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Things to Do in Florida - page 5

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Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando
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Also known as the Orlando Odditorium, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando is on normal attraction, a fact you’ll discover as soon as you walk up. Designed to look off kilter, the appearance of Ripley’s is the first of many interesting oddities you’ll find here.

This wild and wacky world is filled with wonder, and families can experience it all without leaving the city of Orlando. Filled with bizarre exhibits and mesmerizing optical illusions, Ripley’s includes life-size Terracotta warriors, a real shrunken human head, a two-headed dog skeleton, a shooting range and much more. Perfect for a step outside of the ordinary, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando has got the market cornered on quirky Florida attractions.

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Disney Springs™
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Located in Lake Buena Vista, about 25 minutes from Orlando, Downtown Disney is an outdoor complex featuring retail shops, restaurants and entertainment. Unlike the Disney theme parks, Downtown Disney is free to enter and explore. The attraction is separated into three distinct areas including the Downtown Disney Marketplace, Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney Westside. The Downtown Disney Marketplace is where you’ll find the main shopping hub -- including World of Disney, the planet’s largest Disney merchandise store -- as well as restaurants and attractions. Indulge in an ice cream sundae and admire antique chocolate-making equipment at the Ghiaradelli’s Chocolate Shop and Soda Fountain, dine with life-sized wildlife at the Rainforest Cafe or get in touch with your inner child and ride the carousel.
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Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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Universal Orlando's Harry Potter attraction is spread across two parks at the resort: Diagon Alley on the Universal Studios Florida side and Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure. The two are connected by Hogwarts Express train, and each features shops, dining, and attractions inspired by the young wizard.
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SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology!
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The SKELETONS exhibit of Orlando is the first specialized museum of its kind, with more than 400 complete animal skeletons in its collection. It examines the function and form of the skeletal system with specimens from all over the world.

The museum is family owned, having begun with one child’s fascination with a skull he found in the woods. Over the years he collected bones, including those of very rare species, and then decided to make them available to the public to see (and even touch!) The family has cleaned and articulated every single one of the hundreds of skeletons on display, which can take months at a time depending on the intricacy of the skeletal structure. Some of the larger animals of the world offer the most impressive skeletons, as demonstrated by the whale and elephant skeletons at this fascinating museum. Visitors can both learn about the lifecycle of the animals and appreciate the complex composition of nature.

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Universal CityWalk
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Universal CityWalk™ is where daytime fun and nighttime excitement meet. It’s everything you’re looking for. And anything but ordinary. Here you can enjoy the fine cuisine of Emeril’s Orlando, the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe®, Jimmy Buffett’s® Margaritaville®, and unique eateries like The Cowfish®, VIVO Italian Kitchen™, AntojitosAuthentic Mexican Food™, NBC Sports Grill & Brew™, and The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen™.
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De la Cruz Collection
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The De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space contains works from the personal collection of Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz and covers 30,000 square feet with art. Before moving to this site in 2009, the original space was an extension of the couple’s home of 25 years and focused on international contemporary art.

The art space includes various rooms with rotating exhibits, including one dedicated to showcasing local Miami artists’ works. Look for lectures designed to increase public awareness of art history and modern-day art practices. To help further promote the local art scene, Miami creative often submit proposals for site-specific installations, and classes and workshops designed with local schools take place as well. The De la Cruz family has also developed internship opportunities and a scholarship program for high school and college students. The De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space is privately owned and funded by Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz.

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More Things to Do in Florida

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Key West Museum

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Key West Museum

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Located on the famous Duval Street, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is one of the most unique attractions you’ll find in Key West, Florida. With over 10,000 square feet on the second floor of a historic Key West historical building, the over 500 exhibits will easily keep you busy for an entire day.

Ripley first displayed his odd collection at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, which was labeled Ripley’s Odditorium. The exhibit attracted over 2 million visitors, leading Ripley to take his show on the road. Today, there are franchised locations of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums all over the world.

The 500-plus exhibits in Key West are showcased in 13 galleries. Ripley collected the most unusual objects and collections he could find on his global travels to create the Odditoriums. Look for featured items like a shrunken head that once belonged to Ernest Hemingway, whose own typewriter and glasses are on display as well.

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Epcot Center

Epcot Center

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With no roller coasters screeching overhead, no parades, no water rides and plenty of greenery, Epcot Center moves at a slower pace. Here you can smell the incense in Morocco, listen to the Beatles in the United Kingdom, eat sushi in Japan, and get a pastry in France.

An acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” The Epcot Center is divided into two halves. The modern Future World, with its hard-to-miss iconic geosphere known as Spaceship Earth, explores modern technologies through myriad rides and displays.

The other half is the World Showcase, where you can tour the world in a day by taking an intoxicating toe-dip into the cultures of 11 different countries, featuring Mexico, Norway, China, France, Germany, and Italy.

Epcot also offers plenty of activities that appeal to inquisitive tots. The new Soarin' ride is a winner, and Mission: SPACE is good for getting the adrenaline pumping after one too many educational exhibits.

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Miami Children's Museum

Miami Children's Museum

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The Miami Children's Museum is not so much a museum as a glorified playhouse, with areas for kids to practice all sorts of adult activities like banking and food shopping, caring for pets, playing TV news anchor in a studio and acting as a local cop or firefighter.

Kids can pretend they’re banking at the miniature Bank of America, shopping at the local Publix Supermarket, or taking a Carnival cruise ship, which even stops in the re-created port of Brazil. One of the more impressive exhibits is the World Music Studio, where budding rock stars can lay down a few tracks and play instruments.

The Miami Children’s Museum also offers educational displays about subjects ranging from Miami architecture to Brazilian culture. There are also hundreds of bilingual, interactive exhibits as well as programs, classes, and learning materials related to arts, culture, community, and communication.

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Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

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Florida’s Gulf Coast is haven for all kinds of interesting and exotic wildlife, and the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve near St. Petersburg offers the chance to explore unique ecosystems, including hardwood hammocks, sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, swamp woodlands, willow marsh and lake shore. The 245-acre park has six miles of trail and boardwalk along the shore of Lake Maggiore, where you can spot alligators and lizards, myriad birds, butterflies and much more. The park also has an aviary for birds of prey, picnic areas, a playground and overnight camping.

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Ybor City

Ybor City

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Exploration Tower

Exploration Tower

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You can enjoy one of the best views along the Space Coast with a visit to Cape Canaveral’s new Exploration Tower. Built in 2013, the curved, sail-like building is a design match with the myriad cruise ships that venture in and out of Port Canaveral, and the viewing platform atop the seven-story structure offers an ideal vantage point for watching the bustle of the port or a NASA rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center, which sits about 10 miles to the north. Exploration Tower also features inside exhibits, including interactive movies in a two-story auditorium, and a simulator where would-be cruise captains can try their hand at navigating Port Canaveral.

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