London Sets the Standard in Luxury Hotels

London is one of the most visited capitals in the world and for good reason. England as an Empire ruled almost half the world and so its capital London has a history that can equate to most of the world. Perhaps London’s history is as interesting as anywhere else. The city’s full history dating back to before even the Roman times, can be seen at the Museum of London. Then there is the Tower of London with its own 900 year history and which today, is the home to the British Monarchy’s Crown jewels. Add to that the legendary changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace which is still the primary home to the world’s longest ruling Monarch, the beautiful Trafalgar Square with its magnificent Nelson’s Column and you have plenty of reasons to visit. But where to stay for that visit is a question that many ask. Luckily, part of this city’s history includes setting the standard for luxury hotels. If it is luxury that you want whilst on your visit, you have wide range of choices to book five star hotels.

Perhaps of special note is The Ritz Hotel, whose name alone is often used to replace the word luxury and elegance. Located in Piccadilly it has one of the finest addresses in the city and it is ideally situated for visiting London’s Royal Parks or the famous Piccadilly Circus. Decorated in France’s Louis XV1 style throughout, this is a prime example of how London’s hotels have set the standard in luxury for the last 100 years. For at least 50 years a hotel that has always been attached to London when there is talk of luxury, is the Dorchester with its views over-looking Hyde Park. Located between the notable Hyde’s Park Corner and Marble Arch, this hotel is ideally situated for shopping at Harrods.

Of course though, these are not the only luxury hotels in London. Among the others is one noted in a personal travel blog, The Trafalgar Hilton. This luxury hotel with its pendulum lamps and walnut furniture offers luxury at its best. The Trafalgar Hilton also provides excellent views of the popular Trafalgar Square.

Yes, London is well worth a visit even without its history. A stay in one of these famous luxurious hotels is alone worth a journey. And for those that are not so keen on history, London also offers other attractions if you wish to pry yourself loose from your hotel’s luxurious elegance. Among these other attractions is the Coca Cola London Eye which offers visitors 32 capsules which can hold up to 25 people each. The Eye raises you above the city so you can see as many as 55 of London’s famous landmarks, including of course Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. Another London attraction, one which has recently been given a new look, is the legendary Wembley Stadium where, by taking a tour, you can learn of some of sports most famous moments.

Visiting England without the Hype

Most people that visit England want to visit the attractions that London has to offer. Although these are plenty, the city like most other capitals in the world, can be a busy and hassling place to stay. In order to see the city attractions yet stay out of the city as much as possible, a growing number of people are opting to stay outside of London where they can enjoy sights of the beautiful English countryside on their way to each particular London attraction. One of the ideal places to stay for this purpose is Basingstoke in Hampshire. Although Basingstoke is located off both the M3 and M4 motorways, both of which can take you to London, it also has a station on one of the railway’s main lines to London, allowing passengers to reach the heart of London in just 45 minutes. Then they can get the famous underground or one of London’s equally famous taxis to any of the city’s attractions. You can get to know the exact locations and travelling distance on Travelodge Nottingham. This means that you can enjoy watching some of England’s beautiful scenery whilst on your way to visit Coca Cola’s London Eye from which you can get some magnificent panoramas of the city or, visit the Tower of London with its 900 year history. Of course you could enjoy that same scenery on your way to visit the legendary changing of the guards at Buckingham palace or perhaps go shopping on Bond or oxford streets, perhaps even in Harrods.

In Basingstoke though, especially if you stay at a luxury hotel, you can spend the odd day relaxing without a trip to the city. The right hotel will have comfortable rooms and offer guests a wide choice of culinary delights like a combination of fish or a Rump of English roasted lamb off the bone in their Vespers dining room or choices like an 8oz Gammon steak or Salmon Fillet from their Brasserie. If you prefer something lighter, the Tea Room offers a variety of sandwiches and pastries accompanied by your favourite cup of tea or if you prefer, a glass of champagne. The delightful Library bar also offers food in the form of 8oz burgers or London pride battered fish and chips. If you think that this is too much food, you can always burn off some of the calories in the hotel gymnasium or just let the meal digest whilst enjoying a massage in the hotel’s spa.

The town of Basingstoke is not without its own attractions which a luxury travel blog recently noted. Among the town’s attractions is the Milestones Museum. This is a museum that displays over 20,000 objects from Hampshire’s history, uniquely placed in historic replicas of streets from the 1800 and 1900s. Another attraction for those that may not be feint hearted, is the Airkix Indoor Skydiving complex which, apart from offering visitors a chance to experience indoor skydiving, also gives them the opportunity to try a choice of 2 indoor Ski slopes, surfing without water and the challenges of a climbing wall.

Where would you go on solo holiday?

A while back Sharon wrote a travel plan for visiting Anguilla alone. Rereading that plan got me thinking and now I’ve been thinking about solo travel for the past few days. Mainly because I am jealous. I’ll be home with the dogs while my wife visits family in Korea about a month from now. She takes lots of vacations from me (admittedly she deserves them for putting up with me). She took that trip to Hawaii, she has been to Beijing, she has been to Hong Kong (that one is even since I went to Hong Kong without her).

My wife is usually meeting friends or family. I also want to meet some old friends that I don’t see often. But when it’s my turn to take a trip without wifey, I think I might do something by myself. Visiting friends and family is good too, but so is alone time and meeting new people. There are certainly places for it in Europe. They have tour operators specializing in singles holidays for solo travelers where they give you more structure or more free time depending on what you want. Some people take these holidays year after year, and each time they meet some new people an see some familiar faces from previous trips.

It may be a result of too much studying, but I might try to start off by writing objectives for a solo vacation. Then I would plan activities that align with those objectives. Just like I would while writing training materials to make sure trainees achieve their goals. Although I certainly realize it may be a little sad that I am trying to plan a vacation based on the instructional design process I am studying in school.

I will meet new people.
I will meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while.
I will move and shake and exercise and be active.
I will see something new and beautiful.
I will spend some time alone.

I think my solo vacation will be a European one. I have a friend who promised to take me swimming in the Danube in Vienna. She would probably introduce me to some locals. That takes care of objective 1 and objective 2. And the swimming helps with objective 3. Plus I have never been to Vienna so there is objective 4. After a few days in Vienna, Rothenburg is next.

Rothenburg is a walled medieval city. All the stone buildings here should also be beautiful and I’ve never been to Rothenburg. I like medieval towns and I think I could walk around for a few days and relax while taking in the sights. This would achieve the fifth objective, spending some time alone. I probably have to avoid certain times because Rothenburg is a tourist destination. I have nothing against tourists, but I don’t like crowds.

Riding a bike around Anguilla sounds good too, but I don’t know anyone there and it would be fun to meet at least one old friend and one new friend during a solo holiday. Where would you go on a solo holiday? Would you try to meet new people, old friends, or be by yourself? Would you see something new or see something again? How much physical activity would you aim for?

Road trip that covers all 50 states

Here’s a short story with a big map.

Randy Olson first used his algorithm to develop a Where’s Waldo search. In the story I link, Olson uses his algorithm to route a road trip that hits all 48 continental United States. In each state you get a national natural landmark, national historic site, national park or national monument. They estimate under 10 days with no stops, 2-3 months with stops.

Fun with Google Flights

I like this article on Google Flights. I learned that you can search througha region to see how much flights cost to the different ariports in the area. For example, say I want to go to Vienna (which I do). Then, say I can go to Vienna (which I can’t). Looking at the Google Flights Europe map, I can fly from Atlanta to Paris for $700 while flying to Vienna would be over $1,100. Good to know – maybe I would fly to Paris and take a train to Vienna.

Despite the nice features, I did not find Google Flights to be as simple to use as I thought it would be. For example, if I type in Europe as a destination I see hundreds of red dots for the various airports. For some reason the big airports (like Paris and Vienna) do not stand out. But little ones (like Satu Mare – price unknown) get emphasis. Meanwhile I have to use my geography skills to find the Paris dot, mouse over, and get the price.

Still, check out Google Flights when you have some time to play around. Click expand map and start searching.

5 day Las Vegas travel plan

Las Vegas is an ever-changing fantasy world of bright lights, fabulous hotels, glittering casinos, exciting shows, and breathtaking attractions. Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., ranking alongside Disneyland and Disney World. Over 40 million people come to Vegas each year to experience the nightlife and non-stop, live entertainment, as well as to visit Las Vegas attractions and day trip tours. There’s a definite appeal to seeing the Grand Canyon, a casino, and a live show all in one day.

Day 1 – Arrive at McCarran Airport and take the shuttle ($7 p/p) to the Mirage Hotel located in the center of the Strip. Our accommodations are quite nice, with up-to-date amenities and modern decor. After unpacking, we have lunch downstairs at the Paradise Cafe where we enjoy the weather at poolside. Reasonable prices and good menu variety.
Mirage Room Rates – $100 & up. Packages and promotions available.

This afternoon we are looking forward to a deluxe helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon, one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world. We have an incredible panoramic view of Hoover Dam, extinct volcanoes, and Lake Mead, as the helicopter gradually descends to the Canyon floor. We are now in the land of the Native American Hualapai where we have time to explore and take spectacular photos of our surroundings. We enjoy a complimentary picnic lunch & champagne before leaving the Canyon floor and returning to the hotel.
Tour (3-4 hours): Adult – £246, Child – £235. Round trip transportation/transfers from hotel included.

Back in our room, it’s time to relax before dinner tonight at Sushiloca restaurant, about 30 minutes from the Mirage. Pleasant atmosphere with authentic Japanese cuisine featuring sushi, sashami, and a wide assortment of specialty rolls. Friendly service and excellent chefs.
Hours: 11am-2am. Prices: $11-$30

Day 2 – Early morning breakfast at Cravings buffet in the hotel. Breakfast hours – 7am-11am. Price: $16 p/p. Off to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the thrill of a Richard Petty Driving Experience. We’re not quite daring enough to drive it alone, so we decide on a less-challenging 8-lap Rookie Tour. Rookie Tour – 9am or 1pm. Open – Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, & Sun. Price – £317. A stop at the Race Shop and Gift Store and round trip transportation to hotel included.

It’s time for lunch and a visit to the Forum Shops, a famous Vegas attraction across the street from the Mirage. The Trevi restaurant in the Forum features a menu of traditional and gourmet Italian from pizza and pasta to Bruschetta and Carpaccio.
Prices: $20-$35. Hours: Mon-Thurs,& Sun, 11am-11pm. Fri & Sat, 11am-12am.

We stroll through the 3-story Forum of Roman statues, fountains, and swanky shops such as Gucci, Tiffany, and Vuitton, as well as many others catering to the budget-minded shopper. Cobblestone streets, reminiscent of Paris and Rome, and ornate spiral staircases leading to the painted ceiling of a Mediterranean sky add to the splendid decor of the Forum.

Shopping bags packed away, we join the fun of happy hour downstairs and a casual dinner at Stack. Appetizers and popular American cuisine, steak and seafood.
Cocktails, beer, & wine: $4. Avg Dinner Price: $50. Hours: Sun, Tues-Thurs, 5pm-10pm. Mon, Fri, Sat, 5pm-11pm.

Day 3 – We begin our day with a full breakfast at the Paradise before seeing more Vegas’ attractions. First on the agenda is a short walk south on Las Vegas Blvd to the LINQ hotel, which houses a fabulous auto collection of over 250 classic, muscle, and historically famous cars. Some of these are worth over $100 million, and all are actually for sale. Whether you’re a collector of antique cars, just like cars, or have only a casual interest, here is “history on wheels,” the largest classic car showroom in the world. We spend several hours here before lunch. Open daily, 10am-6pm. Cost – Adults, $11.95, Seniors & Children, 6-12, $8.

The Yardhouse restaurant nearby is a good place for a light lunch with beer or ale, about $15. Open daily, 11am-after midnight. Lunch 11-5pm.

Next stop, a visit to the world-renowned Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian; located in 14 cities worldwide, this is a must-see attraction while in Vegas. We take pictures beside our favorite celebrities (over 100 lifelike figures), watch the 4D Marvel Super Heroes movie, and spend most of the afternoon exploring the Museum.
Admission: Adults, $29.95, Children 4-12, $19.95. Hours: Open daily year, Sun-Thurs, 10am-9pm, Fri & Sat, 10am-10pm.

We dress for dinner tonight and taxi to the Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere hotel tower. The wine and 3-course meal of lobster & prawns, small filet, and dessert are superb. The Top of the World is a unique experience in fine dining, with an extensive menu of gourmet contemporary and international specialties and amazing selection of wines. Enjoy great views of the city 840 feet below as the restaurant slowly revolves 360 degrees. Hours: 11am-11pm. Prices: $50 & up. Special 4-course tasting menu, $90.

Day 4 – Starbucks opens early, so we go downstairs for espresso and pastry before joining the 90-minute cruise on Lake Mead. This is a delightful cruise on a paddle-wheel boat past Boulder Island to Hoover Dam. We have two hours to explore this man-made wonder of engineering, visit the museum, and Observation Deck. A bonus stop at Ethel M’s Chocolate factory and Botanical Gardens on the way back to the hotel. Light lunch onboard and round trip transportation to hotel included. Lv at 8:30am, 45 minute ride to Lake Mead, entire excursion about 7 1/2 hours. Price: £64 p/p.

We relax before going to Treasure Island for dinner at the Kahunaville restaurant and the spectacular 90-minute performance of Mystere Cirque du Soleil.
Hours: 7pm & 9:30pm. Price: $79 p/p.

Day 5 – We get an early start with a full breakfast downstairs at the Carnegie Deli, open 24 hours. Avg prices: $15-$20. There’s still plenty of time to watch the dolphins play and explore the world of lions and tigers at Seigfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, a popular attraction at the Mirage. Carnegie Deli, open 24 hrs, $15-$20. Seigfried & Roy’s, 11am-5pm, Adults – $19.95, Children 4-12 – $14.95. Before returning to our room, we decide to check out the casino; who knows, we might get lucky!

We dine tonight in the warm, romantic ambiance of Tuscany decor and soft, classical music at Portofino in the Mirage. After dinner, wetake a short flight over the sparkling lights of Las Vegas at night. A glass of champagne and a ride in a deluxe helicopter are a perfect way to end the evening. Individual headsets & complimentary round-trip limousine service included.
Hours: 12-15 minute narrated flights from 6-9pm, Winter, 6-10pm, Summer. Price: From £57 + $5 fuel charge p/p.

Las Vegas is an adventure, a fun-filled, memorable experience for anyone, whether you come just once or return again. Although the energy, glamour, and glitz of Vegas remain the same, chances are you’ll discover something new and different each time you visit this exciting city.

Sharon L Slayton

Survival guide to days out in Miami

Miami speaks to tourists on so many different levels: the endless stretches of beach, the food of Little Havana and the boutique shopping downtown. However, there’s still plenty to offer a family with kids, whatever your budget and time scale. The key is to know where to go, plan in advance and see where you can cut costs.

Top 5 Visits with Kids

To begin the survival guide, let’s have a look at the top five must see sights in Miami when you’re travelling with kids:

• Miami Seaquarium – it’s unsurprising for a city on the sea that Miami has an amazing aquarium, and the live animal shows are definitely the highlight of any visit. Kids will also definitely get a kick out of watching the deadly sharks being fed.

• Bayside Marketplace – this is the best place in the city for souvenirs, including several rock and fossil shops for younger children.

• Jungle Island – a rainforest in the middle of the city filled with exotic birds, animals and insects. There’s also a petting zoo, making this a perfect break from the busy streets.

• Little Havana – it may surprise your kids to see bits of the Caribbean in America, but they won’t forget the Latin vibe and the Spanish inspired food in hurry.

• Freedom Tower – this famous historical landmark in Miami is one that will give a bit of culture to your fun trip. Climb to the top for a spectacular view over the city.

Surviving the Day Out

Now you know where to go, it’s time to think about the practicalities of making your trip a success for everyone involved:

How to cut costs:

• Travelling with the whole family can become very expensive very quickly. Buy a Go Miami card that gives you access to over 30 attractions, including the Hop On/Hop Off tourist bus.
• Take advantage of the free stuff going on in the city, like the Miami Children’s Museum, Carnaval on the Mile in March and Biscayne National Park.
• It’s always worth looking online or ringing up places in advance, to see if there are any discounts available on the attraction you want to visit.
Plan in advance:
• Miami is a city built for tourists, but it still pays to book ahead and reserve seats or tickets.
• See what festivals are taking place during your stay so that you can fit it into your itinerary.

Don’t overheat:

• Miami is hot for most of the year and even the locals tend to slow down around lunch time. Plan long breaks somewhere cool in the middle of the day to recharge your kids and avoid those horrible I’m-too-hot arguments. Finding somewhere with a pool will massively improve their happiness and yours.
Whichever sites you plan to visit, the golden rule for surviving family days out in Miami is to be flexible. Adults are able to push through tiredness, hunger and overheating in the name of tourism, but children are much less understanding. Being adaptable means having a list of things that you’d like to do, but not having a set order for them, as well as list of back up kid-friendly activities to keep everyone happy

Travel plan for Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire

Over 40 square miles between the Wye and Severn River valleys lies the “Forest of Dean” in Gloucestershire, England. The vast woodlands were favorite hunting grounds for wild boar and bear in medieval times and the days of the Tudors. Inevitably, hunting for food and sport in the forest became less important with the industrialization of iron and coal mining. Loosely formed settlements of small cottages grew up around the forest, as Freeminers and their families gathered in community support and involvement. In time, however, modern technology arrived and the scenic beauty of the “Forest of Dean” and the surrounding area soon became a source of pleasure as a popular tourist destination. Visitors can find English country cottage vacation accommodation and enjoy their holiday in this peaceful spot.

Day One – We arrive around noon at our accommodations, Holt Farm Stable, on the borders of Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. The stone stable turned cottage is on an organic farm and has great views. After unpacking and settling in, we decide to go into the village to look around and buy some Gloucester “old spot” bacon, smoked Severn salmon, and other items at the Farmers Market. It’s time now to enjoy the experience of “having tea” in the afternoon at the highly recommended Aunt Martha’s Victorian Tea Room. This is a lovely place with beautiful gardens and an elegant atmosphere enhanced by candles and oil-lit lamps. The menu includes a variety of tea sandwiches, scones, preserves, and cakes. Before leaving, we stop at the shop for a large basket of treats to take with us.

Hours: 12Noon-4pm. Price for 2 – $30. Reservations advisable.

After a delightful tea, we take a short 20-minute drive to Newent and visit the International Centre for Birds of Prey; many of these can be seen living within the forest. We find an incredible conservatory of over 250 birds of prey including eagles, owls, hawks, and falcons. The Centre also has a small shop and cafe. A camera is a must; you’ll capture some amazing shots.

Hours: 10:30am-5:30pm, 1 Feb-30 Nov. Prices: Adult – $17, Ages 4-15 – $11, Senior – $15.

Day Two – We awake to the early morning sounds of the forest and begin our day with a short drive to see the Severn Bore. You may prefer cycling or even walking if you’re feeling especially energetic. Considered the 3rd highest tidal range in the world, the waves average 9′, but have been as high as 49′; it’s a surfing paradise. After a few hours here, we’re off to catch the Dean Forest Railway at Lydney. The train travels 4 1/2 hours through the woods, stopping at 5 stations along the way, which gives passengers time to get off and explore some of the area. We skipped lunch, so we splurge on seats and a 4-course meal in the royal dining car. Price: $120 for 2. Back to the cottage to rest after a fun-filled day.

Day Three – There are plenty of goodies in Martha’s gift basket for a quick breakfast before an early start to Clearwell Caves. It’s about 6 miles to Coleford and another mile and a half to the visitor center at the caves. The nine caverns of Clearwell form a fascinating museum of mining and geological displays and demonstrations owned and maintained by former miners Ray & Jonathan Wright. Famous people have visited and filmmakers have used the caves in movies such as Narnia, Dr Who, and Merlin. We watch the resident blacksmith, Claire Robertson, at work and visit the gift shop to see her finished items, minerals, and other souvenirs, After a light lunch in the cafe, we walk over to the pond by an old mine shaft before leaving. Special events throughout the year. Free parking.

Hours: 10am-5pm. Back at the cottage for supper, relaxing in the tranquillity of the forest evening.

Day Four – It’s a nice day for a brisk walk or a short drive to the 11th century Chepstow Castle high on the cliff above the merging of the Wye and Severn rivers. The well-preserved stone castle has undergone extensive renovations through the centuries, but the oldest wood castle doors in Europe and other original items still remain on exhibition.ours: Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm. Sun,11am-4pm. Closed 24, 25, 26 Dec & 1 Jan.

Admission: Adults – $5, Seniors – $3.75. Free admission to museum at the car park.

After spending several hours exploring the castle, we drive about 8 miles to the Woodlands Tavern in the village of Llanvair Discoed for a late lunch. Excellent food, specialty coffees, and a variety of ales.

Hours: Tues-Sat, 12Noon-2pm, Sun, 12Noon-4pm.

Prices: $21.00, 3-courses

Day Five – We begin our morning with a 90-minute walk on the discovery trail through town past the historical landmarks of Cinderford. The rest of the day is spent browsing the small shops, chatting with the townspeople, and having lunch at a local pub before returning to our cottage to pack before leaving tomorrow.

Through the years, the “Forest of Dean” has received public acclaim and recognition in books, TV, music, sports, and movies. It is certainly one of the loveliest areas to visit in the UK less than 3 hours from London, a beautiful drive through the countryside past quaint towns and villages on the way to Gloucester. There are various types of accommodations including self-catering cottages, bed & breakfast inns, old farmhouses, and some hotels. Why not plan a holiday to the “Forest of Dean” amid the beauty of nature and the old-world charm of village life.

Sharon L Slayton

Free cruise – Caribbean Cruise Line scam suspicious behavior

Today I received a call from Caribbean Cruise Line, offering me a free cruise because they wanted to fill unsold cabins and generate positive word of mouth advertising.

My first thought was that they were reaching out to travel bloggers, the way Royal Caribbean reached out to me a few years ago. Then I realized that they were cold-calling me – they had no idea I was a world-famous travel blogger. Yes, I am kidding about the famous part.

So what is this free deal? They have no idea how special I am so this is a free cruise for anyone? Sort of. They say the will give you 18 months to book your cruise as long as you pay $118.00 (government port fees) right now. That’s when I told them I wasn’t interested. I prefer to pay my fees after I make a reservation.

I searched the net for other people who have given this a try and CruiseCritic had some information to share. Seems Caribbean Cruise Line is a wholesaler for Celebration Cruise Line. Caribbean Cruise Line probably loses money when they sell the taxes only cruise (we need your $118 right now), but they probably make their money off of people who never get to take the cruise and simply give up on getting their $118 back. There are also reports that you don’t get your taxes only cruise until you sit through a timeshare sales pitch.

Naturally, they don’t tell you about the timeshare sales pitch on the phone. They will take your money first and then disclose the hoops you need to jump through to take that taxes only cruise. Is it a scam? I think so. It might be a legal scam but it’s still someone trying to gain your confidence in order to trick you. Surprise! Now that we have your money you have to jump through hoops to get your tickets. You have to listen to someone selling timeshares. You have to pay $10/person/day for tips. Who knows what else you have to do?

Orlando travel plan – Universal instead of Disney?

Why Universal instead of Disney?

Universal is geared towards older kids. So if you took the kids to Disney a few years ago, and they think they are all grown up (like if they would rather get their picture taken with Spider Man than with Mickey Mouse), you should consider Universal. If you have little kids, there are a lot of rides at Universal that will be a bit much for a 7 or 8 year old (some 3-D rides are pretty intense). Some rides have height restrictions that younger kids are unlikely to meet. Speaking of rides, don’t miss Spiderman at Islands of Adventure, or Back to the Future in the other park. Terminator is also very cool… You might want to check out their website for some guidance on the suitability of rides but Islands of Adventure seems to have more of the rides that younger kids can enjoy.

Also, Universal is not as expensive as Disney and most people who have visited both tell me Universal is the better value. You can often find specials on tickets for Universal Studios in Orlando – if you compare prices, the Universal deals are just more compelling than the Disney ticket deals.

How many parks? How fast?

Can you see both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks in one day? If your little one is too small for the big rides, you can definitely do both parks in a day. The express pass that lets you pay a little extra to skip the general line is very good for saving time but if they run your card through their scanner, you can only go on the ride once. Having said that it’s possible to see both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in a day, why rush? You’ll end up needing a vacation to recover from your vacation.

Travel itinerary

Day 1

Universal Studios is up first. This park is mostly for the older kids. Start with Transformers. Then in order I suggest: Revenge of the Mummy, Men In Black Alien Attack, The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. This can take all day without a Universal Express Pass.

Hopefully, you took my advice and got the pass so that you can see a show or two later in the day. The Universal Horror Make-up Show is cool. So is the mid-afternoon Superstar Character Parade. In the evening, Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular is worth seeing.

Dinner is at Universal City Walk. You have several choices. I chose the Hard Rock Cafe when I was there because the food is good and the rock star items on the walls are always fun.

Day 2

Islands of Adventure today. Those with older kids head left. toward central lagoon. Start with Spider-Man, then move on to Hulk (this can be an intense ride – it is not for everyone). Next up are two water rides- Dudley Do-Right and then Popeye. They will soak you.

Families with younger kids head right instead of left. Find Seuss Landing to enjoy the Dr. Seuss-inspired attractions there – Go for a ride on the High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride then visit One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat in the Hat rides.

People of most ages should enjoy some Harry Potter action. The Hogwarts walk-through involves the Gryffindor common room and other memorable places. The very sweet non-alcoholic butterbeer is sort of a must-try even though most people don’t seem to crave butterbeer when they get back home.

Dinner is at Manny’s Steak House. Excellent steak, reasonable prices. The portions are huge so don’t order too much unless you want leftovers for breakfast the next day. I hope you have a fridge. The atmosphere is pretty neat with American signs and memorabilia on the walls. If you’re saving room for desert, save a lot of room.

Day 3 – Celebration Golf

You need a break from the kids although I can’t tell you what to do with them. Celebration is a Disney related community of homes with a stunning 18-hole golf course and fantastic clubhouse with a nice pool and other amenities. The course is great and tourists love seeing alligators lounging near the water traps.

You can eat at Celebration but I never found anything exciting there. The one place (not in Celebration but not too far) I always saw tourists having a great time is Joe’s Crab Shack. It is incredibly noisy but the crab pots are yummy and it is definitely an experience.

Day 4 – Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center may be a little over an hour away depending on where you’re staying. Space buffs will love the large NASA assembly building. Visiting Kennedy really gives you an idea of scale – space ships, buildings, transporters, etc. are all big. The history of the place is inspiring and they even have a few rides. It’s no Universal, but Kennedy is very cool. You learn something, appreciate the magnitude of effort required to leave the earth, and get to brag to your friends that you did something cultured. You’re better than other tourists.

Day 5 – Discovery Cove

I hope you know how to swim so you can fully enjoy one of the highlights or your Orlando holiday. Discovery Cove is pricey but in this case, you get what you pay for. Meet dolphins (and swim with one), float down a tropical river, see otters and sharks, snorkel in a coral reef with lots of different fish and manta rays. This is an experience you will remember.