Posted: 4/27/2022 12:27:30 AM EDT
Planning on driving the family from Texas to visit Universal with my boys in August. I think we are only going to be in the park for 2 days as planned but will have at least a day to mess around in the area.
What are some cool things to do around the Orlando area and recommended non touristy places to eat.
What are your interests and how far from Orlando are you willing to go?
Kennedy Space Center is about an hour from Universal.
Fantasy of Flight, a pretty cool aviation museum is also.
An hour isn't bad but we live pretty close to Houston nasa. I was looking at some of the reptile zoos around that look pretty cool.
Gatorland is fun, if you are into that. There is a huge snake place in Kissimmee. I haven't been but a buddy who is more into that said they have an impressive collection.
I've been to Johnson and KSC, in terms of the more generic space stuff it's about the same, cool part about KSC is getting to go out and see the pads, the VAB and all that. If that doesn't excite you then it's a pass.
Most importantly, if you’ll be here in August…plan for rain.
Mornings are usually nice, temps in the low 90’s, humidity about the same, sunny and steamy.
Then plan on there being a CAT 1 (or better), HURRICANE for about 30-45 minutes, every day…sometime between 1:00 & 5:00 pm.
After that passes, you can go back out to enjoy the balmy evening.
As far as side trips are concerned, Gatorland is worthwhile for an afternoon. They have lots of big gators, a few snakes, and some fun add-on stuff like swamp buggie rides, and zip lines (over the gator pens).
Otherwise, the International Drive (I-Drive) area has been improving in recent years. Universal is investing in a new Epic Universe theme park just southeast of their current location, and they will be linked by the Universal Blvd / I-Drive corridor. Significant investment has resulted in some fun stuff to do around the convention center, south of Sand Lake Rd., and much of it is indoors and rain proof. They have a Top Golf, Andretti’s INDOOR Go Carts, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Wonder Works and the now infamous Icon Park.
Icon Park is actually a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. They have a cool little Aquarium geared towards kids, Madame Tousseau’s Wax Museum, and a huge Ferris wheel with fully enclosed, air conditioned capsules to view the surrounding area including the site of the new park under construction immediately to the east.
There’s also lots of places to eat in that immediate vicinity, or a short drive west on Sand Lake Rd. to the “Dr. Phillips area” with many good restaurants of all variety.
I should recommend Charlie’s Steakhouse and/or Fishbones (same owner) in the I-Drive area. They use a blend of oak, hickory, and citrus wood on their grill that gives a great flavor. Three are also plenty of Brazilian style steakhouses and everything else you could imagine in the Universal/I-Drive entertainment district. Just steer clear of places that look obviously gimmicky and you should get a decent meal.
If you have young kids, the Pirate dinner theater on Carrier Dr. was more fun than I was expecting, and the food was actually edible…sort of. Look for a Groupon though, it’s a little pricy otherwise.
Sign up for the ARFCOM weekly newsletter and be entered to win a free ARFCOM membership. One new winner* is announced every week!
You will receive an email every Friday morning featuring the latest chatter from the hottest topics, breaking news surrounding legislation, as well as exclusive deals only available to ARFCOM email subscribers.