Things to do in Florida other than the big two parks

Florida, the sunshine state.  The dream destination and for many a once in a lifetime vacation.  Renowned all over the world for its theme parks, but there is so much more to discover in Florida.

We saved for over 3 years to be able to visit Florida and whilst we were there we wanted to make the most of every day.  Our passion to explore and discover new places meant we actually spent as little time as possible in the big parks and instead used our Hotel, which we booked through Hundredrooms, as a base to explore everything Florida had to offer. 

A short 30 minute drive north from the main theme park area lies Sanford.  Sanford is known as the ‘Historic Waterfront Gateway City’.  A full day can be spent with the family exploring the vast array of shops and family friendly restaurants.  There is a beautiful marina and plenty of lake walking trails too.  A trip to Sanford would not be complete without visiting Wondermade.  A family owned marshmallow factory and shop.  Here you can make your own marshmallows, take a tour or simply relax and watch the world go by whilst eating the most amazing marshmallows.  

The delight on the girls faces as they got to make their very own marshmallows.  They were in their element and may have sampled a few along the way.  I was busy testing all the melt in the mouth flavours, and could not resist the bourbon ones!

Also in Sanford is Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  This is the place the locals fetch their kids to play and unwind.  There are very few ‘tourists’ and as a result the zoo still retains a lot of character and charm.  On zoo terms it is on the small side, and takes approximately 2 hours to walk and visit every animal, but it makes up for this in big personality.  We had such an amazing day there.  We got to feed giraffes and meet some of the animals as the keepers walked around the zoo.  There was space for the kids to play and run around, all in the shade or even run around in the splash park.  The girls absolutely loved the splash park and would have stayed there all day.

As a family of Lego fans we had to visit Legoland Florida.  It was such an amazing day out, and actually really surprised us.  Our longest queue time was 30 minutes, which is actually really quick, and most rides we got to go on twice.  The girls were big enough for the majority of the rides too with only a handful they were too small for.  Given how popular Legoland is, it was great to see a place where we could spend our day having fun and not stood in queues.

Legoland also has the most amazing waterpark, in fact one of the best I have been to for families.  There are plenty of shaded areas for the kids, and activity stations dotted around with Lego to keep them busy out of the water.  In the water there are floating Lego bricks so you can build and swim at the same time!  We had such an amazing time that I would go back just for the Waterpark!

We dedicated a day to I-Drive.  There are a huge array of shops, restaurants and attractions.  Ripley's believe it or not is full of interactive displays and provides some great humour.  Whilst Madame Tussauds features an array of American sporting legends there are also movie stars and music stars.  The ability to dress up and role play alongside the figures kept the whole family amused.  Within the same building is the Sealife centre and the Orlando eye.

The Orlando eye provides superb views over the whole of Orlando.  With a helpful interactive guide, to help sport certain iconic buildings and landmarks.  The views are simply out of this world.  I was incredibly nervous given my fear of heights, but the girls absolutely loved it.  In fact Little Man thought it was amazing to be on top of the world.

It was an amazing experience and one which I am glad we have done, but not sure it has helped with my fear of heights.

Experiencing a shopping mall in Florida is like no other shopping experience.  The Florida mall for example is home to over 270 stores and over 2 million square feet of retail space.  A hidden gem within Florida Mall is Crayola World.  The girls loved it here, and had loads of fun drawing, making crayons and creating colouring sheets from their photos!

We spent an evening at Old Town.  If you have never been it is worth visiting just to experience something a little different.  The street is set out like an old cowboy film, and the shops sell a variety of things from homemade soap to souvenirs.  There are bars and restaurants, and fairground rides to keep even the biggest thrill seekers entertained.  The must see attraction in Old Town is the magic show at the Great Magic Hall.  An intimate performance which had both children and adults entertained.  After the show you are even presented with your very own magic trick to perform.  Old Town really comes alive in the evening, and is certainly worth visiting for a more authentic Orlando experience.

Some of the attractions mentioned we were provided with tickets to visit, others are paid.  However all words are my own opinion. 

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