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Florida explored

Florida explored

We can’t get enough of Florida. We’ve been going steady with the Sunshine State for 30 years, and we’ve picked up a thing or two on how to make the most of your time out there. So, without much preamble at all, here’s our top spots to turn your Florida holiday into something extraordinary beyond those famous theme parks.

Park Smart

Universal CityWalk®

Universal CityWalk® is a great place to while away an evening or just a few hours. You’ve got plenty of cool attractions, eateries, bars and shops, plus some good old-fashioned street entertainment. You don’t even need tickets to Universal to enjoy everything here (There is a fee for parking if you come before 6pm though).



 


Disney Springs

Disney Springs might have cost squillions to build, but this playground costs nothing to visit. Well, that depends on if you want to spend anything at the countless shops (even non-Disney brands), restaurants and bars that cater to all tastes. Even without a cent spent, there’s tons of free entertainment available (check out the Legoland Imagination Centre!), all a part of the Disney spectacle. Enjoy. 

Legoland

Everything is awesome! And your team will think so too if you take them to Legoland. Located in Winter Haven (around an hour’s drive from Orlando), it’s a coaster-riding, show-stopping, brick-building good time.

Wild Florida Wildlife Park

This being the Sunshine State, gators are naturally a big attraction at Wild Florida. Just 40 minutes outside Orlando, it’s home to around 200 exotic critters. Oh, and there’s an exclusive Thursday afternoon tour for Virgin Holidays customers, complete with buffet!



 

Old Town, Kissimmee

Old Town in Kissimmee is a charming blend of open-air boutique mall, retro-themed Floridian town and fun fair. It’s worth a visit in its own right, but plan your visit for a Friday or Saturday night and, free of charge, you’ll be treated to the spectacle of an all-American car cruise, along with DJs and other entertainment.

 

Great Outdoors

Harry P. Leu Gardens

If you want a restorative couple of hours in beautifully cultivated surroundings, we can highly recommend Harry P. Leu Gardens. It’s got a programme of seasonal displays and, if you can manage it, is free to enter on the first Monday of each month. They also do outdoor movie nights during the cooler months — not too pricey and a pretty special experience.

Fort Christmas Historical Museum and Park

This fascinating park is free to enter and includes a replica of a fort built in 1837 during the Second Seminole Indian War; a traditional Florida ‘Cracker’ house and eight pioneer homes; a schoolhouse and lunchroom; a sugar cane mill and other bits of historical equipment.

Black Hammock Adventures

Fun/scary fact: the area around Black Hammock Adventures has the highest density of alligators in a state already famous for these prehistoric, snapping handbags. So, as you’d imagine, the free alligator exhibit is impressively gator-rich. There’s also free live music at the Lazy Gator Bar every weekend.

 

Beach day?

Clearwater and St Pete Beach

We’re not about to explain what can be fun about being in Clearwater and St Pete Beach on a wide sweep of beach with the rolling ocean beckoning you in for refreshing dips. Just be sure to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium while you’re in town — home to Winter, the world-famous dolphin with the prosthetic tail.



 

Cocoa and Daytona beaches

You’ve got yourself a couple of picture-perfect sand/ocean combos here. Back before NASCAR was a thing, cars used to race on a loop that included the Daytona seafront. Even now, you can still drive your car onto the beach – so park up, grab your cossies and have a blast in Cocoa and Daytona beaches.

Sarasota

Siesta Beach, Sarasota currently holds a top ten spot in the best beaches in the USA and, frankly, at this level of beach awesomeness, there’s barely a grain of sand between them all. The town is laid back and the whole area just exudes a classy cool that costs nothing to enjoy.

 

Beyond the beach

St Augustine

St Augustine is the perfect example of a great Florida day out that might otherwise take a back seat to inverted rollercoasters and lashings of Butterbeer. It’s an engrossing city to wander round, with a massive fortress, a great pirate museum, and some super-entertaining pirate cruises that you can take from the harbour.

Celebration

The town that Disney built. Really. As you’d expect — it’s practically perfect in every way. Celebration’s enduring appeal comes from its charming boutiques and eateries, and its great seasonal touches. Halloween is big thing here, and despite the lack of a wintry climate, over the Christmas holidays it ‘snows’ in the centre every day.

Rainbow Springs Tubing Tour

It doesn’t get much cooler than drifting lazily on an inflatable tube down a river that’s fed by refreshing springs. Rental at Rainbow Springs won’t break the bank, the ‘tour’ (going where the current takes you) lasts a couple of hours, you’ll get some outstanding views of the beautiful natural surroundings.

 

Food

Orlando Brewing

If you’re a fan of nu-ales and microbreweries (or just fancy a drink), then head to OB. They give free weekend brewery tours and live entertainment outside. You’ll even find menus at the tables to order yourself a takeaway. Don’t mind if we do.

Magical Dining Month

Every autumn during Magical Dining Month a wonderful array of Orlando restaurants offer three courses for a dramatically reduced price. No catches, no artificially small portions, just three delicious courses for up to half off the regular price. Part of the price goes to charity, so the warm feeling doesn’t end after you’ve nibbled your after- dinner mint.

Orlando Daily City Food Truck Bazaars

Food trucks are huge around the States, and Orlando’s got its own fleet of independently owned food trucks to deliver deliciousness. Every week, you can find loads of them flocking together at scheduled bazaars. Google ‘Orlando Daily City Food Truck Bazaar’, turn up and prepare to get served.

 

Shopping

Artegon

Billed as the ‘anti-mall’, Artegon is home to loads of independent retailers who proudly present their wares to Orlando residents and visitors. It’s a thoroughly entertaining place to come and shop for more niche items, get great food and people-watch.

Orlando Premium Outlets and Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets

If you or the kids need new trainers, jeans or need to resupply the wardrobe (even if it’s already stuffed), head to Orlando Premium Outlets or Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets for some of the best deals around. You’ll save a tidy 20-30% off the full price. Cha-ching.



 

The Mall at Millenia

We’re awfully pleased to have an exclusive relationship with this prestigious mall. Travel with us and you’ll enjoy an exclusive book of vouchers for great savings here. Complimentary drinks and appetisers while you decide where to shop? Tasty.

Tagged in:

  • Orlando
  • Beach
  • Disney
  • Gold Coast
  • Family
  • Gulf Coast
09 Sep 2019 | Virgin Holidays

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Your holiday may be affected by the government’s travel restrictions

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK have advised against all but essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected.

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Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers.

Your holiday will not be going ahead as planned

Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the Foreign Commonwealth Office have advised against all but essential travel. Therefore, with known airline cancellations, the following holidays will not go ahead as planned:

  • Any holidays departing before 27th April 2020.
  • Any Caribbean holidays departing before 1 May 2020.

We’re flexible with your holiday plans

We understand you may want to change your holiday plans. You can postpone your holiday to any time before 31 December 2021, and even choose a different destination. We won’t charge you to make these changes.

For now, we do ask you not to contact us. As a priority, we are currently supporting those customers whose holidays have already been directly affected by cancellations. We will contact you as soon as we can, or if there are any further changes that could affect your holiday.

We know you’ll want to get this sorted as soon as possible, and we’re very grateful for your understanding.

Please look out for an email from us in the coming days and weeks with our latest advice. See our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for latest updates.

You’re good to go

In line with the advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK, and known airline cancellations, all trips booked from June onwards are currently going ahead as planned.

As a priority, we are currently supporting those customers whose holidays have been directly affected by cancellations.

So, for now, we ask you not to contact us. Rest assured we are contacting all of our customers by email in departure date order to support them with options, and we will absolutely let you know if your situation changes.

Please look out for an email from us in the coming weeks. See our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for latest updates.

Rebook your holiday


We are sending all affected customers a voucher by email that is valid for the full value of your cancelled holiday. When you rebook, we’d like to gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles too.

There’s no rush. You can redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us any time before 31 July 2020.

We know you’ll be wanting to get this sorted as soon as possible. So please look out for our email for more details of how to amend your holiday plans.

Cancel your holiday


We're sending all affected customers a voucher by email that is valid for the full value of your cancelled holiday.  

Rather than cancel, if you’d like to travel with us sometime in the future, we would still love to find a great holiday for you (and gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles as a thank you).

If you'd prefer to cancel completely, we understand. We will refund you in full. Refunds will be successfully returned in approximately 90 days.

We know you’ll be wanting to get this sorted as soon as possible. So please look out for our email for more details of how to amend your holiday plans.

Your holiday is in safe hands


No need to contact us. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

Change it up


You can postpone your holiday to travel any time before 31 December 2021, and even choose a different destination. We won’t charge you to make these changes and our Service Team are there to help – just give us a call.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Your holiday is in safe hands


Your holiday is scheduled to depart as booked. Continue to pay off your holiday balance with the assurance that your money is fully protected through ATOL. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

The choice is yours


No problem! To amend your holiday dates, just give us a call. Any amendments to your booking can be made for £50pp, and our Service Team can help you decide on dates, or even a different destination.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Register yourself as away from home


If you’re abroad and your flight home has been cancelled please let us know, as relief flights will end soon.

Register as away from home

Alternatively, call our UK Duty Office on +44 0344 472 9646 (option 3) to discuss your options for getting home.

Book online


Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers

Help is at hand


Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types online and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

If you’re ready to book but can’t find the information you need on our website, just call our travel experts who will be happy to help.

To redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us, just give us a call and quote your old booking reference.

How would you like to talk to us?

Important information: We are working hard to help all of our customers, particularly those already on holiday or due to travel in the next 72 hours.