Top 10 Bucket list for Florida

Whilst we are in Florida we wanted to make a

Top 10 Bucket List

for what we really want to do whilst we are here. As we tick them off we will be sure to add the post links so you can find out for yourself what we thought.

So here it is, our top 10:

1.Disney World:

Everyone knows about Disney World, it is probably the most ‘touristy’ thing to do whilst in Florida, but with a child who loves Disney and whilst we are on a trip of a lifetime why not? Disney World is a magical place full of adventure and is almost every child’s dream. When I was a child I remember trying to persuade my parents to take me and my siblings to Disney World but we didn’t have the money and it wasn’t something at the top of my parents list for us, so we just accepted that. I always promised myself that if I ever went to Florida I would go to Disney World just to experience it. I mean adults love it too right?

The property covers 42,000 acres (16,997 ha; 66 sq mi), where it houses 24 themed

resort hotels,four theme parks,two water parks,four golf courses,and numerous additional recreational and entertainment venues so plenty to keep even the most short attention spanned children (Jenson!) amused for days.

The theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot,Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom plus the water parks Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach

So yes we are VERY excited to go to Walt Disney World, and there will definitely be a blog post about it here shortly after we have visited.

  1. Downtown Disney: We got told about Downtown Disney before we came to Florida. We wanted to visit Disney World anyway because why not? I mean who comes to Florida with kids and doesn’t go to Disney World?! Downtown Disney is part of Disney World but is completely FREE! We just HAVE to go there! This is how it is explained on the Disney site itself:“ World-class restaurants, dazzling entertainment and unique shops line the waterfront at Downtown Disney area. Shop in the world’s largest Disney store, dine amid life-size prehistoric creatures, bowl a game at the 30-lane alley and more. This fun-filled district includes Downtown Disney West Side, Downtown Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island. Parking and admission to Downtown Disney area are complimentary.”

Visit Disney’s website for more details Here.

3.Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands:

(Taken off the website which explains the Everglades perfectly), ‘

Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther. An international treasure as well – a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected areas under the Cartagena Treaty.

‘ – We are very excited to see the Everglades even though not many people have suggested them to us and are looking at different options to best see the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, let us know your suggestions if you have already travelled in the area. Carl did an air boat excursion a few years ago so we are hoping to see some different areas this time around. We hope to go here towards the end of our time in America as we pass back down through Florida, before we fly down to Brazil on the 27th September.

4.Ybor City:

Known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter for over a century, we are reliably informed it is well-known for its exotic scents, flavours, sights and sounds. From roasting Cuban Coffee’s in the morning to great Latin music into the late evening. It is definitely a place we want to visit said to be full of great culture.

There is a wide variety of cuisine at Ybor City which is what it is most famous for, the Spanish, Cuban, Greek, Italian and French foods have all been recommended to us, so whatever your taste buds there will be something for you. There is a lot of different things to do with your day there including browsing art galleries and visiting museums. It is also possible to see a ‘handmade cigar’ being produced in front of your eyes, which I have wanted to witness since Carl told me about watching Cuban style cigars being made in Miami. It also has a wide range of music played throughout the day and all sorts of different entertainment. I find it shocking that no-one has ever suggested Ybor City to us, but it is definitely our thing! We are looking forward to it for sure. We aim to go to Ybor city within the next few weeks as it is not far from where we are staying.

5.Destin/Pensacola Beach:

When asking about places to go in Florida on our Facebook page there was some slight disagreement about which is the best beach in Florida. Although Destin has long been renowned as the best beach, recent reports have said it is starting to look a little run down and Pensacola Beach has been recommended as an alternative. Well lucky for us we are going to be passing both, plus the beaches at Panama when we travel west in late August/September so we are going to take a leisurely drive up the coast road and check them all out along the way. We will then be sure to decide which we prefer and give you some highlights.

6.Sponge Docks:

Although not a town we were familiar with, several people have recommended the small town just north of Tampa as a great day out. Promising old american charm, more great food and a laid back atmosphere we are keen to check out this place that we are promised is a hidden gem. We would also be looking to do this Dolphin Cruise to see some great wildlife

7.Swim with Manatees:

This may have to wait until next time around but is definitely something we wish to do in the future. Sadly it is not recommended for under 3’s so Jenson would not be able to come along which pretty much rules it out currently for us. For those with slightly older children Florida is one of the few places in the world where you can take trips to swim with wild Manatees, these gentle giants are meant to be truly amazing to be up close with.

8.Daytona International Speedway:

This is one for Carl! The world-renowned speedway at Daytona is one of the USA’s most famous tracks whilst staying just an hour away it seemed a shame not to check it out. We are therefore looking to get tickets to the Red Bull Global RallyCross event on the 22nd/23rd August. We will be experiencing this great track in all its glory with full American passionate fans in the grandstands and paddock access included which I have never known for anyone but VIP’s in the UK!.

9.SeaWorld Orlando:

SeaWorld is likely the best know marine life attraction in the world. Housing many varied and diverse species it is a great place to take your family. Most famous, and recently attracting some controversy the park also houses Orca or Killer Whales which we are excited to see. We took Jenson to London Aquarium a few month ago and he was fascinated by it all, so we are expecting another great day when we visit SeaWorld and are assured he will love it!

10.Kennedy Space Centre:

Kennedy Space Centre is at Port Canaveral by Cocoa Beach in Florida, if any of that rings any bells it is likely due to the fact that for over 50 years this site has been used to launch many rockets in to space including the manned shuttle missions. We are keen to go explore the site and find out what great things are to be found here. It is even possible to have a meal with an astronaut, so finally the toy Jenson’s grandparents got him for Christmas which says ‘There’s an astronaut at the door’ makes a little sense!

There you have it, our top 10 bucket list for Florida, we are intending on ticking off almost all of them in the next few months so keep checking back to see how we are getting on.

Downtown Disney

When starting out travelling it can be hard to decide where to begin, some say jump in at the deep end and go somewhere really remote with very few amenities for travellers, in a country where no one speaks our language, others say go anywhere, the world is big and you have years to explore it all. We decided due to a number of factors to start out rather tamely in comparison with some travellers and head for possibly the touristiest city on the planet frequented by endless droves of package holiday loving families from around the world. So we find ourselves here in Orlando and trying to get to know the city like locals but we are reliably informed even the locals go to Disney every now and then so who are we to stay away from one of the biggest family attractions on the planet. Besides with Jenson and Fiona we were never going to get out of Florida without going!

For those that are not familiar with Disney World it is a huge entertainment complex, containing amongst other things 4 theme parks, 24 hotels, 2 water parks, and 4 golf courses spread out over 42’000 acres. It is also legally two cities with all the legal stature of an independent district, which gives the Disney corporation special privileges when it comes to their use of the land and means they have minimum state interference. There will be several more posts before we leave Florida on Disney but right now we are going to focus on just one small part of Disney World which they call Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney is one of the areas of the complex that does not require any ticket to visit, and is therefore great for a first visit and getting that first magical taste of what Disney World has to offer not to mention being completely free to look around. Comprising of a collection of shops, street vendors, cafe’s and entertainment you can easily spend an afternoon or more looking around the area. As with most major attractions parking is free and plentiful, with only a short walk to the main areas of the site. When we arrived instantly you are greeted by the sound of music and the familiar Disney characters, if you have ever watched a Disney movie chances are you will find a character you recognise around here. As we walk around to a large stage area with plenty of seating a number of dance groups are performing and we watch for a little while taking in the atmosphere, Jenson however already had his eye on the life size Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story movies and ran to give him a hug at the first chance we gave him!

Other notable inclusions are several very large Disney Stores for all the Disney accessories and toys you could ever wish for, including toy stores where you can have toys custom made and the slightly confusing (given it’s July!) ‘Days of Christmas’ store for all your Christmas decoration needs, complete with elves making toys (I suppose all those Disney toys that will be given this coming Christmas aren’t going to make themselves!). Although there are a number of Disney stores in the UK, there is nothing as big as these. As we take a look around Jenson spots the Mickey Mouse collection; Original Mickey’s, dressed up Mickey’s, Party Mickey’s, every Mickey Mouse going! It was hard to get him away from them, but there were plenty of distractions too.

If your idea of a souvenir is more of the edible kind then you are not going to be disappointed, the area contains a number of places to eat as well as a large candy and sweet shop. One of the most interesting and exciting places to eat in the area is the Rainforest Cafe, heavily decorated inside with a rainforest theme and many model animals for the children to look at it is a great fun place to eat. Although on this occasion we did not choose to eat here, although the meals are reasonable given the very touristy location with most adult meals under $20 or around £10.

So as first impressions go, Downtown Disney left us happy and excited to get in to the main parks to see what more Disney World has to offer, of which we are sure there is plenty. People say that a two week trip still leaves you wanting more so it will be interesting to see how long it takes us to get around all the parks later in our stay. For now we have enjoyed our first taste of Disney, keep following our blog and social feeds for the latest on our travels and to hear our full review of Disney World in the coming months.

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