When most people think of Florida, they think Disney World, Sea World and all of the other theme park resorts that populate the city of Orlando, but surely there are other things to do? The idea of spending 10 days in constructed theme park resorts that promise to help ‘create’ memories is quite strange for me to accept, and almost seems a little false. Also, I’m terrified of fast rides, so the idea of spending over 2 weeks queuing for the majority of each day, for rides that last at an absolute maximum of five minutes, isn’t at all appealing to me. So why Florida?
Well, America is a fantastic place to visit if you love food, shopping, and big cities, and with Florida’s gorgeous climate year-round with tropical beaches and unique wildlife, it’s an all-in-one relaxing, exciting and cultural trip! However, once you have incorporated ticket prices into your budget, a holiday to Florida becomes very expensive, and therefore less tempting. So instead of trying to rush around, squeezing each and every Orlando resort into your itinerary (and believe me after doing much research, that’s an option most people go for and it’s so heavily promoted with combo tickets). Do consider choosing just one or two, and enjoy the variety of alternative things that Florida has to offer.
It’s important to remember that creating and sticking to an itinerary is not always possible, or indeed the best option, and I discuss this in a post over on my blog, but for the obsessive planners like myself, I hope you are inspired to take a trip to Florida once you discover the diverse activities I have arranged to do.
Day 1: Arrive in Orlando
We arrive at about 6:30pm, so once we’ve got through the airport business, picked up our car and checked into the hotel, we’re heading straight to Wal-Mart to pick up some essential snacks and drinks to keep us going for the entire holiday. Remember to pick up a huge pack of bottled water, so you can always reach for a drink in your hotel room and keep one handy wherever you go. Another tip: if you are arriving late like us, try and get to sleep for about 9pm at the latest, which is 2am in the UK, to ensure you can get your holiday off to a good start and maintain a good sleeping pattern.
Day 2: Shopping!
Shopaholics are catered for perfectly in Orlando, so spend your first day exploring the huge shopping centres dotted around the entire city. I’m off to Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle and Billabong, but not before stopping off for THE best breakfast you could hope for at IHOP: International House of Pancakes (http://www.ihop.com/menus/main-menu)! Treat yourself to a pile of white chocolate and raspberry pancakes, or my personal favourite, their original French toast. It’ll set you up for the entire day. For some of the best shopping in Orlando, check out the stores in The Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia. For dinner, I’ve got a few options, but I think kicking off the trip with a Tex-Mex meal at Chuy’s sounds perfect (https://www.chuys.com/menu).
Day 3: Downtown Orlando
We wanted to take a day to explore the rich culture and history that is boasted in Downtown Orlando. With cute coffee houses and parks filled with gorgeous greenery, downtown seems like the perfect place to go for a relaxing day out in the Florida sunshine. Later that evening, we’re going to grab some American snacks and check out Popcorn in the Park, a free movie showing in Winter Park, offered once a month to the public. (http://enzian.org/films/special-programs/popcorn-flicks/).
Day 4: Universal Studios
As both me and my partner love the Simpsons and Harry Potter, Universal Studios was the obvious choice out of all of the resorts in Orlando. We’ve also bought City Walk tickets for the evening, so we can enjoy cocktails and all American food in the vibrant entertainment complex.
Day 5: Relax by the Pool
I plan to be quite hungover and tired from the day before, so a quiet day in the hotel is a perfect option for me. We’re also heading on a road trip the following day, so a relaxed pool afternoon is definitely called for. For those of you who would like to get out and do something instead, consider getting a 2-day ticket to the theme park resort of your choice, so you can explore for that little bit longer.
Day 6: Key Largo
We set off for a 5-hour road trip down to the southern Florida Key islands, for a night’s stay in gorgeous tropical Pelican Cottages close to the Gulf of Mexico (http://www.pelicankeylargo.com/). From here, we intend to drive down to the furthest southern Key island, just to explore and take in the sights, before going back to Key Largo for a meal and relaxing evening on the island.
Day 7: Miami
Probably the part of the trip I’m looking forward to the most – Miami! I know a day simply won’t be long enough to explore this pulsating city, but I’ve got a few plans in mind to make the most of it. There are countless bars that offer happy hour, and with an entire district dedicated to delivering authentic Cuban cuisine (Little Havana), we will be spoilt for choice. A night drive around the city before we leave is also an absolute must.
Day 8: International Drive
Back in Orlando, we want to spend the day exploring the large entertainment district that is International Drive. There is an abundance of restaurants, activities and shopping to be getting on with there.
Day 9: Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Centre
We’re winding down the holiday with a trip to Cocoa Beach for breakfast and a walk along the Atlantic Coast, before checking out the Kennedy Space Centre for a bit of history and science
Our last full day will be spent chilling by the hotel pool, but a trip to the amazing Cheesecake Factory is on the cards as our last meal. Keep an eye on on my blog for a Cheesecake Factory tasting video, where my boyfriend and I will be trying loads of different flavours including white chocolate and raspberry, Oreo, Reese’s and salted caramel.
Please subscribe to my blog for updates on my trip to Florida! And to all of you who read Bethany Ashley’s blog, have an amazing summer!