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Top 5 must see in Florida's Gulf Coast

There’s more to Orlando than just theme parks, read-on as we share its eclectic mix of activities.  

1. A taste of wilderness

The Central Florida Everglades around Lake Kissimmee, about an hour south of Orlando, is crisscrossed with protected marshes and rivers and home to incredibly diverse wildlife. Take an airboat tour to spot alligators sunning on the river banks and American bald eagles perching on tree-tops.  

2. Watch mermaids under the sea

Before Disneyland, mermaids were the star attraction and many decades later, women still dress as mermaids and dance underwater as tourists watch through the glass. This kitschy show takes place at Weeki Wachee Springs, about 1.5-hour drive from downtown Florida, and it certainly gives an insight into the charm of 1960s Florida.

3. Play a round of golf

Blessed with a temperate climate, Orlando is said to have more than 150 golf courses catering to every skill level and budget. For those up for a challenge, Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, accessed only by members and hotel guests, has a tough 18-hole PGA Tour course. It was also the home of Arnold Palmer in the winter months.

4. Have a quintessential Florida beach experience

Cocoa Beach, just an hour’s drive from downtown Orlando, is a pristine stretch of coastline attracting surfers, volleyball players and anyone after some sun and fun. It is also home to the Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop. For a unique alternative to your typical beach day, drive 65 miles north to New Smyrna Beach and join the locals for a morning yoga session on the beach.

5. Shop for high-class bargains at premium outlets

Orlando is a premier shopping destination. While the massive Florida Mall has well-known anchor stores plus some 250 shops and restaurants, it’s the premium outlets that capture the hearts and wallets. Orlando Premium Outlets, Prime Outlets Orlando and Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores are three essential outlets offering a wide range of luxuries at discount prices.

Fly to Florida from April - December with Virgin Atlantic and in the summer with Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI