Our 10-night Florida itinerary – Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels, three waterparks and four days by the coast
A trip to Florida can be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday so if you are lucky enough to be going, you need to plan wisely.
There is SO MUCH to see and do that when you first sit down to organise this adventure for your family, it can seem overwhelming.
We’ve just taken our children to Florida – it was their first time in America and very special.
Our trip included Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels (including one dream hotel – more of that later), three waterparks and four days by the coast staying on two of America’s best beaches.
I feel tired just writing all that! But it was manageable thanks to enthusiasm and some down time.
So here is our 10-day itinerary, we hope it inspires you.
Travel and settle in at our first hotel
Hotel 1 – Springfield Suites at Marriott Village Orlando.
This was a great location – a 20-minute taxi drive to Universal and a free shuttle to Disney World.
Read our full review here: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios
Day 2 and 3
Universal Resort Orlando (Universal Studios)
The amazing attraction that is Universal Resort Orlando is made up of the theme parks Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure plus the Volcano Bay water park.
This had the edge over Disney World for us especially as three of us are Harry Potter fans. It’s where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is – Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. You can even catch the Hogwarts Express between the two.
Highlight: Our son being chosen by ‘Olivander’ to select a wand for him in the mini-show at Olivander’s Wand Shop.
We’ve got a full guide, pictures and video for you – Universal Orlando Resort – guide and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world
Day 3 evening
We wanted to do something authentically American like a sports match and our son is a basketball fan.
We went to the Orlando Magic home stadium the Amway Center, to see them take on Boston Celtics.
Everyone arrives an hour early to soak up the atmosphere and gets to their seats early to enjoy the entertainment.
It was a fantastic experience, read about it here: Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know
Hotel 2 – Four Seasons Resort Orlando
Widely named the best hotel in Florida, this was a real treat. It is a very luxurious place to stay with such attentive staff, delicious food and sumptuous surroundings.
Best of all, there’s a little water park so it’s a great place to enjoy a more relaxing day amid all the busy parks.
It’s within Disney World grounds and has a free shuttle bus service there.
We had a fabulous day enjoying the five-star surroundings, trying out the water slides and the lazy river, before hitting Disney the next day.
Read all about this glorious place – Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World
Disney World is one of the reasons that Florida is so popular. There are four parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios plus water parks.
We did a long day here to maximise the value of the expensive tickets. We started at 8am and left Epcot at 8pm. Yes, it was tiring but we saw a lot in one day.
We bought a Park Hopper ticket and started at the iconic Magic Kingdom, leaving after the parade in the afternoon and heading for Epcot. This was a great decision as the Frozen Ever After boat ride there is amazing.
Legoland Florida Resort
Now with a hire car, we drove 45 minutes to Legoland.
Fantastic for younger ones and without the queues of Universal and Disney World (at least not when we went), this was a slower-paced couple of days in the park and at its water park.
We stayed on site at its Pirate Island Hotel and our favourite part was the Ninjago ride, which we went on four times.
Read all about it – Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide and top tips
Part 2 – the coast
After a fast-paced few days, we were ready to head to Florida’s Gulf Coast – to lovely Clearwater and St Pete.
After spending the morning at Legoland we headed for hotel 4 – Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Clearwater.
This hotel has a swimming pool and is on a private beach so it was nice to chill out for the afternoon after we arrived.
We went to Clearwater Aquarium where film star Winter the Dolphin from A Dolphin’s Tale was rescued and rehabilitated.
In the afternoon we took a boat trip on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise and in the evening, enjoyed the sunset, a market and a lovely meal.
We moved again to St Pete Beach and our final hotel – RumFish Beach Resort.
Our room opened out on to the beach and we enjoyed water slides and zip wires and an evening’s magic show.
We headed into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe and our final lunch overlooking the water before a last beautiful Florida sunset. For more ideas on what to do in Clearwater and St Pete, read our guide to the best attractions for families.
After pancakes for breakfast, we left for our flight home.
What do you like to do in Florida? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
More Florida content
RELATED STORY: The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete
*We received complimentary or reduced prices for some of the attractions and hotels, for review purposes, all views are our own.