Mixing history, culture and family fun is no problem on a US twin-centre taking in the nation’s capital and the Sunshine State, says Ella Buchan.
Culture and history are always best served with a generous dose of fun, especially on family holidays. A twin-city trip to Washington, D.C. and Orlando offers the perfect balance, combining Smithsonian museums and presidential monuments with the rides, characters and unforgettable adventures of Florida’s playground.
Ross Sinclair, senior product manager for Americas and the Caribbean at Gold Medal, said: “Washington, D.C. is steeped in history, culture and tradition. Spend a few days wandering the museums and monuments along the National Mall, then be sure to head to Georgetown for great shopping and a host of fantastic restaurants. Next stop is the theme park capital of the world, Orlando – fun for all the family.”
Here are the latest happenings in the destinations, from monumental sights in D.C. to monumental thrills in Florida.
The capital has the perfect combination of culture and curiosities to stimulate minds of all ages. Who can resist airplanes, space travel and spies?
The vast National Air and Space Museum has a head-spinning display of models and artefacts including the Wright brothers’ first powered airplane and the Spirit Of St. Louis, which carried Charles A. Lindberg on his groundbreaking solo transatlantic flight in 1927. The IMAX film and planetarium show further immerse visitors in aviation and space travel.
Another family favourite is the National Museum of Natural History, with a mummified cat and gawping at a live coral reef among the many delights.
The International Spy Museum shines a torch on the shadowy world of espionage, with intriguing exhibits on the history of the profession and the technology that has aided them through centuries. Wannabe spooks can test their skills at the School for Spies, examining different gadgets and trying out disguises.
The city’s easy walkability makes it a joy, and hassle-free to explore even with kids in tow. Strolling the National Mall, which connects many of the museums and presidential monuments, is a must.
And The Wharf, a $2 billion project bringing new life to the city’s waterfront, launched this October, bringing three new hotels, 10 acres of parkland, four public piers, a marina and bike paths to a mile-long stretch of the Washington Channel, a stone’s throw from the National Mall. The promenade will also have 23 restaurants with great options for family-friendly dining, making it an ideal hub for exploring the rest of D.C.
Excitement is set to rocket next year as Florida’s fun capital launches the world’s tallest roller coaster. New entertainment complex SKYPLEX will include the Skyscraper, a 570-foot-tall vertical ride. For more sedate views, the SKYPLEX tower will also have an observation deck, restaurant and lounge.
It follows a thrilling summer of new openings, including The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Opened in May, the attraction allows visitors to canoe through mythical world Pandora, where mountains float and rainforests are bioluminescent. At Universal, the Volcano Bay Water Theme Park takes thrill-seekers onto idyllic tropical islands, with a good dose of adventure thrown in.
In 2018, new river ride Infinity Falls comes to SeaWorld, taking thrill-seekers through a jungle with soaking fountains, waterfalls and the remains of a lost civilisation. Also new for next year is the triple-fun of Ray Rush, which comes to Aquatica Orlando and features rafts which are lifted on water jets and spun around a colossal sphere before diving into different manta wings.
It isn’t all about the parks. Downtown Orlando has some great foodie finds. Suggest clients get a taste with Orlando Foodie Tours. The brunch tour, grazing at some of the area’s best restaurants, cafes and markets, is ideal for families.
For clients seeking even more adventure than rides can provide, how about learning to drive an airboat? Boggy Creek Airboat Rides has launched Romp in the Swamp in Kissimmee, giving visitors the chance to take the captain’s seat and soar over the water.
Another first came to Fun Spot America Kissimmee park in June, with the only wooden roller coaster in the state to go upside down. At Gatorland, work is under way on a $2.5 million park expansion. New adventures include riding in 12-foot-high, off-road monster trucks into a previously unseen section of the park past swamps, mud puddles, an alligator graveyard and ponds swarming with the reptiles.
For fans of space exploration, the Mars-themed ATX Center at Kennedy Space Center will be a must-visit when it opens in 2018.
The attraction will boast two distinct experiences. The Astronaut Training Experience will provide an opportunity for visitors to train like an astronaut preparing for a Mars mission, while Mars Base 1 will provide trainees with a chance to “live” on Mars for seven hours while performing base operations and conducting real science experiments and engineering tasks.
Gold Medal offers a 10-night Washington, D.C. and Orlando twin-centre itinerary, including three nights in Washington and seven nights in Orlando. Prices start from £869 for travel between February 5 and March 10, including flights from Heathrow and internal flights, and based on two adults and two children sharing.
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