Florida is the land of the theme park. There is no shortage of interesting places to take a family while on vacation in the Sunshine State. However, Disney, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens can all be rough on the wallet.
In these tough economic times, might it be better to take advantage of some other ways to enjoy Florida without breaking the bank? If your family is looking for a nice Florida vacation without spending the kid’s inheritance, here are some suggestions.
You can still do a couple of the theme parks. Maybe you want to do a day at Disney this year and maybe visit Sea World next year. There is no hurry. These parks are not going anywhere anytime soon. But while you are here for a week or maybe two, how about some fun yet not as expensive ways to spend your day?
St. Augustine, Florida
Like for instance St. Augustine. In St. Augustine you can see the oldest city in the United States. Many of the historic buildings are still standing. There is a Spanish Fort, Castillo de San Marcos, that you can take a tour of. The Old Jail that has been there since the 1600s is still standing. So is the country’s oldest schoolhouse. St. Augustine is reportedly one of the nation’s most "haunted" places too. So while there, you might want to take one of several ghost tours -- just think, maybe you and the kids will even see Casper! Of course there is no shortage of cute little pubs and restaurants within walking distance of all of this. You can spend the day in St. Augustine and never need your car. Just a comfortable pair of shoes will do. The kids are sure to like visiting the Fountain of Youth and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. And they will absolutely love the Alligator Farm. All of which you can get in for under $25. http://www.alligatorfarm.us/
Just south of there you have Daytona Beach. While in Daytona you may want to visit Destination Daytona if you are a motorcycle enthusiast. One of the nation’s largest Harley Davidson Dealerships is located there as well as many other motorcycle related businesses. Find a school where people train to be motorcycle mechanics, as well as several restaurants, shops and hotels that cater mostly to motorcycle lovers.
From there you may want to visit the world famous Daytona International Speedway. Even if there are no races going on at the time of your visit, you can still take a tour of the facility for about $5 per person. The tour will take you to the garages where the teams work on the cars during race weekends and take you on the track itself. You will probably also see some cars on the track as the Richard Petty Driving Experience will likely be in operation. It is pretty expensive to drive, but you may want to be a brave soul and pay a few bucks to ride shotgun.
If you come down in the summer and you like baseball, you have hit the jackpot in Florida. Not only do you have two major league teams who rank as two of the biggest bargains in sports, the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, there is no shortage of minor league baseball all over the state. You can go see a Daytona Cubs game for under $7 per person and see a game in the ball park where Jackie Robinson made his debut in the Major Leagues, Jackie Robinson Ballpark. http://daytona.cubs.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t450 Or you can go up to Jacksonville and catch a Suns game in one of the most beautiful minor league parks in the nation, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
In fact, nearly every minor league team in the state plays in a ballpark built for major league spring training so you can see a game with major league facilities for a minor league price all over the state.
North and Central Florida Underground Springs
You want to get wet? There are no shortage of gorgeous underground springs in North and Central Florida where you can picnic, snorkel, swim or just lay out in the sun for a few dollars. Alexander Springs near Barberville, De Leon Springs near Deland, and Ichetucknee Springs north of Gainesville are some of my favorites. http://www.ichetuckneespringscampground.com/ You can rent an inner tube and float down the Ichetucknee for little money and spend five hours. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.
And of course there is the original attraction that brought everyone down in the first place, the beaches. As you can imagine there are no shortages of hotels you can stay in that are located right on the beach all over the state. If you do some research, you can find some bargains on hotel rooms. Many of them are hurting right now because of the economic times we are experiencing and are cutting prices. Once you are there your family can spend all day playing on the beach and never spend a dime, except maybe for an ice cream.
Finding a Golf Course
You like to golf? You can swing a dead (pick any animal) without hitting a golf course. Many are very exclusive and expensive, but many are very reasonable and in great shape. Most towns have a Municipal course you can play and many other courses are pretty reasonable too. Do a bit of research and you can find a good deal on a round or two.
So if you think you can’t afford to take the family to Florida because of the rough economy, maybe you just don’t know where to look. Do a little research. There is plenty to do here for a modest amount of money.