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orlando Archives - Air Canada Vacations

05 Jul

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7 Family Adventures in Florida

July 5, 2016 | By |

Florida has some of the best beaches in North America and has long been a favourite winter destination for Canadians. But these days, there’s so much going on all year in the Sunshine State that the best answer to the question, “When should I go?” is quite simply: as often as you can. Enjoy theme parks, astronauts, surfing lessons and more.

1. Theme Parks

Orlando is the world capital for theme parks. Your family will love all the famous rides and attractions at Walt Disney World® Resort, SeaWorld Orlando®, Universal Orlando® Resort, and LEGOLAND Florida.

2. Bike Shark Valley in the Everglades

Did you know you can bike through the Everglades? There’s a 15-mile paved cycling path known as Shark Valley that winds through these vast wetlands to an observation tower and back. For a different take on The River of Grass, try an airboat tour. We’ve got lots of choices from Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

3. Swim with Manatees

Manatee

These gentle giants can grow as big as 12 feet long and weigh up to 3,500 pounds, but they’re still safe to swim with even for a young swimmer. Manatees love Florida’s Crystal River and gather there from November to March. You can book a convenient, family-friendly excursion from Orlando. 

4. Innertube the Ichetcuknee

InnerTubes

There’s nothing quite like lazing down a refreshing river and Ichetucknee Springs State Park in North Central Florida is one of the best. It’s safe, well organized and offers you a close-up view of some spectacular wildlife. We have 37 hotels in nearby Jacksonville so you’re bound to find something to fit your style and budget.

5. Learn to Ride the Atlantic Blue Crush

Did you know you can learn to surf in Florida? Head to Fort Pierce, about an hour south of Cocoa Beach, for dependable waves that are just the right size for beginners. There are quite a few surf schools as well as rental outlets. Catch the life-size wave and surfboard sculpture at Cocoa Beach Pier, a thrill without the spills.

6. Lunch with an Astronaut

Who didn’t want to be an astronaut when they were a kid? At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex you can actually have lunch with one of these heroes, like John Glenn, Jim Lovell, Story Musgrave, or Jon McBride. Enjoy a buffet lunch with 30 to 100 other visitors as you listen to one of these great space travellers. Ask questions, shake their hand, get an autograph and a picture. The Space Centre is on Florida’s central east coast, not far from Orlando or Cocoa Beach.

7. Theatre of the Sea in the Florida Keys

Paddleboard Icon

If sea creatures are on your must-see list, then Miami and the Florida Keys are your destinations. Theatre of the Sea in Islamorada lets you swim with rays, sea lions, and dolphins in a salt-water lagoon. The Miami Seaquarium has unforgettable dolphin encounters and helmet diving that lets you get up close to an amazing tropical reef exhibit.

Ready for a fun family adventure in Florida? Check out our website to start planning today.

17 Jun

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6 Places You Have to Visit in the USA

June 17, 2016 | By |

The USA is full of surprises and wonders that should be on everybody’s bucket list. Family fun in Florida. Amazing adventures in Hawaii. And colourful charm in California. Here are 6 places you have to visit.

ORLANDO_Magic-Kingdom-Fireworks

1. Orlando

The Theme-Park-Capital-of-the-World will never disappoint with world-famous Walt Disney World® Resort, SeaWorld Orlando®, and Universal Orlando® Resort and tons of others choices. Discover great shopping and golf at more than 150 local courses. And be sure to check out the new dining and entertainment options on International Drive.

Where to stay

The Liki Tiki Resort by Diamond Resorts is a beautiful resort-style hotel with amenities for the whole family including a water park. Plus, you’re only minutes from Walt Disney World® Resort, SeaWorld Orlando®, and Universal Orlando® Resort.

At the International Palms Resort, you’re right in the heart of the theme park action of Orlando. Your family will love the free shuttle service to the parks, and great deals on dining.

HONOLULU_surf

2. Honolulu

The heart of Hawaii, the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu is bursting with island magic. Try surfing or snorkelling at Waikiki Beach. Hike Diamond Head Volcano. Or make some colourful friends at the Honolulu Zoo. Enjoy it all with a tropical breeze and the easygoing spirit of the islands of aloha.

Where to stay

The beachfront resort-style Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa has everything you need for a great vacation including restaurants, a spa, a pool and live entertainment. Plus, Waikiki Aquarium and iconic Diamond Head Volcano are close by.

The vast Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort boasts Waikiki’s best stretch of white-sand beach and 22 acres of lush tropical surroundings. Enjoy daily activities, great dining options and luxurious rooms.

MAUI_BluePools Waterfall

3. Maui

Maui is marvelous. No island can boast the incredible diversity of this beautiful place.

Scenic Hana Highway winds through the deep pools and soaring waterfalls of Oheo Gulch. Mt. Haleakala towers above. Snorkellers discover incredible colours and diners delight in a rich and delicious food culture. It’s one adventure after another.

Where to stay

The AAA Four Diamond Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa offers you 40 acres of tropical gardens just minutes from the famous Whalers Village shopping complex. Enjoy 7 restaurants and bars, a water slide and kids’ lagoon, snorkelling and kayaking.

The completely refurbished oceanfront Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa delivers a stylish vacation of modern luxury and conveniences including a new restaurant, Humble Kitchen, by world-renowned chef and Hawaii native Roy Yamaguchi.

Los Angeles

4. Los Angeles

The City of Angels can make any dream come true. From the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Rodeo Drive, to the cooling mountain air and rambling wine country, whatever you’re looking for you’ll find it. And if family comes first, you’ll find theme parks and activities for every age.

Where to stay

One of our most popular hotels in California, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach offers spectacular amenities and great restaurants including Watertable, one of the top 100 Best Restaurants in America. Plus, scenic Orange County is just minutes away.

The Holiday Inn Anaheim at the Park is a great, affordable choice if you’re going to Disneyland! Enjoy the hotel’s facilities or head a few minutes down the street to all the restaurants, shops and entertainment of the Downtown Disney® District.

MIAMI_BeachUmbrellas

5. Miami

Miami is alive with a vibrant art scene, great shopping and activities for everyone. Hit the beach for long lazy days in the year-round sunshine, or go cosmopolitan with gourmet dining and a jumping nightlife. Miami is golden.

Where to stay

In stylish South Beach, the Eden Roc Miami Beach is an upscale oceanfront hotel with a glamorous pool scene. You’re just a 10-minute drive from Lincoln Road’s world-famous shopping.

The ultrachic beachfront W South Beach is across the street from the sophisticated Bass Museum of Art. Discover the hotel restaurants, lively poolside grill, opulent lobby nightclub, and rooftop basketball and tennis courts.

San Francisco

6. San Francisco

The City by the Bay is as beautiful and inviting as you’ve always imagined. Lose yourself in the shops, art galleries, restaurants and theatres around Union Square. Cross the famous Golden Gate Bridge. And be sure to wander through the Victorian architecture of picture-perfect Alamo Square.

Where to stay

Centrally located near Union Square, the upscale Westin St. Francis is just a 10-minute walk from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Enjoy a sophisticated steakhouse, cozy cocktail bar, and a serene beauty and wellness spa.

The contemporary Parc 55 San Francisco – A Hilton Hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Westfield San Francisco Centre Mall and offers a hip Thai restaurant, a gym, and a business center with free WiFi.

Ready to book your vacation in the USA? Get started today.

17 Nov

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12 New Things to See and Do in Orlando

November 17, 2015 | By |

With a whole new lineup of exciting attractions, entertainment and dining, there’s no better time to visit Orlando.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVE

In the heart of Orlando’s tourism corridor, International Drive has seen great additions recently with exciting new retail, dining and entertainment options.

1. The newest complex is I-Drive 360, which, along with stellar dining options, has opened a trio of new attractions: The Orlando Eye (pictured), is a 400-foot-tall observation wheel providing breathtaking views of Central Florida; Madame Tussauds, the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction, and SEA LIFE Orlando, delivering new underwater adventures. Restaurants such as the Yard House and Tin Roof: A Live Music Joint add to the experience.

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2. Several new restaurants have opened on I-Drive including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Lafayette’s Restaurant & Bar, known for its Southern cuisine and Itta Bena, fine dining and piano club.

3.  Orlando welcomes one of South Beach’s hottest dining and dance clubs with the addition of Mangos Tropical Café. With 55,000 square feet of entertainment space, this Orlando location will offer high-energy entertainment for a wide variety of tastes.

4. Nearby International Drive, The Florida Mall takes colouring to a new level with the opening of Crayola Experience (pictured). The 70,000-square-foot attraction will offer 25 hands-on activities for kids of all ages.

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5. “Restaurant Row”, on Sand Lake Road off International Drive, has an array of hot spots like Rocco’s Tacos Tequila Bar and Eddie V’s, and has just added The Whiskey, welcoming lovers of gourmet burgers, craft cocktails and rock ‘n roll fun and more than 100 brands of whiskey for the thirsty connoisseur.

THEME PARKS

6. Walt Disney World Resort is about to completely transform Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, doubling the number of entertainment, shops and dining options, including The BOATHOUSE (pictured) STK Orlando, and Morimoto Asia by celebrity Chef Morimoto.

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7. LEGOLAND Florida Resort will open a new land called Heartlake City this summer. The expansion will include a horse-themed disc coaster called Mia’s Riding Adventure, an interactive show titled ‘Friends to the Rescue’ and new shops inside the Heartlake Mall.

8.  Universal Orlando Resort announced a new groundbreaking attraction opening in summer 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will honour one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong. Guests can explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives.

9. SeaWorld Orlando will unveil MAKO, a 200-foot-tall coaster (rendering below), which will complement an entirely new realm, reminiscent of a giant underwater shipwreck. With shark theming throughout, the new venue will provide plenty of heart-pounding excitement.

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DOWNTOWN ORLANDO

10. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opened in November, 2014, delivers a stellar lineup of entertainment for its second season: Broadway productions, Orlando Ballet and an array of music performances.

11. Orlando City Soccer Club Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team made its debut in 2015 with global soccer icon, Kaká. The Orlando City Soccer Club will kick off their next season in March 2016.

12. Two new restaurants are slated to join downtown Orlando’s already stellar dining line up, including: Two Chefs Seafood featuring comfort food and seafood from former chefs of Emeril’s Orlando and The Palm Restaurant; and North Quarter Tavern, a chef-driven neighbourhood tavern by the team behind downtown Orlando’s power-lunch staple, Citrus Restaurant.

Ready to see and do these 12 new things? Start planning your Orlando vacation today!

 

21 Sep

By

5 Destinations You Have to Visit at Least Once

September 21, 2015 | By |

Whether you’ve travelled a little or a lot, these five places have got to be at the top of your list. They’re fun, lively, exciting and definite essentials for all world-travellers. And if you’ve been to them before, try them again. These places are always full of surprises.

1) London

London

Everyone loves to wander the banks of the River Thames, taking in the most famous landmarks like Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and more. For a great view of the whole city, try the London Eye; it’s a 30-minute ride that takes you up 400 feet. For something different, try a pre-show drink on Carnaby Street in the busy West End, a great street market in Portobello, or the spectacular Victorian Kew Gardens.

Where to stay: 

The President Hotel is a London classic with an attractive combination of location and style right on Russell Square. Enjoy easy access to The British Museum and a live jazz pianist every Friday and Saturday night.

The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is a beautiful, modern hotel within 10 minutes’ walk of London's key attractions, including Big Ben, the London Aquarium and the London Eye.

2) Paris

Paris

This city really is all about sidewalk cafés, good wine, and incredibly stylish people. The classic view from the Eiffel Tower is a definite must. The Louvre has an enormous collection of masterpieces, and when people tell you that it’s too big to do in one day, believe them. And be sure to visit Versailles. Amazingly, when it was built it was a day away by horse-drawn coach. Now, it’s half an hour by train.

Whatever you choose to do in Paris, just remember this one rule. Make time to sit back and enjoy being Parisian, if only for a little while.

Where to stay:

The Quartier Latin Hotel is right in the heart of the city giving you easy access to the Pantheon, the Sorbonne, Luxembourg Garden and Notre Dame Cathedral. This is a great choice for the traveller on the go.

The Auteuil Tour Eiffel offers a stylishly modern experience in a fantastic location, close to the Eiffel Tower. You’re right in the middle of everything with easy access to river cruises and public transport. 

3) Hawaii

Waterfall at the Blue Pools. Hana, Maui

Colourful, unforgettable and full of adventure, the islands of Hawaii are a must if you’re looking for great beaches, culture and fun. Plan a few days on each island; inter-island flights are so easy.

The Big Island is famous for its Volcanoes National Park where you can walk across lava fields and see lava boil into the Pacific. There is no end to the watersports, dining, and events in Honolulu on the island of Oahu where famous Waikiki Beach definitely lives up to its reputation. Maui, known as the Valley Isle, is often called the most beautiful island. It has an abundance of natural experiences but also offers great bars, shops and galleries. It’s a fusion of Polynesian charm and a modern vacation. 

Where to stay:

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of the best hotels in Hawaii. This iconic landmark offers a true island experience with fireworks every Friday, a Starlight Luau, and the longest stretch of beach along a hotel in Waikiki.

The Hyatt Regency Maui & Spa is part of the expansive Ka’anapali Resort complex giving you an unbeatable island vacation. Enjoy restaurants, lounges, free-form pools and an easy walk to the Whaler’s Village for shopping and lots more.

4) New York

NYC

It’s amazing that so much life, so much history and so much fun can fit onto the island of Manhattan, but New York manages it somehow. From Central Park to Wall Street, from the MoMA to street artists, and from a pretzel on the street corner to Michelin-star gourmet, whatever your New York looks like, you’ll find it in spades. And now that Brooklyn is enjoying a spectacular renaissance with a new authentic artisans’ movement, the sky’s the limit. Just stroll across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge for the newest New York experience.

Where to stay:

The Row NYC, just one block from Times Square, gives you a truly New York experience. The unique design is inspired by the city’s famous neighbourhoods. Plus, take advantage of Times Square’s first indoor food market, City Kitchen.

The Night Hotel Theatre District offers a truly contemporary boutique experience. Each of the 73 rooms at the Night Hotel brings the best kind of fun back into travel with trend-conscious design. 

5) Orlando

Orlando_option2

The most famous theme parks on earth are all in Orlando, like Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando® Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, SeaWorld® and Legoland® Florida. The choices are endless. For something a little more off beat, try Gatorland, or the famous Kennedy Space Centre, where you can actually see the launch pads and vehicles that have taken people into space.

Where to stay:

The Ramada Plaza Resort & Suites International Drive is perfect for a theme park vacation. Wet ‘n Wild is only two blocks away, and there’s free scheduled transportation to Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.

The Liki Tiki Village is great for families. Located in Kissimmee, a quick drive from Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, this Polynesian themed resort offers an extensive water play area and lots of other great family-friendly features.

10 Mar

By

Fun With the Kids During March Break

March 10, 2015 | By |

“Are we there yet?” takes on new meaning when you finally arrive with a luggage full of summer wear and a family ready to start their fun.

After all, it is March Break or Spring Break depending on where you’re from and that means one thing: fun in the sun.

Here’s where to get the extra fun breaks that’ll satisfy both adults and the kids.

The Mayan Riviera

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Blue azure sea, white soft sand, and a Caribbean reef that’ll have the kids snorkelling for Nemo are just some of the fun to be had at the Mayan Riviera.

I also love to hang with the critters in a jungle-rich environment at Xcaret Park. Amid the tall leafy trees in this eco-archeological park, you can hear the sounds of the jungle, prowl through the tropical jungle trail, stop at the wild bird aviary and watch entertaining free shows scheduled daily. See big cats at Jaguar Island and discover the ancient culture of the Mayans at the recreated villages. Water activities are popular too. I enjoy the clear, cool waters by the underground river and it’s always a treat to drift down the canyon-like Paradise River with its exotic foliage in a small raft.

Of course, swim spots are totally fun in Xel-ha Park. This water park torques through more Mayan jungles and winds past mini islands. Grab a tube and a lifejacket and prepare to tube down lazy rivers with its jungle backdrop. Xel-ha boasts many attractions and is loaded with activities. On my last visit snorkelling by the natural cove was a huge hit. You can also hike the nature trails to spot jungle critters.

Little kids may not really care for visits to see ancient ruins, but older ones like tweens should drop by with their parents to see Tulum. After you visit this ancient Mayan waterfront site, take a dip in the sea – as clear and sinfully warm as a hot tub.

At Tulum, you’ll learn about the ancient Mayans who were a resourceful, ingenious lot. If you want to dabble further into the world of the Mayans, take a full day excursion by bus to Chichen Itza. Located in the neighbouring state of the Yucatan, it is a bit of a drive (like 2 hours with a very early wake-up) but is well worth the trip to view this massive ancient Mayan site complex. Excursion tours can be booked directly at your resort.

Vegas for families

New York New York Hotel and Casino

Big Apple Coaster at New York New York Hotel and Casino

When you think of Las Vegas, you think of high rollers, casinos, and late nights, maybe not the stuff you want your family exposed to. But let me tell you, there’s a lot more to Vegas than adult entertainment.

There are the gondola rides, roller coasters, animal shows and tasty snacks and that’s just for starters.  I enjoy the variety and the selection in offerings is pretty staggering too.

At New-York New-York, get strapped in for dips and turns and try the Big Apple coaster ride with its Coney Island feel. At the Stratosphere, get strapped in again, but this time, the ride shoots you up into the stratosphere (try 160 feet) in just 2.5 seconds.

In this desert town it’s the hotel pools that make the big splash. Spend hours luxuriating at the poolside or hours at the many other attractions.

Fun in Orlando

Orlando SeaWorld

SeaWorld

Hit the big theme parks in Orlando. Don’t think too much about the line-ups… Just think: it’s not every day the kids get to visit Disney WorldUniversal Studios or SeaWorld.

International Drive is crammed with resorts. In between the pool visits, spa treatments, and great dinners at your property, don’t forget to make time for some quick retail therapy. I love to hang out by the famous Premium Outlet Malls on International Dirve. Scour the shops with luxe brands like Ann Taylor, Kenneth Cole, and Kate Spade New York.

For some downtime, or to flee the crowds at the theme parks, why not mellow next door at the “Gateway to Fun,” known as Kissimmee. This neighbouring city and its surroundings have some of the nicest off-the-beaten path activities. Take a fabulous paddling trip at Shingle Creek Regional Park. Located at the most northerly stream of the Everglades not far from International Drive, this waterway is laden with mangroves and promises fabulous nature sightseeing.

One of my favourite stops in Kissimmee is to spend the day at Gatorland. Dubbed “The Alligator Capital of the World,” the ginormous park is also home to a menagerie of other critters like tropical birds and snakes. Hands-on activities and daily shows with naturalists make it educational without being boring.  Once at Gatorland, you can’t escape hearing the call of Tarzan either. That’s because the park is home to 5 zip lines. Called the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, it’s great fun for the whole family. Note there are certain height and weight restrictions that apply.

Award-winning travel writer Ilona Kauremszky is a co-producer of mycompasstv and mycompass.ca and works with leading publications across North America. She’s been a nationally syndicated travel columnist and has appeared as a travel expert on CBC, NPR, Yahoo Finance and other national broadcasters. Follow her travel pursuits on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv.