Cool Places to Visit Near Orlando, Florida

Cool Places to Visit near #Orlando #Florida #travel
For the last week and a half my family and I have been traveling around Florida on a ten day road trip. While we were in the area we spent most of our time wandering around Orlando and it’s neighboring areas in search of adventure. Even though Orlando in itself offers quite a bit of entertainment between Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, the neighboring cities also have a lot to offer and can provide a bit of respite from the bustling Orlando lifestyle.   
Below are some of the amazing places we found while feeding our wanderlust gene in the beautiful state of Florida. 

Melbourne Beach {Melbourne Beach, Florida}
Melbourne Beach Sunrise
A Florida sunrise from the back porch of my Melbourne Beach rental home.

Found about 76 miles southeast of Orlando is a quiet and relaxing beach town known as Melbourne Beach. This place is a hidden gem with clean, un-crowded beaches, nice restaurants, affordable rental homes or hotels and plenty of sunshine. We spent quite a bit of our time here and loved going to sleep at night to the sound of crashing waves and waking up each morning to the sight of the most beautiful sunrises we’ve ever seen.

My babies playing in the sand on Melbourne Beach. 

Barrier Island : Sea Turtle Conservancy {Melbourne Beach, Florida}

Also within the Melbourne Beach area, we happened across this interesting looking building with a huge turtle painted on the side of it.

Barrier Island Sea Turtle Conservancy #travel #Florida

The Barrier Island: Sea Turtle Conservatory is a great place to stop and learn about ways you can help to save the sea turtles. Inside their building we walked around a small museum like area, read about the species, habitats and then watched a short movie.

Out back, on their observation deck, we were able to walk through natural vegetation paths and view the ocean beachfront. There was also this sign, which I loved.

Travel Florida

Brevard Zoo {Melbourne, Florida}

In Melbourne, just across the bridge from Melbourne Beach and only 60 miles from Orlando, we went back to visit one of my all time favorite zoo’s.

Brevard Zoo #travel #florida

The thing that makes this zoo so amazing is their open habitat design. The Brevard Zoo makes wildlife education hands on and interactive. For instance, we were able to take a train ride through the animal habitats, like a safari. The animals were free to walk up to us and we were able to see how amazing and majestic they really are up close.

This parrot happened to be my favorite. Isn’t he beautiful?  Read more about my zoo adventures here.

Red Parrot

Botanical Gardens : Florida Institute of Technology {Melbourne, Florida}

Also, while in Melbourne, we decided to check out the botanical gardens on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology. This self guided tour is free and also comes with free visitors parking.

Botanical Gardens Florida Institute of Technology
To get to the gardens from the parking lot, we first had to cross through this long bridge. I didn’t mind, however. In fact, this bridge quickly became one of my favorite parts about the visit. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the gardens did not disappoint either! 
I would think of these gardens as a look into retro Florida. All of the vegetation here is natural to the area so taking a trip here allows visitors to see the real, old school Florida in all of it’s beauty. 

Exploration Tower {Port Canaveral, Florida}

Only 25 miles away from Melbourne (and 50 miles from Orlando) is a port city called Port Canaveral. This port city is where people go to board a ship for a cruise. In fact, we were able to see a couple of cruise ships either boarding or un-boarding while we were there. I couldn’t believe how large they are up close! 
While we were in the bay we came across this weird looking building. Apparently this is an exploration tower that hosts museum like artifacts and offers visitors an overlook of the area from a rooftop observation deck. We didn’t have time to go up, but it definitely looked amazing from the outside!!
Port Canaveral Exploration Tower

Parker Brothers Concepts {Port Canaveral, Florida}

One place we did visit in Port Canaveral was the Parker Brothers Concept studios. These innovators are the minds behind the cars, trucks, motorcycles and machines you often see in popular movies and television shows. They are also the people behind the reality show Dream Machines which airs on the SyFy Network. Here in Port Canaveral they create new concepts and display past builds for interested car enthusiasts like the members of my family.

Parker Brothers Concepts tour

Outside the building we found the Ghost Busters car. . but inside we found cars and trucks from the movies Transformers and Battleship among others.

However, the coolest thing in this shop to both my husband and my son was the bat mobile! They were like kids in a candy store. Seriously, giddy with excitement.

While none of the cars can be touched just admired, the amazing staff did let us take a quick seat in the bat mobile to which my son proclaimed “My butt touched where Batman’s butt touched!” He’s only four, so it’s cute.

Daytona Beach {Daytona, Florida}

If you’re headed north from Orlando, Daytona is also a fun place to stop. Only about 55 miles from the city is this cheery, hoping fun place where the beaches are long and the shopping is plentiful.

Daytona Beach #travel

Fort Matanzas {St. Augustine, Florida} 

Furthest from Orlando, but well worth the drive, is Saint Augustine, Florida. This Spanish inspired area is full of beauty and culture. It is also home to one of the U.S National Monuments, Fort Matanzas.

St. Augustine Fort Matanzas

Fort Matanzas played a large role in guarding St. Augustine’s southern river approach as European nations fought for control in the New World. This fort, which is only accessible by boat depicts what life would have been like back then for a soldier protecting these grounds. 

Fort Matanzas

We were excited to be able to go up into the towers and onto the roof to get a view of the entire area. We could actually see a pretty long way from the top! Sort of scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

Helpful Tip: Visits to the fort are free, but tickets are available on a first come first saved basis and only a limited amount of tickets are given out per time slot. Boats tour the area every hour.

Walt Disney World {Orlando, Florida}

Last but not least, while we were in Orlando we enjoyed showing our Disney Side in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This place is beaming with joy, possibilities.. . and also princesses.

Walt Disney World #Orlando
Entering into Walk Disney World, Orlando
“Where should I go?” -Alice. “That depends on where you want to end up.” – The Cheshire Cat.” 

Where do YOU want to go? Have a favorite place to visit in Florida? Tell us about it. 

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