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VOL. 133 | NO. 24 | Thursday, February 1, 2018

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Guide to Florida Spring Break

Lance Wiedower

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Our up-and-down weather pattern – one day it’s 60 and raining and the next it’s 25 and snowing – confirms it’s winter in Memphis. But as the calendar turns to February, the good news is spring break is only six or so weeks away.

And for Memphians, that often translates to travel to Florida. My family spent last year’s spring break in Florida and we dipped our toes into the three main flavors: beach, amusement parks and baseball.

As a father of an elementary-school-age son, I know all too well the draw of Central Florida’s amusement parks and the state’s nearly 1,200 miles of coastline, much of which is covered by sand for lounging and building castles. But we didn’t want a full week at the beach, and we only like our Disney in small doses. Spring training baseball was the real focus, but we added beach time in South Florida and a couple of days hitting amusement park highlights.

We took our son out of school an extra day and made this a long nine-day trip, starting with an all-day drive to Orlando before continuing the following day for the rest of our journey to Miami Beach, stopping in Jupiter for a baseball game along the way.

(For all the details on our trip, read the individual segment recaps on baseball spring training, Miami Beach, Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World.)

There are easier ways to combine spring training baseball with time at the beach and a few days at Disney. We took the difficult option.

We stayed in North Miami Beach, which was a couple of hours of extra driving from our spring training destinations, but my wife wanted a fun beach to enjoy while my son and I went to baseball games.

If I do Florida spring training again, I’d choose to stay near the ballparks instead, getting a hotel in Jupiter, West Palm Beach or Port Saint Lucie. There are several ballparks located in the Tampa and Orlando areas, so that makes even more sense to cut out South Florida completely, although the warmer waters off Miami Beach made the extra driving worth it for us.

We then spent a day each at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. We’re not big amusement park fans, so one day at each worked for us.

The one regret I have is getting a late start at Universal and then staying until the park closed, meaning we were exhausted and didn’t get the vital early start to beat some of the crowds at Disney the following day.

In hindsight, it might’ve made more sense to spend one day at Universal on the front end of the trip. We could then recover with a week of beach and baseball before maximizing our one day at Disney to close out the trip before the long drive back home.

Who knows, maybe we’ll try for round two this year.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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