sea fishing, planetarium, and shopping, although the range of shopping and family activities is nothing like Orlando. However, it is easy to drive over to WDW and all Orlando has to offer.

We just tried renting Segways at a place in CB, and spent an hour gliding along a trail that runs next to the Banana River. There is also a gambling boat that is currently being refurbished and is scheduled to resume cruises out into the ocean in about a month.

There are hundreds of restaurants and bars in the area, mostly in the area from downtown Cocoa Beach up to around the pier. The area around Cocoa Village has some shopping and nice restaurants -- my favorite is Cafe Margaux. The Lobster Shanty has nice views over the lagoon at sunset, and there is a restaurant row along Glen Cheek Drive at the port. Another favorite is the Heidelburg (German) Restaurant and Jazz Club.

Port Canaveral is the second largest cruise port in the world, with at least one sailing most days, often more. The incoming and outgoing ships are visible from the beaches and balconies also. On Sundays, we like to go up to the port and sit on a restaurant patio and watch the ships sailing out to sea, passing within 100-150 yards of our table, waving to the passengers on deck. Usually 3-4 ships sail on Sundays, mostly between 4:30 and 5:15. Some of the restaurants like Rusty's, have live music. Fishlips and Grills are also nice.

Florida has so many choices, I'm sure that you will, with the help of TA posters, find the perfect spot.

UK
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2. Re: Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

I would highly suggest a family holiday on Anna Maria Island or Siesta Key. Fantastci white sand beaches and fantastic family vibe.

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3. Re: Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

Great, thank you. Good ideas to help with my search. Appreciate the time you took to post a reply.

Edited: 01 April 2011, 05:12
Kissimmee Florida
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4. Re: Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

SunsetBch,

PhotoTravels and Amanx have made excellent suggestions, but if you want something with a little shorter drive, check out the Kissimmee St Cloud tourism bureau's web site for a wide variety of outdoors things to do.

A circle with a two hour driving radius from the Orlando Airport would include the east coast from Melbourne to Daytona and the west coast from Tampa to Sarasota. It would include the horse country around Ocala and the citrus country around Lake Wales and Winter Haven where Cypress Gardens used to be and Legoland is under construction.

As to the beaches, if the children are teens, I recommend the east coast, but the west coast is better for the younger ones and the less physically fit.

CTR

5. Re: Where to go after doing 4 days in Orlando

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