When you think of Florida you think of Disney World, golf courses and hot sunshine but there is lots more to do with hundreds of miles of sandy beaches and amazing wildlife. Here are just a few Florida day trips we recommend that within 90 minutes of Orlando.
A quaint town 25 miles North West of Orlando, Mt Dora is one of the oldest settlements in Florida. Now I know some of you may be thinking that Florida is flat, and the truth is you are right. But by the standards Florida, Mt Dora really does have a mountain. OK it is only 238ft high, but short of manmade structures; just try finding anything like this elsewhere in Florida and it’s a great place to spend a day.
Spend the morning on a Segway. They are great fun and we have ridden them all over the US and in many parts of Europe as well. Segway of Central Florida will take you out on a guided tour after instruction on how to ride. The novice tour takes you down to the water and around parts of the town with narration from your guide. Experienced riders get the tour up the mountain and need to be careful as the air gets thinner at 238ft …. One year we were talking to a new guide who had been challenged by a visitor who was lying across the path. Yes that’s right you can even meet an alligator on a Segway!
Lunch at Pisces Rising is not to be missed. You get a great view over Lake Dora, the food is good and the service is top notch. In the height of the summer dine inside to cool down. It is a well-known meeting location for various clubs and we have seen some fabulous cars there as a club has stopped for lunch.
In the afternoon take a trip out on the lake on the tour boat. The sunset trip is quite relaxing and the guide will tell you about the history of the lake and the town. It is a pleasant way to see the wildlife and the housing. If this is too tame for you then try a Sea Plane ride or kayaking with the alligators, but if we have to behave ourselves then there are olde worlde shops to browse and a great choice of ice creams
Less than 60 miles from Orlando, over on the Atlantic coast is Daytona Beach. On the way in you will pass the famous Daytona Speedway as it rises above you on your right. The scale of it is staggering. Race meetings are often well attended so buying tickets in advance is advisable. They also offer a tour around the Daytona raceway on a coach and you get to see first hand the slope of the race track which is pretty amazing and almost impossible to walk up because it’s so steep.
If you arrive ready for lunch then stop at the Olive Garden just after the race circuit. The Italian based food is one of the best from a chain restaurant that you can get. The wine selection is fairly good and although the prices are a little more than average, the quality of your experience well justifies the bill.
The jewel in the crown of Daytona Beach is the fact that you can drive on the beach, a tradition dating back to the early days of the motor car. Follow Route 92 from the I95 and you pass the Speedway (and the Olive Garden) and just keep going until you get to the sea. You literally drive off the road and onto the beach. You can drive the whole six miles south along the beach with the Atlantic rollers breaking on the beach beside you. Take time to stop and walk along the beach or take a ride on a quad bike from one of a number of rental sites.
If you have the time to travel further south, then the sand dunes appear, the traffic is gone and the developments starts to thin out. Chill out and just listen to the waves crashing on the beach.