Ultimate Family Road Trip Vacation to Orlando, Florida
The sun is beginning to warm up here in the Midwest and that means it's time to get ready for Summer Vacations. Residents in sunny Florida are so lucky to have sunshine all year long! Here in Chicago, we are not so lucky! My family loves to travel to Florida every few years to really soak up the sunshine! My family of five will be traveling this August for our annual summer vacation and we have selected Florida!
Why Florida? . . . because, Orlando is a magical place.
When Summer Vacation season hits, every family looks for the best spot to spend their week or two off. We selected Orlando, Florida because there is so much to do AND -- the sun is always shining!! People, it has been a dreary, wet summer here in Chicago thus far!
We are driving from Chicago to Orlando so we can take in a few sites along the way. This is a pretty long drive, so it's not very realistic(or ideal with three kiddos in the car) to drive nonstop. Plus, there is Nashville, Chattanooga and the beach to see along the way! Pit stops here we come!
My husband is usually the driver, he does not do well in the passenger seat because I drive much slower than he does -- so he drives. I offer, but he declines every time. my son has his permit and needs to get in some driving time as well, so hopefully, we will get him in the drivers seat for a bit of practice too.
Ultimate Family Road Trip Vacation to Orlando, Florida
How far is Orlando from Chicago? Nonstop drive: 1,150 miles Driving time: 17 hours. However, we are making a couple of pit stops along our way. Our Ultimate Family Road Trip Vacation to Orlando, Florida will take us 1,240 miles with a total driving time of a bit over 18 hours.
Orlando really is the family vacation location in my opinion. I think that is why we always return time and time again! Orlando has more than 450 hotels to choose from and there are over 5,000 restaurants, so we will be able to sample loads of fresh dishes. In addition to this massive food selection, there are over 100 attraction in Orlando. We will be packing in as much as humanly possible in the two weeks we have scheduled in Orlando!
Orlando, Florida is the perfect family road trip vacation destination. Orlando has so much to offer this Midwest family who misses the sun! Our Ultimate Family Florida Road Trip Vacation will begin in Chicago and end in Orlando, Florida and then be repeated in reverse.
We are headed to Orlando to take in everything it has to offer our family of five. Naturally we will be also heading to Disney World and Universal Studios, but Orlando is packed with so many attractions we had to select our top ones to squeeze in whilst there.
Places to Stop Between Chicago and Orlando
Aikman Wildlife Adventure
Our first pit stop will be at Aikman Wildlife Adventure here in Illinois. It is three hours from Chicago in Areola and will be a great first stop for my daughters. They adore animals and we will be able to stretch our legs before we get back in and head out of Illinois.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Our second pit stop will be in Kentucky. We will also be staying here for the night. We want to visit Mammoth Cave National Park and visit the labyrinth cave. We will leave bright and early the next morning and head straight into Nashville for breakfast at either Biscuit Love or The Loveless Cafe. I can't decide which one, so we may eat two breakfasts that morning!
We are also going to head to the Parthenon in Nashville. While my husband and I have seen the Pantheon in Rome, Italy, we would love to see the real Parthenon in Greece some day . . . the Parthenon in Nashville will have to suffice for now.
Rock City Gardens
We are going to check out Lookout Mountain in Lookout Mountain. I can't wait to see this bit of nature and the world-famous "See Seven States" view! I don't know if I will be brave enough to ride the Incline Railway, but we shall see! Rock City is 1700 feet above sea level (I sincerely hope my daughters and I have no issues - severe asthmatics), with a 100-foot waterfall that cascades down the mountain, and the famous Swing-A-Long bridge that spans nearly 200 feet.
After this pit stop, we will zip on down directly to Orlando. This will be a beast of a drive, but we need to get in town for our reservations.
Hotels In Orlando
We are staying at a few different hotels while in Orlando, so we will be doing some resort hopping! Our first resort stay will be at a resort in Orlando that will give us ample room to spread out for 8 days. We are renting a condo with a kitchen and three bedrooms. We prefer this over a hotel as we have some sleeping issues. Plus, this cuts down on the food costs as we can eat breakfast, pack lunches and make dinners if we want. Plus, having more than one bathroom with five people is a plus.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Our third and final resort stop will be at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando (check the prices). We will be spending some time at Universal Studios and we always enjoy staying on-site while we are in Orlando at this theme park. This is one of my kid's favorite places to visit!
What are some things to do in Orlando?
Gator and Wildlife Park - My daughters are all about nature and animals. My oldest daughter has already mapped out her life in that she is gong to college to study exotic animals and how to care for them. She will rescue every endangered animal on this planet someday - mark my word! Right now, Gator and Wildlife Park if offering your family the opportunity to see their animal shows, explore the Hawk Swamp, and hang out with our Wild Florida family for FREE through December 31st, 2017! Isn't that amazing! Keep in mind, they are closed on Sundays.
Gatorland - So we simply can not be in Orlando and NOT see an alligator, right? We are going to spend some time at the "Alligator Capital of the World", which is Gatorland. We hope to see alligators, crocodiles, and other animals. My kids are the MOST excited about trying out the Screamin' Gator Zip Line. You literally zip line over the alligators! I guess if we can traverse the jungles in Costa Rica, we can do this!
Airboating Adventures - We are all super excited to try out an airboat. We have never had this experience. We have canoed through marsh lands before, but never in Florida and never in an airboat. We can't wait to see the Florida swamps in the Florida Everglades!
The NASA Causeway - We are heading to the NASA Causeway to see a rocket launch!!! YEAH!! I haven't even told my kids about this one yet - this one is a total surprise for them!! On August 3, 2017, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-074, will launch the TDRS M communications and data relay satellite for NASA!!
Sea World - My kids have never been to SeaWorld and I haven't been since I was in my 20's! We are headed SeaWorld to check out all the thrilling coasters and experience up-close animal interactions. This is another day we are super excited about. We will be doing it all, the rides, the shows and the animal encounters. We plan on spending the entire day at SeaWorld (review coming soon) and experience the predator power of MAKO®, Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest coaster. We will dive into a virtual deep sea mission on the all-new Kraken® Unleashed Virtual Reality coaster as well
Walt Disney World - Okay, now a trip to Orlando would not be complete without visiting the Happiest Place on Earth, Disney World! We have selected one day to pack it all the fun! Can you believe this will be our 10th visit! I know that is not unusual for some families, but we are pretty far from Orlando here in the Midwest, so a 10th visit is a monument for us! (Review coming soon)
Cocoa Beach - Cocoa Beach is east of Orlando and is the beach my husband said he wants to visit. We will likely go to a few other beaches while we are visiting Orlando, but this is the one I know for sure we are visiting. We plan to spend some time on the beach and getting loads of sun and possibly even catching a wave.
Kennedy Space Center - My youngest daughter has a notebook already filled with questions to ask once we arrive here. I'm not sure what she thinks is going on here, I honestly think she thinks we are going to see a rocket blast off -- even though I have explained this will not occur on our visit. But, this will be our first time visiting Kennedy Space Center and we are all super excited.
Busch Gardens - MORE ANIMALS for my girls!! Busch Gardens is one of our nation's largest zoological institutions, with more than 2,700 animals! Right now, through August 6th, Busch Gardens is hosting their Summer Nights events, featuring park-wide party zones, summer cuisine, thrill rides in the dark and their all-new summer ice show at the Moroccan Palace, Turn It Up! (review coming soon)
Universal Studios Orlando - My family has a bit of a hardcore love for Universal Studios. My kids are a bit older now so they really enjoy the rides . . . the scarier, the better. Plus, Harry Potter, and I really don't need to say anymore on that topic. We adore staying on-site at the properties and this will be our first time at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. (review coming soon) We have previously stayed at Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel and loved both of these resorts. We will also be checking out the NEW Universal's Volcano Bay water park!
After all this excitement that Orlando has to offer our family of five from the Midwest, I don't know if we will ever want to leave . . . but, we are leaving sunny Orlando after two fun-filled weeks of activities, theme parks, water parks and amazing resorts and hotels.
Orlando, Florida is one of those vacation spots we plan to visit again and again. We always seem to head back here at least once a year or every other year. I think we may even possibly live there one day. We simply adore the warm weather, great food, super friendly people (hello, the sun - how can you not be happy all day long), and the overall positivity of the city and surrounding towns we visit -- are always so much fun!
We will head back to Chicago and return just in time for my son to begin his Sophomore year of high school. My daughters will have a couple of weeks before they begin school and I will start a new job! Our Ultimate Family Road Trip Vacation to Orlando, Florida will be the best end to our Summer 2017!