Looking for some opinions for the family trip this summer. Me, Hubby, 12yr old daughter and 4yr old son were thinking of going to Florida. We are a part of a vacation ownership thing, and have places available in both Daytona Beach and Orlando/Kissimmee.
I love the idea of staying at an oceanfront resort, but I’m concerned that there is not a lot to do in Daytona that’s right for a family. Orlando is of course full of things to do, but since we can’t afford Disney (and I cringe at the thought of how many stupid parents and bratty children will be around there) that’s not a huge concern.
Musts - Kennedy Space Center, oceanfront, Universal Studios
We always do day trips from our resort (we even took an overnight trip to Vegas one time when we were staying in Sedona), so driving from Daytona to Orlando, Kennedy, etc., is no big deal. Plus, it looks like there is a lot of nice state park land just inland from Daytona, and not so much around Orlando.
Also, anything else I should be considering? Humidity, hurricanes, drunken tourists, etc.?
I found Daytona Beach to be an interesting town, but there was a lot of drinking going on, and a reasonably high dirtbag population. I know this is denigrating a portion of the population of this fine town, but well, that was my experience. I’m a bit of a dirtbag myself, but I don’t see the town as super children friendly. Hell, I like the drinking culture.
I’m thinking Cocoa Beach might be a bit more family friendly. Make sure you go to Merritt Island. Depending on the time of year, there is awesome bird watching. Go to the Canaveral National Seashore and head to Haulover Bridge. You are almost guaranteed to see manatees, which are unbelievably cool.
A word of warning though, if you are anxious to try to see a shuttle launch, they are very inconsistent, and are more often than not canceled.
Birds are good pretty much year-round.
Be aware that I-4 between Daytona and Orlando can’t be relied on as a fast route - it often clogs with traffic.
There’s a nice lighthouse down the beach a bit - Daytona Shores, maybe, something like that. We enjoyed it. Also, I was surprisingly enthralled with the Speedway - it’s really very interesting even if you don’t give a crap about NASCAR. The museum portion is particularly good, I thought.
Agreeing with Darryl above, I grew up near Orlando, and spent a lot of time in Daytona. If you can enjoy a nice, ‘more quiet’ beach experience, with close access to all of the good touristy stuff, the Cocoa Beach or New Smyrna Beach areas can be great. The beaches themselves are at least as nice as Daytona. Having said that, you probably still want to drop the $5.00 it costs for a beach pass for your car at Daytona, one day. I was there with my 12yo daughter and 6yo son last weekend (we went for the race), and had a great time. We rode the decrepit skyway ride out to the end of Daytona’s pier, and actually saw some big dolphins jumping up out of the waves. Of course my camera’s batteries died right then!