Many Americans will be traveling this summer, and most by car. AAA reports that the number of Americans who will be traveling over the July 4 weekend is up 17 percent from last year, and 90 percent of those will be driving to their destinations.
With most vacations turning into driving trips, we decided to give Winter Parkers some quick, drivable "staycation" ideas. Check out some day trips with deals built in specifically for Florida residents.
Universal Studios is offering a year pass for just around $40 more than a one-day ticket. The pass gets visitors into both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. That means a year's worth of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are also two- and three-day deals for Floridians, and many are only offered online. Check out their website at www.universalorlando.com.
SeaWorld is offering its own deals for Florida residents. They've got something no tried and true theme park expert — and most Central Floridians are — could pass up. A year's pass to either SeaWorld or Busch Gardens is $69.95 for a Florida resident when purchased online. That's $10 less than a day's pass to the parks. SeaWorld is also offering a $5 child's ticket with the purchase of a single-day adult ticket. All of the proceeds from children's tickets benefit wildlife conservation efforts. Find the online discounts at www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.
Disney couldn't be the only park without discounts. They give Florida residents about $100 off annual passes. There are also discounts on day passes. All special prices are only online at www.disneyworld.disney.go.com
Fantasy of Flight
West of Disney, in Polk City, is Fantasy of Flight. The museum immerses its visitors in aviation history, with planes dating from the early 1900s. "It offers more than just a day out — it's a trip to the past," said Jennifer Montague, director of sales and marketing. The attraction is not just a museum, it has hot air balloon rides and biplane rides. The museum has has ways to save. Visitors who donate one of the specified school supply items listed on their website get $5 off an adult admission for each donation. Also, all Florida service industry employees get a buy-one-get-one-free adult ticket discount. Fantasy of Flight is located at 1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E. in Polk City, right off of Interstate 4. Visit www.fantasyofflight.com for more information.
The Pioneer Settlement
For an educational experience for the family, set out on a day trip to The Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, located at 1776 Lightfoot Lane in Barberville. The historical village has 18 restored buildings, such as a print shop, blacksmith shop and post office. The settlement hopes to illustrate life in rural Florida in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During the summer, tours are self-guided, but there is a jamboree every first Saturday of the month. Musicians play bluegrass and country music, much you'd never hear on the radio, said Gary Tallacksen, associate director. Visitors are invited to join in the singing and playing. It's open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and costs just $6 for adults and $4 for children. Visit www.pioneersettlement.org or call 386-749-2959 for more information.
For an even bigger lesson on history, visit Mount Dora, a town dedicated to its historical side. Climb over its famous hilly terrain and under canopies of old oak trees, all while getting a guided tour of the town with Mount Dora Trolley Company. The trolleys run about once a day — call 352-385-1023 for a schedule — and the tours are one hour long. The trolley takes guests through the quaint shopping village, past historical homes and beautiful Lake Dora. "Our tour tells about the past, present and future of Mount Dora," said Cindy Shard, an owner of the Trolley Company. Tickets are $13 for adults and $11 for children.