Six ways to turbo-boost your Orlando theme park holiday

If you’re taking the ten-hour flight to Orlando, make the most of your time and explore the rest of Florida and the USA. Here are six combos to add even more magic sparkle to your Florida family holiday

You’ve flawlessly handled the long-haul flight with your children, walked for miles around Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, and filled up on all the Mickey-shaped snacks. So, make the most of your time across the pond by pairing your theme park holiday with another family-friendly experience, whether exploring what lies beyond Orlando on memorable day trips or hitting the road (or the skies or seas) on a longer adventure. 

Orlando plus day trips

Kennedy Space Center
You don’t need to completely uproot from your base in Orlando if you don’t want to. If you hire a car, you can take plenty of awesome day trips.

A favourite day trip from Orlando is the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, an active spaceport on Florida's east coast, around an hour away. It’s a must-visit destination for wannabe astronauts and curious minds alike. One of the highlights of the Kennedy Space Centre is the Shuttle Launch Experience, which simulates what it’s like to blast off into space.

Daytona Beach is a popular day trip destination from Orlando, about an hour's drive to the northeast. It's known for its wide, sandy beaches and the famous Daytona International Speedway, where you can tour the track or even drive a race car. The Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier is another popular attraction for a beachy day away from the parks, with shops, restaurants, and carnival rides.

You can be on the Gulf Coast by driving 90 minutes west of Orlando. Set your sat nav to Crystal River to see hundreds of majestic manatees that arrive here at Crystal River each winter, and you can spot them from the boardwalk. Even during warmer months, more than 100 manatees live in the area, making Crystal River an unbeatable place to see them in their natural environment. 

And if you simply can’t get enough of theme parks, LEGOLAND Florida is an hour’s drive south of Orlando, where there’s a theme park, the Peppa Pig Theme Park, and a Lego-themed water park. 

Orlando plus East Florida road trip

Miami Beach

If you and your family love nothing more than hitting the open road on an adventure (perhaps you’ve already taken a California Family Road Trip), then after the thrills of the theme parks, how about setting off on a Floridian road trip and taking the time to get to know Florida beyond Orlando?  

The Classic Florida Family Road Trip starts in Orlando and then routes down Florida’s east coast. On your way to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale or Miami, you can stop at the incredible Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex or cool off at Tidal Cove waterpark in Aventura. Margaritaville Hollywood Beach is far more family-friendly than you might expect from a brand with roots in tequila-based cocktails. Not only is there a kids club, but there are activities to enjoy as a family, such as a surf simulator, kayaking, and paddleboarding. 

The show-stopping Fontainebleau Miami Beach is an excellent option for families if you want to be in the heart of the action and have easy access to family attractions in Miami, like the remarkable Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and the beautiful Venetian Pool. You can also take easy day trips to the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve to spot alligators on airboat tours through swamps and mangroves.  

From Miami, continue your drive south to the Florida Keys, where things get progressively more relaxed the further south you roam, crossing the remarkable Overseas Highway, the southernmost leg of Highway 1 that includes 42 bridges that hop from key to key, perhaps stopping at the beautiful Playa Largo Resort & Spa before continuing to The Reach down in Key West. 

Orlando plus West Florida road trip

Clearwater Beach

Head west from Orlando towards the Gulf Coast. If you want to double up on theme park fun, older kids, teens, and thrill seekers might nag you to experience the intense ride experiences at Busch Gardens in Tampa on your way to the coast.

Florida’s west coast is lapped by the Gulf of Mexico, where you’ll find St Pete’s Beach and Clearwater. Try Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach, a big hotel set on white sands or the iconic The Don CeSar with its wedding cake aesthetic. Then cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south to hop down the Gulf Coast, where things get a little quieter at Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota before a stop in lovely Naples, perhaps at the family-friendly Edgewater Beach Hotel. From here, take the two-hour drive across the width of Florida to finish your road trip in Miami.  

Orlando plus city


Extend your time stateside by visiting a famous US city. It’s the ideal contrast to Orlando's make-believe bubble to get to know a more authentic side of the USA. 

Fly north to New York, less than a three-hour flight from Orlando. You could pick up your Harry Potter adventure where you left off at Universal Orlando Resort and catch the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Broadway show. Or, having experienced the thrill of the Spider-Man ride at Universal Islands of Adventure, see movie locations from Spider-Man: Homecoming when you visit the Statue of Liberty. Remember to follow the 9 Golden Rules for a family trip to New York to make it go without a hitch. 

If you’ve been to New York or want to experience another family-friendly US city, how about catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in Boston or taking the kids on a history walk on the famous Freedom Trail? There’s plenty to keep you occupied, from tasting incredible Italian food in North End and gorging on Boston Cream Pie to visiting the excellent  Boston Children’s Museum and Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. If you’re keen to spend more time outdoors, you could head off on a whale-watching expedition from Boston Harbour. 

Orlando plus a beach

Tulum, Mexico

If you don’t fancy a road trip but a beach holiday sounds heavenly after all your theme park fun, there are plenty of castaway places you could explore after Orlando.

The tropical shores of the Caribbean are a tempting option, especially if you opt for somewhere like the Mexico's Yucatan Coast which is just over a two-hour flight from Orlando. Relax at the family-friendly Paradisus Playa del Carmen, or keep the fun factor alive at Hotel Xcaret Mexico. At this excellent all-inclusive hotel, more theme park fun awaits at Xcaret, with underground rivers, shows, and attractions.

If you fly from Miami instead, more direct flights to the Caribbean open up. You can be in Barbados in just over three and a half hours. Check into the fabulous new Wyndham Grand Barbados, Sam Lord’s Castle Resort & Spa, where you can relax knowing it’s all-inclusive. Or, for the ultimate wellness retreat to soothe weary limbs post-parks, try the gorgeous Waves Hotel & Spa by Elegant Hotels, which includes complimentary spa treatments. 

Orlando plus a cruise

Instead of boarding a flight to the Caribbean, let the islands come to you instead. Step aboard a family-friendly cruise ship at Port Canaveral (or up the road in Miami) and set sail on your next adventure.

Royal Caribbean has some of the biggest and best family cruise ships that sail the seas. You can take three-night or seven-night cruises from Florida that include stopping at Royal Caribbean’s very own Caribbean island, CocoCay. Royal Caribbean ships are enormous and super lively liners with things like an onboard waterpark and more places to eat than you’ll have time to try. 

Caribbean cruise

For something calmer, you could board a Celebrity Cruises ship. These have a premium feel and a choice of itineraries, whether you fancy the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, or Mexico. Although the ships aren’t quite as all-singing, all-dancing as Royal Caribbean, they’re still great for families with supervised Camp at Sea and activities to do as a family, like movies under the stars. Celebrity Cruises is also autism-friendly, music to the ears of parents with neurodiverse kids. 


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This feature was created on 22nd April 2024. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge. 

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