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03/07/2013 02:53:54 PM · #1
If I head down to Florida with the family, where should we go that's wonderful? Is there someplace other than discovery cove where you can swim with dolphins or sting rays? (discovery cove looks like they have doubled their prices for that time period, so not interested in spending that much).

03/07/2013 03:07:50 PM · #2
Wendy,

What do you like?

I know the state pretty well, and have traveled it quite a bit.

-

Some immediate suggestions:

Wynwood Art district in Miami - it's mindblowing

The Everglades - also amazing - but this is a HUGE area -
The southern area is the biggest part (Flamingo) and has the most diversity - there is a park above Flamingo - but it's a bit boring and not very many people go there(Chekika). Then you have Shark River which is a great loop for bicycles or they have a tram, you could walk, but it's a 15 mile loop... By the way - right now road construction sucks in that area. There's also "Loop Road" which is a back-woods everglades experience, and really my honest favorite, it's not a park though, so consider it "mixed use".

If you're looking for history - my favorite is the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson, but that's one hell of a journey. Worth it, and there would be plenty of adventure along the way for sure.

Space coast is ok for sure, but not my style (I used to work there, so... I got bored with it)

The Destin area has the most amazing beaches

Clearwater has some good stuff going on, but it's more of a relaxation spot.

...

I could continue - but knowing what you're looking for will help.

Message edited by author 2013-03-07 15:15:31.
03/07/2013 03:11:28 PM · #3
Ekkkkk

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Double EKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK
03/07/2013 03:14:31 PM · #4
having kids in florida i've scoped out quite a bit. what ages are your kids?
03/07/2013 03:14:58 PM · #5
I like a good spot with incredible wildlife. Actually, the family would love wildlife opportunities. My family likes state parks, good hiking spots, good adventures. We're not the rollercoster type, though my husband is talking about harry potter world.

Discovery cove with the dolphin swim sounded perfect, but at $400/person for one day it was completely out of the question. But the swimming with dolphins and/or sting rays would have been epic.
03/07/2013 03:16:03 PM · #6
Kids are are turning 14 and 18 this month.
03/07/2013 03:16:55 PM · #7
Originally posted by JulietNN:

Ekkkkk

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Double EKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK


sharks are one thing.

Mosquitoes -- no big deal. Grew up in MN, land of ten thousand lakes -- we grow them 3 times as big there. :)
03/07/2013 03:20:31 PM · #8
Originally posted by vawendy:

I like a good spot with incredible wildlife. Actually, the family would love wildlife opportunities. My family likes state parks, good hiking spots, good adventures. We're not the rollercoster type, though my husband is talking about harry potter world.

Discovery cove with the dolphin swim sounded perfect, but at $400/person for one day it was completely out of the question. But the swimming with dolphins and/or sting rays would have been epic.


Wildlife in Florida? Go to the 'Glades.

Honestly, there's wildlife everywhere, but the Everglades really are the best for that I think.

See my post above for details (I edited some info in)...

By the way - the Ft. Jefferson trip could probably be done for a total of about $400 a person minus travel (you'll have to stay the night in Key West to even have a chance to make the boat).. But it comes with Snorkeling and a hell of a history lesson, plus the photo ops are superb.

If I was taking the family, and could afford it, I think I'd probably just go to the Dry Tortugas. It's a hell of an adventure, I promise. (and the Everglades are pretty close)

By the way, I don't know if life would have been complete for me without seeing one of those just ridiculously cute Key Deer. Seriously, they're no bigger than a normal dog.

Message edited by author 2013-03-07 15:21:45.
03/07/2013 03:21:47 PM · #9
Try a Big Cypress Swamp walk with Clyde Butcher and check out his gallery while you're there.
swamp walk
03/07/2013 03:23:46 PM · #10
Originally posted by Cory:

Originally posted by vawendy:

I like a good spot with incredible wildlife. Actually, the family would love wildlife opportunities. My family likes state parks, good hiking spots, good adventures. We're not the rollercoster type, though my husband is talking about harry potter world.

Discovery cove with the dolphin swim sounded perfect, but at $400/person for one day it was completely out of the question. But the swimming with dolphins and/or sting rays would have been epic.


Wildlife in Florida? Go to the 'Glades.

Honestly, there's wildlife everywhere, but the Everglades really are the best for that I think.

See my post above for details (I edited some info in)...

By the way - the Ft. Jefferson trip could probably be done for a total of about $400 a person minus travel (you'll have to stay the night in Key West to even have a chance to make the boat).. But it comes with Snorkeling and a hell of a history lesson, plus the photo ops are superb.

If I was taking the family, and could afford it, I think I'd probably just go to the Dry Tortugas. It's a hell of an adventure, I promise. (and the Everglades are pretty close)

By the way, I don't know if life would have been complete for me without seeing one of those just ridiculously cute Key Deer. Seriously, they're no bigger than a normal dog.


The glades are a huge dream -- but I don't think we can make the drive there and back with any time. We have only about 8 days...
03/07/2013 03:26:19 PM · #11
how about Disney world?
03/07/2013 03:26:22 PM · #12
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by JulietNN:

Ekkkkk

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Double EKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK


sharks are one thing.

Mosquitoes -- no big deal. Grew up in MN, land of ten thousand lakes -- we grow them 3 times as big there. :)


Personally I never had an issue with the sharks - hell they're hard to even get a decent picture of.

The mosquitoes? I don't know why, but those big 'ol bastards make me lump up something severe - looked like I had BB's stuck under my skin.

The good news is that the Keys have very few mosquitoes - and the sharks always run away.

The swamp walk Olyuzi listed is right by Loop Road mentioned in my post above - there's also an air-boat place there (go for the last one on the right - the boats are way smaller and more fun)
03/07/2013 03:31:59 PM · #13
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by Cory:

Originally posted by vawendy:

I like a good spot with incredible wildlife. Actually, the family would love wildlife opportunities. My family likes state parks, good hiking spots, good adventures. We're not the rollercoster type, though my husband is talking about harry potter world.

Discovery cove with the dolphin swim sounded perfect, but at $400/person for one day it was completely out of the question. But the swimming with dolphins and/or sting rays would have been epic.


Wildlife in Florida? Go to the 'Glades.

Honestly, there's wildlife everywhere, but the Everglades really are the best for that I think.

See my post above for details (I edited some info in)...

By the way - the Ft. Jefferson trip could probably be done for a total of about $400 a person minus travel (you'll have to stay the night in Key West to even have a chance to make the boat).. But it comes with Snorkeling and a hell of a history lesson, plus the photo ops are superb.

If I was taking the family, and could afford it, I think I'd probably just go to the Dry Tortugas. It's a hell of an adventure, I promise. (and the Everglades are pretty close)

By the way, I don't know if life would have been complete for me without seeing one of those just ridiculously cute Key Deer. Seriously, they're no bigger than a normal dog.


The glades are a huge dream -- but I don't think we can make the drive there and back with any time. We have only about 8 days...


Ok - You'll get there someday! :)

..

Northern Florida - you're looking at Orlando most likely I guess, given your needs for a diverse experience.

That's gonna have the "roller-coaster crap" but, there's also a variety of landscapes there - unfortunately, you'll still be above the frost line, so the more tropical stuff won't live there.

The Space Coast area isn't far from Orlando, check out the National Seashore, Merritt Island NWR, etc. The beaches here are rougher sand, but they have nice waves and pretty dunes, plus it's all natural, and there are areas you can see Manatees etc.

ETA: If you do go to this area, and you're hungry (and like shrimp) go to Dixie Crossroads in Titusville and order the Rock Shrimp. Mindblowing.

Message edited by author 2013-03-07 15:34:52.
03/07/2013 03:33:44 PM · #14
ok. I my husband is talking about Harry Potter world. That's Orlando.

Everglades appears to be 5 hours from there.

That's almost too close to miss. Sounds like way too squished of a trip.

But....

If we were doing everglades, and only had an extremely short period of time. What do we do?
03/07/2013 03:34:38 PM · #15
Originally posted by mike_311:

how about Disney world?


Naw, 14 and 18. Not a Disney World time of life. Too expensive for the bang for the buck at that age.
03/07/2013 03:42:02 PM · #16
Originally posted by vawendy:

ok. I my husband is talking about Harry Potter world. That's Orlando.

Everglades appears to be 5 hours from there.

That's almost too close to miss. Sounds like way too squished of a trip.

But....

If we were doing everglades, and only had an extremely short period of time. What do we do?


Yeah - check out the Orlando area - Merritt Island, and the other goodies I mentioned aren't bad at all - plus there are some interesting wildlife areas there around Christmas Florida - and the Clermont area is beautiful (only place in Florida with real rolling hills that I've seen) other than being above the frost line, it's not too bad.

The Glades for a fast trip? Head straight down 95 to Flamingo. On your way back go out Tamiami trail, go for an airboat ride and do Shark Valley.

That would be two or three days (I'd go for two or three nights in Homestead, it's kinda central, and it's cheap lodging compared to Miami or the Keys)

Here's a list of things to see, in order:

Flamingo Park, Everglades (this is at the tip of Florida)
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens (amazing plants)
Tamiami Trail - Airboats, Shark Valley, Swamp Walk, Loop Road
Wynwood Art District in Miami (Saturday nights are amazing, all the galleries are open, and there is a big (super friendly) party in the street. The 14 year old might be just a touch young, but there's not a ton of alcohol or anything, and the people are well behaved.
Fruit and Spice park - Just a quick stop, but they have some neat plants

..

There are a ton more things I can advise on down there, just let me know what you'd be looking for if you go.

Plus, there are a few DPC'ers there, plus even ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/749.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/749.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Manic is likely to show up. (shame I just left... you suck! ;). ;)

Message edited by author 2013-03-07 15:44:47.
03/07/2013 03:47:40 PM · #17
If driving through Florida, make stops along the coast in North Florida at Ft. Clinch St. Park, Talbot Island State Park (nice birding) and St. Augustine. There is a lot of history in St. Augustine and we camp in the State Park a lot. Hillsborough River State Park near Tampa is also a great park for kyaking, etc. We are very nature oriented and don't mind the woods; however, you may be looking for something more civilized, lol. St. Augustine and the surrounding area is a good bet. The bird rookery at the Alligator Farm is a sight to see in the spring. Check out the website for info. The Alligator Farm is nothing special, but the rookery is worth the price. Disney World, etc. is about a 3 hour drive from St. Augustine.
03/07/2013 03:48:43 PM · #18
manatees??? Where?

Ok -- skip everything but wildlife for a second. If I'm in the orlando area -- where's the best place for wildlife? If I can only do one thing in the glades -- where do I see the most wildlife? I assume on the airboat? so do we just do tamiami trail? Is that the best airboat place?

We're talking maximizing wildlife here.
03/07/2013 03:49:57 PM · #19
go to the NASA space center
03/07/2013 03:51:30 PM · #20
Originally posted by grahamgator:

If driving through Florida, make stops along the coast in North Florida at Ft. Clinch St. Park, Talbot Island State Park (nice birding) and St. Augustine. There is a lot of history in St. Augustine and we camp in the State Park a lot. Hillsborough River State Park near Tampa is also a great park for kyaking, etc. We are very nature oriented and don't mind the woods; however, you may be looking for something more civilized, lol. St. Augustine and the surrounding area is a good bet. The bird rookery at the Alligator Farm is a sight to see in the spring. Check out the website for info. The Alligator Farm is nothing special, but the rookery is worth the price. Disney World, etc. is about a 3 hour drive from St. Augustine.


Oooh -- my kind of birds!
03/07/2013 03:54:49 PM · #21
Originally posted by vawendy:

manatees??? Where?

Ok -- skip everything but wildlife for a second. If I'm in the orlando area -- where's the best place for wildlife? If I can only do one thing in the glades -- where do I see the most wildlife? I assume on the airboat? so do we just do tamiami trail? Is that the best airboat place?

We're talking maximizing wildlife here.


Yeah. Tamiami Trail. Go for Shark River Valley and the Tiger Tail's Airboat ride

You should get a good survey of wildlife that way.

If you want REAL wildlife, not tour wildlife, then continue out the Tamiami Trail until you get to Loop Road, this is a day trip - start early, come back late, and that's if you start in Miami or homestead.
03/07/2013 03:57:51 PM · #22
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by grahamgator:

If driving through Florida, make stops along the coast in North Florida at Ft. Clinch St. Park, Talbot Island State Park (nice birding) and St. Augustine. There is a lot of history in St. Augustine and we camp in the State Park a lot. Hillsborough River State Park near Tampa is also a great park for kyaking, etc. We are very nature oriented and don't mind the woods; however, you may be looking for something more civilized, lol. St. Augustine and the surrounding area is a good bet. The bird rookery at the Alligator Farm is a sight to see in the spring. Check out the website for info. The Alligator Farm is nothing special, but the rookery is worth the price. Disney World, etc. is about a 3 hour drive from St. Augustine.


Oooh -- my kind of birds!


I think these are good choices too. Haven't managed enough time in that area to know the great stuff.

St Augustine looks at least as good as anything I suggested. Maybe better honestly.

When are you doing this anyway?
03/07/2013 04:03:31 PM · #23
Thinking aprilish
03/07/2013 04:05:27 PM · #24
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by mike_311:

how about Disney world?


Naw, 14 and 18. Not a Disney World time of life.


heresy!

Message edited by author 2013-03-07 16:05:40.
03/07/2013 04:27:23 PM · #25
ok having been through those ages with my kids and many many orlando visits, this is what i have to offer:

universal studios/islands of adventure is the perfect place. however, and this cannot be stressed strongly enough, do not plan on visiting unless you also plan on staying onsite. the onsite hotels are fantastic (especially the hard rock) but the hotel room key acts as an unlimited express pass for almost all rides and attractions.

it can't be overstated, you will spend a ten hour day waiting in line for 7 hours for 20 minutes of actual ride time otherwise. with the hotel keys, you will finish all the rides in one park before lunch, then either park hop or re-ride your favorites. it transforms your experience.

the harry potter world is in islands of adventure, as is the hulk, spiderman ride etc. more thrills in islands. the universal studio sides is more movie oriented, but still with some great attractions (the mummy is our family's favorite)

if you're interested let me know i'll share some tips for getting better pricing.
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