Tired of the amusement park? Discover Florida’s rollercoaster-free attractions

Forget the roller coasters. The Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando – the “theme park capital of the world” – is exciting on its own.

My husband and five-year-old daughter and I have a room with two queen-size beds and stunning views of Florida – but these are surpassed by those in the large (and very expensive) penthouse, which sits at 200 feet.

We’ve been peeking inside — this is definitely where my other half lives. There are two king-size bedrooms, a private kitchen and luxury bathrooms. And walking on the balcony is an adrenaline rush in itself. Especially for someone who does not like heights.

Carol Driver and her family head into the Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando – ideal for park wearers who want to spend a few days away from cracks and ropes.

One of two king-size bedrooms in the hotel's penthouse suite, which also has a private kitchen and luxury bathrooms.

One of two king-size bedrooms in the hotel’s penthouse suite, which also has a private kitchen and luxury bathrooms.

The Lake Nona Wave Hotel opened its doors in December 2021 and offers 234 rooms, incredibly modern and elegant decor – and technology like no other.

There are smart toilets, voice-activated room controls and windows that predictively tint in response to outdoor conditions – eliminating the need for blinds (this is the largest hotel in the world to have them).

There are also AI-enhanced beds that can be adjusted to meet a sleeper’s needs, from temperature control to rebalancing to eliminate pressure points and reduce the number of nocturnal awakenings.

It’s very clever stuff.

The Lake Nona Wave Hotel opened its doors in December 2021 and offers 234 rooms, incredibly stylish and modern decor - and technology like no other.

The Lake Nona Wave Hotel opened its doors in December 2021 and offers 234 rooms, incredibly stylish and modern decor – and technology like no other.

On site, guests can wander around the sculpture garden with eight world-famous sculptures and a collection of living works of art.

On site, guests can wander around the sculpture garden with eight world-famous sculptures and a collection of living works of art.

Despite its size, it is like a boutique hotel in terms of attention to detail, with two very popular and elegant bars and two excellent restaurants.

Outside on its grounds, guests can wander through the sculpture garden with eight world-famous sculptures and a collection of living works of art, or relax on the colorful pool deck.

It’s a pretty big affair, and it’s also the perfect base to explore what this beloved American state has to offer – even with a young child.

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The “living room” area of ​​the hotel. “Despite its size, it’s like a boutique hotel when it comes to attention to detail,” says Carol about the property.

For those with amusement park fatigue who want a few days away from the cracks and cords, this is the way to do it.

The hotel is also easily accessible on the outskirts of Orlando, so we make the most of it and check out some of the attractions outside of town.

We spend a day at the Kennedy Space Center – just a 30 minute drive away – where Amelia is happy to find out all about one of her favorite subjects.

The Lake Nona Wave is easily accessible on the outskirts of Orlando, pictured, so Carol makes the most of it and leaves for a few out-of-town attractions

The Lake Nona Wave is easily accessible on the outskirts of Orlando, pictured, so Carol makes the most of it and leaves for a few out-of-town attractions

We commit to the shuttle launch experience, with the sights, sounds and sensations of explosion in space – and we hold on tight.

Space shuttle Atlantis is our next stop, for a close-up view of the only spacecraft that can be exhibited during the flight.

There are also more than 60 interactive exhibits showcasing the history, technology and impact of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

Next up is Planet Play, a massive three-story play center for kids, featuring interactive games, constellation maps, and the chance to climb a wormhole.

Carol and her family spend a day at the Kennedy Space Center, pictured, just a 30-minute drive from the Lake Nona Wave Hotel

Carol and her family spend a day at the Kennedy Space Center, pictured, just a 30-minute drive from the Lake Nona Wave Hotel

At the Kennedy Space Center, Carroll stops next to the Atlantis spacecraft (pictured) for a close-up view of the only spacecraft exhibited during the flight

At the Kennedy Space Center, Carroll stops next to the Atlantis spacecraft (pictured) for a close-up view of the only spacecraft exhibited during the flight

Exhausted, we return to our hotel to dine at Bakan’s fine dining restaurant – a delicious, elegant restaurant that has no fries or nuggets on the menu.

Instead, we had roasted baby aubergines, wagyu beef burgers and tomato paste on top, with our delicious chocolate brown to follow – all washed down with a glass or two of wine.

By morning we are ready for our next adventure.

We make the hour-long trip (which, in the US, is a short walk) to Wild Florida for an airboat tour through the Everglades – with about 1.5 million acres of pristine wetland conservation.

Carol enjoys dinner at the luxurious Bakan at Lake Nona Wave Hotel -

Carol enjoys dinner at the luxurious Bakan at Lake Nona Wave Hotel – “a nice and elegant restaurant with no fries or nuggets on the menu”

In Bacan (above), Carol cooks roasted eggplant, wagyu beef burgers and tomato paste, with a delicious chocolate cake to follow.

In Bacan (above), Carol cooks roasted eggplant, wagyu beef burgers and tomato paste, with a delicious chocolate cake to follow.

Pictured is Haven Kitchen

Pictured is the hotel’s “sleek and colorful” Haven kitchen, where Carol and her family enjoy breakfast

It is an exciting excursion, stopping at key points to enjoy the wildlife in their natural habitat and adventure in swamps and marshes.

Amelia is excited, and a little nervous too, to see the crocodile (one to 13 feet long) napping a few feet away from us.

There are many other things you can spy on as well – including eagles, eggs, green tree frogs, raccoons and baboons.

Then back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool, followed by dinner, and an early evening.

In the morning we go to the hotel’s elegant and colorful Haven Kitchen for breakfast.

Amelia opts for homemade granola with a side of pancakes, which for me is a poached egg and toast, while my husband, Rich, turns to Croque Madame.

Wild Florida takes an aerial boat tour (stock photo) through the Everglades and occupies 1.5 million acres of pristine wetland reserve.  'It's an exciting journey,' says Carol, 'to travel at key points and stop to learn about wildlife in their natural environment and venture out into swamps and marshes.'

Wild Florida takes an aerial boat tour (stock photo) through the Everglades and occupies 1.5 million acres of pristine wetland reserve. “It’s an exciting journey,” says Carol. “She walks around and stops at key points to learn about wildlife in their natural habitat and to venture into swamps and marshes.”

Above is the Museum of Illusions, home of

Above is the Museum of Illusions, home to “mind-bending exhibitions”. Carol (not pictured) says, “There’s an upside-down lounge, a whirlpool tunnel and an inside look at how holograms work.”

After refueling, we head to nearby Icon Park for a cooler day. Here you can drive to Madame Tussauds, ride the 400-foot observation wheel, or watch a movie at the 7D Motion Theater.

We go to the Museum of Illusions, walk around its amazing exhibits. There is an upside down lounge, a circular whirlpool tunnel and an inside look at how holograms work.

It’s perfect for a curious five-year-old.

For lunch, we can not resist going to Gordon Ramsay’s Fish And Chips which recently opened.

We sit outside and eat crunchy cod and chicken, choosing our “dirty” chips – from jalapeños and chorizo ​​to truffles and Parmesan cheese.

The portions (as we learned) are large. But there’s just enough room for a really tasty milkshake, which comes in the form of Biscoff (Gordon’s favorite, apparently) and sticky toffee. I do not even want to know how many calories are in it.

He’s back at the hotel, and we walk to the center of Lake Nona near Boxi Park, where you can choose from street food, restaurants and bars, as well as beach volleyball and outdoor entertainment.

It’s a light dinner for us, before we go to our hotel room. With its views of Orlando, we can see fireworks exploding in the night sky.

We’re off to Disney World tomorrow and Amelia is beyond herself excited.

After all, it’s the theme park capital of the world – and you will not want to be away from it for long!

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