Well they've once again raised admission prices at several of the Orlando area theme parks. So what's a family to do to stretch their vacation dollars? A breezy 45 minutes from the theme parks you’ll discover Orlando North Seminole County where there’s lots of budget-friendly fun that’s a fractional cost of a day at the theme parks (lodging costs also average 30% less here, too. Say goodbye to parking fees and resort fees.)
FREEBIES WE LOVE
SEMINOLE STATE PLANETARIUM TELESCOPE THURSDAYS. Once a month on a Thursday evening, the staff of the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium hit the road with telescopes in tow and set up shop at a local park or business around Central Florida for Telescope Thursdays. The community is welcome to attend and take a peek at the beautiful night sky. Events typically last from 7-10pm. And for a totally stellar family night, don’t miss out on Seminole State Planetarium’s incredible STAR PARTIES. These events invite the public to the planetarium for an evening of telescope observations, planetarium dome shows, speaker presentations, and more. Check out the Planetarium’s Facebook page for upcoming events.
Bring a bike or rent one and join CRITICAL MASS! SANFORD EDITION! on the last Friday of the month for a stroll through Sanford. Start at Pedal Driven Co. at 6:30pm and end at Deviant Wolfe Brewing at 8pm for beers and fun.
HIKE OR BIKE THE SEMINOLE WEKIVA TRAIL. This scenic paved rail-trail in Seminole County features a 14-mile long trail as well as several trailheads with amenities. Consider exploring the first seven miles of the trail by bike, cruising along the shaded path through quiet neighborhoods.
CRANES ROOST PARK’s Rhythms at the Roost is an annual free concert series featuring live music from great bands, food for purchase, and a variety of vendors. Sunset views, outdoor festivals, and SUNSET CINEMA, a schedule of free outdoor movies on select Saturdays, are just a few of the other free activities held at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. Check the calendar for upcoming events.
Sanford’s monthly ALIVE AFTER 5 STREET PARTY celebrates with local art, live music, craft beer, food, and shopping. From 5-8pm on the 2nd Thursday with a different theme each month.
WINEART WEDNESDAYS IN LAKE MARY. On the first Wednesday of each month is a free event in the Downtown Lake Mary District featuring live music, dozens of artists and merchants, food trucks, and a beer & wine garden. Food and drink are extra, but the rest of the evening is totally free.
ART WALK. Held on the 3rd Saturday each month in Historic Downtown Sanford, the art walks showcase the area’s unique galleries. A fact sheet is available for each event providing additional details on each stop. Have the kids keep their eyes out for Sanford rocks along the way. These painted rocks can be found hidden just about anywhere.
CASSELBERRY ART AND MUSIC IN THE PARK is a monthly community event held at Lake Concord Park featuring a dozen food trucks, live music, and artisan goods. There’s no cost to peruse the local goods on display while listening to the live entertainment. Held on the second Friday of each month from 6-9pm.
Enjoy the playground and watch youth, collegiate and non-professional teams playing at the 102-acre BOOMBAH SPORTS COMPLEX AT SEMINOLE COUNTY. 3450 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford, FL. www.PlayOrlandoNorth.com.
FANTASTICALLY AFFORDABLE FUN
WEKIVA ISLAND. Located on the Wekiva River, Wekiva Island is a relaxing escape for a day of swimming, fishing, volleyball or relaxing in the Adirondack chairs along the river. Admission is $2 per person, $10 for trailer parking and launch fees for personal equipment. And canoe/kayak/paddleboard rentals are reasonably priced as is the food and beverage. 1014 Miami Springs Rd., Longwood, FL
Enjoy a thrilling airboat ride with BLACK HAMMOCK ADVENTURES, on Lake Jesup and learn about the eco system and the birds and beasts who call it home. 2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd., Oviedo, FL. Their onsite fish camp style restaurant serves up gator bites if you want to try! www.blackhammockairboatrides.com
Seminole County is also home to some of Florida’s best natural attractions, including the Wekiva River, one of only two National & Wild Scenic Rivers in the entire state of Florida. The ST. JOHNS RIVER and WEKIWA SPRINGS STATE PARK are great places to become one with nature. With more than 30 parks and preserves, the area is a favorite destination for hiking, biking, bird watching, wildlife study, nature photography and more.
Get up close and personal with wildlife at the CENTRAL FLORIDA ZOO AND BOTANICAL GARDENS, where you can even participate in giraffe feedings. Also at the zoo are both kids and adults zip line adventure courses that allow guests to explore natural habitats from an animal’s perspective—in the air traveling from tree to tree by zip lines and suspended rope bridges. 3755 US 17, Sanford, FL. Sunset at the Zoo is held on the 3rd Thursday April through October, $5 per person, adults only. Gates open at 5:30pm. Enjoy happy hour in a whole new way with live music, beer and wine, while interacting with some of the resident animals. www.centralfloridazoo.org.
DISTRICT EAT AND PLAY at the Oviedo Mall is a new 26,000 sq.ft. entertainment complex that includes a restaurant and full bar. The play zones include 4 different escape rooms where guests are given 60 minutes to escape using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Over 50 arcade games, boutique bowling, live entertainment and a number of event rooms round out the offerings. www.districteatplay.com.
ALTITUDE SANFORD is a cutting-edge trampoline park with activities including: dodge ball, basketball, a performance wall and performance trampoline, high 9 reaction wall, trapeze bar, battle beam, rock wall, wipeout warped wall, air bag, main court and kids court. www.AltitudeSanford.com
At PLANET OBSTACLE, kid-friendly activities include a kids’ ninja course, trampolines, bungees, ball pits and bumper cars, while adults can enjoy an aerial ropes course, an extreme zip-line, an adult ninja course, a giant rock-climbing wall and more. Planet Obstacle, 1150 Emma Oaks Trail, Lake Mary, FL.