The distance between Fort Lauderdale and Orlando is about 215 miles. The quickest route is to take I-95 to the Florida Turnpike. Near Orlando, the Turnpike will intersect with I-4. Take I-4 into Orland. Google Maps shows a couple other routes if you want to stay off the beaten path.
Before leaving Fort Lauderdale here are a few must see attractions.
Flamingo Gardens is both a tropical garden and a wildlife sanctuary all wrapped up in one. The 60 acre of land are divided into a variety of gardens: exotic trees; flowering plants that attract butterflies and humming birds; interactive children’s garden; crotons; wildflowers, ginger; and tropical forests. Live wildlife shows are also available. Tickets are $19.95/adult and $12.95/child.
Another garden to visit is the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. Built in 1920 this historic home was built by Frederic Clay Bartlett, a Chicago artist. His first wife died young of breast cancer. The house sat idle for a number of years until Bartlett remarried. His new wife fell in love with the estate and began to restore and beautify it. Eventually, Mrs. Bartlett donated the estate to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. The preserved estate is open to the public to enjoy the beautiful gardens, artwork, and other treasures. Admission is $20/adult and $16/children 6-12. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Tuesday-Sunday)
The Jungle Queen offers several riverboat cruise daily. The morning cruise sails down “Millionaire’s Row” with spectacular views and a peek at stunning celebrity homes. This tour lasts 90 minutes. Fares start at $25/adult and $14/child. The afternoon cruise includes the same tour as the morning cruise but also adds on tropical isle complete with an alligator show and much more. This tour lasts 3 hours; fares are $30/adult and $15/child. The dinner cruise includes an all-you-can-eat barbecue meal and the sightseeing tour.
As you head out of town toward Orlando Butterfly World, near Pompano Beach, houses thousands of butterflies and actually has a working butterfly farm. Admission rates start at $26.95/adult and $21.95/child (ages 3-11).
Traveling further north you will come upon a new kind of adventure, Delray Escape. A fun game for family and friends, your group will be “locked” in a room and given 60 minutes to find your way out using the available clues in the room. It is not scary or any kind of spooky thriller; it is just a game of putting your heads together to solve a puzzle. Perfect for corporate team building as well, they have games designed for different types of groups. This is something out of the ordinary and sounds like a fun challenge. Located in Delray Beach, admission is $28/person.
Other attractions along the way include:
· Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
· John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
· McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary
· Mounts Botanical Gardens
Continuing on toward Orlando, as you near Kissimmee, you will find several places to take airboat tours. One such place is Big Toho Airboat Rides, near the intersection of I-95 and Hwy. 192. Rates for a one hour ride are $76/adult and $65/child. You will see alligators in their natural habitat as well as other wild life and birds.
Orlando! You have arrived. So much to see and do; where do you begin? The obvious places are the big theme parks. Most of us are familiar with these. But in the event that you need more information, here are links to some of the biggest and best theme parks in the world.
· Disney World
· Epcot Center
· SeaWorld Orlando
· Aquatica by SeaWorld – a water park
· Universal Studios Orlando
Photo: Larry Hardin/Fotolia