ATTRACTIONS: Places for thrills, chills and enlightenment
Area attractions run on a rotating basis as space allows.
Braden Castle Village: One Office Drive, 27th Street East and Manatee Avenue, Bradenton
The castle was once the heart of a rambling sugar plantation built by Joseph Addison Braden and his brother Hector in the 1840s. The ruins can still be seen in Braden Castle Park. Admission: free. Information: 941-746-7700.
Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery: 8905 Bunker Hill Road, Duette
Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, a "green" environmentally responsible winery offers tours and tastings 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. The vineyard grows seven varieties of muscadine grapes, which produce 10 different labeled "handcrafted" red, white and rose wines, including sparkling reds and whites. Vineyard weddings are performed upon request. Information: 941-776-0418.
Cypress House Military Museum: Palmetto Historical Park, 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto
The Cypress House Military Museum contains military artifacts and local veterans' war memorabilia. Hours: 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and the first and third Saturdays of every month. Admission: free. Information: 941-723-4991.
Dakin Dairy Farms: 30771 Betts Road, Myakka City
Dakin Dairy Farms season: Dakin Dairy Farms "Farm Fun" season features guided farm tours, hayrides and "old-fashioned country picnics" under the 5-acre oak hammock. Bring your own blanket or use their picnic tables. Picnic includes slow-roasted pulled pork, an "It's All About The Cheese" menu, chili, Angus hot dogs, marshmallows roasted over a campfire, ice cream and more. Enjoy free the 5-acre Farm Fun Play Area with purchase of picnic. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, October-April. Farm tours cost $10 are at noon Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Saturdays. A 7-acre corn maze is open until 9 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 27-Dec. 22; $7. Information: www.DakinDairyFarms.com or Call (941) 322-2802.
DeSoto National Memorial: north end of 75th Street West
The park includes a half-mile, self-guided nature trail that winds through a display of native plants. Admission is free. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at the visitors center. Park grounds are open from sunrise to sunset. Information: 941-792-0458.
The Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex: 5309 29th St. E., Ellenton (north of Prime Outlet Mall)
An 115,000-square-foot facility features a field where soccer, flag football, dodgeball and "paintless" paintball are played. Public skating sessions are $8 general admission and $6.50 for seniors 55 and older. Information: 941-723-3663.
Felts Audubon Preserve: 4600 24th Ave. E., Palmetto
The Felts Preserve, owned and operated by the Manatee County Audubon Society, is open 8 a.m.-noon the first Saturday of every month. Come watch birds from the bird blind. Hike natural paths to view native flora and fauna. Parking is inside the fence. An Audubon Society member will be on hand to answer questions. Admission: free. Information: 941-729-2222.
Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez: Cortez Road and 119th Street West
The museum houses exhibits including replicas of ships, a Navy uniform, handmade mullet net and a Native American canoe that could seat a large family. The museum complex consists of the restored 1912 Cortez Schoolhouse and the 1895-era Burton/Bratton store, which housed the community's first post office. The museum store is open for sales of books and shirts, and docents are being scheduled. To volunteer, call Ted Adams at 941-708-6120. Hours: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Information: 941-708-6120.
Florida Railroad Museum: 12210 83rd St. E., Parrish
Enjoy a 1950s train excursion featuring air-conditioned lounge cars, cabooses and open-window coaches. The round trip to Willow lasts 75 minutes. Trains depart from 83rd Street and U.S. 301 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Call for admission prices. Tickets must be purchased at the office. Information: 877-869-0800 or www.FGCRRM.org.
Gamble Plantation: 3708 Patten Ave., Ellenton
The 1850s antebellum mansion is open for guided tours at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. and hourly 1-4 p.m. Thursday-Monday. Learn about the challenges of living on a 19th century Florida frontier sugar plantation. No tours Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Call for admission prices. The park grounds are open 8 a.m.-sundown daily. Information: 941-723-4536.
Manatee Village Historical Park: 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton
The exhibits "Pioneer Voice," "Vintage Vogue -- Part I," and "Jr. Cow Hunters Corner" are historical displays and feature a hands-on children's activity area. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through summer. Come explore what life was like for the early pioneers of Manatee County. Park buildings include a chapel, a general store, a "cracker" house and the first courthouse in Manatee County. Admission is free; complementary guided tours by request. Information: 941-749-1800.
Mixon Fruit Farms: 2525 27th St. E., Bradenton
Mixon Fruit Farms offers more than just oranges, tangerines and grapefruit. It is also home of the world's best orange juice and, Bradenton's own "out of this world" homemade fudge. The Groveside Market has a unique selection of gifts and Florida souvenirs. Mixon's Groveside Café offers salads, sandwiches (including the "Famous" Cuban), soups and bakery goods along with our new specialty coffee bar featuring WiFi. Ride the Orange Blossom Express Tram through the grove 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Call for admission prices. Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday, June-September; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, October-May. Closed Sundays. Deli (941-746-6127) hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Information: 941-748-5829 or www.mixon.com, Facebook or Twitter.
Palma Sola Botanical Park: 9800 17th Ave. NW.
The park features landscaped grounds, speciality gardens, lakes, a gazebo, screened pavilion and playground. Restrooms, picnic tables and sidewalks also fill the park. Admission to the park is free from 8 a.m. until dusk daily. The venue can also be used for weddings and parties for a rental fee. Information: 941-761-2866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Palmetto Historical Park: 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto
The Manatee County Agricultural Museum, in the Palmetto Historical Park, features commodities, equipment and photographs that reflect the rich agricultural heritage of Manatee County. Site includes the Carnegie Library (built in 1914), Palmetto's first post office (built in 1880), one-room schoolhouse (built about 1920), Cottage House Museum (built about 1913) and a Heritage Chapel (built in 1999). Park hours: 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and the first and third Saturdays of every month. Guided tours are available by request. Admission is free. Information: 941-723-4991.
South Florida Museum: 201 10th St. W.
Bishop Planetarium: A state-of-the-science, all-digital full dome planetarium/theater features astronomy presentations, sound and light shows, and wide-screen large format programming. Check website for show schedules and ticket prices. Tallant Collection, Land of Change, Archaic Man, new dioramas, Ice Age skeletons and more. Parker Manatee Aquarium: See Snooty in the museum's 60,000-gallon, multilevel manatee aquatic refuge. Call for admission prices. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sundays. On the first Saturday of each month the complex will be open until 9 p.m. Information: 941-746-4131 or www.southfloridamuseum.org.
Village of the Arts: Between 14th and Ninth streets west, and between Ninth and 17th avenues west, Bradenton
The village features more than 40 galleries and studios exhibiting all forms of art from cookies, jams and pizza to ceramics, jewelry, paintings, photos, sculptures and more. Art walks are held the first Friday and Saturday of each month. Most galleries are open each Friday and Saturday. The streets come alive with art lovers and shoppers visiting 1920s-style bungalows that showcase an eclectic mix of artwork. Information: www.villageofthearts.com.
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary: 7101 Palmer Blvd.
A safe haven for exotic cats, bears and native wildlife, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary provides educational programs to the public about the animals and encourages their appreciation. The habitat now includes fun and enlightening educational demonstrations at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sunset Safari tours are 12:30-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Tours features lions, tigers, bears, primates, camels, lemurs, birds and more. Reservations are required. Call for admission prices. Information: 941-371-6377 or visit www.bigcathabitat.org.
Crowley Museum and Nature Center: 16405 Myakka Road
Self-guided tours on regular basis include Pioneer History Museum, a boardwalk through 2,000 feet of swamp and an observation tower. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Call for admission prices. Information: 941-322-1000 or www.cmncfl.org.
G.WIZ: The Hands-On Science Museum: 1001 Boulevard of the Arts
The Faulhaber Fab Lab, now open to the public, is designed to promote science literacy and cross-discipline collaboration and innovation, and is a place where the practical application of science, technology and craftsmanship finds a home. The "fab lab" gives community members access to high-tech tools and staff to help train, mentor and support anyone who wants to experience it. No particular skill levels are needed to start. For a full list of the monthly activities, call the museum. Call for admission prices. Children younger than 3 are admitted free. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Information: 941-309-4949 or visit www.gwiz.org.
Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria: 32755 Singletary Road, Myakka City
Training sessions at 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. Saturdays, through April. The winter training sessions are open to the public and reservations requested for groups of 20 or more. Donations accepted. Information: 941-322-1501 or visit www.hlipizzans.com.
Historic Spanish Point: 337 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey
Historic Spanish Point is a 30-acre archaeological, environmental and historical museum on Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey that connects you with 5,000 years of human history in southwest coastal Florida. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday with guided tours at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Tram tours are available at 1:30 p.m. for an additional $2. Sunday hours are noon-5 p.m., with guided tours at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. (no tram Sunday). Call for admission prices. Members admitted free. Information: www.historicspanishpoint.org or 941-966-5214.
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art: 5401 Bay Shore Road
The Howard Bros. Circus, the largest miniature circus in the world, is on permanent display in the Tibbals Learning Center. Twentieth century abstract art is on permanent display in the Searing Wing. Apple iPod audio tours are available. General admission includes the Ringling Museum of Art, Ca d'Zan Mansion, the Circus Museum, the Rose Garden and grounds: $25 adults, $20 seniors 65 and older and U.S. military with ID, $5 children 6-17 and students with ID, $10 for Florida teachers. Local students with valid ID from Florida State University, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design, State College of Florida, the University of South Florida and pre-booked student groups are free. Free for children 5 and younger and museum members. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Advance tickets: 941-358-3180. Information: 941-359-5700 or www.ringling.org.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens: 811 S. Palm Ave.
Discover an open-air and under-glass museum of more than 20,000 tropical plants, including a living collection of more than 6,000 orchids, in this 8 1/2-acre botanical garden on Sarasota Bay. Botanical art and photography exhibits in the mansion. Garden and museum hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 941-366-5731, ext. 221, or www.selby.org.
Mote Aquarium: 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, City Island
Displays at the aquarium spotlight the work of Mote scientists and encourage people to appreciate local marine life. Exhibits include two manatees, Hugh and Buffett, sea turtles, a 135,000-gallon shark tank, touch pool and giant squid specimen, "Molly Mollusk." Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 941-388-2451.
Myakka River State Park: 13207 S.R. 72
Myakka River State Park has made its famous Birdwalk viewing area even more wheelchair friendly, and nature lovers can enjoy the beautiful nature views they could not before. The Bird Interpreters program, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday. Volunteer bird interpreters will be stationed at bird-viewing locations, where they will share their spotting scopes, field guides and knowledge with visitors. Admission: $5 park entrance fee per vehicle.
Sarasota Classic Car Museum: 5500 N. Tamiami Trail (corner of U.S. 41 and University Parkway)
Home to the nation's third-oldest automotive museum, the museum exhibits a world-class collection of more than 75 vehicles depicting the evolution of automotive history over the past 100 years. The museum is also home to "Circus King" John Ringling's Automotive Collection, John Lennon's Mercedes Roadster, a DeLorean "Back to the Future" car and a 1947 Triumph. Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 941-355-6228 or www.SarasotaCarMuseum.org.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens: 3701 Bay Shore Road
Ten acres of beautiful gardens and nature trails make this tropical adventure a perfect setting for leisurely strolls and great picture taking. This true Florida jungle features flowers and shrubs from all over the world. Seven educational and exciting bird, mammal and reptile shows daily. Visit the gift shop, Kiddie Jungle and Flamingo Café. Hours: Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Call for admission prices. Information: 941-355-5305 or www.sarasotajunglegardens.com.
Boyd Hill Nature Park: 1101 S. Country Club Way
An interpretive tram tour takes visitors through a variety of eco-systems at 1 p.m. daily; $1 plus admission. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission: $2 adults; $1 children. Information: Hermann Trappman, 727-893-7326.
Great Explorations Hands-on Museum: 1925 Fourth Ave. N.
Great Explorations offers special museum shows suitable for children age 6 and older. Call for admission prices. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Information: 727-821-8992.
Pinellas Pioneer Settlement: 2900 31st St. S.
Continuous exhibits and demonstrations include antique flywheel engines and tractors, model table with air hook-ups, hayrides, unique machinery and equipment, a swap meet and an operational 1920s sawmill. Information: 727-866-6401.
St. Petersburg Museum of History: 335 Second Ave. NE.
Five themed exhibit areas take visitors on a journey through St. Petersburg and the Pinellas peninsula, from prehistoric times to the present. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. A Information: 727-894-1052.
Science Center of Pinellas: 7701 22nd Ave. N.
The center features a hands-on marine touch tank, wetlands exhibit, 30 species of live mammals, birds and reptiles, a 16th century Indian village, an African-American scientists and inventors exhibit and other science-related activities. Planetarium shows: 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays. Laser show: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays. Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; $1 (self-guided tour only). 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays; $5 includes shows. Information: 727-384-0027 or www.sciencecenterofpinellas.com.
Sunken Gardens: 1825 Fourth St. N.
Come explore the gardens in the heart of St. Petersburg. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Call for admission prices. Information: 727-551-3100.
Busch Gardens: 3000 Busch Blvd.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay combines world-class thrill rides, Broadway-style live entertainment and one of North America's largest zoos in an unforgettable adventure for the whole family. Iceploration features world-class skaters, larger-than-life puppets and even animal stars, inspiring audiences to "explore the world " on a journey to the four corners of the earth. The Animal Care Center welcomes guests to closely observe veterinary care and treatment at this new state-of-the-art facility. Call for admission prices. Information: 813-987-5280 or www.buschgardens.com.
The Florida Aquarium: 701 Channelside Drive
"Explore-A-Shore," a 2.2-acre outdoor aquatic discovery zone for kids that features sea life models, live animals and a water slide. A 24-foot pirate ship allows kids to fire water cannons from the deck, climb across cargo nets, view a shipwreck through a telescope and follow a map to buried treasure. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 813-273-4000 or www.flaquarium.org.
Glazer Children's Museum: 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza
The museum is an educational and cultural resource whose mission is to create learning environments where children play, discover and connect to the world around them to develop as lifelong learners and leaders. The highly interactive museum includes 12 themed galleries and 170 interactives, hands-on, minds-on exhibits for children aged 0-10. A combination of permanent and traveling exhibits, comprehensive year round programs and special events provide children, parents, caregivers and teachers a rich and ever-changing environment for playful learning. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sundays. Call for admission prices. Information: 813-443-3861 or www.glazermuseum.org.
Lowry Park Zoo: 1101 W. Sligh Ave.
Lowry Park Zoo features more than 2,000 animals on 56 acres of natural habitats in seven main exhibit areas: Asian Gardens, Primate World, Manatee and Aquatic Center, Florida Wildlife Center, Free-Flight Aviary, Wallaroo Station children's zoo and Safari Africa. Special Birthday Offer: Birthday guests enjoy free daytime admission; must present acceptable proof of birth date, such as a driver's license, passport or military ID. Offer must be redeemed on the actual birthday with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with extended hours on select nights during special events. Call for admission prices. Parking is free. Information: LowryParkZoo.com or 813-935-8552.
Museum of Science and Industry: 4801 E. Fowler Ave.
Audiences can now enjoy the story of reefs and how they've come to face worldwide decline, brought to life in "Coral Reef Adventure," an all new IMAX theatre experience that takes audiences on a fantastic voyage of discovery to the South Pacific's reefs with cinematography team Howard and Michelle Hall. MOSI, a nonprofit educational institution, is the largest science center in the southeastern United States and home of the only IMAX Dome Theater in Florida. Visit www.mosi.org for show times. Free telescope viewing is offered Saturdays after sunset, weather permitting. Call for admission prices. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Parking is free. Information: 800-995-MOSI or www.mosi.org.
Tampa Bay Ghost Tours: various locations
Tampa Bay Ghost tours gives visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to encounter the area's most frightfully delightful tales of tomb and terror and the chance to visit the area's most notable haunts and happenings. Each tour lasts one and a half hours; days and times vary between locations. Call for admission prices. Information: 727- 398-5200 or www.allthebesthaunts.com.
Tampa Bay History Center: 801 Old Water St.
The History Center includes three floors of permanent and temporary exhibition space focusing on 12,000 years of Florida history. The Center also features a museum store, The Witt Research Center (a branch of the Hillsborough County Public Library System), a map gallery, an event hall and the Columbia Cafe. One of Tampa's premier cultural venues, the History Center's hands-on, kid-friendly activities, together with cutting-edge interactive exhibits and theaters, provide a unique educational experience. Information: www.tampabayhistorycenter.org or 813-675-8985.
Ybor City State Museum: 1818 Ninth Ave.
The museum depicts the cultural, political and social influences that formed Ybor City. Guided tours, by appointment, of a cigar worker's cottage, adjacent to the museum, show a slice of life in Tampa's Latin quarter in the early 20th century. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 813-247-6323.
Dinosaur World: 5145 Harvey Tew Road
Dinosaur World is an outdoor museum featuring prehistoric animals. The lush, natural setting features more than 150 scientifically accurate models and family-oriented ambiance. The park offers a museum, outdoor classroom, picnic areas and a gift shop. Call for admission prices. Discounts for AAA and military. Hours: 9 a.m.-dusk 365 days a year. Information: 813-717-9865 or www.dinoworld.net.
Historic Bok Sanctuary: 1151 Tower Blvd.
A national historic landmark and garden on the peninsula's highest point, 298 feet. The historic bell tower, the visual centerpiece of the garden, houses one of the world's great carillons. Carillon recitals are presented at 3 p.m. daily, and can be viewed on a video monitor behind the Japanese Lantern. Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 863-676-1408 or www.boksanctuary.org.
Discovery Cove: 6000 Discovery Cove Way
Swim with the dolphins, snorkel with tropical fish, wade with rays, handfeed exotic birds and meet sharks at this sea park. A paying adult must accompany participants younger than 13. Call for admission prices. Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily. Admission: reservations only, includes lunch, use of mask, swim with dolphins, snorkel and all beach amenities. Information: 877-4-DISCOVERY.
Fantasy of Flight: 1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E., Polk City (Interstate 4, Exit 44, Polk City, 20 minutes west of Walt Disney World)
The world's greatest aircraft collection, featuring flight simulators and the world's largest private collection of vintage aircraft and more. Balloon rides are available. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 863-984-3500, or www.fantasyofflight.com.
Gatorland: 14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail
A 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve setting with zoo, aviary, reptilian shows, miniature water park and educational programs. Directions: Take I-4 east to Exit 27A onto Central Florida Parkway (east) to Orange Blossom Trail (Highway 441). Turn right. Gatorland is on the left. Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 407-855-5496, 800-393-JAWS or www.gatorland.com.
Holy Land Experience: 4655 Vineland Road
This "living biblical museum" authentically re-creates the city of Jerusalem and its religious importance from 1450 B.C. to 66 A.D. to entertain, educate and enlighten guests. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. All shops open and close the same time as the park. Call for admission prices. Information: 866-872-4659 or 407-872-2272, or www.holylandexperience.com.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Apollo/Saturn V Center: Kennedy Space Center, 45 minutes east of Orlando
NASA's Shuttle Launch Experience ride gives visitors an unprecedented experience detailing the sights, sounds, and sensations of launching into space. At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, you'll get a behind the scenes look at NASA's space exploration program. Special Event: Hubble 3D, an IMAX film. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the Astronaut Hall of Fame are open daily from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., except Christmas Day. Call for admission prices. Information: 321-449-4444 or www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
SeaWorld: 7007 Sea World Drive
The marine adventure park includes the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando, Kraken; killer whales in "Believe;" sea lion antics in "Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island;" sharks and other ocean dwellers at Terrors of the Deep; amazing stunts in "Intensity Water Ski Show"; "Pets Ahoy!" show features multitalented animals performing all-new skits and surprising stunts. Call (888) 800-5447 or visit www.seaworld.com for details. Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Take I-75 to I-4 and the Bee Line Expressway. Information: 888-800-5447 or www.seaworld.com.
Aquatica, The Waterpark at Seaworld: 7007 Sea World Drive
The South Seas-inspired water park features 36 water slides, six rivers and lagoons, more than 80,000 square feet of sandy beaches and Dolphin Plunge, a water slide that sends riders through Commerson's black and white dolphin habitat in 250-foot-long clear tubes. Call for admission prices. Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Take I-75 to I-4 and the Bee Line Expressway. Information: 888-800-5447 or www.seaworld.com.
Titanic exhibit: 8445 International Drive
See "Titanic -- The Exhibition," featuring live storytellers in period costume, depict passengers and crew as you tour a full-scale re-creation, more than 200 artifacts and historic treasures on display, original movie memorabilia including a costume worn by Leonardo DiCaprio. Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Directions: Take Interstate 4 at exit 29 to The Mercado between Sand Lake Road and the Orange County Convention Center; follow signs to Convention Center and look for square tower. Information: 407-248-1166.
Universal Orlando: 1000 Universal Studios Plaza
Featuring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the high-tech ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Hours vary weekly. Universal Studios: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster is the newest attraction. More than 40 state-of-the-art rides, shows and attractions allow visitors to "ride the movies." Hours vary weekly. CityWalk: 30-acre entertainment complex located at the heart of the entertainment destination at Universal Orlando, CityWalk offers an array of live music and electrifying dance clubs. Call for admission prices. Information: 407-363-8000.
Walt Disney World: Via Interstate 4 to U.S. 192
Magic Kingdom: The park covers 107 acres and has seven themed "lands." Parades and fireworks displays daily. Disney's Animal Kingdom: An animal-based safari park, complete with realistic settings and interactive rides. Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade daily. Park hours vary. Downtown Disney: A 66-acre West Side features Wolfgang Puck Cafe, House of Blues. Hours and admission: Admission and park hours vary, call Disney for updated information: 407-824-4500 or 407-824-4321.
Wet 'n Wild: 6200 International Drive, one block east of I-4 at Exit 30A
Park features Brain Wash, a one-of-a-kind ride with lights, sounds and video as you swirl back and forth through tunnels before dropping through a funnel, and Disco H20, a retro raft adventure. Call for admission prices. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Tickets can be purchased at the front gate or via the Internet at www.wetnwildorlando.com. Information: 407-351-9453, or 800-992-9453.
Silver Springs: State Road 40, Silver Springs (east of Ocala on State Road 40)
The Lighthouse Ride carries 50 people nearly 100 feet in the air for a bird's eye view of Silver Springs and the Silver River. The Fort King River Cruise takes passengers on a journey through the park's 10,000-year history, featuring entertainers in period costumes. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call for admission prices. Information: 352-236-2121 or www.silversprings.com.
Wild Waters: 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd. (State Road 40, Silver Springs, east of Ocala on State Road 40)
The water park features a 450,000-gallon wave pool, eight of Florida's tallest and fastest water slides and flumes, three children's play areas, championship volleyball courts, arcade, specialty shops, food outlets, showers and lockers. Call for admission prices. Information: 352-236-2121 or www.wildwaterspark.com.
Weeki Wachee Spring: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill
This "City of Mermaids" is a 200-acre family entertainment park featuring live, underwater productions. Other attractions include the "Wilderness River Cruise," Mermaid Museum, Petti-Goat Junction and nature trails. Canoeing, scuba diving and snorkeling tours are also available. Call for hours and admission prices. Information: 352-596-2062.