CENTRAL FLORIDA TOP 10
- See the Sea Cows
Starting in mid-November, manatees come in from the cold, seeking the 72-degree water at Blue Spring State Park, just north of Orlando. Be the first to spot a whiskered nose break the surface. Raised walkways provide the perfect perch.
- Beautiful Balloon
Head up, up and away in a serene ride through the sky. Hop into a hot air balloon with Fantasy of Flight and gasp at breathtaking views as you skim over lakes and soar above woodlands surrounding Polk City.
- DIY Breakfast
Bananas, pecans, chocolate chips — you name it! Lump all this and more into a flavor-filled pancake with a build-your-own breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill in DeLand’s DeLeon Springs State Park. Each table has a grill, where you can flip your flapjacks.
- Need for Speed
Racing legends take the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway each year, and now it’s your turn! Take the wheel on eight, 18 or 30 white-knuckle laps in a 600-horsepower stock car with the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Chickens ride shotgun with an instructor for three laps.
- Ride the Sun
No road trip through the Tampa Bay area is complete without a ride over this architectural marvel: the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Bright yellow suspension cables — nearly 200 feet above the bay — light the horizon during nighttime crossings.
- We Have Liftoff!
NASA’s beloved space shuttle program ended this year, but the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center are still active. Watch from Jetty Park and feel the ground quake as rockets head into space.
- Wild Florida
Grab a kayak or canoe and paddle through seven miles of natural beauty. Spot deer, otters and sunning alligators as you cruise along the crystal water of the Juniper Springs run, winding through Ocala National Forest.
- Screaming Fun
Strap in and hang on! In Orlando, “fly” headfirst through inversions on Sea World’s Manta and scream your way through 3,800 feet of drops and loops to a custom soundtrack on Universal Studios’ Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. In Tampa, take a dare-you-to-do-it 90-degree drop on SheiKra at Busch Gardens.
It’s not just the crowd that explodes when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers score at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. A 103- foot pirate ship behind the north end zone fires its cannons every time the Bucs tally a touchdown or field goal.
- Greek for Delicious
Locals know where to find the best food, right? When in the Greek community of Tarpon Springs, follow them to Hellas Bakery, a staple since 1970. We bet your mouth waters for fresh-baked baklava and other treats.