Would you stay in Orlando for a NO theme park vacation?


Feb 19, 2014
For your father you really should look at The Villages, an hour north of Orlando, right between Mt. Dora and Webster. It’s called Disney for Adults, and is the largest senior community in the world. There are big car shows once a month, club car shows weekly, and any activity you could think of from tennis to history classes. There are 70 something public pools kept at 84 degrees year round. There are close to 40 executive golf courses you play for free, and 18 country clubs where membership comes with your Villages card.

I’m not sure it’s a great destination for the entire extended family for two weeks. There is free live entertainment on 3 different town squares every night 365 days a year if they are into dancing. I see all ages of folks on the putt and play mini golf and Himalayan putting greens. There are parks and lots of Multi Model paths for bikes and golf carts. If your Dad chooses to winter here he could get the younger one into Grandparent/grandkid camp activities. The teens might like learning archery or pickleball. But it is a retirement community, so there are a lot of older folks.


DIS Veteran
Apr 5, 2018
If your family is into sports at all there would certainly be a good amount to do.

In March Sprong Traing will be going on all around Florida. The Braves play at Dosney’s ESPN World Wode of Sports.

In Orlando itself, March is the beginning of the MLS season, so you could catch a Orlando City FC game.

Orlando will also have a team in the brand new Alliance of American Football league that kicks off in February. That could be an interesting thing to check out.
  • Penmac

    Mar 31, 2017
    My dad is definitely not thinking of wintering in the Orlando area. He has no interest in theme parks and would hate the traffic. Orlando was my suggestions only due to the vast amount of rental homes (plus the rental prices are very reasonable compared to other areas). We are definitely going to the Largo area, with Daytona being a “maybe”. So much to think about...
    I can definitely understand the desire to stay in Orlando for ease of accommodation. I had checked out renting a place near the coast for a few nights and the difference was huge. We are a family of 7 and Orlando is one of the few places we vacation where we can find a rental place that’s big, clean, has great amenities that we can actually afford!


    DIS Veteran
    May 5, 2006
    (e.g. a day at SeaWorld advanced purchase is $80)
    I'm guessing that either it's been a while since you did your advance purchase of a Sea World ticket, or you had access to a discount beyond the general public advance purchase rate. I just recently purchased an advance one-day Sea World ticket and it was $94.18 for one adult ticket. (There is an online service fee that doesn't show up until you are already in the process of purchasing the ticket.)


    Mar 16, 2012
    My extended family will be travelling to Florida for 2 weeks. We are Disney lovers, but the rest of our family are not. They have humoured us and “done the Disney thing” several times, so I’m totally fine with NO THEME PARKS. This year we would like to explore Florida and visit a few beaches (likely Daytona and Cocoa), we will also be making a day trip to visit some friends who live in Largo. One of the purposes of this trip is to potentially find a place that my dad might want to visit for the winter once he retires (however he is also considering Arizona). Anyway, would it be crazy to use Orlando as our home base? I was thinking since I know the area, it is somewhat central and has TONS of home rentals that it would make sense to stay in Orlando. I’m not at all familiar with any areas outside of Orlando, so I’m open to consider other areas for a rental. I would also LOVE any recommendations for non-theme park things to see/do. My dad loves old cars, flea markets.. but we have 8 other people on the trip too (adults, 2 teens and a 6 year old).
    No. I would go to South Florida. I like the Sarasota area, Sanibel and Captiva.


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 23, 2009
    My family and I have been to Orlando MANY times without doing any theme parks. We have stayed from 10 to 15 days and not visit a single theme park. For one, we have stayed at timeshare resorts that have many onsite activities. Our favorite resorts are: Westgate VacationVillas/TownCenter, Orange Lake Resort, and Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort(practically on Disney property). If you stay somewhere that offers alot on property, it is EASY to go to Orlando without visiting a theme park. Westgate Vacation Villas/Town Center, is one of our favorites due to its waterpark on property. They also have their own movie theater that shows Disney movies. Dance parties/pool parties at Westgate and Orange Lake are a GREAT time. If you read some of my past posts you will note I mention my DD12 learned practically ALL of her line dancing at Westgate pool parties. She started participating at the age of 4 and has gained great skills and confidence. She actually WON a dance contest at Bonnet Creek at the age of 9. She was so good, that the bartender shut the bar down for a few minutes to go out there and learn some of her moves!!! Ok...enough of that....

    Another thing we do is drive to Clearwater Beach and enjoy the day. There are many discount coupons in local stores, restaurants to get discounts to dinner shows, and other amenities and activities. Because Disney exists in the area, it makes everyone else step their game up. They want you to be happy to visit them instead of Disney. So YES, I would stay in Orlando without stepping foot in a theme park. There is so much to do and see besides theme parks. But I do recommend staying at a timeshare resort that offer a lot of activities. You can view the activity schedules online to see what is offered.
  • glassslippergirl

    DIS Veteran
    Jul 15, 2010
    Using one base to explore all of Florida is going to be difficult. I agree with exploring both coasts. About 10 years ago, my dad moved from the east coast to the west coast, and they really have uniquely different “feels.” The east coast is more built up and attracts more retirees from up east like New York. But there’s more to do, a lot more young families, a lot “younger” vibe. There’s also a lot more traffic, as my dad loves to point out. The west coast offers a slower lifestyle and attracts more retirees from the Midwest. The population feels older. I’m, of course, painting in broad strokes as there are urban and rural centers on both coasts. I’d do some research. You can find resorts everywhere in Florida. Yes, not as many as Orlando, but you’re not going to get the feel for a place as much by daytripping as by staying there. Some of the differences are startling and sneak up on you, but really show you the lifestyle. For example, I live in South Florida, in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. Our Publix grocery stores (which are all awesome and a reason to move to FL by themselves) stay open until 11. When we were on a trip to Legoland in Winter Haven, I tried to go to Publix for some diapers at 9:04. Publix was already closed! I was shocked! Being able to go to Publix (not Walmart Supercenter) in the late evening is a surprisingly big part of my lifestyle, and I wouldn’t have known that about small towns in FL had I not experienced it firsthand.


    DIS meet junkie
    Sep 29, 2002
    you’re not going to get the feel for a place as much by daytripping as by staying there.
    This is and excellent point and something you really should think about OP. If a big reason for the trip is for your dad to decide where to snowbird, walking around for a couple of hours one day really isn't going to give him a good feel for the locale. You want to see what life is like in the morning, mid day, dinner time, and evening. Is it the kind of area where people are out walking and biking and socializing in the morning? Is it a ghost town after 6pm or are there clubs and music and activity into the wee hours of the morning? If you just drive into town mid day, walk around a bit, have lunch, and then drive back to Orlando, you'll never know.

    Lisa P.

    DIS Veteran
    Aug 27, 1999
    Agree with the idea of splitting the trip. Look south of Fort Myers on the west coast and south of West Palm Beach on the east coast to find the best winter weather. There are a number of large timeshare resorts in the Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach/Weston region of south Florida. You may find some week-long March rentals of large timeshare and condo units through SkyAuction, Redweek, or TUG Marketplace.

    The southwest coast can be more expensive. If it's priced out of range, you could spend the week in Davenport at a house rental or (west) Kissimmee - Reunion Resort has 4BRs and resort-style amenities, 20-30 minute drive to WDW area, Celebration, or Kissimmee attractions. When visiting Largo/Clearwater/Tampa, your drive would not include the worst I-4 traffic near WDW. You've gotten great advice here! Florida has so much to do, touristy stuff, farms/festivals, wineries, state parks, natural springs, gorgeous beaches, historic sites. Enjoy!


    DIS Veteran
    Jun 4, 2003
    Is this for this March? Looking at Melbourne/Cocoa Beach areas 97% are already rented.
    Need room for 10 people?
    What is the budget for the rental?
    Melbourne/Cocoa Beach area short term rental sites have popups that say 97% rented for the first 2 weeks of March. What is left runs in the $800-$1000+ a night category while there are available homes in the Orlando area for 200-$300+ category that sleeps up to 10.
  • Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Feb 19, 2019
    Apart from the traffic I think orlando area is a good place to base from, the hotel prices are lower in centrally located, my sons grandparents retired near clearwater. A lot less traffic still florida. South Florida is nice but expensive.
    I suggest a go orlando pass all inclusive 5 day is less than 300 they have something for everyone. Dinner cruises in the gulf, NASA tour, aquarium in tampa, whale show in south Florida, go carts and a magic dinner show on international drive and if you dare legoland.
    You can get less days than 5 as well. Have a great time in the sun.


    Aug 1, 2018
    We do it all the time... no theme parks, that is. We might do “one” day at a park, but the rest is things like mini golf, pool, crayola, pin trading/Disney springs, lizard hunting, visiting family, etc... we just spent 5 days in Orlando and spent 1 day in a park. It was LEGOLAND, and we have passes so it’s aready a sunk cost.


    May 2, 2006
    Would I stay in Orlando for 2 weeks without visiting a theme park? No. Not sure why you would either. Does your group have to stay together every day?

    Beyond that, lot of good ideas above. Orlando is attractive as a base because accommodation can be so reasonable. But it may mean a lot of driving for you. A week in Orlando and a week in S. Florida might be a good idea.


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