At first glance, it’s easy to typecast Orlando as a plastic, theme park haven and think that Orlando vacations always revolve around Disney. It is host to the largest collection of pre-programmed entertainment parks in the world and all the things that go with that: hundreds of hotels in every style and price category and a collection of restaurants, shops and nightclubs that’s much larger than its resident population could support. Florida Spring Break 2013: Join our road trip across the stateIn the past decade, Orlando travel has grown along with the area, much beyond its stereotype. Although landlocked, Orlando has thousands of lakes and is an hour from the beaches of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. There are dozens of golf courses, some of them PGA tour stops, and outdoor activities of every type are available nearly year-round in the subtropical climate. Demographically, Orlando looks much like what America as a whole might look like in 2020. Less than a third of the residents...See More were born locally and there are substantial African-American and Hispanic communities along with contingents of Brits and Canadians. It has become politically important as the “swing” component of the fourth largest state, poised between conservative northwest Florida and more liberal South Florida and is a global player in medical device manufacturing, software development, digital media production and entertainment. Despite the development of these serious businesses, Orlando hasn’t forgotten that, at root, it’s a place people come to have fun—whether that’s chasing a little white ball around with a stick, outrunning your stomach on a roller coaster, communing with cartoon characters or sunning on the deck of boat anchored in a secluded cove on a balmy winter’s day. Orlando travel largely revolves around Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Seaworld Orlando and a host of other attractions, all of which bring families to the area, but it's the city's beautiful beaches, gardens and new cultural traditions that keep them coming back.See Less
1 Hit the road again, destination: Ybor City, 90 minutes west. If you’re up for a beach run, head straight across Tampa Bay and down to Fort Desoto Park, one of the top beaches in the country. For an even more isolated beach experience, take the ferry from Fort Desoto across to Egmont Key.
2 If you did the beach, shower off and head back toward Orlando, stopping in Ybor City to have lunch at the Tropicana Café at Seventh Avenue and Angel Olive Senior Street.
3 After lunch, check out the museum at the Ybor City Visitor Center in Centro Ybor and visit the shops and tabacaleras along Seventh Avenue.