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Walt Disney World has a reputation as the Happiest Place on Earth, but it’s not the only place on Earth—or even in Central Florida. Once you’ve had your fill of Disney, SeaWorld, Universal and the rest of the theme parks, extend your Florida vacation with one of these family-friendly Disney day trips, all within a two-hour drive of Orlando.

COCOA BEACH

Cocoa Beach area. Credit Visit Orlando.

Cocoa Beach area. Credit Visit Orlando.

After a few days submersed in Disney crowds, you’ll be ready for some R&R. About 60 miles east of Orlando, Cocoa Beach is the closest coastline from the House of Mouse. Cocoa Beach Pier features fishing pole rentals, souvenir shops and a half-dozen seafood restaurants. Head a bit south of the pier to take a surf lesson or watch the professionals hang 10.

DOWNTOWN ST. PETERSBURG

Salvador Dali Museum. Credit Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

Salvador Dali Museum. Credit Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

Perched on Tampa Bay about 90 miles southwest of Orlando, St. Pete has one of Florida’s most vibrant downtowns. Start out at the Saturday Morning Market for food and live entertainment, then take in some culture at the Salvador Dali Museum. After dark, hit the restaurant scene on Beach Drive, watch a quirky fashion show at ARTpool Gallery and Vintage Boutique or head to St. Pete Shuffle, the B.Y.O.B. hipster spot that’s a far cry from your grandparents’ shuffleboard club.

ST. AUGUSTINE

St. Augustine. Credit FloridasHistoricCoast.com.

St. Augustine. Credit FloridasHistoricCoast.com.

About 100 miles northeast of Orlando, St. Augustine has bragging rights as America’s oldest city. Toast Uncle Sam with a cup of water from Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. One of the most efficient ways to see all the landmarks is a trolley tour; several companies stop at the major attractions, letting you hop on and off at your leisure.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Credit Visit Orlando.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Credit Visit Orlando.

About 60 miles northeast of Orlando, you can strap in for a simulated shuttle launch and see the legendary space shuttle Atlantis in person. Also make time to visit the Port Canaveral Exploration Tower; it’s 20 miles to the southeast of KSC and features an observation deck and interactive exhibits detailing the history of the U.S. space program.

MOUNT DORA

Mount Dora. Credit VisitMountDora.com.

Mount Dora. Credit VisitMountDora.com.

In Mount Dora, about 30 miles northwest of Orlando, “antiquing” is a verb and B&Bs and smaller hotels reign supreme. The quaint town hosts several antique festivals annually, including Renniger’s Antique Extravaganza each January. In the fall, browse the Mount Dora Craft Fair in late October; then get lost in the corn maze at Long and Scott Farms.

DOWNTOWN ORLANDO

Lake Eola. Credit Joe Shlabotnik at Flickr Creative Commons.

Lake Eola. Credit Joe Shlabotnik at Flickr Creative Commons.

At the risk of stating the obvious, remember there’s life in Orlando beyond the theme parks. Paddle a swan boat around Lake Eola or take in a show at Sak Comedy Lab, the family-friendly improv spot where entertainer Wayne Brady honed his chops. After dark, catch a concert or NBA game at the Amway Center, then hit the Church Street District for nightlife.

Dalia Colón is a multimedia journalist in Tampa and the Smart Travel Insider for VISIT FLORIDA. Follow her on Twitter @daliacolon.

Tagged: Disney, Family time, Florida

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Dalia Colon

Dalia Colon

Dalia is a multimedia journalist in Tampa and the Smart Travel Insider for VISIT FLORIDA. Follow her on Twitter @daliacolon.

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