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Beat the Heat – Central Florida Edition

Beat the Heat – Central Florida Edition

Posted at Mon, Jul 31, 2023 11:00 AM

It’s not just your imagination. There’s record-setting heat right outside your door. 

Central Florida is no stranger to 90-degree temps and a climate that resembles a washing machine on steam cycle, but even we’re looking for relief.

Thankfully, the area is filled with attractions that’ll keep you and yours cool and happy no matter what the thermometer brings -- from tried-and-true options like a cool cone of soft serve to crowd-pleasers like the brand-new Andretti indoor go-karting track.

Slap on some sunscreen. Break out the short sleeves. Let’s beat the heat together.

Flee To The Sea

Flee to the Sea

Beach. Summer. No two words match better.

New Smyrna Beach is a reliable Central Floridian getaway. Bring your board of choice -- boogie, surf, or skim -- and hit the waves for an instant dose of cool summer bliss.

Plus, the fun doesn’t end after toweling off. Surfer-themed gift shops? Beachy boutiques? The sweet taste of soft serve? Check, check, check -- Flagler Ave, New Smyrna’s seaside beach strip, has it all. 

New Smyrna offers drive-on beach access, so you can easily lay out your chairs, coolers and toys without endless trips to the parking lot. For families with young’uns,  the “non-drive” portion of the beach south of 27th Avenue offers a safer landscape for your little monsters … sorry, we meant little angels … to run around while you enjoy a beachside stroll free of crowds and traffic.

On your way home, stop and visit us at Mullinax Ford of New Smyrna on the north side of U.S. 44 -- we don’t mind if you track in some sand.

The ocean oases don’t end there! Also be sure to visit …

  • Cocoa Beach. The 800-foot Westgate Pier, with restaurants, volleyball courts and gift shops galore, squeaks into the top 80 longest US beach piers (79th place is the new first). Shop, eat, and watch surfers hit the waves -- or hit the waves yourself after stopping by Ron Jon, the largest surf shop in the world, for gear rental or to book a private lesson. They don’t call Cocoa the surf capital of the East Coast for nothing!
  • Daytona Beach. The Daytona Boardwalk and Pier has something for every beach-goer -- from shopping at Ocean Walk to the 365-foot Slingshot ride at Screamer’s Park. Cool off by taking a dip at the 23-mile beach itself or visiting Daytona Lagoon -- a water park with attractions like Treasure Lagoon wave pool and Kraken’s Revenge slide.

Grab A Sweet Treat

Grab a Sweet Treat

No summer day is complete without an icy treat. It’s Florida law.

If you love a traditional scoop, try Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream. This family-owned shop sells delicious, creamy, one-of-a-kind flavors in both scoop shops and smaller counter stores sprinkled throughout Central Florida. 

Words of advice: order the cookie monster flavor. It’ll turn your tongue blue, and it’ll be worth it.

A few more favorite treats:

  • Mystic Ice Cream. This is ice cream with a little extra something-something for adults. Grasshopper flavor. Coconut rum, Whiskey PBJ. You guessed it. Try the Kahlúa Fudge – it will surpass your wildest dreams. Mystic, with locations in Eustis, Leesburg and Fruitland Park, also offers non-alcoholic ice creams for little ones and events like karaoke for the whole family. 
  • DOLE Whip. You can list its ingredients: fruit, blended with honey, frozen into soft-serve. But to understand DOLE Whip’s cult following, you’ll have to grab a cup yourself. Originally created and sold at Disney theme parks, today DOLE Whip is also available at shops nationwide. Sellers in Central Florida (besides Disney World) include Shaka’s Ice Company (Orlando) and The Happy Pineapple (Ocala). 

Freshwater Fun

Freshwater Fun

Floridians. The beach. A love story as old as time. But the ocean isn’t the only way to get some summer splashes. 

Picture this: drifting along a nature-made lazy river. Feet dangling over the edge of your tube into the cool, crystal-clear water. Lush trees overhead. About 30 minutes from Orlando, Kelly Park, home of Rock Springs Run, is a natural oasis.

Rent tubes from Rock Springs Tube King -- located just outside the park -- to get the full lazy river experience, or splash around in the shallow waters of the spring with your little ones.

No saltwater. No sand in your hair. (Or your swimsuit. Or your car.) Paradise. 

Some of our other favorite non-beach water spots in Central Florida are:

  • Apopka Splash Pad. This sprinkler park has separate zones for different age ranges, so there’s something for everyone -- whether that’s running from the Mega Soaker or doing battle with Splash Blasters. Groups under 10 people get in for free, so leave your wallet and bring your swimsuit!
  • Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Located outside Orlando, these six lakes are popular among kayakers and paddleboarders. Shaded connector canals act as respite from the sun, while swimming spots like Dinky Dock park and Dog Island are perfect for a refreshing dip. Peace of Mind Kayak Tours offers full- and part-day gear rental.

Explore The Great Indoors

Explore the Great Indoors

Staying in the comfort of AC is a time-honored way to beat the heat, and Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, just off I-Drive, is quickly scaling our list of favorite indoor attractions. 

While you’ll love racking up tickets in the arcade, testing your stamina in the 4,000-square-foot laser tag arena or relaxing in the boutique bowling lounge, the famous go kart track is what keeps people coming back.

Featuring the best model of electric karts in the industry, Andretti also offers Mini Mario karts for drivers 4 to 7 years old, so the whole family can cruise toward the victory lane together.

If karts aren’t your speed, no worries -- here are some other Central Florida indoor attractions:

  • Orlando Science Center. The kids will have so much fun in OSC’s KidsTown -- whether scaling the Isaacs Family Climb Tree, running an orange juice assembly line in the Orange Grove, or making masterpieces at KidsTown Studio -- they won’t even notice they’re learning at the same time. For a child-free night out, check out OSC’s adult-geared events like Science of Wine or the adults-only Science Night Live.
  • Enzian Theater. The menu at Central Florida’s only full-time independent movie theater doesn’t end with popcorn. The onsite Eden Café offers a full menu of locally sourced lunch and dinner fare. Munch on truffle parmesan fries, relish the AC, and enjoy movie showings that range from brand-new releases to beloved family classics.

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