(BPT) - In one of the world's great ironies, planning a vacation can be one of the most stressful and vacation-demanding activities you can take on - especially if you have kids. With everyone clamoring to do something different, finding the perfect spot can feel impossible. The simple solution? Choose a vacation destination that has something for everyone.
How does one reach this theoretical vacation utopia? Head to Central Florida (and no, we're not talking about Disney - yet). We're talking about Polk County, which sits smartly in the middle of the state, connecting you and your family to every 'Florida' thing under the sun. Beaches, golf, theme parks, watersports - if you've seen it on a postcard, you can do it from Polk County. On top of reaching epic crowd-pleaser status, you'll be able to do it all for less, without the traffic and tourist traps. Check out a few highlights from our 'stay here, play everywhere' plan.
For the person who wants to golf: Streamsong
If you're traveling with a golf enthusiast, do not leave Streamsong off your list. The resort boasts two courses considered masterpieces within the golf community: breathtaking landscapes designed for beautiful walkability by renowned architects Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Doak. Peppered with dramatic dunes, twisting fairways and verdant greens, Streamsong offers two of the best links-style golf courses in the country, according to Golf Digest.
Pro tip: Make a day of it. Treat yourself to an afternoon of self-renewal at the Acquapietra Spa, or add guided bass fishing and clay shooting to your day's activities.
For the child in everyone: LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Did you know the largest LEGOLAND in the country is located in Winter Haven, Florida? More than 150 acres of this imagination-expanding theme park are waiting to be explored, featuring live shows, 'pink-knuckle' roller coasters, a water park and dozens of other attractions. Although the park is geared towards kids 2-12, there's definite appeal to anyone who grew up with these iconic plastic bricks.
Pro tip: For the full experience, spend a night at LEGOLAND's new 152-room lakefront hotel. While parents relax, kids can work alongside Master Model Builders, hit the pool and hunt for treasure in their LEGO-themed rooms loaded with hidden surprises. Among other perks, you'll beat the crowds with early admission to the park.
For the water lovers: The Lakes (all 550+ of them)
Central Florida has more than 135 square miles of lakes and a boatload of ways to enjoy them. Paddleboard through Winter Haven's Chain, a family of sun-dappled lakes connected by a series of canals. Slice through swamp land in an airboat on Lake Kissimmee. Soar above the water on a gravity-defying flyboard. Looking for something more low key? Rent a pontoon boat, pack a picnic and enjoy a sunset cruise. We could keep going.
Pro tip: Anglers rejoice! Polk County is the Largemouth Bass Capital of the World.
For those in search of gators:Circle B Bar Reserve
The great thing about nature? It's usually free to enjoy, which might sound extra appealing after a few days of $5 theme park waters. Walk, hike or bike through nature trails encircling lakeside habitats and cypress groves. Alligators, otters, bald eagles and marsh hares are common sights, and the entire reserve is consistently recognized as one of the best birdwatching locales in the state.
Pro tip: Ranked one of the Great Places to See Wildlife by USA Today,this place is a photographer's dream. Want to know where the action is? Follow the telephoto lenses.
As promised, everything else
Rent a car and squeeze the most of your Sunshine State vacation. You'll be able to hit Florida's coastal beaches and major cities like Tampa and Orlando in about an hour.
* Go ahead, do Disney. Mickey's famous parks and resorts are only a 30-minute drive away.
* Satisfy thrill seekers with some of the best rollercoasters in the country. Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Busch Gardens are each less than an hour away.
* Surf, sun and white-sand beaches are waiting for you on either coast.
* Flex your cultural muscle with great art museums in Tampa/St. Pete, including the largest collection of Salvador Dali works outside of Europe.
Head to visitcentralflorida.org for even more details and start planning today.