If you are looking for a great day trip to take from Orlando to take with the kids, then I highly recommend Williston, Florida. Williston takes about 1.75 to 2 hours to get to from Orlando, but it is well worth the trip as there are a variety of attractions to visit there. The three attractions that I would recommend most are Two Tails Ranch, Devil’s Den and Cedar Woods and Garden.
Below, take a look at what there is to do at each location.
Two Tails Ranch
Two Tails Ranch is an elephant ranch in Williston, Florida. There are about 6 elephants on the ranch at all times, as those elephants belong to the owner, but sometimes she boards other elephants from zoos if need be. Kids will be able to learn all about elephants and ask any burning questions that they might have. They’ll also get to see an elephant create a painting, which was pretty cool to watch. You are also able to take a photo with an elephant, feed an elephant and go for an elephant ride if you so choose. Please note that all of these are extras that are added on to the regular elephant ranch tour.
Devil’s Den is a pool inside of a cave where you can go snorkeling and scuba diving. While you won’t see the same amount of fish that you would see if you went snorkeling in the ocean, Devil’s Den makes up for it in coolness factor. When else can you say I went snorkeling in a cave? I also found it a lot easier for my kids to snorkel, as there was a platform in the middle of the cave, that they could keep going back to. Also, there were smaller fish closer to the surface that my six-year old enjoyed chasing.
For our trip to Devil’s Den (and to use on future snorkeling trips), we purchased full face snorkel masks from Amazon. I found these masks to be much better than regular snorkel masks. Water didn’t get into the kid’s masks and they didn’t fog up, making the kids much more independent. I would highly recommend them for kids and adults alike.
Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens
Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens is located right next to Devil’s Den, so it is easy to combine a visit to both attractions. Cedar Lakes is a botanical garden featuring waterfalls, koi ponds and over 50 garden displays. Cedar Lakes has lots of small bridges to cross and paths to explore that you will feel like you are in another world.
Bring along a picnic lunch and find the perfect spot to stop for awhile and soak up the scenery, while the kids stretch their legs outside.
Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens hosts an annual Gardens and Ghouls event where you can stroll through the gardens with a scary twist, as well as a Christmas in the Quarry event where the gardens are lit up in holiday lights.
What else is nearby?
Williston is about a half an hour from Ocala, which is on the way back to Orlando. You could definitely combine a visit to Ocala with Williston, although that would make for a long day. If you are looking for things to do in Ocala, check out this post on 10 fun things to do there with kids.
On the other hand, you could just stop into Ocala for some dinner on the way home, as there isn’t much in Williston proper in terms of dining.
You can also stop off in the Villages, which is on the way back to Orlando to grab some dinner. We recommend checking out Cody’s Original Roadhouse, for some casual fun and fresh steak and burgers or stop in at Scoople’s for pressed sandwiches, wraps, hot dogs, salads and ice cream.