Aviation & Airborne Adventures
From hang gliding and skydiving to hot air balloon and biplane rides, there are endless options of exhilarating things to do in Central Florida. Even if you’re not an adventurous traveler, aviation enthusiasts can enjoy many Central Florida attractions that reflect the rich aviation history of the area, including air shows and museums.
Looking For Fun Aviation-Themed Things To Do In Central Florida This Spring?
If you’re visiting Polk County in March or April, you can kick off your aviation tour with the Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland – the perfect getaway for the entire family! While you’re at it, you won’t want to miss the action at Fantasy of Flight, including the annual SUN ‘n FUN Splash-In and every day favorites like biplane and hot air balloon rides.
Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo
Get ready for spring break like you’ve never experienced it before! Internationally recognized as Spring Break for Pilots, the Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo is a world premier aviation experience… the second largest airshow in the USA! But don’t worry –you definitely do not need a pilot’s license to enjoy this action-packed event!
During the six-day celebration, aviation fever takes over the city of Lakeland. A wide range of activities are scheduled, with offerings for aviation aficionados and casual fans alike. Pilots and devoted aviation followers can take advantage of open forums, seminars, workshops and industry dinners.
In addition, nearly everyone can enjoy the four expo hangars and outdoor exhibits featuring an astonishing 500 aviation exhibitors. If you enjoy simply reveling in the beauty of various types of aircraft, you’ll also love the display of more than 4,700 aircraft, including vintage planes and warbirds.
Of course, for many, the daily air show is the highlight of the event with amazing jet team demonstration flights, aerobatic maneuvers and WWII bombing reenactments.
The Annual SUN ‘n FUN proceeds benefit the educational mission of the SUN ‘n FUN organization and the Florida Air Museum. The cost of daily admission (subject to change) is $37 for adults and $15 for youth (ages 11-17). Children 10 and under receive free admission. Weekly admission rates are available as well.
SUN ‘n FUN Splash-In At Fantasy of Flight
Can’t get enough adrenaline-pumping aeronautics during your Central Florida vacation? Then check out the Sun ‘n FUN Splash-In at Fantasy of Flight, to be held in conjunction with the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo.
The Splash-In, hosted by Fantasy of Flight on beautiful Lake Agnes and features a unique blend of seaplanes and other amphibious aircraft competing to determine who has the best water landings and takeoffs.
Tickets to the Splash-In are included as part of the standard admission to Fantasy of Flight. For those visitors who wish to attend the Splash-In only, a $10 charge for admission and parking will be collected.
SUN ‘n FUN Complex And Florida Air Museum
Unable to make it to Lakeland for the Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo? No problem! The SUN ‘n FUN complex is open year-round and is home to the Florida Air Museum. Florida’s “Official Aviation Museum and Education Center” features a dynamic display of the best examples aviation has to offer – AND includes an extensive collection of Howard Hughes aviation memorabilia. You can also visit the gift shop to pick up all types of unique aviation souvenirs! The museum is open seven days a week. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and active military; $6 for students aged 8-12 and free for children under 5!
Fantasy Of Flight: An Aviation Enthusiast’s Paradise!
Are you ready to feel the wind in your hair and experience the thrill of flying? Aviation attraction Fantasy of Flight features interactive exhibits, flight simulators, vintage aircraft displays and exciting annual events.
Whether you’re taking a biplane ride or testing your courage on a four story, 600-foot zip line, Fantasy of Flight has everything you need to get your heart racing. Among the most beloved and unique Central Florida attractions around, you’ll soon learn why so many visitors return to Fantasy of Flight year after year.
Mustangs & Mustangs
Fantasy of Flight is well known for its popular spring event, Mustangs & Mustangs. If you’re a fan of vintage airplanes and cars, Mustangs & Mustangs is the event for you! For the past 15 years, this annual car and airplane show has been the only Mustang event to exclusively showcase both restored P-51 Mustang aircraft and Ford Mustang automobiles spanning across all eras. Also included are live aerial demonstrations, photo opportunities and children’s activities. This year’s event takes place in April and Fantasy of Flight general admission is required for entry.
Get ready to step outside of your comfort zone. Wing WalkAir is Fantasy of Flight’s newest outdoor attraction where you can tackle a riveting ropes course or take flight on a 600-footzip line suspended four stories over water. Wing WalkAir is the perfect activity for families and large groups looking for fun team building exercises.
Hot Air Balloon Excursions And Biplane Rides
For those visitors who are especially adventurous, Waldo Wright’s Flying Service at Fantasy of Flight offers 15-minute and 30-minute biplane rides in either a New Standard D-25 or Boeing Stearman PT-17. You can even take control and fly the plane yourself if you dare – no flying experience required! If you would prefer to take flight in a more relaxing manner, Fantasy of Flight also offers hot air balloon rides. Reservations are required for both experiences, and schedules vary throughout the year, so please call ahead to reserve your flight.
Preston Aviation also provides thrilling tailwheel instruction and biplane rides to Central Florida visitors, with each trip customized within a 25 mile radius. Located at the Winter Haven Airport, Preston Aviation offers single passenger biplane rides ranging in length from 15 to 60 minutes. Thrill seekers can even choose to take over the controls mid-flight (with instruction) if they are comfortable. Schedules vary by month, and reservations are recommended to ensure flight time availability.
Take To The Sky With The Latest Central Florida Attractions
The fun doesn’t stop with air shows and biplane rides! Polk County offers a number of others ways to get your adrenaline pumping with aviation-themed activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.
Welcome to the world’s first full-time aerotow hang gliding flight park! Previously featured on the Today Show, Wallaby Ranch is one of the best hang gliding schools in the nation. Their seasoned instructors are prepared to teach you the tricks of the trade so you can have the ultimate hang gliding experience every time. Wallaby Ranch is among the safest and most respected schools for aspiring hang gliders. Open year-round, visitors can learn to hang glide while visiting Polk County any time of the year.
Florida Skydiving Center
Nothing gives you the amazing feeling of free falling quite like skydiving. Whether you’re working up the courage to take your first skydive or gearing up for your 100th, the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales will be a winning addition to your itinerary! Tandem skydiving is the ideal choice for a rookie. If you want to remember every second of your high-flying journey, you can even purchase a package that includes a full video of your first skydive to share the experience with your entire family! Reservations are required and hours of operation vary according to the season, so be sure to contact the center well in advance to plan your visit.
Looking for a flying experience that’s a little more kid-friendly? LEGOLAND® FLORIDA offers a number of rides that will give your child a bird’s eye view of the park, including a suspended steel roller coaster called Flying School.
Located in the Lego City section of the park, Flying School allows kids to feel the rush of flying – an experience they will never forget! You can also venture to the Island in the Sky, a 150-foot rotating platform where guests can take in an amazing 360° view of the park. Newly opened in October 2011, LEGOLAND® FLORIDA is already one of Central Florida’s most popular attractions.
Get Ready To Plan Your Next Adventure!
Now that you’ve learned about the full spectrum of aviation-themed things to do in Central Florida, the next step is planning your trip! Visitors to Polk County can now fly nonstop from Niagara Falls, New York; Springfield, Illinois; and Plattsburgh, NY. NEW cities being added to the schedule this summer include Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi.
When it comes to accommodations, options run the gamut from romantic bed and breakfasts and national hotel chains to vacation rental homes, RV parks and even an authentic dude ranch! The Westgate River Ranch Resort provides a genuine dude ranch experience and has an airfield on the premises. Whatever your lodging preference, there is something to suit every budget. You may even find yourself coming back to Polk County for a high-flying spring break year after year!