The US News lists Orlando in the top ten for ‘Best Family Spring Break Destinations’ and, with an abundance of both recreation and relaxation, we couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re spring breakin’ solo or with your posse, Orlando is the perfect locale to leave Jack Frost behind and drink in the endless Florida sunshine. While the kiddos will find Orlando to be magical, there’s much more to do beyond family fun. Activities for adults are just as plentiful. Feel free to use the following as your spring break bucket list!
Park Hopping Happenings
Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort will bring the Big Easy to Central Florida every night starting February 1 through April 2, 2020 with its annual Mardi Gras celebration. With an authentic Mardi Gras parade, concerts and traditional Nawlin’ food favorites, you’re bound to have your cake and eat it too. The parade is hosted nightly and boasts floats made by Kern Studios, the same company that has decorated floats for Mardi Gras in New Orleans since 1947. Street performers will adorn colorful costumes with live musical acts hailing straight from Louisiana to keep the party grooving in the French Quarter Courtyard. On select nights, well-known musicians (to be announced) will headline on the Universal Music Plaza Stage. Concerts are standing room only and on a first come, first served basis. And don’t forget to jazz up your taste buds before or after the show with authentic Cajun cuisine with dishes like gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya and gator bites.
If marching in a parade is on your bucket list, you can ride one of the Universal Mardi Gras floats and fling beads to merry onlookers. Every night approximately two hours before the parade kicks off, hopeful guests may line up outside of A Day in the Park with Barney to fill available participation slots. If it’s your luck day, you’ll be outfitted with costume pieces and float instructions. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age, 48” tall and have no strollers or bags. Your chances of being chosen to ride are greater on weekdays, and annual passholders can also register online. The concerts, parade and beaded necklaces are included with park admission.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Resort
Now in its 27th year, Epcot will host its springtime soiree, the International Flower and Garden Festival, from March 4 through June 1, 2020. This display of beloved topiary characters and beautifully budding flora is a spectacle for the eyes to behold. Expect a blooming bouquet of bewilderment around every corner of the park with plant sculptures, outdoor kitchens and the Garden Rocks Concert Series.
The outdoor kitchens are kiosks stocked with mouthwatering morsels. If you’ve ever attended Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, anticipate the same vibe from these culinary carts. Do set aside some dough (minimum of $50) to properly indulge as event treats are typically more expensive than other park snacks, thus easily adding up. If you have a Disney Dining Plan with snack credits, definitely save them for this event.
Performers and schedules haven’t yet been released for the Garden Rocks Concert Series but plan to groove to tunes from the 60s and 70s at the America Gardens Theatre. These live nostalgic beats are typically played at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00pm every night during the festival.
Discovery Cove is unlike any other theme park in Orlando. Plunge into tropical waters inside of this all-inclusive day resort with no waiting lines! Soak up sandy beaches and rushing waterfalls as you leisurely swim at this exotic paradise.
Included with each reservation is the Explorer’s Aviary where birds fly to you as you feed them fresh fruit, the Freshwater Oasis with up-close interactions with adorable creatures like otters and marmosets, The Grand Reef for snorkeling amidst stunning sea life, the Serenity Bay with its inspiring tranquility, the Wind-Away River to float along; plus, unlimited food and beverages, complimentary snacks, lockers, showers and changing rooms, fresh towels, animal-safe sunscreen, snorkeling gear, wetsuits and vests.
There are just as many upgrade packages available at Discovery Cove to make a splash. Partake in the Seaventure to walk along the bottom of the reef donning a dive helmet. Or, feed stingrays and dare to swim near sharks.
Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Whether a newbie or pro, riding the waves packs a punch of fun. Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park offers private sessions and group surf lessons, both of which are conducted outside of normal operating hours (before or after park opening on most days). During solo sessions, prepare for a swell of adrenaline from 100 waves reaching over 5 feet tall and that can be divided into left, right or split breaks. Special add-ons for dining and photography are available; for pricing and booking, call (407) 939-7529.
Surf classes with fellow wave riders are taught by a professional able to tailor teachings to all levels. Book magical lessons for $190 per person (inclusive of light continental breakfast).
Other Seasonal Favorites
Aquatic Adventures in Winter Park
Orlando isn’t landlocked. Less than twenty minutes from downtown Orlando, Winter Park is a year-round retreat thanks to waterways, a European essence and fine fare. You’ll feel a world away from the theme park craze but enjoy the local attractions nonetheless.
Beginning every day at 10am, Scenic Boat Tours set sail every hour until 4pm, coasting through two Venetian canals on the Chain of Lakes. Aboard an 18-passenger pontoon, expect to see flourishing flora and fauna. Tours cost $14 for adults and $7 for children ages 2-11; cash or checks only.
For a completely different view of the Chain of Lakes, glide along with the Get Up and Go Kayaking company. Three different kayaking tours – daytime, sunset and glow-in-the-dark – are offered in Winter Park, each leaving from Dinky Dock and lasting about two hours. Tours range from $45-$55 per person.
Also, consider scheduling your spring schedule around the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.
The Orlando Museum of Art, Mennello Museum of American Art and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College may be the most well-known spaces in Orlando, but there are many other neighborhood museums with free admission and priceless displays. Take a day to step away from the parks and the screens to learn through creative entertainment at one of these underrated galleries.
- Central Florida Railway Museum – Chug to the days of yesteryear when railways were the lifeline of transporting goods and people. The Central Florida Railway Museum is sure to delight choo-choo enthusiasts both young and old with volunteers offering interesting tidbits. Afterward, take a quick one-minute jaunt to the Winter Garden Heritage Museum to further learn how West Orange County is tied to the railway system.
- Crealde School of Art – With indoor exhibitions and an outdoor sculpture garden, Crealde beautifully showcases the vast diversity of art and the mediums used to express ideas and artistic statements.
- Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida – Reflect upon historical events of the Holocaust through permanent and traveling displays while understanding how the past relates to us today.
- Museum of Seminole County History – This museum calls two separate structures home. Learn about the rich history of north Orlando and how the county has been used as a transportation hub.
- Sanford Museum – Discover what makes Sanford a local favorite by exploring its historical roots. While the museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, tours can be arranged with advanced two-week notification.
- Winter Park History Museum – Spend time perusing Winter Park history before setting out on a self-guided walking tour of 20 notable stops or 24 stops if you choose the extended version.
- Zora Neale Hurston Museum – Explore the emotions of life with fine art as the vessel. The Zora Neale Hurston Museum has scoured the earth to present a collection of fine art featuring items both on permanent display and loan.
Staycations are the perfect solution for locals longing for a getaway without the burden of laborious travel. Hilton Orlando is an ideal place to recharge and rejuvenate. This upscale hotel is modern with comfortable décor and furnishings. Staff strives to ensure each guest receives the level of service everyone has come to expect at any Hilton property. Hilton Orlando is centrally located to main attractions, making it perfect for impromptu moments when venturing offsite.
However, we guarantee there’s no need to leave the property because the vast amenities will keep your conveniently cozy onsite. The main pool is temperature controlled and features a zero entry. Adventure seekers 48” or taller can glide down the winding waterslide for an exhilarating rush. Reserve one of six cabanas to lounge in luxury as you order from Tropics Pool Bar and Grill. If the excitement of the main pool is a little much for your vacation vibes, saunter to the quiet resort pool reserved for guests 18+. This serene retreat also offers a relaxing whirlpool and canopied cabanas.
You won’t want to miss the chance to float around the 892-foot-long lazy river twisting its way around the resort. Along the way, find waterfalls, fountains and even water cannons. For those traveling with younger vacationers, claim a spot at the newly added splash pad. Your precious treasures will enjoy endless flowing water as you revel in a few quiet moments. Win-win for all!
No vacation or staycation would be complete without some pampering at eforea spa. Staying true to the region it calls home, clients are seduced into relaxation with citrus aromas and tropical atmospheres. Have fun with a girls getaway or fellows furlough by booking a group service.
When you’ve refueled your mind and soul, head to one of seven restaurants to recharge your body. Choose from fine dining like Spencer’s Steaks and Chops, the elevated pub of David’s Club Bar and Grill for craft cocktails and brews or the 24-hour Scratch Market serving up gourmet goodies.
During spring time and always, Orlando welcomes you with open arms and hopes your travels, whether near or far, are unforgettable. Happy spring break!