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Central Florida is a family-friendly destination full of great places to take a weekend getaway, whether you’re looking for arts, culture, delicious food or amusement park rides. From the excitement and entertainment of Orlando to the tranquil relaxation of Lakeland, there’s a getaway option for every budget and taste. So, pack a bag, hit the road and check out these great Central Florida weekend getaways.
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Of course, Orlando is always a great option for a weekend getaway, although there’s way more to see and do here than one weekend can hold. First, you can explore Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and the Disney Boardwalk. Not to mention, a whole host of other exciting parks to explore like Universal Studios, MGM Studios, Sea World and Legoland. For little ones that love learning, there’s the Orlando Science Center and for wildlife enthusiasts, there’s Gatorland. Plus, there’s plenty of shopping, nightlife and enticing restaurants spread across the city.
For a more relaxing getaway, visit the Central Florida town of Lakeland, where you can visit the largest on-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at Florida Southern College. Named as “The Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” by Princeton Review, the college is home to 13 different unique and futuristic structures by Wright. There’s also a gift shop and education center where you can learn about the architect’s relationship with the college and pick up a souvenir to take home. Lakeland also offers art museums, a botanical garden with more than 10,000 varieties of flowers, and a quaint, historic downtown district that features unique shops, boutiques and antique dealers.
The city of Gainesville is a unique destination for a weekend getaway because of the variety of things to do. College sports fans can take in the excitement of a live game at the University of Florida, while nature lovers will enjoy the over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails that are spread throughout seven different state parks. Besides getting your exercise, you’ll also have a chance to spot some wildlife like alligators, birds, horses and bison. Plus, there are several museums to explore like the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention and the Florida Museum of Natural History, and there visit the Butterfly Forest. Beer and wine lovers will also want to check out the many area breweries and wineries that offer both tours and tastings.
Although you may have never heard of the small town of Titusville it’s a great spot for a weekend getaway, since it’s home to the Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s launch headquarters. During your visit to Florida’s iconic landmark, you can learn about some of the space program’s most significant pioneers at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, see some rockets up close in the Rocket Garden, and even meet an astronaut at the Universe Theater. You can also take a Kennedy Space Center bus tour that will give you access to restricted areas and offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Center operations. There’s also more than 60 different interactive exhibits, astronaut training simulators and the Shuttle Launch Experience, where you can experience all of the sights and sounds of a space shuttle launch.
The city of Sarasota is most well-known for being home to the Ringling Museum of Art and Circus Museum that celebrates the many accomplishments of the Ringling Brothers, who were born and raised here. In the Circus Museum, you’ll have the chance to explore several interactive galleries, walk through the Ringling Bros’ private train car, see costumes and props from the big show, view a quirky sideshow exhibition and take in the wonder of the 44,000 piece circus model that is an exact replicate of the legendary show. Sarasota is also home to other fascinating attractions, including a planetarium, botanical gardens, a big cat sanctuary and the Siesta Key Rum Distillery. And since it’s located right on the Gulf, there are lots of ways to enjoy the water including boat cruises, sailing, kayaking, water skiing and more.
For a low-key, laidback getaway, the small town of Cedar Key offers a unique experience since it’s both an active fishing village and a festive island destination. This small-town gem offers great fishing opportunities as well as art galleries, shops (many of which sit above the water on stilts), bars and of course, a wide selection of delicious restaurants that serve up fresh local seafood including clams – the island’s specialty. You can also explore the Gulf waters by chartering a fishing boat or renting a kayak. And since the entire area of Cedar Key is only 2.1 square miles, you can walk everywhere you want to go or rent one of the area’s “Gulf karts” to get around.