Tired of amusement parks? Discover Florida’s Rollercoaster-Free Attractions
Forget the roller coaster. The Lake Nono Wave Hotel in Orlando, the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” is thrilling in itself.
My husband, five-year-old daughter, and I have a room with two queen beds and spectacular views of Florida — but surpassed by those in the expansive (and very expensive) penthouse, which sits 200 feet up.
We’re given a peek inside – it’s definitely where the other half lives. There are two king bedrooms, a private kitchen and luxurious bathrooms. And getting on the balcony is an adrenaline rush in itself. Especially for someone who doesn’t like heights.
Carol Driver and her family check into the Lake Nono Wave Hotel in Orlando – an ideal hotel for “those who are tired of theme parks and want to spend a few days away from the screams and queues”
One of two king bedrooms in the hotel’s penthouse suite, which also includes a private kitchen and luxurious bathrooms
The Lake Nono Wave Hotel opened its doors in December 2021, offering 234 rooms, modern and incredibly elegant decor – and unparalleled technology.
There are smart toilets, voice-activated room controls, and windows that tint predictively in response to outside conditions — eliminating the need for blinds (it’s the largest hotel in the world to have them).
There are also AI-optimized beds that adapt to the needs of the sleeper, from temperature control to rebalancing to eliminate pressure points and reduce the number of awakenings during the night.
It’s a very smart thing.
The Lake Nono Wave Hotel opened in December 2021, “offering 234 rooms, modern and incredibly stylish decor – and unparalleled technology”
On the hotel grounds, you can stroll through the sculpture garden with eight world-famous sculptures and a vibrant art collection
Despite its size, it’s like a boutique hotel when it comes to attention to detail, with two very popular and chic bars and two brilliant restaurants.
Outside on its grounds, guests can stroll through the sculpture garden with eight world-famous sculptures and a vibrant art collection, or relax on the colorful pool deck.
It’s a very grown-up affair, and it’s also the perfect base from which to explore what this beloved American state has to offer – even with a little one in tow.
The “living room” of the hotel. “Despite its size, it’s like a boutique hotel when it comes to attention to detail,” Carol says of the property.
For those who are tired of theme parks and want to spend a few days away from the screams and queues, this is the way to do it.
The hotel is also conveniently located on the outskirts of Orlando, so we make the most of it and head to some of the out-of-town attractions.
We spend a day at the Kennedy Space Center – just a 30-minute drive away – where Amelia enjoys learning all about one of her favorite subjects.
The Lake Nono Wave Hotel is conveniently located on the outskirts of Orlando, pictured, so Carol makes the most of it and heads to some of the out-of-town attractions
We strap in for the shuttle launch experience, complete with the sights, sounds and thrills of blasting through space – and hold on.
Space Shuttle Atlantis is our next stop, for a close-up view of the only Space Shuttle shown in flight.
There are also more than 60 interactive exhibits, showcasing the history, technology, and impact of NASA’s space shuttle program.
Next is Planet Play, a huge three-story play center for kids, with interactive games, constellation maps, and the chance to climb a wormhole.
Carol and her family spend a day at the Kennedy Space Center, pictured, which is just a 30-minute drive from the Lake Nono Wave Hotel
At Kennedy Space Center, Carol stops by Space Shuttle Atlantis (pictured) for a close-up view of the only space shuttle on display in flight
Exhausted, we return to our hotel for dinner at the luxurious Bacan – an elegant and suave restaurant that has no fries or nuggets on the menu.
Instead, we enjoy grilled mini eggplants, a Wagyu beef burger and tomato pasta, followed by a delicious chocolate fudge cake, all washed down with a glass or two of wine.
In the morning, we are ready for our next adventure.
We make the hour-long trip (which in the US is a short hop) to Wild Florida for an airboat tour through the Everglades – passing some of the 1.5 million acres of the pristine wetland reserve.
Carol enjoys dinner at the luxurious Bacan at the Lake Nono Wave Hotel – “an elegant and suave restaurant that has no fries or nuggets on the menu”
At Bacan (above), Carol feasts on grilled eggplant, a Wagyu beef burger and tomato pasta, with a ‘delicious’ chocolate fudge cake to follow
Pictured is the hotel’s ‘chic and colorful’ Haven Kitchen, where Carol and her family eat breakfast
It’s a thrilling ride, stopping at key points to see wildlife in their natural habitat and venture into swamps and marshes.
Amelia is excited, and also slightly nervous, to see alligators (one measuring up to 13 feet) dozing slyly a few feet away from us.
There are also plenty of other things to spy on, including eagles, egrets, green tree frogs, raccoons and bobcats.
Then, return to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool, followed by dinner and an early evening.
In the morning, head to the hotel’s chic and colorful Haven Kitchen for breakfast.
Amelia opts for the homemade granola with waffles on the side, it’s poached eggs and toast for me, while my husband, Rich, feasts on a Croque Madame.
Wild Florida is hosting an airboat tour (stock image) through the Everglades, traversing part of the pristine wetland preserve’s 1.5 million acres. “It’s a thrilling ride,” says Carol, “spinning and stopping at key points to see wildlife in their natural habitat and venturing into swamps and marshes”
Above is the Museum Of Illusions, home to “stunning exhibits”. Carol (not pictured) says: ‘There’s an upside down living room, a swirling vortex tunnel and an insider’s look at how holograms work’
Prices for the Lake Nona Wave Hotel start at £235.
Magic Breaks fly direct from £469 pp with Virgin Atlantic.
For more information, see VisitOrlando.com.
Meet and greet parking at Heathrow Airport with Airport Parking & Hotels www.aph.com.
After refueling, we head to nearby Icon Park for a more relaxing day. Here, you can head to Madame Tussauds, ride the 400-foot-tall observation wheel, or catch a movie at the 7D Motion Theater.
We enter the Museum Of Illusions, strolling through its stunning exhibits. There’s an upside-down lounge, a swirling vortex tunnel, and an insider’s look at how holograms work.
This is perfect for a curious five year old.
For lunch, one can’t resist heading to Gordon Ramsay’s recently opened Fish And Chips restaurant.
We sit outside, enjoying crispy cod and chicken, and a choice of “dirty” fries – jalapeno and chorizo, with truffle and parmesan.
The portions (as we learned) are huge. But there’s just enough room to sample the over-the-top milkshakes, which come in biscoff (Gordon’s favorite, apparently) and sticky caramel. I don’t even want to know how many calories they contain.
Back at the hotel, we stroll through nearby downtown Lake Nona to Boxi Park, where you can choose from street food, restaurants and bars, plus beach volleyball and entertainment outside.
It’s a light dinner for us, before heading to our hotel room. With its views of Orlando, we can see fireworks exploding in the night sky.
We’re heading to Disney World tomorrow and Amelia is wild with excitement.
After all, this is the theme park capital of the world – and you won’t want to be away from it for too long!