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With gas prices climbing every time we head to the pump, a family road trip this summer doesn’t seem to be making it into everyone’s budget this year. How about a stay-cation? What’s a stay-cation you ask? A stay-cation is when you stay…and vacation…right here where you live. Take advantage of the things right here in your own town. Become a tourist….. in your backyard! What better place to do that than Orlando….one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. Now, the trick is to do it without breaking the bank, right? That was the whole point we were making with the gas prices and all. So, here are some great ideas of fun things to do right here in town that will feel like you are on vacation, but won’t cost like you are on vacation.
Head to the Springs
Florida has a countless number of natural springs, and many have been turned into state parks for our enjoyment. Most offer swimming,snorkeling, canoeing, hiking, picnic areas, playgrounds, and many also have campgrounds. For a very small fee, some as low as $1 a person, you can enjoy a day in the park. Click here to find a spring near you.
Fort Christmas is a historical park located Christmas, Florida and is home to a replica of the original fort built in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War. It also includes seven pioneer homes, a sugar cane mill, and historical farming equipment. The 25 acre park has several picnic pavilions, a playground, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, and a gift shop. Park hours are Tuesday through Sunday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm during the summer and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm during the winter. The park is closed on Mondays. Admission is free.
Want to experience Disney without using up your children’s college fund? Head to Downtown Disney! You will find a large selection of Disney themed shops and restaurants. Feel free to window shop and take in the Magic of Disney without spending a dime! There is something for everyone, from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where your little girl can become a little princess, to the Lego Imagination Center where there is a 3,ooo sq ft play zone to play in for free, and even a Disney Christmas store that’s open all year long.
Free Outdoor Movie
Enjoy a free movie outside under the stars. Several cities do this through the summer on a regular basis. Winter Park has “Popcorn Flicks” the second Thursday of the month in Central Park. Maitland has “Movies in the Park” at Quinn Strong Park the second Saturday of the month. There is “Sunset Cinema” at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs, or “Date Night” at Leu Gardens in Winter Park. Whichever you attend, bring a blanket or a chair, and enjoy!
Visit a farmers market and try something new. Maybe even get your kids to try a new veggie or two! Winter Park farmers market is on Saturday at the old train depot, 200 West New England Ave. It is from 7-1, and hosts vendors of produce, plants, baked goods and more! The city of Maitland has their farmers market on Sunday’s at Lake Lily from 9-2, where you can enjoy the same produce and baked goods, and also live music! You can also find markets in Sanford, Lake Mary and College Park.
Flea World-Fun World
Stroll through the 1500 vendors at flea world, the largest flea market in Florida! This market offers everything from antiques, new and used items, fresh produce,and even animals for sale. The paved walkways take you through a maze of covered walkways, sometimes air conditioned, that lead to each vendor. Maps and directories are available to make it easy to find your way around. The flea market is open year round Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Next door to Flea World is Fun World Family Fun Park. Take the family for some fair food, go karts and mini golf!
Black Hammock Adventures
Head out to Black Hammock Wildlife Exhibit and meet Hammy, the 12 ft, 680 lb gator! Black Hammock is located on Lake Jesup, a 10,000 acre lake that is home to about 9,000 alligators! The complex includes fantastic airboat rides, a gift shop, the Lazy Gator Bar, and a display of live gators, including the 35 year old Hammy. On Sunday’s you get to see the gators being fed. Finish your day at the Black Hammock restaurant where you can enjoy a casual meal, and maybe even try some gator tail!
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
Complimentary tours and wine tasting are offered seven days a week at Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard. Monday through Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 11-5. Tours are held eery 15-20 minutes. The vineyard sits on a 127 acre estate in a gently rolling countryside west of Orlando. Lakeridge ranks as Florida’s largest premium winery, and remains a pioneer in the development of table and sparkling wines from muscadine and hybrid grapes.
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
Visit the Birds of Prey center in Maitland and see the largest collection of eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and kites east of the Mississippi. The injured and orphaned birds are brought here and rehabilitated , and more than 40% of them are able to be released back into the wild. The center also provides environmental programming promoting a culture of conservation towards birds of prey and their habitats. Center hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children. 3 and under are free.