I am going to start right off by saying this list is not going to please everyone, I know this, and I want you to know that I know this. For starters, there is nothing involving a cartoon mouse or a sparkly princess anywhere on it, I figure that one is pretty much a given and beyond that, I've never been there. I'll wait for the collective gasping to die down. It's not that I've never been anywhere involving that particular franchise, it's just that I've been to the one on that other coast, so we can all calm down now. Also, in 2008 it was my son's 13th birthday and we planned a big blow-out family trip for him, as a part of that, he was allowed to choose which major theme park he wanted to visit and princesses lost.
I know! I know they have much more to offer and with the constantly running advertisement for what he was missing on our hotel TV, he does too, but at the time, he wouldn't listen to his parents; what teenager does? You'll also see some items in this list from one of our other (kid-free) trips to Florida and I'm always happy to hear recommendations of things I should do next time I'm there, which sadly is not going to be this spring as I had planned, thanks to Universal being LATE on Hogwarts opening. Hmph!
Center photo: Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim I can not say enough about this choice. It is easily the best money I have ever spent on vacation. They keep the number of guests low (1000 per day) so it's not crowded. It's all-inclusive (sans dolphin swim which is an additional add-on) including beer, snacks and full meals. There are several different options of things to do during the day so you never get bored and it's just generally awesomesauce. It's so awesome, I've included two pics in this round-up, we'll get to the other one in a bit. Oh! I almost forgot, you also get a free ticket to another theme park and free shuttle (if necessary) as part of your package cost, so it's a mega good deal on top it.
Clockwise from top left corner:
Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf: I don't know about you, but when on vacation, I like to have some low-key options to do in addition to all the theme park craziness. This mini golf was super cool! It has some crazy high holes and some down in caves with all kinds of cheesy pirate-y goodness to boot. Sprog had a great time and my husband made a hole-in-one on the "hole of the day" so we have a token for a free game that never expires.
Universal Studios Orlando: This is the theme park that Sprog chose. We had a blast on the MiB: Alien Attack ride/game. We rode it I think 3 times in a row. Sprog doesn't like roller-coasters (and frankly neither do I) so we were both sufficiently scared on The Revenge of the Mummy. There was a lot of Simpsons goodness to go around.
Discovery Cove Aviary: This is one of the other things you can do while @ Discovery Cove. They have a several room Aviary where you can feed all varieties of birds. (yes, that is my hand)
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: As part of our package with Discovery Cove we opted to get tickets to this theme park. We took the free shuttle as well. No driving! No parking! FREE! Loved the safari nature of this park and we had a great time on the Congo River Rapids and the Rhino Rally. (You can tell Sprog isn't diggin on the heights in that Log Flume pic, can't you?)
La Te Da Cabaret: My husband and I went to Key West for our one year anniversary and while eating at a outstanding tapas place, we got to talking with some folks at the table next to us, who then invited us to this Drag Show. It's fabulous! The performers are all outstanding and it was a packed house.
Danger Charter: If I could recommend one thing for you to do while on Key West, it would be booking with Danger Charter. We did the full day charter which includes lunch, kayaking, a visit to a private island and snorkeling. The crew was a riot and gave us the suggestion on the tapas restaurant. Katie checked them out on my recommendation, during a recent trip, and she was not disappointed.
Sunset Key from Mallory Square: There is a huge sunset celebration every evening at Mallory Square to watch the sun go down. It's packed with people, street performers and music. It's also the best place on the island to snag a Mojito. And really, can you beat that view?
Southernmost Point: Majorly touristy thing to do, must be done. 'Nuff said.
Hemingway House Key West: Also mega touristy, also a must do, IMO. Super interesting tour, super crotchety tour guide, six-toed cats!
John Pennekamp State Park Snorkeling: Located in Key Largo, this is a living coral reef located within a nature preserve. They offer glass bottom boat tours as well as snorkeling trips for very affordable rates.
Laying in a hammock at your hotel: Preferably with a blended beverage in your hand. Fortunately this hotel has a fabulous bar right by the pool offering just that very thing (even a N/A version which is what I was drinking).
South Beach Miami: This was another Sprog request; I think he watches too much TV. He was very excited to see all the flashy cars and fancy people, I just thought it was wicked hot. I would definitely recommend going and checking out all the deco architecture, though, there are some gorgeous hotels!
Be sure to check out my other travel guide Must-do Activities: Colorado and look out for Must-do Activities: Arizona, coming soon!