Omaha is about to get another direct flight to a prime vacation destination courtesy Allegiant: Orlando (or rather Sanford International Airport, located just north of the city). Just a few hours – no layovers – and you’re in Florida. There’s no better area to explore than Central Florida and the Orlando area! Check out my Central Florida Bucket List for fun things to do near Orlando.
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That’s a tempting destination, right? You’re not far from some of the most exciting theme parks in the country, AND about an hour’s drive from the beach. Get a guidebook like this one for more ideas of great Florida attractions!
After the announcement of the flight was made, it got me daydreaming. If you remember, when Allegiant started flying to the Tampa Bay area, they invited my family to try out the route and we had a whirlwind of an amazing adventure.
Guess what? Allegiant asked if I wanted to try the new route with my family so that Omaha readers could hear about the experience!
So time to start planning, right?? Here’s my bucket list of the Central Florida area, if time and money were not constraints. It goes beyond Orlando and the obvious choices of theme parks – they’re there too – and it includes the closest beaches along the Space Coast.
Central Florida Bucket List
Airboat Tour – Never done one of these in my multiple visits to Florida over the years. I’m hoping to change that. Most operators say kids can safely ride on these too, so the whole family can come along.
See Manatees – If it sounds like I’m repeating myself, it’s because I am (they graced this Tampa Bay bucket list too). I still haven’t seen one. My trips never time out right for prime viewing time. I read somewhere that Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the coast has Black Point Wildlife Drive with a chance to look for the sea cows at Haulover Canal.
Beach Please – I live in the middle of the Midwest. If I’m within 100 miles of a beach, I shall seek it out. I have my eyes on either Daytona Beach or Cocoa Beach, but I’m not picky. What I’d really love to find is a great hotel with beach access. Suggestions?
If you have inquisitive kids, and want to be prepared for their questions about the things you find on the beach, make sure you have a beachcombers guide to Florida’s beaches, because you’ll encounter some doozies.
Ziplines – I haven’t been on a zipline for years, not since my glorious 20s while I was in Costa Rica. It seems Central Florida has a couple different places offering a speedy zip through the trees, but the most interesting location has to be a zoo – Central Florida Zoo. There, you can find ZOOMAIR Treetop Adventure Park.
Animal Kingdom – I’ve never been to this theme park, though I’ve been to the other biggies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s on a side bucket list to take the kids to the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and all those others, but since this is my list, I want to put a place I’ve never been to.
Fresh orange juice – Is it a thing to want this? Can you go to an orange grove and get the most freshly squeezed orange juice ever known to man? I don’t know if there are even groves in this part of Florida, but I’ll just put this on the list regardless.
Kayak in a zoo – Seems like a strangely specific item to have on a list, right? Turns out, the Brevard Zoo is the only zoo in the U.S. that offers kayaking on the grounds. How cool would that be?
Canoe Wekiva – I’ve seen countless pictures of the pristine Wekiva River and it looks gorgeous. The State Canoe Trail winds through a semi-tropical forest, and the water is jewel-toned.
I also heard there are guided tours through picturesque Shingle Creek, the headwaters of the Everglades, offered by two Orlando hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott at Grand Lakes. In addition to paddling at Wekiva, I’ve seen gorgeous pictures of people swimming at Wekiva Springs. I want to go there, too. If you’re into exploring Florida waterways, definitely check out this water trail guide for Florida!
See a launch – This would require some luck and better timing, but someday, I’d love to be near Cape Canaveral on a launch day. When the kids are a little older, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be a destination. If you want to read up on the the space center’s history before you go, I recommend “Gateway to Space.”
Stroll Winter Park – In my research, I kept coming across restaurants and wine bars in Winter Park that seemed to be calling my name. Then a friend recommended I go there. So that city is added to my list…to visit when I’m not traveling with kids.
Visit an organic brewery – How granola of me. I heard Orlando Brewing Company is the only USDA-certified organic brewery south of Vermont and east of Colorado.
Eat ridiculous amounts of good food – I have a growing list of restaurants that pique my interest. Among them: Polonia Restaurant in Longwood (I read one person’s review that insisted diners order the Wazanki); Orlando spots like Pom Pom’s Tea House, Beefy King, Imperial Wine Bar and Beer Garden, White Wolf Cafe and Bar; Winter Park’s Cask and Larder; and the German restaurant, Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe, in Sanford (I’m told to try the German Chocolate Cake).
Save money on some of the these Florida bucket list items
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to save money on some of the Florida bucket list items! Get Your Guide offers quite a few discounts on activities near Orlando. Here are a few of my favorites:
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