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. 

Go ahead, PIN IT for later.

Brevard Zoo: Melbourne, Florida

Disclosure: All or part of this trip was provided for free or at a reduced cost for review purposes. But the opinions are only that of the writer and cannot be bought.
#ad #BrevardZoo #Florida

A few years back I stumbled upon a zoo while traveling with my kids through Melbourne, Florida on a family road trip. As we drove up to the entrance we weren’t sure what to expect since we hadn’t heard of this place before, however after entering through the gates we couldn’t believe how amazing this zoo was. The amount of interaction with the animals and with the staff was beyond that which we had seen before. Today, fast forward three years and have found ourselves back in the same area. Can you guess what the first place on my list to visit again is? Yep! The Brevard Zoo.

Yesterday we headed into Brevard County, Florida which is only about a 51 minute drive from Orlando to visit our friends at the Brevard Zoo. It is an easy drive over and one that was a definite decision for my family after our last visit many years ago. There are so many things that we loved about this zoo, but one of the most memorable points is the zoo’s open air design. Most of the animals  in this zoo are not placed behind cages but able to roam wild within their designated areas, which are conditioned as closely as possible to their natural habitats.

#ad #BrevardZoo #Travel #Florida Grounds
The walk through the zoo is tropical and beautiful. 

At the Brevard Zoo you wont find a polar bear or penguins, but what you will find is an array of exotic and indigenous animals which thrive in the warm weather climates presented here in Florida.

Throughout the zoo we were able to come in close contact with beautiful birds of all kinds, like this beauty. He even squawked to me as I walked up as if to say “Hello, Welcome!”.

#ad Brevard Zoo Parrot

Throughout the center of the zoo is a large flamingo play area.

#ad Brevard Zoo Flamingo Photo

There were even places where we could buy nectar and feed the birds right out of our hands!

#ad Brevard Zoo Bird Feeding

I loved being able to get an up close look at the bright and stunning colors of the birds. They were also quite friendly, but did scare my kids when they landed on their hands because of the feeling of their feet. They much rather wanted to look at them as we fed them instead of feed them themselves.

#ad Brevard Zoo Bird

After feeding the birds, we were able to try a hand at feeding something just a little bit bigger.

#ad Giraffe at Brevard Zoo

This beauty was the most graceful animal as she moved. When we stuck out a cracker she would gently use her tongue and lift the cracker back into her mouth and then wait patiently to see if we had any more.

#ad #BrevardZoo Giraffe
After feeding all of the other animals, my animals needed some feeding too so we grabbed lunch at the outdoor cafe and some Dippin Dots for dessert to cool us down. After all, just two days ago we were in 20 degree weather. This 88 degrees is wonderful but extremely hot to us. 
#ad Brevard Zoo Dippin Dots

Right behind the cafe area is a small train that we couldn’t wait to take a ride on. This train, which can be included in the price of your entrance ticket for a small additional amount, took us on a ride behind the scenes of the camel, ostrich, and a few other animal exhibits. At times the animals would walk right up to the train or over the path causing the train to stop and wait.

Brevard Zoo Train Ride #ad

This buddy watched me as I rode by him. Not moving, just starring.

#BrevardZoo #ad

Some other great features at the zoo are the keeper talks, the high ropes courses and the ziplines.

#ad Keeper Talk at the Brevard Zoo

I didn’t get a chance to do the high ropes courses over the zoo this time, but it is definitely on my to do list for when the kids get a little big bigger. At one point in this journey, you get to zip line over the alligator swamp! How awesome is that?

#ad Brevard Zoo High Ropes Course

The Paws On section of the zoo is all about interaction and play. If you plan ahead, there is a small kids wade pool in this section where little ones can cool off from the warm Florida heat. We didn’t get a chance to enjoy it, but it looked amazing! There were little waterfalls to splash under and a docked boat to play on.

#ad Brevard Zoo Paws On Exploration

Even though we didn’t get to play in the splash pad, my kids were enthralled with the small touch pool area where they were able to cool their hands and feel some underwater creatures.

#ad Brevard Zoo Touch Pool

For some dry fun, there is also a large sandbox area and a large tunnel play system. I have to admit, I got right in there and played with these things too.

#ad Brevard Zoo Sand Box

A few helpful tips when visiting the Brevard Zoo:

– Plan to buy your food and drink within the zoo. No outside food or beverage is allowed.
– Bring sunscreen and comfortable shoes. It took us about five hours to visit everything.
– As ahead of time about tickets for the train ride or the feed the animals, they have a package deal available which will save you money if you plan to do it all.

For more information, visit the Brevard Zoo on their website at

#ad Alligators Brevard Zoo
Sunbathing Beauties

Watch as we feed the Giraffe!