Nothing helps you stay cool during steamy months better than a tasty treat, especially if it’s frozen. Icy delicacies make hot days zip by and put everyone in a great mood.
Beaches & Cream
You’ll think you stepped back in time at this classic soda fountain shop. Located on the boardwalk at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Beaches & Cream has a vibrant family atmosphere, making this spot hot for summer. Serving up ice cream sundaes and floats, they are famous for the “Kitchen Sink,” a concoction loaded with eight scoops of ice cream, smothered in every single topping in the place and covered with a can of whipped cream. They also offer a traditional burger-n-fries menu to counterbalance the sugar high. Disney’s Beach Club Resort 407-934-8000
There is nothing flashy about this independent walk-up on Corrine Drive. Rainbow Sno-Cones blends up their own delicious flavors that have created generations of devotees. Served in traditional paper cups, the selections at Rainbow Sno-Cones include everything from the usual “rainbow” to crazy creations like Tiger’s Blood. Beware: While lounging out in front of the store enjoying your treat, flying snowballs may be tossed by Mr. Homer, the owner. We like to think it adds to the charm of the place. 3116 Corrine Dr., Orlando 407-896-9105
The trend has arrived! Known for tart and tangy frozen yogurt, Céfiore in College Park serves up fat-free treats, perfect for summer days. A modern take on family-friendly, you will be in awe of the big city vibe, and your kids will get a kick out of the option to choose toppings like Fruity Pebbles or Oreos. Parents can pick healthier options, like pomegranates and blackberries, to top their guilt-free indulgence. Céfiore also offers ahh-mazing waffles and “snow ice” to suit all taste buds. 2104 Edgewater Dr, Orlando 407-648-8247 www.cefiore.com
There’s no better way to stay cool then to get wet. Florida is packed full of pools, natural springs and water parks that vow to keep you chill.
Oviedo Splash Zone
This public water play facility gets our vote for best in the area. More than just a splash pad, the bubbly zero-entry pool is perfect for babies and toddlers, while the mini water park with a corkscrew slide is ideal for older kids. Complete with concessions, a day at the Oviedo Splash Zone will make the whole clan happy. Hours are 12 – 5 p.m. on weekdays and 12 – 6 p.m. on weekends, with an entrance fee of $9 for non-Oviedo residents. If you plan on becoming a regular, seasonal passes are also available. www.cityofoviedo.net
The Hard Rock Hotel
The perfect spot for the complete VIP treatment, the Hard Rock Hotel is ultra-glam. Breezy palm trees, a sandy beach and underwater tunes make this THE place to be. In August, their “Summer Days, Rockin’ Nights” begin, offering pool admission to locals for a small fee. On select nights, the Hard Rock offers a DJ to get the party started, “dive-in” movies, live bands and other planned “Rock-reation” activities for kids. Private cabana rentals are also available for the complete VIP experience. www.hardrockhotelorlando.com
De Leon Springs Park
Not only is this park home to a huge basin of refreshingly cold water once deemed the “Fountain of Youth,” this out-of-the-way state park is packed with history. A tour around the Old Spanish Sugar Mill will be a learning experience and you can make your own pancakes! Submerging yourself in 72-degree spring water is the perfect way to get refreshed. Afterwards, take the opportunity to paddle down the creek to catch a glimpse of what all the nature talk is really about. Entry fee is $5 per vehicle. www.floridastateparks.org
If there’s a chance you’re tired of water, but still feel the need to stay cool, check out these indoor family-friendly spots.
A movie is the perfect excuse to break away from the heat just in time for summer. Regal Cinemas is bringing back their Free Family Film Festival. That’s right – free. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays from June 9 to August 5, movies are shown at 10 a.m. Seats to this popular event, showing G- and PG-rated movies, are on a first come, first serve basis and fill up fast. You can get a Kids Pack for $5.75 including popcorn, candy and a kid-sized drink. www.regmovies.com/nowshowing
Wanna see what it feels like to be a member at the RDV, home of the Magic? Take part in their limited-time summer offer, a one-week trial membership for $19 per person. Families can enjoy tennis, swimming, yoga and basketball together. Mom can get her hair done or work out while little ones have fun in Kid’s Stuff, a supervised play program full of scheduled activities. The Ice Den is open to the public daily for ice-skating, for less than $10 a person. Yeah, we’re going, too. www.rdvsportsplex.com
Urban Think! Kids
Calling all bookworms, Urban Think has expanded to College Park and caters to kids. This quaint and cozy bookstore carries both children’s classics and pop culture bestsellers. You can even check out books by local authors. Friendly staff make you feel at home and lead daily storytelling. They also present monthly family events like author signings and kid parties. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with story times at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. 1309 Edgewater Dr., Orlando 407-615-0583
Adrelina is a perfect spot for extreme water sport wannabes. Tucked away in Adrenalina’s clothing store at the Florida Mall, you will find the Flow Rider, an artificial wave that simulates surfing. That’s right, your kids can learn to surf inside! This cool opportunity allows kids to test out tricks without running into a shark or needing sunscreen. As an added bonus, the Flow Rider is behind a glass wall, so you can watch everyone take a turn and pick up some new tricks. One session of wave riding costs $20 per person. www.adrenalinastore.com
The motto at this hip, family-friendly joint (opening in July) is “Where Kids Play and Parents Lounge.” Parents enjoy free WiFi while kids can play with new toys and explore themed play areas with role-playing, hands-on discovery and physical activity. Amaya Papaya is a nice break from the same old routine. Open from Monday through Friday, it’s closed on the weekends for private parties. Don’t forget to bring a pair of socks. Admission for children under 5 is $9.99, 8 – 12 months is $4.99. Adults are free. www.amayapapaya.com
Looking for a hip, eco- and family-friendly coffee shop? Seven Sisters is a warm and fresh place that offers local art and jewelry for sale, as well as organic coffee. They serve a popular drink called “Queen Bee” (the perfect latte) and yummy baked goods that your kids will fall in love with. You can relax while your kids enjoy the children’s playroom stocked with books and activities. Every Friday, Seven Sisters offers a Kid’s Library Book Day where kids bring in a checked-out library book to receive 20% off their order. www.sevensisterscoffee.com
Staying cool on the water without getting wet is a challenge, but something we relish. Boat rides offer fun in the sun without the need for a towel.
Buena Vista Water Sports is a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, 400-acre, Key West-inspired, privately owned, spring-fed lake where water sports rule. Here, you and your kids can water ski, wakeboard, water surf and tube to your heart’s content. The white, sandy beaches and lush, tropical foliage are the perfect setting for a steamy summer day. They do not offer concessions on property, so make sure you come prepared. Jet Ski Rentals start at $55 and chartered boats (including driver and gas) start at $85 for 30 minutes. www.bvwatersports.com
Mini Jet Boat Rental
Disney’s Cap’N Jack’s Marina offers boat rentals of all sizes (from tiny sprites to larger pontoons) and the opportunity to cruise down exclusive Disney World waterways. The river takes you from the docks by Cap’N Jack’s restaurant all the way down to the Port Orleans Resort. This uncrowded voyage guarantees you the chance to step back from the mobs of tourists and truly enjoy your surroundings. It’s a unique way to enjoy all things Disney. Prices from $20 to $40 for 30 minutes of play. Downtown Disney 407-WDW-PLAY
Pontoon Boat Ride
On the St. John’s River Boat Tour, you get the rare opportunity to relax and enjoy nature while someone else plays tour guide. With chances to view manatees gliding along or ospreys flying above while you cruise, your kids will enjoy keeping count of all the wildlife they spot. Captain Ron knows all the spots for optimal wildlife viewing so bring your camera! Bug spray is highly recommended and refreshments are available. Tours depart at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cost per adult is $22 and children are $16. www.sjrivercruises.com
A major way to stay cool and wow your kids is to take the Nickelodeon Family Cruise. Seven fun-filled days packed with your kid’s favorite Nick characters and gooey green slime! Fun onboard activities and exotic ports of call (like Mexico) make cruising the open seas tons of fun for all. Yep, that’s right – this cruise is ideal for parents, too. It’s the ultimate family way to stay cool. Prices start at $4,999 for families of four. The ship sets sail from Port Canaveral on August 9 and returns on August 16. www.nick.com/minisites/familycruise/
Winter Park Boat Tours
A tradition for more than 50 years, the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is a one-hour narrated tour through the watery backyard of some of Winter Park’s fancy-shmancy homes. The 12-mile tour takes you through seven lakes, by Rollins College, Kraft Azalea Gardens and the Isle of Sicily. Your skipper guarantees an off-the-beaten-path experience and kids will love gliding under bridges of narrow, man-made canals. Cost to ride is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tours operate between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. www.scenicboattours.com
Air Boat Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the natural side of Florida, take a tour on an airboat. Your kids are going to freak out about this. Both fun and educational, your family will enjoy flying on top of the water at 45 mph and experiencing a side of nature usually only seen on the Discovery Channel. Did we mention you might see a gator? Black Hammock has three airboats running daily. Reservations are not needed and ear protection is provided. Prices are $23.95 per adult and $19.95 per child. www.theblackhammock.com